In 1890, a Philadelphia based magazine became the first to publish the only novel by the Irish writer, Oscar Wilde. The work was titled The Picture of Dorian Gray. An editor for the Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine of Philadelphia had journey to London in search of short novels to publish. On the night of August 30, 1889, the editor met with Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and T.P. Gill and commissioned each writer for a short piece. Doyle’s novel, The Sign of the Four, was promptly submitted and published but it was not until nearly a year later that Wilde’s work would see the light of day. Could this 1890 Morgan dollar, minted in Philadelphia, have been used to purchase one of the first issues of the celebrated novel?
The Morgan Dollar was the first standard Silver Dollar struck in the United States Mint since early 1873. This series derives its name from its designer, George T. Morgan, who was formerly a pupil of the famed William Wyon in the Royal Mint in London. Authorized by the Bland-Allison Act of February 28, 1878, the Morgan Dollar was produced every year from 1878 through 1904. The coin was essentially an outlet for western mine owners who were having difficulty selling silver bullion on the world market. The use of the Morgan Dollar for this purpose received a further boost with the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of July 14, 1890, but it was finally halted in 1904 when the bullion supply became exhausted. Since the 1918 Pittman Act called for the replacement of all the Silver Dollars that the government melted at the end of World War I, and the new Peace design was not yet ready for production, the Morgan design was revived for one final mass coinage. The original hubs had been destroyed, however, as the Mint did not expect to strike any more coins of this denomination after 1904. As a result, it had to create new hubs for the Morgan Dollar in 1921, and examples of this date are slightly (yet perceptibly) different in design from earlier coins of this type.