HomeUS Coins1904 Morgan Dollar : A Collector's Guide

1904 Morgan Dollar : A Collector’s Guide

1904 Morgan Dollar. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1904 Morgan Dollar. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

With the United States Mint’s stockpile of silver bullion earmarked for silver dollar production waning, the Philadelphia Mint struck what would have been its final Morgan Dollars over three months (2,200,000 in January, 66,000 in February, and 522,000 in June). After a 17-year hiatus, Congress would ultimately approve legislation authorizing the striking of hundreds of millions of new dollar coins. This accounts for the 1921 Morgan Dollars and the subsequent Peace Dollar series.

As for the 1904 Morgan Dollar struck at Philadelphia, most of the issue never circulated. Instead, a large percentage of the issue was melted under the terms of the Pittman Act of 1918, which called for the conversion of up to 350 million silver dollars into bullion for sale. As a result, Great Britain purchased over 250 million ounces of silver, and over 270 million silver dollars were melted down.

Bag quantities of the 1904 Morgan Dollar never materialized when Treasury Department stocks were emptied in the 1960s, nor has a noteworthy hoard or accumulation of coins from the issue materialized in the years since.

The coins that did survive were typical Philadelphia Mint products. They have average strikes with average luster, and few examples stand out.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Coin dealer George P. Lang of Valley Stream, New York, advertised in The Numismatist in April 1948, offering Uncirculated examples of the 1904 Morgan Dollar for $3.00.

Dealer Harry W. Bason of New Hyde Park, New York, offered 74 different date/mintmark Morgan dollars in Brilliant Uncirculated in a February 1951 Numismatist ad, where he listed 1904 Morgan Dollars for sale for $3.50 apiece.

Prooflike (PL) and Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) specimens are rare for this date.

Top PopulationPCGS MS67 (1, 5/2024), NGC MS66+ (2, 5/2024), and CAC MS66 (11:0 stickered:graded, 5/2024).

PLs and DMPLs

  • PCGS MS65DMPL #7455606: Jack Lee; “The Dr. Hoffnagle Collection of Morgan Dollars,” Heritage Auctions, January 12, 2005, Lot 30350 – $37,950; “The Arno Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2009, Lot 5070 – $54,625. JACK LEE on insert. Old Green Holder. Toned around the periphery. Toning spot on Liberty’s cheek.
  • PCGS MS64DMPL #30044913: “A Gift of Underserved Favor Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 1, 2008, Lot 2261 – $54,625. Long vertical scratch across Liberty’s face.
  • PCGS MS65PL #34464565: “The David T. Miller #1 PCGS Registry Set of DMPL/PL Morgan Dollars with Varieties,” Heritage Auctions, January 11, 2024, Lot 4172 – $18,600. Creamy in appearance. Light scattered marks in the left obverse field. Tiny ticks on Liberty’s forehead, chin, and neck. On the reverse, there is a diagonal scratch below GOD as well as scratches below IT of UNITED, between the wreath and the eagle’s right wing and to the right of the arrowheads.

Mint State

  • PCGS MS67 #35813445: Plated on PCGS CoinFacts.
  • PCGS MS66+ CAC #42549714: Heritage Auctions, June 17, 2021, Lot 3150 – $10,800. Seafoam and rose toning throughout. Scattered untoned diagonal streaks across the face.
  • PCGS MS66+ #36782841: Stack’s Bowers, May 23, 2019, Lot 1081 – $10,200.
  • PCGS MS66+ CAC #25636455: As NGC MS66 CAC #3809033-016. “The Virginia Cabinet,” Heritage Auctions, April 24, 2015, Lot 5847 – $7,637.50. As PCGS MS66 CAC #32226007. Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2015, Lot 4217 – $9,987.50. Crossed to PCGS. As PCGS MS66+ CAC #25636455. Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2017, Lot 5772 – $10,575. Upgraded one-half point; “The Perfection Collection of DMPL/Prooflike Morgan Dollars,” Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2019, Lot 4375 – $15,600. Aqua toning throughout the reverse. Obverse has rose toning that blends into aqua. Heritage has described this coin as VAM-4 and (possibly) VAM-5.
  • PCGS MS66+ CAC #25650062: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, December 17, 2015, Lot 331 – $12,337.50. Gold toning throughout with rims accented in iridescent lime green.

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Design

Obverse:

Engraver George T. Morgan’s Liberty faces left, dominating the obverse. Liberty’s curled hair, over the forehead and down the back, is topped by a liberty cap with a LIBERTY banner at the front, above which are small branches of wheat, cotton, and maple. Forming a concentric circle inside the denticulated rim are E PLURIBUS UNUM at the top, each word separated by a centered dot, and the date at the bottom. Separating the two legends are 13 small six-pointed starts, seven on the left and six on the right. Morgan’s initial M is found along the truncation of the neck.

Reverse:

The reverse shows an eagle with outstretched wings and tips nearly reaching the denticles encircling the rim. The eagle’s left claw clutches three arrows, the right a solitary olive branch. Inside the rim is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around the top two-thirds, and ONE DOLLAR at the bottom. A six-pointed star separates ONE and UNITED on the left and DOLLAR and AMERICA to the right.

Above the eagle, in a more stylized font than used elsewhere on the coin, is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST (upper and lower case as reproduced here). Surrounding the eagle, inside the legends, is a nearly concentric partial wreath of grain sheaves, tied at the bottom with a double-looped ribbon. The letter M is on the left loop, the first time a designer’s initial was displayed on both sides of a coin.

Edge:

The edge of the Morgan Silver Dollar is reeded.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1904
Denomination: One Dollar (USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 2,788,000
Alloy: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 26.73 g
Diameter: 38.10 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: George T. Morgan
REV Designer: George T. Morgan
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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