Mintage of the United States silver dollar coin has not been continuous since its debut in 1794. Mintage of silver dollars was suspended from 1804 to 1836; and from 1873 to 1878. The pattern and general circulation silver dollar coins by Christian Gobrecht were minted almost every year from 1836 to 1873. Due to the opening of new, highly productive silver mines in Colorado and Nevada; Congress passed the coinage law of 1873 that eliminated the silver dollar from circulation in lieu of the gold dollar.

U.S. Mint Director H.R. Linderman, wishing to change the designs of the Gobrecht coinage, embraced the passing of the Bland-Allison Act of February 28th, 1878. This congressional act authorized the resumption of a new dollar coin using the silver bullion from the western mines.

Chief Engraver William Barber and his Assistant Engraver son, Charles were a force to be reckoned with at the Philadelphia mint. They shared an office at the mint where they also operated their own private engraving firm, often producing private work on government time! Linderman was under the opinion that both Barbers were overworked and perhaps a little under qualified for a major assignment. Linderman wrote to the director of the London Mint inquiring if they had anyone on staff who would be interested in an engraver position at the Philadelphia Mint. Charles Fremantle, Director of the London Mint, replied that he knew of a George T. Morgan; a talented engraver who unfortunately had not been able to secure a position at the English mint.

Morgan arrived in Philadelphia in September 1876 and was hired by Linderman as Assistant Engraver. Morgan was given the assignment for the new silver dollar coin. He used Anna Williams, a Philadelphia school teacher, as his model for the obverse. The reverse featured an eagle and was modified several times in the first year of issue. Due to a personality conflict with Chief Engraver William Barber (foreshadowing later conflicts between his son Charles and Augustus Saint Gaudens), Morgan was forced to work in his rooming house in Philadelphia.

The ultimate results were nothing less than superb. The Morgan Silver Dollar was minted from 1878 to 1904, and finally in 1921. Morgan Dollars were struck at the Philadelphia, Carson City, San Francisco, New Orleans and Denver Mints. The Morgan Silver Dollar has emerged as the cornerstone of the U.S. rare coin market.