1881-S Morgan Silver Dollar - 1881-S Morgan S$1 PCGS MS65 CAC. This exceptionally toned, well struck, Gem 1881-S Morgan Dollar appears significantly nicer than what the holder indicates. A rainbow crescent of toning covers about forty percent of the obverse. We see shades of tan, green, teal, light blue, and gold. The remainder and the reverse are bright white. The surfaces are original and clean. The strike is strong with full details on the hair above Liberty’s ear the feathers of the eagle’s breast. The grade is confirmed by the presence of the CAC sticker, which indicates that the coin is a premium quality piece that is well within the grade range.
George T. Morgan designed the dollar. It shows a close head of Liberty in profile facing left. She wears a headband inscribed LIBERTY. In her hair are cotton, corn, wheat, and tobacco. She wears a modified Phrygian cap and is surrounded with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, thirteen stars (seven left and six right), and the date. The reverse shows an eagle with wings raised looking left. In its talons are arrows and olive branch, symbols of preparedness and peace. A wreath is below and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST is above. Except for the eagle’s wing tips, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ONE DOLLAR circumscribe the design. The mintmark is below the wreath and above the denomination.
In the late 1870’s a group of silver mine owners convinced Senator William Allison (Republican from Iowa) and Representative Richard Bland (Democrat from Missouri) to support a proposal for a new silver dollar. After much negotiation and intense lobbying by the silver industry, Bland and Allison introduced a bill to resume silver coinage, which had been stopped earlier. Despite the veto of President Rutherford B. Hayes, the Bland-Allison Act became law in February, 1878. It required that the Treasury buy a minimum of two million dollars a month of domestic silver to be coined into dollars. It also gave the silver dollar legal tender status.
These became the dollars designed by George T. Morgan. The act attempted to keep silver at artificially high levels. Large quantities of Morgan Dollars were minted, but they did not circulate well and were kept in Treasury storage vaults, which accounts for their availability today in mint state grades. In 1904 production was halted because the supply of bullion was depleted. In 1918 the Pittman Act provided for the return of the Morgan dollar. It made its final appearance in 1921.
The canvas bags in which most Morgan dollars were stored caused, in some cases, spectacular toning. The present coin is an example of one that was enhanced by being in a bank vault in a cloth bag for many years.
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