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PEACE DOLLARS (1921-1964)
1921 Peace Dollar

Peace Dollars: In 1918 the silver interests in the United States were so strong that the favorable Pittman Act was passed. It required that 270,232,722 silver dollars be converted into bullion for sale to Great Britain. Between 1920 and 1933 the same quantity of silver was to be purchased from American mines and coined into new silver dollars, and 270,232,722 new dollars were to be made from this silver. As a result of this act, in 1921 86,730,000 new Morgan dollars were made.

At the American Numismatic Association convention in Chicago in 1921, Farran Zerbe, founder of the Chase Manhattan Money Museum and historian for the ANA, made a proposal that the half dollar or dollar should be a circulating commemorative coin celebrating peace. The "War to End All Wars" (World War I) was over ending with the Treaty of Versailles. The commemorative proposal met with such enthusiasm that a bill was prepared in the House of Representatives to be passed by unanimous consent; however, a single objection prevented it from being placed on the calendar. Later the Peace dollar design was adopted without Congressional approval because the earlier design, the Morgan dollar, had been in use for more than its twenty-five year minimum. Except in the casinos of Nevada, most Peace dollars saw little circulation. In other states, Peace dollars stayed in bank vaults being part of the cash reserves that banks were required to maintain.

Anthony de Francisci's design, which was supposed to recall the Statue of Liberty, shows Liberty wearing a “radiate” crown reminiscent of an earlier Roman coin. Across the front of her head is a loose braid that continues around her head and falls with her other wind-blown hair. The hair at the back of her head is held with a loose knot. Her neck, which is truncated, separates the motto IN GOD and WE TRUST. (De Francisci used the Roman style of lettering on the motto with the U written as V, causing some confusion. He did not use Roman lettering on the reverse.) His lovely twenty-three year old wife Teresa was the model.

Zerbe found the eagle on the reverse to be, “majestic, intelligent and protective.…” It is a realistic portrayal with its head alert and wings folded as it faces the symbolic rays of the sun at the lower right. It stands on a rocky cliff with an olive branch next to it. The denomination is written in a straight line, interrupted by the eagle’s body. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM are in two circular arcs at the top of the coin. Mintmarks are found close to the tip of the wing. The word PEACE is written at the bottom of the cliff on which the eagle is perched, hence the name of the design.

The reverse was to be emblematic of the crimes against humanity (France, Belgium, and Serbia) that Germany and its allies perpetrated. Later it was to have been a Victory dollar, similar to the Victory postage stamp that was issued in 1919. It is interesting to note that the original reverse design had the eagle breaking a sword on which it was perched. However, some feared criticism that the symbolism would be interpreted as defeat rather than peace so the design was changed, and an olive branch was substituted for the sword.Peace dollars of 1921 were struck in high relief; consequently, they are weak in the center. Coins of this date usually lack hair detail on the obverse and feather detail on the reverse. While there are no fundamental rarities in the series, aside from the one known 1922 High Relief piece, there are a number of condition rarities, which retail for over $10,000 in MS65. These include 1924-S, 1925-S, 1927-S, 1928-S, and 1934-S. Proof Peace dollars were made in 1921 and 1922. They are all rare, with mintages between 3 and 20.

One of the legendary vanished rarities occurred in 1965. The Act of 1964 authorized the mintage of 45 million Peace dollars. Because it was felt that this issue would mainly benefit the Nevada gambling casino interests, public pressure was brought about to stop this mintage, and 316,076 dollars dated 1964-D were recalled and melted. Also in 1965 United States combat units were deployed in Vietnam, making the coining of a Peace Dollar somewhat illogical. However, Mint employees had each been allowed to purchase two of these new coins, and no records were kept as to how many were sold or returned. It is quite possible that a few specimens survive.

Weight: 26.73 grams
Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper
Diameter: 38.1 millimeters
Edge: reeded

1921 Peace Dollar Most business strikes weakly struck in centers because of high relief. Rare in higher MS grades. Look for doubling on PEACE. Proofs come with matte and satin finishes in about equal rarity.
1922 Peace Dollar Business strikes common in Mint State. Proofs come with high relief details (as seen on the 1921's) and normal relief details. The normal relief Proofs are extremely rare.
1922-D Peace Dollar Common in MS64 grade. Look for rotated reverse. Usually average strike on obv. and poor on rev.
1922-S Peace Dollar Rare in grades over MS65. Usually poorly struck.
1923 Peace Dollar Common in all grades; usually lustrous with strong strike.
1923-D Peace Dollar Rare in grades above MS65; usually lightly struck reverse center.
1923-S Peace Dollar Very rare in grades above MS64; most often poorly struck.
1924 Peace Dollar Common in all grades; usually above average strike.
1924-S Peace Dollar Rare above MS64; reverse usually poorly struck.
1925 Peace Dollar Common in all grades; usually lustrous and well struck.
1925-S Peace Dollar Very rare above MS64; reverse usually lightly struck.
1926 Peace Dollar Rare above MS65; usually lustrous and well struck.
1926-D Peace Dollar Rare above MS65; usually well struck with exceptions.
1926-S Peace Dollar Rare above MS65; usually lustrous and well struck.
1927 Peace Dollar Rare above MS64; usually well struck.
1927-D Peace Dollar Rare above MS64; usually lustrous and well struck.
1927-S Peace Dollar Rare above MS64; usually poorly struck.
1928 Peace Dollar Rare above MS64; usually lustrous with average strikes.
1928-S Peace Dollar Rare above MS64; reverse usually poorly struck.
1934 Peace Dollar Rare above MS64; usually lustrous and well struck.
1934-D Peace Dollar Rare above MS65; usually lustrous and well struck. 1 MS63 PL certified by NGC, the only PL in the series.
1934-S Peace Dollar Rare above MS64; usually lightly struck.
1935 Peace Dollar Rare above MS65; usually frosty and well struck.
1935-S Peace Dollar Rare above MS65; usually frosty and well struck; found with either three or four rays below ONE on the reverse.
1964-D Peace Dollar All of these were believed to have been destroyed before they were released to the public.
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