The Morgan Silver Dollar is one of the most popular United States coins to collect. The series was issued from 1878 to 1904, and then for a final year in 1921. Production took place at the Philadelphia, New Orleans, Carson City, San Francisco, and Denver Mint facilities yielding 97 different date and mint mark combinations. The expansive scope of a complete collection makes it a life long challenge for collectors to pursue.
The name for this silver dollar series comes from its designer George T. Morgan. Depicted on the obverse is the head of Liberty wearing a cap with the word "Liberty" inscribed on the band. Various agricultural elements are placed within the band including wheat, oak, and cotton. Inscriptions around the outer edge include "E Pluribus Unum" and the date, separated by thirteen stars.
The reverse design of the coin features a bald eagle with wings spread. Its talons grasp a bundle of arrows and an olive branch with a small open wreath surrounding. The inscriptions include "United States of America", "In God We Trust", and "One Dollar".
Rarity and value of Morgan Dollars is greatly impacted by hoards and melting. Some issues with relatively low mintages were preserved for decades within bags stored at the Treasury, preserving the great majority of examples for future collectors. Other issues were melted in large quantity, forever removing these coins from availability.
Over time the scarcest dates have come to be the 1893-S and 1889-CC, which command significant premiums at all grade levels. The most common issues are generally 1881-S, and the coins of 1921, which were minted in large quantity. Throughout the series there are also numerous conditional rarities, which are scarce at certain grade levels. The appearance of deep mirror proof like surfaces is also considerably more scarce for certain dates.