Roger Burdette published an article for CoinWeek on the first Morgan dollars struck at San Francisco. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online for more information.
The first standard Morgan Silver Dollars designed by George T. Morgan were struck at the San Francisco Mint on April 17, 1878. A box containing 10 pairs of dollar dies was shipped on April 8 and arrived at the Mint on the evening of April 16. The dies were apparently numbered one through 10 for both obverse and reverse.
On the morning of April 17, Superintendent Henry L. Dodge notified San Francisco newspapers that Morgan silver dollar dies had arrived and that the first coins would be struck at 3:30 PM at the Mint. Nearly all daily newspapers sent reporters, and several other people were either invited or learned of the event.
Coiner Frank X. Cicott acted as master of ceremonies and likely explained what was going to happen for those in attendance. Superintendent Dodge placed the first planchet in the collar surrounding the lower, reverse die of the large Ajax press. The power drive belt had been disconnected, so Mint employee Thomas C. Maher turned the large flywheel manually. The large toggle joint clicked, driving the upper, or obverse, die into the planchet and producing the first San Francisco silver dollar of the new design.
Nearly 1,000 were struck off when a die cracked, and the press was stopped.
Nothing tells us which die cracked, although Dodge's statement of
eight reverse dies condemned could be a suggestion that it was the reverse that failed. If correct, we should not have any more coins from that die pair than the ±1,000 mentioned. There is no evidence that any dies except the initial pair were used on the 17th.
Telegram dated April 17, 1878, notifying Mint Director Henry Linderman that the dies had arrived and the first Morgan dollar had been struck at San Francisco Mint.
We can establish which die pair was used on April 17 by examining a unique coin.
This is an 1878-S dollar engraved with the words,
one of the first ten coined april [sic] 17th from j. gus. burt in neat capital letters. Examination by Morgan Silver dollar specialists at VAMWorld has established that this coin is a variety known as
VAM 60. The reverse has a long center arrow shaft. The S mintmark is punched high and left in relation to the wreath bow. The identical obverse die was used to make VAMs 26 and 57, but no other coins are known from this reverse die.
The clear deduction from our physical and historical evidence is that the first 1,000 standard silver dollars were produced at the San Francisco Mint during the afternoon of April 17, 1878. All of these coins were struck on the large Ajax press from a single pair of dies. After somewhat less than 1,000 pieces were made, the reverse die cracked and was condemned. No further coins were made from this pair of dies. This die combination is known as VAM 60. All initial production coins were made from this pair of dies, and this pair only.
To read the complete article, see:
Roger Burdette: First 1878-S Morgan Silver Dollars Struck
To read an earlier E-Sylum article, see:
THE FIRST MORGAN DOLLARS STRUCK IN SAN FRANCISCO
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2023 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster