The Silver Morgan Dollar (named after its designer George T Morgan) was first issued in 1878 and followed the passing of the Bland Allison Act by US Congress. This Act required US Treasury to purchase a certain amount of silver for circulation as silver dollars. The Morgan Dollar marked a return of the silver $1 following a 5 year absence from US coinage. Its purpose, reportedly to stabilize the silver market after the discovery of the Comstock Lode (the first major silver discovery in US history), which had destablised the market. The rationale being that with the government purchasing silver for coin production this would help improve the market.
The design of the coin features Lady Liberty facing left on the obverse and an eagle holding arrows and an olive branch on the reverse side. The coins contain 90% Silver/10% copper) with a .900 fine silver (purity). They weigh 26.73 grams and have a diameter of 38.1 mm and are 2.4 mm thick, with a reeded edge
Morgan Dollars were struck at several US Mint locations throughout their minting life – Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D), San Francisco(S), New Orleans (O) and Carson City (CC). Mint marks (see letters in brackets) can be found on the coins under the wreath on the reverse of the coin. Morgan Dollars struck at Carson City often command the highest premiums due to their rarity.
Production ceased in 1904; due to low demand and exhaustion of bullion supplies. Three dates or mints reportedly hold most value due to limited quantities produced, these are – ‘1889 – C (350,000 only), 1893 – S(100,000) and 1895 proof (12,880) [Source: Morgandollar.org].
Morgan dollars were produced in 96 different date and mint combinations. It is estimated that over 650 million Morgan dollars were produced. However, around 40% of Morgan Dollars were melted under the Pittman Act 1918 (which required the silver to be either sold or reminted as other coinage). There was a short resumption of production in 1921 before the Morgan Dollar was replaced by the Peace Dollar.