1964 Morgan dollar tooling a numismatic bombshell

Coin World managing editor William T. Gibbs discusses the bombshell announcement this past week by Whitman Publishing — that researchers had found physical evidence at the Philadelphia Mint that U.S. Mint officials had considered striking a 1964 Morgan dollar. Though no actual coins were found, this is one of the most exciting discoveries in decades.

Full video transcript:

Good morning, this is William T. Gibbs with Coin World, to report for Labor Day weekend 2016.

Some stories come at us completely out of the blue, completely unexpected, and that’s what happened this past week when Whitman Publishing, in announcing the upcoming fifth edition of
A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars revealed that it would include information about the 1964 Morgan dollar.

You ask, “The 1964 Morgan Dollar? There isn’t such a coin.”

Well, there almost was.

In July of 2015, a team of four researchers—all well-known numismatists and authors—paid a visit to the Philadelphia Mint while they were working on some research.

They were Dennis Tucker, who is publisher of Whitman; well-known numismatist and author Q. David Bowers; John Dannreuther, another well-known numismatist and writer; and David Sundman, the president of Littleton Coin Company and also an author of a number of works on numismatics.

During their visit there John Dannreuther was going through a cabinet of various models for coins and medals when he said, “Wait, hey look, models for the Morgan dollar.”

Dennis Tucker joined him and they both realized at the same instant that the obverse model was dated 1964.

They called the two other researchers over and there was a great deal of excitement because there was never any indication, any evidence in the past that we had discovered, that the Mint considered striking a 1964 [Morgan] dollar.

Mint officials then granted the four access to the vault area where hubs and dies are kept. Not only did they find hubs and master dies for the 1964 Morgan dollar, they also found the hubs and master dies for the 1964 Peace dollar, trial strikes of which were produced in 1965 at the Denver Mint.

In the mid-1960s, even though there was a worldwide shortage of silver for coinage, Congress wanted the U.S. Mint to start striking new silver dollars to fill Treasury Department inventories.

Collectors and investors and others who were drawing down inventory of silver dollars at Treasury by exchanging silver certificates for the dollars at face value, something we could only dream about today.

Hundreds of thousands of the 1964 Peace dollar trial strikes were produced in 1965 at Denver, but they were all subsequently destroyed, according to Mint officials, when the plan was abandoned. However, numismatists had no idea that Morgan dollar designs were also considered.

Now, the researchers found no actual trial strikes for either coin, and we’re still uncertain as to whether or not any trial strikes for the 1964 Morgan dollar were struck.

All of us will be able to read a lot more about this amazing discovery in September when Whitman introduces and releases their revised book on Morgan dollars.

In the nearly 40 years that I’ve been reporting and editing for
Coin World, this is one of the most exciting stories I’ve ever been a part of. I can’t wait to see the book to learn more about this discovery, and we will continue to keep you informed as to what we find out.

For Coin World, this is William T. Gibbs. Thank you. 

Connect with Coin World:  

Community Comments