Peace Dollar (1921-1935)

In 1921, as the replacing of silver dollars melted under the Pittman Act began, veterans groups and the American Numismatic Association petitioned Congress for a new type commemorating the end of World War I. This led to an invitational design competition won by Anthony de Francisci. His adopted models feature a youthful, radiate bust of Liberty on the obverse, while the reverse is dominated by an eagle perched atop a mountain peak with the rays of a rising sun in the background. The only indication that this coin is commemorative in nature is the simple word PEACE at the bottom of the reverse.

All of the 1921 Peace Dollars were in the high relief submitted by de Francisci, but these proved so destructive to the dies that U. S. Mint Chief Engraver George Morgan drastically reduced the relief for the coins of 1922 and all subsequent years. Coinage of Peace Dollars was heavy for the first few years, gradually tapering off until the silver purchased under the Pittman Act was finally exhausted in 1928. Coinage resumed in 1934-35 using silver provided by the Thomas Amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933.

Relatively few of the Peace silver dollars from either emission actually circulated, their place being taken by the more popular and convenient silver certificates. When the language appearing on these circulating notes permitted them to be redeemed simply “in silver,” rather than in “silver dollars,” coining of the latter ceased. The Peace Dollars dated 1964-D were never issued and were destroyed shortly thereafter.

Peace Dollars include no rarities, and most dates are readily available in mint state condition. The sole exception is the 1934-S Peace Dollar, which is common in worn grades but relatively scarce uncirculated. Perhaps the combination of seeming commonness and high face value discouraged collecting the Peace Dollar series by date and mint varieties, and collectors generally ignored them until the 1960s. While the Treasury silver dollar hoard dispersed during the 1970s had little impact on the availability of Peace Dollars, it led to a general increase in silver dollar collecting from which the Peace series ultimately benefited. Peace Dollars are widely collected by date and mint varieties, though they are still second in popularity to Morgan Dollars.

A number of interesting Peace Dollar varieties were identified by Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis in their encyclopedia, but they’ve received less attention than the Morgan Dollar varieties. The TOP-50 book by Oxman and Close has brought the best of these Peace Dollar varieties to light, and their popularity is certain to increase in the coming years.

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