The First 4 Morgan Silver Dollars VG-Fine or Better
1878 8 Tail Feathers
This was the first type, and was made in ‘Hi-Relief’.
1878 7/8 Tail Feathers
8 Tail feather dies re-made for 7 Tail Feathers
1878 7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of 1878
‘Concave’ or sunken Eagle’s Breast
1878 7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of 1879
‘Convex’ or Rounded eagle’s Breast
A little history...
George Morgan was born November 24, 1845, at Bilston, Staffordshire, England. His childhood years are mostly unknown, and Morgan himself was vague about the time. He quoted his birth date as anywhere from 1845 through 1849, depending on when he was asked! He studied in Birmingham, England, and eventually worked for some years as an engraver at the firm of J. S. & A. B. Wyon, known widely for their provision of engravers to the 'Tower' Mint in London. While Morgan was well-thought-of, the positions at England's mint would go to the Wyon's so his career there would be limited.
After the disastrous economic issues caused by the introduction of the 'Trade Dollar' for circulation inside the United States, Mint Director Henry Linderman argued that new designs for the nation's coinage would increase interest and, at the same time, placate the silver interests from the American West. This would, he hoped, soak up some of the silver bullion flooding the market due to the tremendous output from the 'Comstock Lode' discovery in Nevada. So Linderman decided to look for an Assistant Engraver to develop the new designs. He didn't think much of the father-son team in charge at the U.S. Mint at the time…..William and Charles Barber. So, after doing some 19th Century 'Networking', Linderman was put in touch with Morgan by the Director of the London Mint, one Charles W. Fremantle. After agreeing to a contract with the U.S. Mint, Morgan embarked on the ship 'Illinois' at Liverpool, England in late September, 1876. He arrived in Washington in early October, 1876, and met with Director Linderman. At first, Linderman told Morgan to model new designs for subsidiary coinage (Dimes, Quarters, and Halves), in particular, the then 38 year old design on the Half Dollar. The Chief Engraver of the mint, William Barber and his son Charles gave Morgan the cold shoulder, and wouldn't even provide space at the mint for him to work. (A little known fact is that Morgan's most famous design, the Morgan Dollar, was created not at the mint, but in a boarding house room some distance from the Mint!) After a few inquiries, Morgan employed a local Philadelphia school teacher, Anna Williams, as a model for new coinage designs. In the final weeks of 1876, the iconic Liberty Head that would, after a few refinements, become the Morgan Dollar was created. Patterns for various denominations were developed during 1877 using the Liberty Head design.
Linderman liked Morgan's designs and recruited former Philadelphia Chief Coiner A. Loudon Snowden to work secretly with Morgan to refine the design. During this timeframe, it became clear to Linderman that silver dollar coinage would be resumed, probably sooner rather than later. During the first week of December 1877, Pattern Dollar coins dated 1878 were produced and sent to Linderman. Also submitted were pattern designs developed by the Barbers. The appearance of a 'competition' was kept for awhile, but Linderman wanted Morgan's design. He requested some changes on February 22, 1878, and Morgan immediately set to work making them. On February 28th, 1878, one of the most important measures (For Coin Collectors at least!) ever passed by Congress became law…the Bland- Allison Act, which ordered the resumption of Silver Dollar coinage. That same day, Linderman wrote to Morgan informing him to prepare his design for production. At 3:17 P.M., March 11, 1878, the first production Morgan Dollar was struck and presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes. Coinage began on April 18, 1878 at the San Francisco Mint, and on April 20, 1878 at the Carson City mint. The rest, as they say, is history. But Morgan's design is so important we will re-visit him as a 'Great Designer' in the future. Also in Morgan's Resume' is the design for America's First Commemorative Half Dollar…the 1892/1893 Columbian Exposition Half, as well as the 1915 Pan Pacific $2 1/2 Dollar Commemorative, the 1918 Illinois Commemorative featuring Abraham Lincoln, and his final work the 1924 Huguenot-Walloon Commemorative Half Dollar. Morgan died suddenly on January 4, 1925.