Enigma of the 1921 Morgan

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Randy Abercrombie, Jul 10, 2024 at 11:02 AM.

  1. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    This is probably common knowledge but it isn't for me..... We stopped striking dollars in 1904 but resumed in 1921 when we were about to embark upon the highly stylized Peace dollar. And as i understand, all the Morgan dies were destroyed in 1904. So why then did we recreate dies to strike Morgans again in 1921, the same year that we introduced Peace dollars?
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  3. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I have wondered about this situation also. Some of it make no sense to me, but here's what I know of the history, in a "Readers' Digest" version.

    The Sherman Silver Purchase Act required the government to buy 4.5 million ounces of silver every month, which would back issues of paper money. Unfortunately, the paper money could be redeemed in either gold or silver. Since gold was worth a lot more than silver, using the 16 to 1 assumption, the redemptions seriously depleted the United States Government gold supply. At a time when the world's currencies were valued in gold, this was a crisis.

    In the end the agreement was, the government would make silver dollars until its stock of silver ran out, without more purchases. That caused the silver dollar production to end in 1904.

    In 1918 the British Government badly needed silver for use in India. The Pittman Act called for the melting of about half the silver dollars the government had on hand. The silver was sold to England.

    The policy was that more silver dollars were needed to back the currency in circulation. Therefore the 1921 dollars were made.

    The tools to make the Morgan Dollars had been destroyed circa 1908. The 1921 Morgan Dollars were a rush job, and it showed. George Morgan used an existing Morgan Dollar, a bit like a counterfeiter, to make the dies.

    My question as always been, why didn't the government buy silver on the open market rather than melting many millions of "obsolete" silver dollars in 1918 only to make new ones in 1921? I've been told that is a silly question.

    I have this MS-61 Morgan in my collection to mark these events.

    1921 Morgan Dol All.jpg
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  4. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Just another government screwup.
  5. derkerlegand

    derkerlegand Well-Known Member

    Then, as now, they work in "mysterious ways"!
  6. lardan

    lardan Supporter! Supporter

    This was just another wasteful move by our government by people that do not have a full understanding of what they are doing. As someone here recently said they are the governament and can do what they want regardless of the consequences. I will say I have always wondered if anyone made a few million when our nation did this.
  7. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    During the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the silver mine owners made a fortune. The government bought up their excess product and supported the prices.

    The knitwits thought they would benefit from inflation created by increases in the money supply. If they did, the benefit was transitory. They might have paid off their loans with cheaper dollars, but they still had eat and have a roof over their heads. They also had to run their farms and other businesses at higher expenses which may not have been covered by higher crop prices.
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    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    Bowers via the PCGS blurb specifies 1910. Here is a list of the hubs and dies destroyed May 24 and 25, 1910, which I dug up doing research on something else years ago. My recollection was that this destruction was the result of a scandal involving a mint director producing restrikes for his pal. Director A. Piatt Andrew decided to put an end to that once and for all, and ordered the destruction of everything that wasn't current issue. The result was the supposedly crappy 1921 design. I don't know the history of the Peace dollar in relation to this, but it's curious why they would go to the trouble of recreating the Morgan when they could have just waited for the Peace. What was the hurry in 1921?
    (Edit - it's Piatt, not Platt)
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2024 at 7:57 PM
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  9. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    @KBBPLL, given need to back the paper in circulation explains the rush to make millions of silver dollars in 1921.
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  10. KBBPLL

    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    I wonder if that was legislated or actual demand. Anecdotally, my only Morgan is a 1921 from my grandfather or grandmother, pulled from circulation. If there was a rush to swap your silver certificates for physical silver, it seems like the grandparents would have had more of them, and in better condition. Maybe it was only the theory of having the currency physically backed by silver. Many millions of them sat in vaults for decades, so I suppose it's clear that making them wasn't due to any real demand.
  11. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    So long as people have confidence in the paper money in circulation, they won’t convert to silver or gold. The silver dollar is a heavy, inconvenient coin. It has never been popular except in the western states where hard money had more of a foothold. The people did know that the silver was there.
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  12. KBBPLL

    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    I'm fascinated by this stuff. Did the government ever actually have $1 in silver coins for every $1 in silver certificates, or was it mostly a ruse to instill confidence? The market price of silver during 1921 was 63 cents an ounce. Surely many people knew this. Why would anybody care that physical metal that was worth a third less than the paper was backing the paper?
  13. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Many people are not as well informed or savvy as you might think. All they know is that “It’s hard money,” even if it doesn’t melt for the value of a dollar.
  14. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Tell your dog I said hi!

    These are screenshots of the 1967 Red Book regarding dollars (I randomly picked this year. The 2015 Red Book I have is similar but has been re-written in parts. I will not do a comparison because I'm a fat lazy potato shaped dog). I might read it all someday. I hope it is relevant to this thread.










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  15. Evan8

    Evan8 A Little Off Center

    Idk but in my opinion the 1921 Morgan Dollar looks fake when compared to previous years of Morgan dollar due to the slight redesign.
    Probably my best example:

    The 1921 Peace dollar hits different. One of my favorite coins I own:
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