The minting of all those Morgan and Peace dollars is just one more example of Washington lawmakers being influenced by minority special interest groups, rather than the will and benefit of the majority of people. These years set the precedent for today’s fiscal irresponsibility.
In 1960 the U.S. Mint reported 485,000 bags of silver dollars in reserve. By 1963, the silver dollars were being sold off at face value.
There was nothing rare about 485 million mint fresh silver dollars that nobody wanted.
The Federal Government was finally doing the will of the people from back in 1879. Back then, the general public wasn’t interested in using silver dollar coins for commerce. They were just too bulky and inconvenient.
In 1878, the government consummated their decision to spend millions of dollars buying silver, minting coins, and constructing vaults to store them. The lawmakers also spent thousands of hours arguing about what should be done with these new silver clinkers.
The American public wasn’t interested in spending silver dollar coins, but their vast numbers weren’t enough to influence Washington decisions. Here’s a brief summary of silver dollars during the decade of 1880-1889.
- 1880: 72,000,000 dollars minted and the vast majority placed in circulation came back (as AU).
- 1881: 102,000,000 dollars minted, with 34 million in circulation
- 1882: 128,000,000 Morgans coined, with 35 million used. More vaults were being built to store them.
- 1884: 185,000,000 with 40 million in use
- 1885: 215,000,000 with most in the new vaults
- 1886: 247,000,000 and $23 million spent on more storage vaults
- 1888: 312,000,000 with now 60 million being used
- 1889: 343,000,000 produced for storage
Minting all these silver dollars actually contributed to their own demise. There was so much silver on the market during this time that the value of silver dropped to $.70 an ounce.
Finally in 1904, the presses were stopped. We had run out of easily mined silver and the price couldn’t support minting coins that cost the tax payers so much more than their intrinsic value.
After melting 270,000,000 Morgan dollars to aid the war effort of WWI, the government decided to mint almost 87,000,000 Morgans to replace the ones lost in the melt. Similar mintage figures continued into the mid 1920’s.
Interestingly, they practically didn’t mint any fractional coins in 1921, but they outdid themselves on the silver dollars that no one used. For more on 1921 fractional silver coinage, see my article called “Silver Rare American Coins From the Year 1921, What Were They Thinking?”.
The U.S. Government spent millions to mine, mint and store silver dollars during the Morgan and Peace production years. Then they spent millions more during the 1960’s selling them at face value to finally get rid of them.
The U.S. government seems to be quite irresponsible with taxpayer money on many fronts. Government bashing has always been a popular sport. There are so many people bashing the government today that I find less competition in the arena of bashing the U.S. Government of the past.
Then, as today the lawmakers in Washington were catering to the special interests who could afford to lobby and cut deals, rather than concern themselves with what’s best for the majority of citizens. Come to think of it, had lawmakers done the will of the people back in the 1800’s, as they swore to do, Morgan and Peace silver dollars would be far more expensive today. Hurray for irresponsible, uncontrolled Government spending…
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