1878 7TF Morgan Silver Dollar (1 of 50) - (R5) - As part of the (50) and (10) coin set, this coin is available. As a single coin purchase in this venue, refer below.

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Q. David Bowers: The following narrative, with minor editing, is from my "Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia" (Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc., 1993)

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Coinage Context

The final design: The 1878 7 tail feathers dollar represents the final design of the year.

Numismatic Information

Description of reverses: The 1878 7 tail feathers issue was struck in two major reverse variations:
The first is the Second Reverse, with 7 tail feathers, with parallel top arrow feather (P AF), and concave breast on the eagle. This is often referred as the Reverse of 1878. Striking time not known. Walter H. Breen estimated the production quantity at 4.9 million coins, while Wayne Miller suggested seven million as a more likely figure. My estimate is 7.2 million (based upon proportionate population reports and observed pieces).

The other 7 tail feathers issue is the Third Reverse, with slanting top arrow feather (SAF) and convex breast to the eagle. This is the Reverse of 1879. Walter H. Breen estimated the production quantity at 4.3 million coins; Wayne Miller suggested two million. My estimate is also two million (based upon proportionate population reports and observed pieces)
Walter H. Breen in his Encyclopedia gives estimated striking times for the various 1878 dollar issues, but this presupposes a first-in, first-out use of dies relative to their preparation times, a situation which may not be the case.
Morgan's 1877 pattern half dollars, and his pattern silver dollars of early 1878, all had seven tail feathers. Thus, this was the standard number, not a change from eight tail feathers. The 1878 8 TF was a variant.

Numismatic status: As of 1992, there is not a widespread interest in collecting 1878 7 tail feathers Morgan dollars by reverse varieties, although there is no reason why there shouldn't be. At present, many dealers do not differentiate the varieties when offering 1878 7 tail feathers dollars for sale, although the leading certification services identify them. I believe that when the new 3rd edition of the Van Allen-Mallis work (released in September 1992), achieves widespread distribution, interest in varieties of 1878 dollars will increase dramatically.

Hoard coins (of both reverse varieties): The 7 TF coins were not divided into Second and Third Reverse types until relatively recently. Thus, in numismatic literature there is no record of when one reverse or the other was released in quantity. It is known that the 7 TF dollar in general was distributed by the Treasury Department over a long period of time, from the year of striking onward. It has always been considered common. A group of bags came out of the Treasury in 1953, and for a while they were especially plentiful in dealers’ hands. Additional quantities of bags were paid out during the 1962-1964 Treasury release, especially during 1963, but no account was kept of them. In comparison to certain other issues, the quantities that came out in the early 1960s was small. Today, mint-sealed bags may not survive or are very rare.

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