The first silver dollars were minted in 1794. The mint struck the new coin utilizing a press meant for cents and half dollars because that particular press was the largest press owned by the mint. Still, each coin had to be struck two times, resulting in an extremely remarkable coin.
In 1876, the director of the U.S. Mint, Dr. Henry Richard Linderman, went in search of new engraving talent for the Philadelphia Mint. Eventually, he hired Englishman George T. Morgan to engrave the new U.S. silver dollar. Anna Willess Williams sat for Morgan a total of five times after being chosen to represent Lady Liberty on what would ultimately become one of the most recognizable coins worldwide. The reverse design that Morgan produced came from his own research on eagles in nature and a personalized wreath-and-bow design.
The Morgan Dollars were originally called Bland Dollars after the congressman who sponsored the bill proposing a brand-new silver dollar. To this day, the Morgan Dollar is among the most collected and sought-after American coins.
Throughout World War I, silver prices surged, in part due to silver hoarding in India. To stabilize the situation, the British asked the United States if it could purchase American silver in order to augment its supply. The Pittman Act of 1918 was passed without congressional sanction. The act called for the Treasury to strike millions of silver dollars, utilizing the Morgan Dollar design.
In 1921, the mint issued the Peace Dollar. Production escalated in 1922 to replace the 270,232,722 silver coins melted in the sale to England. The Peace Dollar honors the signing of the peace treaty between the United States and Germany at the end of World War I. Created by Anthony de Francisci, the Peace Dollar featured de Francisci’s wife as the model for a new version of Lady Liberty. This coin was struck from 1921 until 1935 and was the last silver dollar released for circulation.