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1921 Only Year of Denver Morgan Dollar
By Paul M. Green

Even the most readily available Morgan dollars have a story to tell and that certainly is the case with the 1921-D. Based on its price of just $43 in MS-60, it would seem that the 1921-D is both available and not very interesting but nothing could be further from the truth. The 1921-D is actually a historic coin that is somewhat tougher than might be expected in some grades.

There were not supposed to be Morgan dollars being produced in 1921. Back in 1904 when the final Morgans had been produced, many involved seriously doubted that the U.S. would ever produce another silver dollar. They had good reason for those doubts, because stored away in vaults all over the country were quite literally hundreds of millions of Morgans for which there was no commercial demand.

Everything changed with the Pittman Act of 1918, which allowed for the melting of up to 350 million silver dollars from the vaults. As it turned out, just over 270 million silver dollars were melted, but that resulted in a problem. Those silver dollars were the backing for Silver Certificates that said specifically they could be redeemed for a silver dollar. The problem was that there were not enough silver dollars, and that meant that Silver Certificates had to be called in and replaced by short-term certificates of indebtedness that paid 2 percent interest. With new silver dollars, Silver Certificates could be issued to call in the interest-bearing certificates.

The order went out to quickly make 208 million silver dollars. To produce any significant number was going to require the use of the main facility in Philadelphia as well as the branch mints in San Francisco and Denver.

The total mintage of 20,345,000 was large enough to assure a supply today, especially with no Pittman Act melting to reduce the supply as was the case with earlier Morgans. Despite the release of bags over the years, the 1921-D was still found in the final Treasury releases from 1962-64.

Although the 1921-D was present in the Treasury releases, it was not there in the numbers that might be expected based on its large mintage. Moreover, the Treasury releases were not saved in every case and with the 1921-D already being available at the time it was not a date where many would have even bothered to cherrypick the bags for especially nice examples. That is seen in the current $420 MS-65 price.

Even though the 1921-D is not among the most available Morgan dollars in some grades, it is still an available date. It is, however, one that is tremendously important since it is the only Morgan dollar to ever be produced at Denver. That means it does have extra demand. If you want a Morgan from each of the mints that produced them, the 1921-D is your only Denver choice. The combination of poor strikes from a new hub and a lack of saving of quality examples makes the 1921-D a dollar worth watching.


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