_____(We have moved in, but are still working on this page: Please check back later, as we unfold the REAL story of "Patterns to Production: The development of the 1878 Morgan Silver Dollar"; by Pete R. Bishal, 1980, 1990, 1999.) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

_____We are into Collectibles such as coins, stamps, baseball cards, and comic books. Tho heavy into Error coinage, our first love is Historical Research. Primarily, development of the U.S. 1878 Morgan Silver Dollar, a coin that was Minted from 1878 to early in 1921. THE Very First one was struck on March 11, 1878 at 3:17 P.M. on Press #4 at the Philadelphia Mint. Origionaly presented to the then President, today it is on permenant display at "The Hayes Library and Museaum" in Fremont, Ohio, where we ourselves found and identified it as such in August, 1980.


_____Many notable authors throughout the years have attempted to trace the steps taken by the artist to make this coin's design, usually via documentation of the vast amount of correspondance from the period that's stored in the National Archives in Wahington D.C. (Believe it or no, fastest means of communication back then between Philadelphia and the Capitol was by way of the U.S. Postal Service... How times have changed!) And, because he was under orders to report his progress on each and every change made on the new designs, Morgan constantly wrote to his superior, Dr. Henry Linderman (who was the Director of the Mint from 1873 until his death in 1879...), to which Dr. Linderman replied with his suggestions, approval or rejection, critisism, etc... With all these letters detailng evoloution of the basic Obverse and Reverse (a.k.a.: Front and Back) images, it would seem to be a researcher's dream come true. The only problem with this scenerio is.. --but that will be shown later in the tale; For now, one must go back to how/when it all began: 2 years earlier in the 1870's, long before there was a Mr. Morgan at the U.S. Mint.


_____During the mid-1960's, the U.S. Mint was faced with a dilema: Because coins were worth more for their Silver content than their face value, a far greater amount were being removed from circulation to be melted down as "scrap" than the U.S. Mints could produce. Ergo, the reason why all U.S. `Silver' coins now being struck are actually Copper, with a Copper-Nickle `Cladding'. But back then in the early `70's of the last century, the problem was just the opposite: Huge quantities of raw Silver were being discovered in the Western States while at the same time, the U.S. Mints were cutting-back on producing newer Silver Coinage. One can only image the wrath of the Mine owners at finding more and more of the precious metal while at the same time, watching its value fall almost per diem. What were they to do?? The answer was obvious. After some thought, they came up with a simple soloution: Whereas the Government was the largest user/buyer of raw Silver, why not lobby it and force it to change policy? (doesn't that sound familiar??) Which is exactly what they did...


_____On February 28, 1878, Congress passed into Law the Bland-Allison Act, which required the Federal Government to buy vast amounts of unneeded Silver. But the Nation's leader's were well prepared for this: Some 2 years earlier, Dr. Linderman had contacted his counterpart in England looking for a coin designer with fresh new ideas. Then Deputy Master of the Royal Mint in London, C.W. Freemantle `loaned' him young George T. Morgan for a `trial' period of 6 months (..a short length of time which, in reality, stretched-out until Morgan's death here in the U.S. in 1921 at the age of 79 --A total of some 45 years or so in all!). Given a choice of remaining where and what he was: just one of many talented artists most likely never to really make a name for themselves, and going over to America where he would be the Mint Director's #1 favorite (so to speak), he jumped at the chance, and almost immediatly began sketching and creating new design proposals long before he first set foot in America early in October, 1876.


_____Working as fast as he could to bring himself up to speed in doing things in the 'American way', Morgan enrolled in a local Acadamy to study various profile types for an Obverse design, read just about everthing he could lay his hands on about the American Bald Eagle (for Reverse), and lucked into finding a model to sit for him. (The Obverse on every dollar to be struck would bear a nearly exact portrait of that young Schoolteacher, Ms. Anne Williams, from Philadelphia.) In less than 2 months, his first sets of basic Obverse/Reverse designs were ready to present to Dr. Linderman for approval. And approve of them he did; So much so that he ordered the designer to have the Mint's lesser "die-sinkers" complete them and then use the finished dies to strike a number of test-pieces (known as Patterns) to see what they would look like, how they would strike-up, and so on.


_____To clarify a minor point made above, it should be noted here that contrary to current beliefs, the entire design as credited to Mr. Morgan was not so. Most of his earliest works were in fact made up from images that he'd 'borrowed' from earlier die-sinker's works, which were then combined with partial outer rings of designs made by one or more of the "lesser" `die-sinkers' (Mr. Downing, Mr. Key, Mr. Straub, and or any one of a few other workers.) Take for example his first 3 Obverse/Reverse pairings, completed around the beginning of 1877.


_____NOTE: For now, the author will be identifying various pattern images by their Judd numbers, with hopes of converting same to Pollock #'s in the near future, and even to adding Obverse and Reverse photos of each of the specific designs being examined.

(To be Cont.)

Links to other sites on the Web

Our favorite 3.x Browser
A little bragging about us
Still more bragging
The 1877 Pattern designs (This page, when finished)
The 1878 '8' TF design (COMPLETED.. Read and Enjoy!!)
The 1878 '7/8' TF design (Under HEAVY construction)

Thanks for the peek at our site. Please return as often as you wish, as we will be constantly adding both known and recently discovered facts to the tale; in effect, changing History forever. (Latest Update: 05/01/99)


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