Morgan Dollars

History of the Morgan Dollar

From 1878 to 1921, Morgan Dollars were struck in .900 fine silver, making them a hefty, hard-to-forget piece of currency in the United States during a time of gunslingers, railroad royalty, and saloons. The coins were named after the designer, George T. Morgan, and the liberty head was modeled after a school teacher named Anna Williams. Five U.S. mints produced the coins and they were mainly used in the West. Originally, they came from the mint in bags, not rolls. It was years later when banks and financial institutions began rolling them so that they could be easily stacked and stored.

The Legend of the Comstock Lode and Birth of the Morgan Dollar

In 1859, Patrick McLaughlin and Peter O’Riley were prospecting in Six Mile Canyon near Carson City, soon to be the capital of the Nevada territory. Digging a ditch to collect water, they found a rich black soil that yielded a layer of glittering ore. McLaughlin and O’Riley were experienced miners and instantly recognized gold. They eagerly began to wash away the heavy black soil.

In a few short hours, Henry Comstock came riding by on a borrowed pony. He was a colorful character and had a gift for gab. Without a shred of evidence, Comstock convinced McLaughlin and O’Riley that he had a claim on the very spot in which they had found gold. After a long argument, the two agreed to take Comstock in as a partner to avoid any trouble. Comstock talked so much of “his” mine that soon, hundreds of prospectors were swarming over Six Mile Canyon, washing away the black soil from the gold in the Comstock Mine.

J. F. Stone, a veteran of the California gold rush, was intrigued by the Comstock vein of gold in the Nevada territory. Curious about the heavy black soil being thrown aside by the ton, Stone sent a sample to be assayed in California. The soil turned out to be incredibly rich in silver, yielding $4,700 a ton. So enormous was this claim that over the next two decades, the Comstock Lode produced more than $300 million in precious metals – and that was in 19th-century dollars! Today, the Comstock Lode of Nevada is still known as the Queen of the Silver Strikes.

The Comstock Lode and other mines caused Nevada’s population to grow ten-fold by 1880. Silver deposits played a very important role in the state’s, as well as the nation’s, history. Prior to the mine’s discovery, silver was used sparingly for coinage, but afterward, a flood of silver coins and dollars were struck. In fact, this abundance of silver and the fabulous Comstock Lode helped give birth to the Morgan silver dollar. – According to littletoncoin.com

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