The Morgan Silver Dollar is one of the most collectible coins in the world. One reason is many see it as the most beautiful coin the United States Mint has ever produced. Even more compelling is its rich history. Before 1792, the United States was not authorized to create its own coinage. At that time, colonists and those trading with the country used coins from all over Europe. However, finally, the government passed the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, and the U.S. Silver Dollar was named the highest denomination coin.
Fast forward to 1859, when prospectors in Nevada struck silver in the Comstock Lode. This was the biggest vein of silver ever discovered. This brought an onslaught of the shiny metal. At the same time, large quantities of silver from Germany entered the market, cumulatively creating a flood of supply. Not surprisingly, silver dropped in value. Because of this, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1873, stopping all silver coin production.
With the Comstock Lode still churning out large quantiles of silver, there was a pressing need to find a good use for this vast resource. At that time in history, unemployment was very high. So, lawmakers got creative and approached silver producers to see if there was something to be done. The result was a new initiative that would reinstate silver as an official currency and, simultaneously, create more jobs for Americans. This legislation, called the Bland-Allison Act of 1878, created the need for a a new coin design. The current director of the U.S. Mint started searching for the best artist to design a new coin. George T. Morgan, age 30, came highly recommended by management at the Royal Mint of London, so he was hired for this task. That was the birth of the Morgan Dollar. The story doesn’t end there, however.