George T. Morgan, “America’s Silver Dollar Artist”

George T. Morgan, the man who designed the Morgan Silver Dollar, was born in Birmingham, England in 1845. He was working as a contract engraver for the Royal Mint in London when Henry Linderman, the director of the U.S. Mint, recruited him by mail for a six-month trial as a Special Engraver for the Mint’s Philadelphia branch. (The salary was $8 a day.) Linderman was looking for a new engraver because he was less than impressed with the quality of the coinage that was being produced by the Philadelphia Mint in general… and by the father and son team of Chief Engraver William Barber and Assistant Engraver Charles Barber in particular.

Anna Willess Williams, the “Silver Dollar Girl”

Anna Willess Williams

It is widely believed that the model for Lady Liberty on the Morgan Silver Dollar was a Philadelphia schoolteacher named Anna Willess Williams. She was recommended to George T. Morgan, the designer of the Morgan dollar, by an acquaintance of her father’s, the painter Thomas Eakins. Morgan enthused that “Miss Williams’ profile was the most nearly perfect he had seen in England or America.” He described her as being fair in complexion, “with blue eyes and a Grecian nose,” with hair that was “almost her crowing glory… golden color, abundant and light of texture.”

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