Classic American Coins – An Analysis of the 1964 Morgan Hub Design

By Leroy Van AllenSpecial for CoinWeek …..

In November, Charles Morganeditor of CoinWeeksent me an email with three set photographs of the two Morgan dollar hubs dated 1964 recently found by numismatists at Philadelphia Mint. He wanted to know if I had any information on these hubs. It was the first time I had seen the photographs.

This resulted in a brief review and research of the history of these poles. My research resulted in the excellent book by Roger Burette entitled A Guide to Peace Dollars by The Official Red Book (Whitman Publishing, 2008). A chapter covered 1964-D Peace Dollar evolution in detail with numerous quotations and references from US currency letters and memoirs.

The specific preparation of these two 1964 Morgan dollar hubs has not been mentioned in this chapter. However, several correspondences and letters quoted included the possible re-use of the old pre-World War I silver dollar design. Mint Director Eve Adams sent a note dated February 18, 1963 to the Secretary to the Treasurer Robert Wallace on the issues of making additional supplies of silver dollars in the near future as the current supplies were being released.

Over the next few months, senators from western states, led by the Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Montana) wanted more silver dollars minted to maintain supply and allow the West to continue using silver dollars.

The Adams memorandum of July 31, 1963 indicates that a decision had been made for the Mint to produce silver dollars when the current supply was exhausted. She added that it would be beneficial to reuse one of the old designs to discourage collector interest, preserve the traditions of artistic beauty of the old dollars and save money as the Mint retains the old designs, thus eliminating the preparation of new models, etc. Wallace repeated Adams’ recommendations in a memorandum for Secretary Dillon and added to reissue the pre-World War I Liberty Head design.

This was the first mention of the use of the Morgan silver dollar design.

The US Mint letter of September 27, 1963 suggested to the superintendent of the Denver Mint, Miller Fern, to plan the production of dollars. the Denver Mint the minting division noted in a letter dated October 15, 1963 that they had 32 reverse dies remaining for the years 1934, 1935 and 1936. These dies were received by the Philadelphia Mint on September 17, 1964 but the dies were in poor condition and had to be destroyed. The last mention of the use of the pre-World War I Liberty Head design was in a letter from Warden Adams to Treasurer Wallace on April 9, 1964.

So between April and September 1964, when the remnants of the peace dollar were received, it was decided to use the peace dollar design instead of the Morgan dollar design, possibly due to availability inverted peace dollar matrices. The dates of manufacture stamped on the Morgan dollar hubs are 12-6-63 for the obverse and 12-13-63 for the reverse. They were therefore prepared shortly after the letter from the US Mint to the Denver Mint on September 27, 1963 to plan the production of dollars.

Review of two Morgan Dollar Hub photographs from 1964

The first impression of the photographs of the two hubs is a very good rendering of the obverse and reverse design. There were no extant working hubs or dies of the pre-World War I Morgan dollar since all previous hubs and dies were destroyed by the Mint in 1910. The most accurate rendition available was therefore dollars Morgan smitten. Photographic enlargements of the obverse and reverse of the coin six to eight times could then be traced onto a plaster (plastilene) basin to prepare a positive model, complete with lettering and a new date of 1964.

It is unclear whether the chief engraver or an assistant engraver prepared the patterns and subsequent steps to the final hubs.

(left) 1902-O VAM 31A Olive Branch Bent End, (right) 1964 Morgan Dollar Hub, Bent Branch

After the positive model was verified and approved, a negative plaster cast was prepared. Then the standard 1963 hub preparation steps followed to saturate the plaster mold with hot beeswax in an oven, cover it with copper dust, galvanize the copper on the mold, separate the copper shell from the mold and return with plaster to form a Galvano. Then a January reduction lathe transferred the Galvano design down onto the hub face. The hub has been retouched to remove tool marks, turned down in a lathe, then heated and quenched to form a hardened hub.

Only one obverse and reverse hub was made as they could make enough working dies for the planned coin production of $45 million in silver.


(left) 1902-O VAM 54 lined profile, lip size, design, (right) 1964 Morgan Dollar Hub, lips

The next questions are the quality of the design reproduction, the accuracy of the Morgan dollar design, and any noticeable design differences or flaws.

The first step was to enhance both front and back photographs available with a computer photography program. It turned out that the photographs of the two hubs were taken at a slight angle with the hub facing the center but the top and bottom slightly out of focus. Thus, the detailed examination was mainly limited to the central slice of the clearest photograph. The obverse hub was from Type III3 design used 1879–1904, with unevenly divided rear ear. The fineness of the hair strands appeared to match the normal Morgan dollar, but it could not be determined whether the wheat leaves had the required fine lines or the cotton bolls with dots. The peripheral lettering appeared to closely match the letter patterns of a Morgan dollar coin, but the top letters could not be reliably verified based on the photographs.


(left) 1902-O VAM 31A MER Letters, (right) 1964 Morgan Hub Different Shape MER

A slight obvious design difference was noted in the Liberty head lips, with the upper hub lip protruding more and a straight line design edge from lower lip to chin instead of a proper curved edge.

For the reverse, the most notable feature of the design type was the seven tail feathers and a wide round space at the left wing and neck of the eagle. Inverted C4 type design. This type was used on some 1900-P; 1901-P, -O, -S; 1902-P, -O, -S; 1904-S and all numbers 1903-P and 1904-P, -O.


Wing neck gap: (left) 1900-O VAM 11 C3, (center) 1902-O VAM 31A C4, (right) 1964 Hub

The somewhat blurry image of the olive atop the left end of the olive branch appeared to have two parts. Normal C3 and C4 inverters have only one olive of slightly different size and design. It is possible that a so-called “two-olive reverse” of a C4 double-hub reverse piece on C3 was copied. Dual hubs were used on some 1900-P, -S; 1901-P, -O, -S; 1902-P, -O, -S; 1903-O, -S; and numbers 1904-S.

Another noticeable design difference was the straight end of the olive branch which had a long curved bottom edge instead of the correct slight curvature and arrow shafts appearing longer than normal near the arrowheads.

Some of the reverse lettering had slight differences, such as thicker serifs and thinner vertical stems.


As expected, the United States Mint Engraving Department at the Philadelphia Mint prepared an excellent, accurate copy of the pre-World War I Morgan dollar design with no noticeable roughness, superfluous lines, or surface defects. It was probably a copy of an existing Morgan dollar coin since all previous hubs and dies were destroyed in 1910.

The obverse was of the correct Type III3 used from 1879 to 1904 with only slight differences noted at the lips of the Liberty head.

The reverse was of the correct C4 type used from 1900 to 1904. There were slight design differences from the normal design on the right end of the olive branch, the arrowhead shafts and the surrounding lettering thicker serifs and thinner vertical bars. There were possibly two olives on the top left side of the olive branch evident on some double hub dies of the same period from 1900 to 1904.

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