NGC Cert #: 4516885-008
NGC Description: 1889 $1
NGC Grade: MS 64
Label: NGC Standard Brown
Category: Morgan Dollars (1878-1921)
Obverse Designer: George T. Morgan
Reverse Designer: George T. Morgan
Melt Value: $14.62 (2/24/2020)
The Morgan silver dollar was first minted from 1878-1904, and again in 1921. Following the passage of the Bland-Allison Act in 1878, which required the U.S. Treasury to purchase a specified amount of silver to be circulated as silver dollars, Morgan dollars quickly stockpiled in the Treasury and bank reserves.
The act was passed during the height of the bimetallism movement in America, or the use of both silver and gold standards. With tens of millions of coins minted in a particular year alone, Morgan dollars continue to be one of the most widely circulated silver bullion today.
Morgan enlisted Philadelphia teacher, Anna Willess Williams, to model for his depiction of Miss Liberty. A left-facing portrait head of Liberty is featured on the coin’s obverse, with a somewhat gaunt eagle depicted on the back, giving the Morgan its nickname: “buzzard dollar.”
In an unprecedented move, Morgan initialed each side of the design with an “M.” Shortly after its first mint, critics noted the Morgan eagle mistakenly had eight tail feathers instead of seven, and therefore some 1878 coins may depict either, with seven being the rarer.
It’s reported that over half a billion Morgan coins were struck between 1878 and 1921. Most of the output came from the original mint facility in Philadelphia, while Carson City, New Orleans, and San Francisco sites also made them. Carson City ended production when it closed doors in 1893, later making them a valuable commodity among numismatists.
Even after minting ended in Carson City, the vault there stored millions of Morgans, which were transferred to Washington in 1900 and kept sealed. Later, in 1921, the Denver mint also produced Morgan dollars.