Unexpected Treasures: The Case of the Morgan Silver Dollar
The Morgan dollar was minted intermittently from 1878 to 1921. This example dates from 1883 and was minted at the New Orleans Mint. The small "o" designating the New Orleans Mint appears between the the D and O in the word dollar. Judging by the photographs this piece appears to be in "good" condition meaning that it is heavily worn. the design and words are still visible but the sharp details such as the eagle's wings and Liberty's hair are worn smooth in parts.
In an article on the Morgan Dollar, Gary Eggleston describes Lady Liberty as wearing what is sometimes called a "slave cap" or alternatively "freedom cap." Between the cap and the crown are tucked in sheaves of wheat as well as a couple of cotton bolls tucked like flowers in the curls near her ears. They are hard to see in this image but the imagery is meant to symbolize the union of the north and south of the nation through the inclusion of their two primary agricultural products.
For advice on value I asked Donn Pearlman, spokesman for the Professional Numismatists Guild (www.PNGdealers.com), a non-profit organization composed of many of the country's top rare coin and paper money dealers to take a look at the photographs and render an opinion. Donn says that because the coin is composed of 90 percent silver, even in that low grade it has a wholesale value today of about $20 because of its precious metal content (and based on the price of silver today at $27 an ounce).
I also had Donn take a look at the second coin image that Jerome sent. The other coin pictures are a little fuzzier but Donn ascertained that it appears to be a well-worn and somewhat corroded 1816 United States copper "large cent." Donn tells Luxist that the pennies back then were about the size of today's quarter-dollars. Even though this coin dates all the way back a year when James Madison was President, because the one-cent denomination coin is in poor condition it is likely worth only about $5 or so if sold to a dealer.
This large cent is also referred to as the Matron Head. The coin's Liberty Head had been modified from the classic head of early coins to give the lady a more mature look. It's hard to see in the image below here but the earlier Liberty head had been changed so that the fillet used to hold her hair back was replaced by a high coronet. These coins are also sometimes called Coronet Large Cents. Later, in 1835, the design of Liberty was changed again to give Liberty a slimmer and more youthful appearance.
Thank you for sharing your coins, Jerome!
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