Anna Willess Williams

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Anna Willess Williams, depicted in 1892

Anna Willess Williams (1857 – April 17, 1926) was a teacher and philosophical writer best known as the model for George T. Morgan's silver dollar design, popularly known as the Morgan dollar.

Morgan dollar[edit]

1899 Morgan dollar

In 1876, George T. Morgan began creating a series of new coin designs at the behest of Director of the Mint, Dr. Henry R. Linderman.[1] Morgan opted to use the profile of an American girl to depict Liberty instead of simply creating an imaginary figure for the obverse of his new design.[1] After he rejected several possible candidates, Morgan's friend, artist Thomas Eakins, recommended Anna Williams of Philadelphia.[1] Eakins knew Williams through her father, Henry Williams.[1] She reluctantly sat for five modelling sessions with Morgan in November 1876 after being convinced to do so by friends.[1] Morgan was impressed with her profile, stating that it was the most perfect he had seen in England or America.[1] The silver dollar bearing her likeness was first struck on March 11, 1878.[1] A condition of her sitting for Morgan was that her identity be kept secret, but the subject of the portrait was revealed to be Williams shortly after the dollar was released.[1] Williams was troubled by her newly acquired fame, receiving thousands of letters and visits at both her home and workplace.[1] Williams preferred not to talk about her modelling work with Morgan, dismissing it as an "incident of my youth."[2]

Personal life[edit]

Despite being offered acting jobs, Williams worked as a teacher until her retirement in 1924.[2] She left her job as principal at a girls' house-of-refuge school to become a teacher of kindergarten philosophy at a girls' normal school.[2] Though she was once engaged to an unknown suitor,[3] Williams died, unmarried, on April 17, 1926.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Van Allen & Mallis, p. 75
  2. ^ a b c WOMEN: Goddess (April 26, 1926). Time
  3. ^ Dickerman's United States Treasury Counterfeit Detector & Bankers' and Merchants' Journal. Dickerman & Holler. 1896. , p. 18


Van Allen, Leroy C. & Mallis, A. George (1991). Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars. Virginia Beach, Virginia: DLRC Press. ISBN 1-880731-11-8.