By Stephanie Meredith
May 5, 2021
This year, the U.S. Mint will release updated renditions of two popular historic coins – the Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars. 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the last year of minting of the Morgan Dollar and the first year of minting of the Peace Dollar. The Mint used historical assets, but modernized the new Morgan and Peace Dollar Anniversary Coins to match current commemorative coin specifications.
The Morgan Dollar was minted from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921. The Mint’s Chief Engraver at the time, George T. Morgan, designed both the obverse and reverse. The obverse featured Liberty wearing a cap, flora, and a crown with the word “LIBERTY”. The reverse featured a heraldic eagle surrounded by a wreath. The design reflected the symbolism common on our coins throughout the 19th century. The Morgan Dollar represented the country’s westward expansion and industrial development at the end of the 19th century.
The Peace Dollar was minted from 1921 to 1935. It symbolized the country’s coming of age as an international power, as well as marking the peace between the U.S. and Germany after World War I. The depiction of Liberty with a radiant crown reflected the country’s new attitude. The reverse featured an eagle holding an olive branch with rays of the sun in the background. Both sides were designed by renowned sculptor Anthony de Francisci.
To re-create these designs for the 2021 coins, the Mint used historic assets such as coins, dies, and high resolution images to capture the artists’ original intent. However, the 2021 Peace Dollar isn’t struck in high relief like the original coin. The 1921 high relief design rose higher than the border, which makes the design elements susceptible to damage. The relief of the 2021 Peace and Morgan Dollars matches modern commemorative coin specifications.
The composition of the modern renditions is also different from the original coins. Both the original Morgan and Peace Dollars were 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. The 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act (Public Law 116-286) set the 2021 coins at 99.9 percent silver, similar to current commemorative dollar coins.
O and CC Privy Marks
The Mint will make the 2021 Morgan Dollar in five versions to commemorate the historic Mint facilities that made the original coin.
- Without a mint mark to recognize the historic Philadelphia Mint’s absence of a mint mark
- “S” and “D” mint marks to recognize the San Francisco and Denver Mint facilities
- “O” privy mark to recognize the former Mint in New Orleans, Louisiana
- “CC” privy mark to recognize the former Mint in Carson City, Nevada
The “O” and “CC” privy marks represent the original mint marks of the New Orleans and Carson City Mint facilities. The New Orleans Mint opened in 1838 to mint gold and silver coins for a growing America. It produced the Morgan Dollar from 1879, the second year of issue, to 1904. The New Orleans Mint stopped coining operations in 1909 and operated as an assay office until the early 20th century.
The Carson City Mint opened in 1870 to mint coins and process silver ore from the nearby Comstock Lode, the country’s largest silver strike. It produced Morgan Dollars from 1878 to 1885 and again from 1889 to 1893. The Carson City Mint halted coining operations in 1893 and operated as an assay office until the early 20th century.
Since these facilities no longer operate, the 2021 Morgan Dollars that commemorate them have privy marks in the place of mint marks. The privy marks are raised ovals with the original “O” or “CC” mint mark incused on top.
The Mint will make one version of the 2021 Peace Dollar, which won’t feature a mint mark. Buy the 2021 Peace Dollar and 2021 Morgan Dollar in our online catalog.
See more Inside the Mint articles.