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Obverse of 1878 Morgan Silver Dollar, 7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of 1878     Reverse of 1878 Morgan Silver Dollar, 7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of 1878


1878 SILVER DOLLAR -
7 Tail Feathers
Reverse of 1878

PCGS Nos: 7074, 7075, 97075, 7312

Mintage:

Circulation strikes: 4,900,000
Proofs: est. 200-250

Designer: George T. Morgan

Diameter: 38.1 millimeters

Metal Content:
Silver - 90%
Copper - 10%

Weight: 26.73 grams

Edge: Reeded

Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia)

Images courtesy of Superior Stamp & Coin

The September 19-20, 1999 "Pre-Long Beach" Sale, Lot 1552, PCGS MS-66

Notes:
After using up the 8 Tail Feathers and 7/8 Tail Feathers dies, the Mint finally settled down to the anatomically correct 7 Tail Feathers version.  However, that's not the end of the story.  For at least the first half of 1878, the reverse dies featured an eagle with a flat breast and a parallel fletch on the top arrow.  However, in nature, no healthy eagle has a sunken chest and unless one of the arrows held by the eagle was bent, the perspective was inappropriate (take a look at the bottom arrowhead in the image at right, then follow its "line" to the left, and you'll see where the fletch is either missing or way out of place).  These two problems were fixed on the reverse dies used in the latter part of 1878 - the eagle's breast became rounded and the top fletch was slanted.  These became known as the "Reverse of 1879" to differentiate them from the earlier dies.  Thus, the 1878 7 Tail Feathers is found with either a Reverse of 1878 or a Reverse of 1879!

This variety is usually seen in MS-63 to MS-64 condition and Gems are scarce.  Prooflike and Deep Mirror Prooflike examples are scarce, but obtainable.  The finest coins graded by the Professional Coin Grading Service are 15 MS-66's, 1 MS-66 Prooflike, and 6 MS-65 Deep Mirror Prooflikes. 

Proofs of this variety are among the rarest in the series, but because date collectors are satisfied with owning the more readily available 8 Tail Feathers Proof, this variety does not bring as substantial a premium as it might otherwise.  The finest Proof example graded by PCGS is a single PR-67.  The finest Cameo Proof graded by PCGS is a single PR-66.

Recent appearances:
NGC Proof 65.  Ex - Superior Galleries' "Pre-Long Beach Sale", October 1-3, 2000, Lot 3580, "7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of 1878", illustrated, sold for $5,750.00

PCGS MS-66.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 6339, "7TF, Rev. of 1878", plated, sold for $7,762.50 From the Gary Wolkwitz Collection

NGC MS-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 6338, not illustrated, sold for $805.00  From the Fred Firestone Collection

PCGS MS-65.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Philadelphia 2000 Signature Sale", August 6-7, 2000, Lot 6224, "7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of 1878", not illustrated, not sold

NGC MS-65.  Ex- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "October 2000 Long Beach Sale" October 5-7, 2000, Lot 8168, "7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of 1878", not illustrated, sold for $833.75

Very Choice Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "The University of Notre Dame Sale", March 20-21, 2001, Lot 463, "7 TailFeathers, Rev. of 1878", not plated, sold for $74.75

Very Choice Brilliant Uncirculated.  Ex - Stack's "The University of Notre Dame Sale", March 20-21, 2001, Lot 464, "7 TailFeathers, Rev. of 1878", not plated, sold for $74.75

Choice Brilliant Uncirculated and just bordering on the Gem category.  Ex - Stack's "65th Anniversary Sale", October 17-19, 2000, Lot 1311, "7 Tail Feathers, Reverse of '78", not plated, sold for $805.00

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"The PCGS Population Report, April 2003" by The Professional Coin Grading Service