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HomeUS CoinsThe Peace Dollar (1921-1935): A Date by Date Analysis

The Peace Dollar (1921-1935): A Date by Date Analysis

peace dollar

By Dan DuncanRetired, Pinnacle Rarities ……

2021 is the centennial of one of American numismatics’ most popular series – the Peace dollar.

There are many reasons the series is attractive. Made of 90% silver, and trading at lower premiums than their Morgan Dollar counterparts, silver bugs are introduced to the series buying the silver content. The availability of premium gems has collectors building a 20th-century type set adding high-quality common date specimens to their sets. Morgan collectors begin building the set as an adjunct to their collections, especially when their collector urge is slowed by the tougher examples in the Morgan series. Enthusiasts of the “Renaissance” era (1907 – 1921) will seek visually appealing examples of the high-relief 1921, considered by some as one of the most beautiful works from the era. Whether set building, buying monetized bullion, or just finding a nice type coin, most collectors eventually have a reason to buy at least one. Regardless of their introduction, many are pulled in by the allure of the coin both historically and artistically.

The collector-minded love the set for both its challenges and its availability. The set contains just 24 examples (not including varietals) and lacks any significant stoppers. Peace dollars are highly popular across a wide swath of collector levels with all dates basically affordable in MS63 and challenging at superb gem. We always suggest buying coins certified by PCGS or NGC the top Third Party Grading (TPG) services. The set is fun to build in XF to MS62 raw, but our focus here is on uncirculated grades.

Regardless of your choice, the following brief date analysis will help you get acquainted. We encourage contacting us to find out more about this exciting numismatic adventure.

Date By Date Analysis of the Peace Dollar

1921 peace dollar1921 (1,006,473) – This one-year type is considered one of the classic renaissance designs and is coveted for both its beauty and rarity alike. Due to the nature of the design in conjunction with the short time frame the coins were produced, surviving examples exhibit weakness in detail to varying degrees. The issue was struck over the course of a week at the end of 1921, with distribution occurring in early 1922. Difficulty in producing the high relief led to the United States Mint lowering of the design resulting in this one-year type. The date is available in grades up to 64, with nice gems tough and coins grading MS66 to MS67 becoming quite scarce. No coins have been graded finer than MS67 by either PCGS or NGC.

1922 (51,737,000) – The Mint began producing the Peace Dollar in earnest to fulfill the edicts prescribed by the Pittman Act. From 1922 to 1925, the Philadelphia coin presses worked feverishly to replace the coins melted as the Act required. These high mintages created common dates within the series, with many of the coins surviving in uncirculated condition for modern collectors. This date is plentiful in all grades, with the majority of examples grading MS63 or MS64 and MS65s being readily available. Buyers can be selective and seek a vibrant and well-struck gem. Like most of the series, the price jumps a bit at MS66, but premium gems remain incredibly affordable. With over 2,000 coins graded by PCGS and NGC, price-conscious enthusiasts should consider this grade for a combination of price and quality. The Registry-minded and investors can hold out for MS67, which remains affordable despite less than 80 examples combined in the top TPG holders.

1922-D (15,063,000) – The first Denver Peace Dollar issue remains the most common of the five dates struck at the Colorado facility. Most have good detail throughout with some showing weakness in the reverse eagle motif. Astute collectors will wait for a sharp example. Common in grades up to MS63, the issue gets slightly tougher in MS64 and MS65. We suggest holding out for a nice MS66 or MS66+ for the Registry minded. PCGS MS67s are rarely available with only three coins graded by them in superb gem.

1922-S (17,475,000) – The San Francisco Mint produced the Peace Dollar keys for the series, but the 1922-S is relatively common. They are still considered better with most survivors grading MS63 or less. The coin becomes conditionally scarce in grades that exceed MS64. Full gem examples represent excellent values with just a few rolls grading finer by PCGS and NGC combined. To date, only one coin has graded finer than MS66. This leaves a few examples in premium gem PCGS and NGC holders for the top pop collectors to fight over.

1923 (30,800,000) – This is the second-highest mintage for the series. It shows the highest population data and is thus considered the most common of all the dates. Readily available in all grades up to and including MS66, the Registry-minded can successfully wait for a nice superb gem. With some searching, a vibrant well-struck example will present itself. The cost-conscious collector can pick and choose from the hundreds of premium gems currently on the market. The investor has an option to buy quantities in MS63 of this date along with the other common dates as a silver play. These dates trade at considerably low premiums over spot prices.

1923-D (6,811,000) – This Denver issue trades at a premium but is easily found in MS63 and lower. MS64 and MS65 are available but nice coins can be elusive. And MS66 and MS66+ coins are scarce, with nicely preserved examples trading higher than published bids indicate. Only one coin has graded MS67, a PCGS example. Collectors should seek a nice MS66 and leave the much more expensive MS66+s for those concerned with Registry rankings.

1923-S (19,020,000) – The highest-mintage San Francisco emission, most of these were stored by the Mint and paid out later creating a large number of examples available today. The coin has high populations for all uncirculated grades MS64 and back. It immediately becomes rare in gem with less than 300 coins graded across both TPGs. The coin is virtually unavailable in anything higher with less than 10 MS66’s and just one lone MS67, a PCGS coin.

1924 (11,811,000) – A lower mintage than the previous Philadelphia examples, but most were saved by the Mint as the coins were not needed by banks. The toughest of the “common” dates, the 1924 is readily available in all grades up to MS66. The date is tough but obtainable in MS67 and features two of the few MS68s for the series, one each at PCGS and NGC.

1924-S (1,728,000) – The San Francisco examples get tougher from here on out. The Mint began to slow production and failed to even produce Denver issues for the year. The issue is poorly executed and nice examples are scarce in any grade but coins are available up to MS64. MS65s become scarce with visually appealing examples bringing premiums. The coin is quite rare in MS66, with just eight coins currently at PCGS and NGC combined. Nothing has yet to grade finer.

1925 (10,198,000) – This was the last year the Mint produced more than 10 million examples and coins were released by the Treasury in the 1940s with plentiful survivors in all uncirculated grades up to and including MS66. Collectors will find a nice gem easily obtainable. The Registry collectors will tend to seek the scarcer MS67+ coins but have to wait with just 21 coins so graded by PCGS and NGC. To date, there are only two coins graded MS68, one by each top TPG, respectively.

1925-S (1,610,000) – Despite the lower mintage, the 1925-S Peace Dollar is affordable and readily available in grades up to MS64. However, the issue becomes rare in gem, with just over 100 examples combined grading MS65 between PCGS and NGC. These numbers are likely inflated by resubmissions. The pricing jumps accordingly between choice and gem examples. There is only one NGC MS66 that resides at the top of the population reports with nothing finer.

1926 (1,939,000) – PCGS has yet to grade a 1926 in MS67, and NGC deems just three coins to be superb gems (2xMS67, 1xMS67+). However, the coin is available in all grades up to MS65 and moderately scarce but obtainable in MS66. Enthusiasts should hold out for lustrous, well-struck examples as these are plentiful across the grade spectrum.

1926-D (2,348,700) – While a bit less available than the common dates in the series, collectors should have no problems locating this Denver issue. Available with some searching in all grades up to MS66, there are 19 examples graded superb gem by PCGS and NGC combined. Just two of these are MS67+s. To date, no MS68 has been graded by either of the TPGs.

1926-S (6,980,000) – The 1926-S was the last of the higher-mintage issues. It is considered slightly better and trades at a modest premium to the more common dates. The date comes nice and is readily available in all grades up to gem. It mostly tops out at MS66 with 168 coins across both PCGS and NGC. They have only graded 10 coins finer than premium gem with just two PCGS coins garnering the MS67 status. Collectors should seek an attractive MS65 or wait for the flashy, crisply struck MS66 at a price.

1927 (848,000) – This is the first of four dates with a mintage under one million. Regardless, the issue is readily available in grades up to MS64 but becomes tough in MS65. It is rare in MS66 and PCGS or NGC have neither graded anything finer than these 22 combined premium gems.

1927-D (1,268,900) – With less than 200 coins currently graded MS65 by PCGS, this date is one of the tougher dates in gem, proving quite scarce in anything better. To date, no MS67s have been graded by either TPG. The date comes nice and patient collectors will find a visually appealing gem. The Registry-minded will have to wait out (and pay up) for one of the few coins graded premium gem.

1927-S (866,000) – One of the key dates in the set in all grades. Most issues exhibit poorly struck central devices. Nice 1927-S examples are scarce. PCGS has graded less than 100 MS65s, and less than 10 coins total in anything higher. Enthusiasts will have to settle for weakly struck examples in any grade with most having average luster at best.

1928 (360,649) – This Philadelphia issue has the lowest mintage for the series. As such, the date is tougher in most grades, but available in grades up to MS64. Gems can be had, with just-under five hundred MS65 coins graded combined by PCGS and NGC. Just 31 examples are deemed premium gem by the two TPGs and these reside at the top of the population reports. To date, no MS67s have been graded.

1928-S (1,632,000) – One of the final issues authorized by the Pittman Act, this San Francisco emission is found with the typical S-Mint strike making nice gems hard to come by. Most collectors can find an eye-appealing MS64. The deeper-pocket Registry crowd will have to wait if they seek an MS65. PCGS and NGC have each graded just one example MS66 with nothing finer.

1934 (954,057) – This was the first of the final two years after the hiatus of the Pittman Act issues. The coins were unpopular for circulation and most sat as reserves at either the Treasury or in bank vaults. The government produced these to back new silver certificates in an effort to increase circulating paper money supplies. The 1934 examples were one of the few Philadephia issues with mintages under 1,000,000 and the result is these are slightly better but available in most uncirculated grades including MS66. There are only a dozen MS67 examples listed in the population reports across both PCGS and NGC.

1934-D (1,569,500) – This Denver issue generally comes well struck with good luster. Collectors will not have to look long for a nice gem or premium gem. PCGS has graded 15 MS66+ examples, but these come at a price. The serious Registry minded should hold out for one of these. There are only two coins graded finer and these reside in deep pockets and will endure fierce action if ever auctioned.

1934-S (1,011,000) – Despite over a million coins being originally struck, the 1934-S sports the lowest population data for uncirculated grades MS62 – MS64. MS65s are available, but the price begins to escalate significantly. Currently, there are nearly 50 examples graded MS66 across both PCGS and NGC. These premium gems come at premium prices and should be reserved for the serious aficionado only. There is a single MS67 graded by NGC.

1935 (1,576,000) – Much of the original mintage from the final year of production was stored either by the Treasury or in the Reserve Bank’s vaults. The result is a large number of nice uncirculated examples available for the modern collector. Despite mintage figures similar to scarcer dates like 1928-S, survivors in gem and premium gem are available and priced accordingly. The population drops off there with just under 100 combined MS66+s. The scant few MS67s trade for big premiums and the lone finest graded NGC MS67+ has never crossed the auction block.

1935-S (1,964,000) – The final San Francisco emission also had large numbers saved in bank vaults resulting in moderate availability in the choice and gem grades. Premium gems are in short supply, with superb gem remaining scarce. Like its Philadelphia counterpart, this issue is generally well struck and collectors should wait for a visually appealing example despite grade choice.

* * *

Regardless of intent, the Peace dollar series can offer either availability or challenge depending on the desires, patience, and pocketbook of the individual collector. A favorite of the beginner, the set can be completed in XF to MS63 fairly easily. The more advanced enthusiast can use some diligence and complete a set of choice or even gems with moderate patience. And ultimately the aficionado can hold out and complete a Registry-level collection relishing in the challenges the top population tiers offer. Overall the Peace dollar series remains for many reasons one of the 20th century’s most popular series and what better time to begin this adventure than during the centennial of its inception.

Peace Dollar ChartThis chart is a quick look at rarity by grade, for simplicity and visual affect the most common dates and plus grades have been removed. Data is courtesy PCGS and from February 8, 2021.

Pinnacle Rarities
Pinnacle Rarities
Kathleen Duncan co-founded Pinnacle Rarities in 1992. Based in Olympia, Washington, Pinnacle sought to provide continuing professional service to a clientele composed of collectors, investors and dealers from all 50states and several foreign countries. They tried to specialize in handling the rarest, most desirable coins the industry has to offer. Pinnacle closed in 2022.

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  1. To me, the obverse of the Peace Dollar appears to depict a severed head. Much more graceful is the Morgan Dollar’s obverse, whose flowing locks cover most of the base of the neck and gives the appearance of a bust…rather than a severed head.


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