The History of the Peace Dollar Is Still Evolving

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The History of the Peace Dollar Is Still Evolving

By Bullion Shark LLC ……
 

On August 10 the United States Mint offered the 200,000 2021 Peace dollars being issued to mark the centennial of the release of the 1921 Peace dollar at noon Eastern Time and sold out in about 30 minutes. The new coins bear the same design as the original coin and were created using legacy assets such as galvanos and hubs. In fact, thanks to modern minting technology, the 2021 issue can be said to more closely resemble the artistic intent of the coin’s designer, Italian-American sculptor Anthony de Francisci.

Secondary market values for the coins began rising immediately this week. Values may rise even higher this fall after the coins actually ship from the Mint and buyers see them in hand.

What’s more, the new Peace dollar may be the first of an annual series of Peace dollars, which is authorized under the legislation that created them and appears likely given how quickly they sold out.

1921 vs. 2021 Peace Dollars

The 2021 version is not struck in the same high relief as the 1921 coins. In addition, the 2021 issue is made from .999 silver planchets, which is what the Mint now uses for all its silver coins. As a result of the higher silver purity than that of the original coins, which were made in .900 silver, and making the 2021 Peace dollar the same diameter of 38.1 millimeters and the same weight of 26.73 grams, they are just slightly thinner than the originals.

Although the difference in thickness should be barely noticeable, if at all, to the naked eye, that is one of the reasons the 2021 coins could not be struck in full high relief. The slightly reduced thinness of the new coins means less metal to move to the center where the central design motifs appear on both sides of these coins. As the Mint explained, “the 1921 high relief design rose higher than the border, which makes the design elements susceptible to damage. The relief of the 2021 Peace and Morgan dollars matches modern commemorative coin specifications.”

Strong interest in the new Peace dollars from collectors has helped to push values up for the entire series of original Peace dollars, including common dates and better, scarce dates. If you have been collecting the original series, you may be surprised by how well your coins have appreciated, especially over the past couple of years as anticipation for the 2021 coins continued to build.

The Peace dollar is an attractive and affordable series with just 24 coins to a complete set, and it can be collected in different ways depending on your budget and interests (i.e., raw or graded, circulated or mint state, etc.).

A History of Peace Dollars

The always-popular 1921 High Relief Peace dollar is a fabulous one-year type coin that every collector should have whether or not they collect the series. The coin was designed as a commemorative to mark the end of World War I and to celebrate the American victory over Imperial Germany. The idea of issuing the Peace dollar came mainly from the American Numismatic Association and its former president Farran Zerbe, a famous collector of silver dollars for whom some special varieties of the coin are named.

The Peace dollar was issued without specific congressional authorization and was authorized under the provisions of the Pittman Act of 1918 under which 270 million Morgan dollars were melted and converted into silver bars that were sold to Great Britain to help support the price of silver, which Germany was seeking to manipulate to hurt Great Britain. In addition, the law also provided for the coining of up to 270 million new silver dollars using domestic American silver, beginning with 1921 Morgan dollars.

The Peace dollar was approved late in 1921 by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and struck in December. It was only released for circulation the following January. By 1928 the 270 million silver dollars required to be made under the Pittman Act had been produced, but Congress revived the series later and more coins were made in 1934 and 1935.

There were extensive production problems with the 1921 coin because of its high relief, and a die pair could only make at most 25,000 coins before failing compared to 200,000 for the 1921 Morgan dollars. Chief Engraver George Morgan made some modifications, but the problems continued, which led to the lowering of the relief seen on the 1922 to 1935 coins. But when Morgan was re-working the 1922 coins to try to make them in high relief, 3,200 experimental examples were made including Matte and Satin Proofs that are very rare and some regular coins. Only a handful of those coins have so far surfaced, including just recently a fifth modified High Relief 1922. More are likely still waiting to be discovered.

In 1964, the Johnson Administration once again revived the program, calling for 45 million new silver dollars that would be used in casinos in the West. The Mint and Treasury opposed issuing the coins since they would not circulate, but Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT), who created the program, insisted they be made. But all 316,076 1964-D Peace dollars that the Mint said were trial strikes are believed to have been melted. Rumors have swirled in the coin community ever since of possible examples that still exist, but none have ever been confirmed. The U.S. Government considers any such coins illegal to own.

There are two dates considered scarce in the series – 1928 and 1934-S. By 1928, the coins authorized under the Pittman Act had already reached their maximum, so in that year only 360,649 coins were made. While the 1928 was saved and still exists in Mint State in good numbers, the 1934-S was not, making it relatively inexpensive in circulated grades but worth thousands in better Mint State.

Some collectors try to obtain these key date issues first, while others focus on the rest of the series and get them later. Prices are rising even more for the better dates today, so you may consider purchasing these first. And if your budget is too limited for the original series, there is the 2021 Peace dollar and probably more coins of this type to come.
 

2 COMMENTS

  1. The problem with the Peace Dollar is the clarity of image and lettering. You can have a strong struck obverse and a weakly struck reverse and vice versa. I’ve found it difficult to locate a well struck coin, even in uncirculated condition. It is difficult but worth the wait when you find one, with a price you’re happy with.

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