PCGS Specials

HomeUS Coins1928-S Peace Dollar : A Collector's Guide

1928-S Peace Dollar : A Collector’s Guide

1928-S Peace Dollar. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1928-S Peace Dollar. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

The 1928-S Peace dollar is among the most common later-date Peace dollars and one of the series’ major condition rarities. The last date struck from silver purchased under the terms of the Pittman Act, it’s more affordable than its counterpart from the Philadelphia Mint in circulated and lower uncirculated grades.

But in MS65, it’s more valuable than the key 1928.

Behind the Making of the 1928 Silver Dollar

1928 marked the last year of the initial issue of Peace dollars. The Pittman Act spelled out the circumstances for the Peace dollar’s hiatus. It called for up to 350 million silver dollars to be converted into bullion and sold to Great Britain, and the melted dollars were replaced using silver purchased at a fixed price of $1 per ounce. 270,232,722 dollars were ultimately melted, 11,111,168 of which were earmarked for circulating subsidiary coinage.

The recoining process began in February 1921 with the reintroduction of the Morgan dollar and introduction of the Peace dollar, an event that the United States Mint commemorated with 2021-dated .999 silver dollars bearing the Morgan and Peace dollar designs.

The Pittman Act’s silver supply was exhausted in 1928, roughly 10 years after the Act was passed. The striking of Peace dollars ended in April of that year. A July 15, 1924 memorandum from Mint Director Robert J. Grant to William M. Geldes of the Office of the Comptroller General states that:

“[P]art of the purchased silver bullion was combined with gold and other metals and must be separated therefrom before it can be coined. This separation involves mixing non-Pittman Act bullion and will not be completed for a year or more.”

Grant elaborated:

“The work of recoining the silver dollars melted under the terms of the Pittman Act of April 23, 1918, was of such magnitude as to require the full capacity of the three coinage mints of the U.S. for over two year’s time if the coinage of all other denominations had been discontinued. It was impossible to discontinue the manufacture of other coins.”

The Mint Director’s Report for fiscal year 1928 described the delays in the recoining process imposed by demand for circulating subsidiary coinage:

“[A]s soon as postwar demands for other coins that were in active circulation permitted, and continued whenever the mint facilities were available for the purpose until April 1928…”

The San Francisco Mint struck 1,632,000 Peace dollars in 1928, a mintage more than 4.5 times larger than Philadelphia’s. Despite their relative abundance, the 1928-S coins were weakly struck, creating one of the series’ major condition rarities.

Bags of the coins entered the market in the 1930s and 1940s, and a number of 1928-S Peace dollars were sent to Nevada casinos in 1949 and 1950, according to Q. David Bowers’ Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia.

According to a June 1934 Numismatist article, collectors could still purchase 1928-S Peace dollars from the Mint for their face value plus shipping.

Important Characteristics of the 1928-S Peace Dollar

Strikes are weak on 1928-S Peace dollars, especially on the reverse; Gem 1928-S examples are significantly rarer than Gem 1928 coins despite the latter’s smaller mintage. A number of San Francisco Mint Peace dollar dates and 1927-D have small certified populations (below 100 examples recorded) in MS-65 and above.

Also, forgers sometimes file off the S mint mark to pass the San Francisco issue as its key date Philadelphia counterpart.

Varieties

VAMWorld.com lists 20 VAM varieties of the 1928-S Peace dollar. Two varieties, VAM 3 and 3A, are on the Top 50 Peace dollar VAM varieties list. Both varieties sport doubling on the motto.

PCGS reports 67 VAM 3 – DDO motto coins. NGC reports 69 VAM 3 – DDO motto coins, and a single VAM 3A.

Historical Market Information

The 1928-S Peace dollar was represented in the Redfield Hoard.

In January 1976, Numismatist John B. Love of the Record Coin Shop in Cut Bank, Montana, advertised that he was offering $1,650 for nice BU Rolls on this date.

In the August 1976 Numismatist, dealer Joel Rettew advertised that he was selling Gem BU examples of the 1928-S Peace dollar from the Redfield Hoard for $145 each.

In an August 1978 Numismatist ad, dealer George H. Ashley, Jr. of Capital City Coin Exchange in Richmond, Virginia, advertised GEM BU 1928-S Peace dollars for sale at $175 each.

* * *

Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Prices remain below $500 in grades MS63+ and below. MS64 examples sell for between $700 and $1,500, and examples in MS64+ have realized prices between $900 and $2,500. A June 5, 2020, CoinWeek IQ article outlined a collecting strategy for MS63 and 64 coins: “[the 1928-S Peace dollar in] MS63 is a good buy. However, as with the 1928 plain, the MS64 is even better. For $900, you get a coin that is a few ticks away from costing $16,000.”

The highest price for a 1928-S Peace dollar, $55,813, was realized on March 21, 2019, in a Legend Rare Coin auction; that coin, certified MS-65+ by PCGS and CAC-approved, will be auctioned by Heritage on July 30, 2024.

MS65 coins are highly sought-after and often realize five-figure prices. The finest-known 1928-S Peace dollars are graded MS66; PCGS and NGC record one example certified in that grade.

At the time of writing (March 2024), PCGS records 9,672 grading events of 1928-S Peace dollars, with only 78 above MS-64.

NGC records 7,226 grading events, with only 49 above MS-64.

CAC has stickered 888 coins and graded 15. From that total, only 11 coins exceed MS-64.

When thinking of the series keys, its rarer sibling from Philadelphia might come to mind, but 1928-S Peace dollars present specialists with a tough condition rarity and two notable VAM varieties. The 1928-S Peace dollar is an affordable later issue for those willing to compromise on quality.

Top Population:  PCGS MS66 (1, 3/2024). NGC MS66 (1, 3/2024). CAC MS66 (8:0 stickered:graded, 3/2024).

  • PCGS MS65 #83671361: Heritage Auctions, January 2020, Lot 4943; Stack’s Bowers, March 26, 2024, Lot 4210 – View. Drab toning.
  • PCGS MS65 #37728067: “The Jlionel51 #8 Ranked PCGS Peace Dollar Set”, Heritage Auctions, July 20, 2023, Lot 3157 – $15,600.
  • PCGS MS65 CAC #9938744: “Anne Kate Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2018, Lot 1240 – $28,800. Localized toning.

* * *

Design

Obverse:

The obverse is dominated by a leftward-facing bust of a young Miss Liberty wearing a tiara of rays that resembles the radiant crown upon the head of the Statue of Liberty. Most of Miss Liberty’s hair is contained within a bun at the back of her head, though several locks are seen hanging alongside her neck.

Arcing along the rim on the upper half of the obverse field is the inscription LIBERTY, and centered below the bust of Liberty near the bottom rim is the date 1928. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST appears in a single line of text across the lower quarter of the obverse and spreads across that field section, with the words IN GOD WE appearing to the left of Miss Liberty and the word TRUST located behind her neck. Dots appear between the words IN GOD WE and are also seen on the rim side of the words IN and TRUST. Sculptor Anthony de Francisci’s monogram AF appears below Liberty’s neck in the lower obverse field.

Reverse:

The depiction of an American bald eagle perched on a mountaintop anchors the reverse. Clutched in its claws is an olive branch symbolizing peace; notably not included in this eagle depiction is a band of arrows representing military strength, a symbol commonly seen in similar visages of the patriotic avian emblem. The rightward-facing eagle is seen at an angle partly turned away from the viewer and towards a sunrise, which symbolizes the promise of dawning peace in the world.

The bold rays in the image of the rising sun harmonize with the rays seen in Miss Liberty’s tiara on the coin’s obverse. The legend UNITED STATES oF AMERICA appears along the rim in the top half of the reverse. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is located directly below in lettering that is identical in size to the legend. The eagle’s beak breaks the bottom of the “S” in PLURIBUS and visually divides that word from UNUM; meanwhile, a dot punctuates the space between E and PLURIBUS.

The denomination ONE DOLLAR appears across the bottom third of the reverse in a single line of text, with the word ONE inscribed to the left of the eagle by its tail feathers and DOLLAR superimposed over the sun’s rays to the right of the eagle. PEACE is inscribed along the rim below the eagle, atop the rock on which the patriotic bird stands. The mint mark “S” is located beneath the word ONE near the tips of the eagle’s wings.

Edge:

The edge of the 1928-S Peace dollar is reeded.

Designer

Anthony de Francisci was born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1887 and emigrated to the United States in 1905. He began his career as a sculptor studying under such notable numismatic artists as James Earle Fraser, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, and Adolph Weinman. The Peace Dollar (1921-35) is his most famous creation, but he also produced several medals. He died in 1964.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1928
Denomination: One Dollar (USD)
Mint Mark: S (San Francisco)
Mintage: 1,632,000
Alloy: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 26.73 g
Diameter: 38.10 mm
Edge Reeded
OBV Designer: Anthony de Francisci
REV Designer: Anthony de Francisci
Quality: Business Strike

 

* * *

CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

Related Articles

1 COMMENT

  1. de Francisci may have used the V-for-U substitution in part to represent “V”ictory, but it should be noted that there’s another, very different reason the same convention was quite common during the second and third decades of the 20th century.

    Some artists and sculptors of the period liked to echo elements of Roman design, including the use of the Latin alphabet for inscriptions. It’s identical to the modern English alphabet except that it lacks the letters U and J; those characters didn’t exist until the Middle Ages. V and I could be consonants, vowels, or of course numerals depending on their context. For example “GAIUS JULIUS CAESAR” is rendered as “GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR” on contemporary statues.

    You only have to look at the Standing Liberty quarter, which predates US involvement in the Great War, for another numismatic example of the style.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Bullion Sharks Silver

L and C COIN Shop Now

Professional Coin Grading Service