The seventh edition of Whitman Publishing’s best-selling Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars, by Q. David Bowers, will debut this December, available from booksellers and hobby shops nationwide. Here, Jeff Garrett, the Senior Editor of the Red Book, reviews the new volume and shares some thoughts on these popular coins.
American numismatics closely relates to the historical events of the nation. Nearly every issue of coinage and paper money was created because of important cultural, social, economic, technological, and related developments. No one explores this relationship between numismatics and history like Q. David Bowers. His thoughtful examination brings coins to life and informs the reader of their relevance. Thousands of collectors have been drawn to the hobby by the magic of Bowers’s literary brilliance. No other numismatist has had a greater impact on the hobby.
A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars fulfills Bowers’s mission of examining these coins date by date and, more importantly, giving the full historical context for their creation. Their deep connection with Western politics of the day makes for interesting reading. Even more compelling is their connection to the settling of the “Wild West” and the associated romance of the era.
Morgan silver dollars were produced in prodigious numbers from 1878 to 1921, and vast quantities never entered circulation. While hundreds of millions were relegated to the melting pot because of the 1918 Pittman Act, millions still remain for collectors. The great “Treasury Release” in the 1960s and the GSA sale of Carson City silver dollars in the 1970s ensured large numbers would be saved for collectors today. These were two of the most important developments in the history of American numismatics. Bowers gives his readers a ringside seat to these seminal events.
Collecting Morgan silver dollars has changed dramatically over the decades. Many issues were virtually unknown to dealers and collectors until the Treasury release of the 1960s. The advent of third-party grading and population reports in the 1980s has given modern collectors a much clearer indication of true rarity. The current hyper-focus on quality and the popularity of set-registry collecting are other recent phenomena. The data provided by Bowers give collectors the tools to make educated collecting decisions.
The popularity of Morgan silver dollars has soared in recent years due to the U.S. Mint’s production of tribute coins that started in 2021. These new coins were issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the last year the coins were struck. The Mint released coins from its facilities in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco, and also produced coins with “privy marks” representing the now dormant Carson City and New Orleans Mints. Excitement around these new issues has inspired thousands of beginning collectors and energized those already involved with the series.
Morgan silver dollars have long been among the most actively collected U.S. coins. They can be collected on a modest budget by those satisfied with lower-grade examples. For collectors seeking the finest, Morgan silver dollars represent an incredible challenge. Many dates are nearly unknown in superb condition. Bowers’s date-by-date analysis gives collectors the information they need, regardless of the quality they choose to pursue. A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars also gives insider tips on collecting that can only be garnered through decades of experience. Over the course of his career, Q. David Bowers has handled most of the finest known examples, including coins owned by Norweb and Eliasberg and other great collectors. His incredible insight has assisted collectors at every level for more than 60 years. No American numismatic library is complete without the latest edition of A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars.