Morgan dollar, 1878-1921


Designer: William Barber.
Diameter: 38.1 mm.
Composition: Silver (90%) and Copper (10%).
Weight: 26.7 grams.
Years of minting: 1878–1904, 1921
Edge: Reeded.
Mintmark: None for Philadelphia, CC (Carson City), S (San Francisco), O (New Orleans), D (Denver).

Morgan Dollars are among the most popular of all United States coinage. The series was introduced in 1878 and minted continuously until 1904, and again in 1921. It was the first standard silver dollar minted since production of the previous design, the Seated Liberty dollar, ceased due to the passage of the Fourth Coinage Act. The coin is named for its designer, United States Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan.

In 1898, Congress approved a bill that required all remaining bullion purchased under the Sherman Silver Purchase Act to be coined into silver dollars. When in 1904, those silver reserves were depleted, the Mint ceased to strike the Morgan dollar. The Pittman Act, passed in 1918, authorized the melting and recoining of millions of silver dollars. Pursuant to the act, Morgan dollars resumed mintage for one year in 1921. The design was replaced by the Peace dollar later the same year.

In the early 1960s, a large quantity of uncirculated Morgan dollars was found to be available from Treasury vaults, including issues once thought rare. Individuals began purchasing large quantities of the pieces at face value, and eventually the Treasury ceased to exchange silver certificates for silver coin. Beginning in the 1970s, the Treasury conducted a sale of silver dollars minted at the Carson City Mint through the General Services Administration. In 2006, Morgan’s reverse design was used on a silver dollar issued to commemorate the old San Francisco Mint building.

Counterfeit Morgan Dollars

The above is obviously counterfeit for many reasons and the incorrect date and mint mark should be the first thing noticed. No CC (Carson City) were minted in 1895. Incorrect mint marks i.e. 1887-CC, 1888-CC, 1878-O, 1902-CC, or any Morgan with a D mint mark other than the 1921, are but one problem when it comes to counterfeits, but it’s the most easiest to discern once you know the appropriate dates and mint marks combinations.

Of course, this so-called 1895-CC has more going against than an incorrect mint mark, even the letters and numbers and other design features are “off” when you compare it to the authentic Morgan Dollar image above it. Another note, all business strike (for circulation) 1895 Morgans have either and S (San Francisco) or an O (New Orleans) mint mark, the 1895 without a mint mark is only found as a proof.

If coin looks odd, it may be a fake or counterfeit, and silver dollar collectors should always be wary of the “too-good-to-be-true-deal”. Also, any suspect fake should be weighed and examined by expert.

This coin’s metal content is steel (it sticks to a magnet) and no 1903 CC’s ever created. It’s a good replica of a date and mint mark combination that never existed, but one look at the font of the date and you can tell it’s wrong.

The fake 1884 Morgan dollar weighs half of what an authentic coin should weigh. Also notice that the authentic 1892 silver dollar has a lot more evidence of wear but still weighs double verses the counterfeit.

Fake Morgan Dollars Made in China

This is a photo of the coin press. Several freshly struck fake Morgan Dollars lie to the right of the machine. They look like they might even be Proof Morgans, which would almost certainly be struck on a machine that uses hand-fed coin blanks, but some of the machinery in this operation looks pretty old so maybe they’re just normal Morgans after all. Whatever quality of striking they have, whether it be Proof or normal, one thing is certain: they’re FAKE!

Here’s a close-up image of a few freshly-minted fake Morgan Dollars struck in China. Those fake Morgans sure look to be pretty high-quality counterfeits. Of course, this counterfeiting ring will process them so that each one appears to have a different amount of wear, toning, contact marks, and other minor imperfections so that they don’t all look too much alike. Some of these fake Morgan Dollars will also find their way into counterfeit PCGS and NGC slabs, but most of the fakes these counterfeiters sell are sold “raw” (rather than slabbed.)

Here is an edge view of the same handful of fake Morgan Dollars shown above. The coins may or may not have been struck on genuine .900 fine silver planchets, though. The Chinese have been experts at creating lookalike alloys for more 1,500 years.

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  1. Morgan Dollar June 13, 2012 Reply

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