Morgan silver dollars were minted from 1878 to 1904 and briefly in 1921, when the U.S. government discontinued production of Morgan silver dollars permanently. The dollar coins were first created as a result of the discovery of a large silver mine near Carson City, Nev., that made silver an abundant metal. The Morgan silver dollars are 90 percent silver.
Silver dollars had fallen out of favor for the five years prior to the Morgan silver dollar because they were heavy and made up only a fraction of circulating coins. The Mint Act of 1878 authorized a new silver dollar to be minted, creating the Morgan. At the same time, Congress passed a bill requiring the treasury to purchase large amounts of silver for the production of dollar coins. Silver prices fell despite the interest in the metal because it was still not widely used in industry.
By 1893 there was an overabundance of silver dollars but not enough gold. The treasury's gold had been largely paid out to mine owners to purchase the silver, not leaving much left to pay notes and other financial obligations payable solely in gold. This put the U.S. government in a precarious situation and no more silver was purchased.
The Morgan dollars were minted until the supply of silver ran out in 1904. The Morgan dollar was briefly minted in 1921 as a counterbalance to an act that had required silver dollars to be melted down to make currency for India, which was then a British colony.