On my way home, I happen to hear a radio adverti***t
for the Morgan 100-dollar silver coin from the New
York Mint. Below is the Private Mint and a story on
this coin design.
From: "Arizona Coin Collector"
Sent: Friday, November 28, 2008 8:25 PM
Subject: A $100 Gold Coin? Not Just a Dream -- WallStreet Journal
A $100 Gold Coin? Not Just a Dream
Friday November 28, 10:54 pm ET
By Alejandro J. Martinez
In the coin world, it is almost the Holy
Grail: a $100 gold U.S. coin.
A forgotten sketch that potentially could have
graced the face of what would have been the
highest denominated American gold coin, had it
come to fruition, was recently discovered at
the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum
of American History in Washington.
No such $100 coin was actually produced by the
government. The drawing is the only documentation
The pencil sketch of Lady Liberty, seated and facing
right with a ship coming into the harbor, signals
commerce and clearly shows a denomination of $100.
Such a coin would strictly have been used for
commerce between countries, rather than general
circulation, due to its hefty weight.
The sketch in question is one of many drawings
contained in the so-called George T. Morgan sketch
book. Mr. Morgan created one of the most popular
silver coins, the Morgan silver dollar. That is the
coin that appears in many Hollywood Westerns.
The sketch was uncovered by during the summer of
2006 while conducting research on the National
Numismatic Collection for a book on gold coins.
"One hundred years ago, someone knew we had
[the sketch], it's just we have not seen it,"
said , senior curator of numismatics for the
Smithsonian. "This was an artist's sketch mulling
over something he was asked to work on."
While there are some Russian coins that are
bigger than a hockey puck, Mr. Doty said, such a
coin, if done in silver, would have been quite
a hunk of metal. In gold, it would have weighed
nearly one-third a pound when one considers a $20
gold piece weighs 31 grams.
There also is the possibility that the coin was
intended to commemorate the centennial of the
country, Mr. Doty said.
"If this coin would have been struck in gold it
would have been dynamic," Mr. Garrett said.
So why wasn't the coin ever produced?
In 1877, to try to stem a shortage of paper
currency in California, the government did
tinker with the idea of a large-denomination
gold coin. It made two experimental $50 gold
coins, but neither was produced.
Mr. Doty points out that 1977 was the low point
of the 1873-79 economic depression. "When
everyone is out of work," he said, "you don't
need a $50 gold piece."
The movement toward paper currency made the
matter a moot point for good.
Mr. Morgan joined the U.S. Mint in October 1876,
so this sketch was probably one of his first
"It's an image for a coin that never existed but
was dreamed up," said , a project specialist at
the Smithsonian. "It only becomes of interest if
we do something with it.
"Maybe it's a strong enough magnet to get people's
attention, but it doesn't play in an exhibit
environment," Ms. Lee said.
This may help explain why the Smithsonian never
issued a press release on the rediscovery.
That doesn't mean the museum is passing on a
chance to do some commerce. It has partnered
with a private mint to produce a "fantasy
souvenir item" that mimics how the coin might
have looked. (Only the U.S. Mint can produce
actual pocket change.)
The private mint, New York Mint & Collectible
America, in Minneapolis, has been doing brisk
It started selling "normal" one-ounce gold
patterns at $1,995, according to media
representative , and the price reached $2,450
due to fluctuating gold prices before it sold
So far, according to the company, it has sold
about 10,000 1.5-ounce silver patterns at $99.
There is a "high relief" one-ounce gold version,
with a limit of 999, which was running about
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of that
product comes back to the National Numismatic
Collection, Ms. Lee said.
Write to Alejandro J.