In 1921, the Morgan Silver Dollar was reissued after a 17-year absence. However, it was a short-lived return, with the Peace Dollar taking its place before the year was out. For this reason and others, the 1921 Morgan Silver Dollar has attracted considerable interest.
This particular version has been deemed Mint State 63 - or MS63 - quality by the California-based Professional Coin Grading Service. This grade is taken from the Sheldon Coin Grading Scale and indicates the coin's generally high quality, with a few caveats. The Morgan Silver Dollar was first struck between 1878 and 1904, when it was the United States' first standard silver dollar produced since the Coinage Act of 1873 brought an end to production of the Seated Liberty Dollar. The new dollar's obverse and reverse designs came from George T. Morgan when he was working as an assistant engraver at the United States Mint.
On each coin's obverse is, in profile, the head of Liberty, the goddess long used through history to represent freedom and democracy. Here, Liberty's face is actually modeled on that of teacher Anna Willess Williams; Morgan decided against a more traditional, Greek-style depiction of Liberty.
The reverse, meanwhile, shows an eagle - a common motif of United States culture in history - in flight and holding an olive branch and arrows. This design was inspired by observations of the bald eagle in its natural habitat - which, aptly, extends across much of the country.
An intriguing set of circumstances prompted the United States to briefly revive production of the Morgan Silver Dollar in 1921. A German-orchestrated propaganda campaign before the end of the First World War led to citizens of India becoming convinced that, in their country, silver could not be obtained through redemption of British banknotes. This resulted in British silver being hit with a run.
The United States reacted to this with legislation aimed at financially assisting the U.K. government. The 1918 bill had a stated aim of "providing silver for subsidiary coinage and for commercial use, and of assisting foreign governments at war with the enemies of the United States."
The Pittman Act was implemented that year and ultimately resulted in the United States melting 270,232,722 silver dollars in total. Of these, 259,121,554 went to the United Kingdom. However, the Pittman Act also meant that the U.S. needed to make a fresh coin to replace each silver dollar that it melted. Many of the 1921 Morgan Silver Dollars were minted in Philadelphia. This particular listing is dedicated to coins struck in Philadelphia. While those pieces struck in San Francisco and Denver display mint marks indicating as such, mint marks are absent on the Philadelphia-made coins - making identification of those coins straightforward.
Assessing which Sheldon Coin Grading Scale grade a coin warrants is not so easy; however, the PCGS has done exactly that for the version of the piece advertised here. It has given the coin an MS63 grade, reflecting small contact marks, possibly impaired mint luster, and other imperfections.
Features of the 1921 $1 Morgan Silver Dollar PCGS MS63