1878 Morgan Silver Dollar
In the 1870’s the United States had just passed through a silver panic that had caused the price of silver to plummet. Old coins that had been hoarded because of their silver value were now worth more as “ordinary money” at face value, so a flood of old and worn coins were now making their way into circulation.
In Congress a new law was about to be passed that was intended to benefit the struggling silver mines of Nevada and other western states, and the U.S. Government was about to be required to purchase between two and four MILLION dollars worth of silver every month and convert it into silver coins.
1883 Liberty Head Nickel
The Liberty Head Nickel (often called the V Nickel) is a U.S. five-cent coin that was designed by Charles Barber, the Chief Engraver at the U.S. Mint. Over half a billion Liberty Head Nickels were minted between 1883 and 1912.
Earlier U.S. coins had been minted from precious metals that were worth approximately the value of the coin — for example, a three cent silver coin contained about three cents worth of silver. But there was great economic uncertainty after the Civil War and it was decided that it might be a better idea to mint coins from less valuable metal so that the resulting coins wouldn’t be hoarded. Thanks in part to political pressure from the nickel mining lobby, Congress passed laws in 1865 and 1866 authorizing the Mint to create new three-cent and five-cent coins using a copper/nickel alloy (75% copper, 25% nickel).
1922 Peace Dollar
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the Bland-Allison Act and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act had required the United States government to buy large amounts of silver every year to help the struggling western mining states. According to law, this silver was to be coined into silver dollars, and the Morgan Silver Dollar was designed and put into production. The Sherman Act was repealed in 1893. The government’s supply of purchased silver lasted eleven more years, but after 1904 the production of Morgan Silver Dollars stopped.
1875 Three Cent Nickel
The Civil War affected almost every aspect of American life — including the availability of American coins. All silver coins were hoarded during the Civil War, even the three-cent silver, the tiniest silver coin the U.S. Mint had ever produced. Coin hoarding was creating a problem for post-Civil War commerce because there were so few coins in circulation to make change or buy a postage stamp (which at this time cost three cents).