Why Does My Morgan Dollar Have Two Eagles and No Lady?

Coin Questions and Answers

an example a two tailed Morgan silver dollar
An example of a Morgan silver dollar with two reverse sites.

James Bucki

What Is Two-Tailed Morgan Silver Dollar?

I have a coin that has a Morgan eagle on both sides with no lady. Have you heard of such?


Two-tailed Morgan Dollars made from two genuine Morgans are certainly not very common. In thirty years of collecting, I have never run across one, although I have seen a couple of two-headed Morgan Dollars made from genuine coins.

Without seeing your coin, it is impossible to speculate about what you might have. Possibilities include:

  1. An altered two-tailed coin (similar to the two-headed coins) made for novelty purposes or magician's tricks.
  2. Any number of commemorative tokens made through the years, sometimes of good silver but usually base metal, sometimes with a very thin silver plating, which is sold as "collectibles" to unwary people.
  3. A minting error from one of the private mints that make the tokens in the previous item.
  4. An intentional "error" made by a private mint as curiosity piece.

One thing your coin is not is a genuine U.S. Mint two-tailed struck Morgan dollar. I have more about two-headed and two-tailed coins in my article about two-headed coins, which also explains why such coins are impossible (the die shafts are made differently so the Mint workers can't put a "round peg into a square hole.")

However, in the February 2017 edition of Mint Error News, error coin expert Mike Byers reported that PCGS has certified as genuine a two-headed Jefferson nickel. Byers stated, "This is the only known U.S. regular issued coin of ANY denomination that was struck with two obverse dies (two-headed). It stands alone as a major U.S. numismatic rarity and proves that a U.S. two-headed coin exists!"

Error coin expert Fred Weinberg sold a two-tailed Washington Quarter for $75,000 and a two-tailed Roosevelt Dime for $45,000. He also sold the third known two-tailed was a Washington Quarter that sold in a Heritage Auction for $41,975.

If your coin exactly matches the reverses of genuine Morgan dollars, then there's a decent chance you might have type #1 listed above. In such a case, the coin might be worth as much as $20 to $25, partly based on the silver bullion it contains, but also because Morgan Dollars altered in this two-tailed fashion are quite scarce.

How Can Somebody Alter a Coin to Have Two Tales?

There are a variety of ways that one can take a genuine United States Mint coin and alter it into something that was never made by the mint.

Sandwich Coins

The most common way that two-headed or two-tailed coins are made is by taking two genuine coins and modifying them to look like one coin. The first step in completing this process is to take each coin and grind off the obverse side of the coin until it is exactly half the thickness of a genuine coin. The two half coins are then soldered or glued together. The easiest way to recognize this forgery is to look at the edge of the coin with a magnifying glass (or microscope) to see if there is a seam that extends around the entire circumference of the coin's edge.

Machined and Milling

The second, but more uncommon and expensive way of making a two-headed or two-tailed coin is to shape the two coins so that they fit inside one another. This is accomplished by taking the first coin and machining off the reverse surface of the coin, so it is approximately one third the thickness of the original. This piece is then mounted on a lathe and reduced in diameter to the point where the rim meets the field of the coin.

The second coin is then mounted on a lathe, and the area of the coin that extends up into the rim is removed approximately one third the thickness of the coin. This process leaves a depression in the second coin where the piece that was machined in the first operation will fit snugly and securely in the recessed area of the coin. This piece is either soldered or glued into position so it doesn't fall out. In order to detect this alteration, you must inspect the area between the rim and the field of the coin to see if there is a visible seam.