1878-1881 Morgan Dollars

 The Morgan Dollar was authorized under the Bland-Allison Act, which had authorized the purchase of large amounts of silver to be minted into silver dollars. Due to the required purchase levels, production took place at a level which was much higher than circulating demand for the denomination. This led to the stockpiling of uncirculated coins at various mints and Treasury buildings, which would ultimately have a significant impact of the survivability of certain issues of the series.

From 1878 to 1881, production would take place at the Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, and San Francisco Mint facilities. Typically, the highest production took place at Philadelphia, and the lowest production took place at Carson City. As mentioned, the ultimate rarity for present day collectors was also impacted by the number of coins that were held in long term storage and not released for circulation. As such, mintages alone do not account for the availability of scarcity of each date and mint mark combination.

The early years of the series saw some slight variation in design. Initially, the heraldic eagle shown on the reverse had eight tail feathers and a flat breast. This was modified to have seven tail feathers visible and one of two alternate reverse types. The first had two parallel top arrow feathers and a concave breast. The other had a slanted top arrow and convex breast.

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