The Morgan Silver Dollar, now one of the most popular coins for U.S. collectors, was first minted in 1878 when silver mine owners lobbied the government to re-issue silver dollars – the mintage of which had been halted in 1873. At that time, mines in the western U.S. territories such as Nevada were producing very large quantities of silver and authorization for a new silver dollar by the mining lobby was sought so as to stabilize or support silver prices. These lobbying efforts proved successful and the government passed the Bland-Allison Act in early 1878 which required the U.S. Mint to purchase millions of ounces of silver bullion every month to be made into dollar coins. To comply with the Bland-Allison Act, the U.S. Mint engaged a young designer, George T. Morgan, to design and engrave a new silver dollar. George Morgan, in turn, asked Anna W. Williams, a school teacher, to sit as a model for the “Liberty Head” on the obverse side of the Morgan Dollar. Anna became known as “Miss Liberty” and gained fame as a result of her image being engraved on the nation’s silver dollars. Morgan’s design features a portrait of Miss Liberty on the front of the coin while the reverse shows an image of a rather thin eagle – resulting in many referring to the coin as a “buzzard dollar.” About 270 million Morgan Dollars were melted causing some dates to become rare. In 1921, the United States began minting the Morgan Dollar again, but replaced it by the Peace Dollar later that year. Further melting down of many Morgan dollars took place in the 1960s as a result of rapidly rising silver prices. It is estimated that only about 17% of the total number of Morgan Silver Dollars produced survive today.
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