Posts Tagged ‘Morgan Silver Dollar’

Celebrate Fourth of July with America’s most iconic coins

US coin collecting is one of the most competitive markets globally, which is no surprise given that the coins have some of the most interesting and iconic stories in the coin collecting world. US coins are in extremely high demand, especially in the UK where they rarely make it onto our shores.

As Americans celebrate their independence this week, I have picked out 5 of my favourite US coins to share with you.

The Flowing Hair Dollar

8 of the top 10 most expensive coins ever sold are American, with the Flowing Hair Dollar (1794-5) taking the top spot after it sold for an impressive $10,016,875. It’s thought that only 140 of these remarkable coins exist, so it is near on impossible to find one.

NNC US 1795 1 Flowing hair - Celebrate Fourth of July with America’s most iconic coins
The flowing hair dollar was the first ever dollar minted by the United States government

This coin was the first dollar coin ever issued by the United States Federal Government and featured an eagle and the bust of Liberty with flowing hair. It was minted in silver and its size and weight were based on the Spanish dollar, which was traded with regularly in the Americas.

The Morgan Dollar 1878-1921

The Silver Morgan Dollar has forever been associated with cowboys and outlaws. These coins could have been used for gambling by train robbers like Butch Cassidy or Jesse James. It’s even rumoured that cowboys would place them in their canteens to preserve water on long journeys.

US Morgan Dollar Philadelphia - Celebrate Fourth of July with America’s most iconic coins
1886 Morgan Dollar

The dollar drew its name from its designer “George T Morgan”, who created an effigy of Lady Liberty as a Goddess, and a reverse which included an eagle with outstretched wings. It’s said that less than 1 in 5 of these coins remain today, making them incredibly collectable and difficult to source.

‘No Cents’ Liberty Head Nickel 1883

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1883 Liberty Head Nickel

The first design for the No Cents Nickel failed to include the denomination and instead it included the Roman Numeral ‘V’. As the coins were the same size as a $5 coin, swindlers seized the opportunity to gold plate these coins and pass them off as $5 coins. Within the year the US Mint added the denomination to the coin.

The Roosevelt Dime 1946-64

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1946 Roosevelt Dime

After the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945, the nation’s only four term president, his portrait was subsequently used on Dimes as a memorial.

During his presidency, Roosevelt founded ‘March of the Dimes’, a charity founded in response to polio epidemics. Roosevelt’s image was chosen for the Dime in honour of his work with the charity, and his own battle with polio. This coin was symbolic for a nation in mourning, and many people collected the coin from their change.

The Franklin Half Dollar 1948-1964

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1948 Franklin Half Dollar

This was the first half dollar to feature the portrait of a non-president on American Coinage. The words ‘Liberty, in God we trust’ surround a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, with the Liberty Bell on the reverse. This was initially a controversial coin, and there were public concerns about the initials of the designer ‘JRS’ being a reference to Stalin and communism, as well as the small eagle placed next to the bell. 

American coins give us some of the most interesting stories in history, and provide us with some of the most fascinating and collectable coins in the world. It’s no wonder that US coin collecting is becoming increasingly popular.


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America’s most infamous coins

Every coin tells a story. But few more than America’s eight most notorious coins…

Right now the U.S. collectible coin market is an absolute minefield. It is the most competitive coin collecting market in the world. In fact, every one of the top ten most valuable coins of all time is from the U.S.

Some of these coins date back to the 1800’s and all of them are extremely famous. Let me tell you why…

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The Indian Penny – featuring a not-so-Native-American!

Indian Head Penny (1859-1909)

The Indian Head Penny is famous for celebrating Native Americans, but it actually doesn’t show a Native American.

According to legend, designer James B. Longacre used a portrait of his 12 year old daughter, Sarah, wearing a headdress. It is, however, more likely that the portrait was based on a classical Greco-Roman statue Venus Accroupie (Crouching Venus).

Either way, the ‘Indian’ is not a Native American! The obverse features the head of Lady Liberty wearing a headdress, while the reverse depicts a wreath as well as the words ‘One Cent’ and a shield in the middle at the top of the coin.

Morgan Silver Dollar (1878-1921)

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The design inspired by a school teacher…

For the new silver dollar, designer George T. Morgan decided to portray Liberty as a goddess, inspired by Philadelphian school teacher, Anna Williams who had a fair complexion, Grecian nose and golden hair. Morgan eventually persuaded Anna Williams to sit as the model for Liberty for the obverse of the Morgan Silver Dollar.

In 1878 artists’ models were considered immoral, therefore, Morgan publicly stated that the model was a statue in a Philadelphia museum. Word soon leaked out, however, and it is rumoured that Williams was fired from her teaching job!

‘No Cents’ Liberty Head Nickel (1883)

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The coin that created an opportunity for crooks

When the new Liberty Head Nickel was issued in 1883, the denomination was nowhere to be seen, instead a large ‘V’ (Roman ‘5’) was on the reverse.

The coins were the size of the $5 gold coin in circulation at the time which created an opportunity for unscrupulous crooks who came up with a cunning plan to pass them off as $5 by gold plating the new nickels and cutting reeds into the edge by hand. The U.S Mint soon became aware and within a few weeks the design was changed to include the word ‘Cents’ under the ‘V’. The ‘No Cents’ coins are also known as ‘Racketeer’ Nickels.

Lincoln Penny (1909)

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The first coin to feature Lincoln’s famous motto

Designer Victor David Brenner added his ‘VDB’ initials to the new Lincoln Penny design in 1909 which was issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

While the public generally loved the Lincoln cent when it was first released, they didn’t like the prominence of Brenner’s initials. The U.S. Mint quickly removed the initials as it appeared as though Brenner was either boasting or advertising. This was the first cent to feature Abraham Lincoln’s motto ‘In God we trust’ on the obverse.

Morgan Dollar (1921)

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Forever associated with the notorious criminal couple Bonnie & Clyde

When notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde were shot and killed by police in 1934, a 1921 Silver Morgan Dollar was recovered from the jacket of Clyde Barrow among other possessions. The outlaw lovers were believed to have committed 13 robberies among other felonies between 1932 and 1934.

The hunt for the duo captured the nation’s imagination during the Great Depression and their fame was heightened by their practice of leaving glamourous photos of themselves at crime scenes.

Even more so now, the 1921 coin is forever associated with Bonnie and Clyde.

Roosevelt Dime (1946)

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The stolen design…

In 1945 plans were quickly laid for the introduction of a new coin to honour Roosevelt after his passing. The task was assigned to John Ray Sinnock and coinage began in 1946. Controversy soon arose because sculptor Selma Burke claimed that Sinnock had stolen her design without giving her credit, however Sinnock strongly denied this.

In addition, conspiracy theorists claimed that Sinnock’s initials ‘JS’ (at the base of Roosevelt’s neck) actually referred to Russian leader Joseph Stalin because of Roosevelt’s supposed ‘communist’ learnings.

Franklin Half Dollar (1948)

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The coin that made a statment

The Franklin Half Dollar was designed by John R. Sinnock and his ‘JS’ initials were again seen by conspiracy theorists as a tribute to Joseph Stalin.

In addition, the crack on the Liberty Bell was controversial, some people saw it as a statement that Liberty in the United States was under threat (despite the fact that the image exactly reflects the bell’s appearance).

Finally, what appears to be a small ‘o’ and large ‘F’ on the reverse (‘oF’ in the United States of America) was rumoured to be a mistake and that the Mint would recall all 1948 coins to correct the ‘error’.

Anthony Dollar (1979)

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The Dollar that the public refused to use

The Anthony Dollar was revolutionary – the first circulating coin to feature a historical woman. Susan B. Anthony was an author and protest speaker among other titles but best known as President of the National American Suffrage Association. The coin was also the first small-sized Dollar that was issued for wide circulation.

However, it quickly became notorious – and almost universally rejected – because it was the same colour and about the same size as a quarter. Therefore, it was often mistaken for a Quarter, and the public refused to use it! (Interestingly, it is now a sought-after collector’s item.)


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You can own all eight of these coins in ‘The Infamous, Notorious and Scandalous U.S. Coin Set’.

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Coins that made the States ‘great’

Two weeks since America went to the polls, the history of its coinage is as rich and as varied as that of its presidents.  Discover why I believe these are 12 of the United States most iconic coins of the last 150 years … 

1. Indian Head Cent (1859 – 1909) – the first coin of America’s single currency issued surprisingly late in 1859. The cent in circulation today is still the same size and the design has only changed once in over 150 years

2. Two Cent Piece (1864 – 1873) – the first coin to bear the inscription ‘In God We Trust’ which became the US’s official motto in 1956 and now appears on most of America’s coins

3. Morgan Silver Dollar (1878 – 1921) – arguably the most famous American coin ever despite the fact it was designed by an Englishman born in Birmingham – Mr  George T. Morgan

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From top to bottom:
The Columbian Half Dollar
The Lincoln Cent
The Buffalo Nickel

4. Columbian Half Dollar (1892 – 1893) – America’s first ever commemorative coin issued to raise money for Chicago’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.   Design marks 400th
anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World in 1492

5. Lincoln Cent (1909 – 1958) – first introduced in 1909 in honour of the 100th  anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and became famous as the first US coin to feature a  recognisable public figure

6. Buffalo Nickel (1913 – 1938) – underwent a design change in 1913 but during the Great Depression (1929-39) many coins were hoarded making them incredibly sought-after today

7. Standing Liberty Quarter (1916 – 1930) – caused outrage when it was first minted as the designer depicted an exposed breast of the Broadway actress who modelled as Lady Liberty as part of the design. Such was the uproar, the US Mint changed the design in 1917

8. Mercury Dime (1916 – 1945) – so-called because the design was mistaken for Mercury, the messenger of the Greek gods, when it was in fact a young Liberty with a winged helmet. The name has stuck in almost 100 years

us coins 3 - Coins that made the States 'great'

From top to bottom:
The Standing Liberty Quarter
The Mercury Dime
The Walking Liberty Half Dollar

9. Walking Liberty Half Dollar (1916 – 1947) – often thought of as America’s most beautiful coin due to Adolph A. Weinman’s exquisite design which was later used on the ‘Eagle’ Silver Bullion coins

10. Lincoln Steel Cent (1943 only) – to preserve Copper reserves during WWII, in 1943 the Lincoln Cent was struck in zinc-plated steel but problems such as rusting saw a return to copper the following year

11. Kennedy Half Dollar (1964 – present) – in circulation by 1964 just months after the President’s assassination but the high silver content led to extensive hoarding and by 1971 was eliminated completely

12. Delaware State Quarter (1999 only) – the first in a remarkable series of coins designed to boost Americans’ interest in numismatics. ‘Delaware’ was the first specially themed ‘State’ quarter and sparked the collecting phenomenon of the decade


Are we missing something?

Is there another American coin that you think should be part of this list?