Peace dollar, 1921–1935


Designer: Anthony de Francisci
Diameter: 38.5 millimeters
Metal Content: Silver – 90%, Copper – 10%
Weight: 412.5 grains (26.7 grams)
Edge: Reeded
Years of minting: 1921–1928; 1934–1935
Mint marks: D, S. Located above tip of eagle’s wings on reverse.
Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

The Peace dollar is a United States dollar coin minted from 1921 to 1928, and from 1934 to 1935. Designed by Anthony de Francisci, the Peace dollar was the result of a competition to find designs emblematic of peace. Its reverse depicts a Bald Eagle at rest clutching an olive branch, with the legend “Peace”. It was the last United States dollar coin to be struck for circulation in silver.

Approximately 32,400 coins on which Morgan had tried to keep a higher relief were struck in January 1922. While all were believed to have been melted, one circulated example has surfaced. The new low-relief coins, which Fraser accepted on behalf of the Commission, though under protest, were given limited production runs in Philadelphia in early February. When the results proved satisfactory, San Francisco began striking its first Peace dollars using the low-relief design on February 13, with Denver initiating production on February 21, and Philadelphia on February 23. The three mints together struck over 84 million pieces in 1922.

The 1926 Peace dollar, from all mints, has on the obverse the word “God”, slightly boldened. The Peace dollar’s lettering tended to strike indistinctly, and Burdette suggests that the new chief engraver, John R. Sinnock, may have begun work in the middle of the motto “In God We Trust”, and for reasons unknown, only the one word was boldened. No Mint records discuss the matter, which was not discovered until 1999.

The Peace dollar circulated mainly in the Western United States, where coins were preferred over paper money, and saw little circulation elsewhere. Aside from this use, the coins were retained in vaults as part of bank reserves. They would commonly be obtained from banks as Christmas presents, with most deposited again in January. With the last of the Pittman Act silver struck into coins in 1928, the Mint ceased production of Peace dollars. Production resumed in 1934, due to another congressional act; this one requiring the Mint to purchase large quantities of domestic silver, a commodity whose price was at a historic low. Over seven million silver Peace dollars were struck in 1934 and 1935. Mint officials gave consideration to striking 1936 silver dollars, and in fact prepared working dies, but as there was no commercial demand for them, none were actually struck. With Mint Chief Engraver Sinnock thinking it unlikely that there would be future demand for the denomination, the master dies were ordered destroyed in January 1937.

An unofficially produced 1964-D Peace dollar, struck over a genuine silver dollar by a private mint

On August 3, 1964, Congress passed legislation providing for the striking of 45,000,000 silver dollars. The new pieces were publicly announced on May 15, 1965, and coin dealers immediately offered $7.50 each for them, ensuring that they would not circulate. On May 24, one day before a hastily-called congressional hearing, Adams announced that the pieces were deemed trial strikes, never intended for circulation. The Mint later stated that 316,076 pieces had been struck; all were reported melted amid heavy security. To ensure that there would be no repetition, Congress inserted a provision in the Coinage Act of 1965 forbidding the coinage of silver dollars for five years. No 1964-D Peace dollars are known to exist in either public or private hands. However, they have been privately restruck using unofficial dies and genuine, earlier-date Peace dollars.

Peace dollar counterfeits

Chinese Peace dollar forgery

The 1923 silver dollar on the left is authentic and the Peace Dollar on the right is counterfeit. The date, on the counterfeit has letters that are thinner than the authentic example on the right. The details, in general, don’t look well struck plus the luster and color of the coin should give you the impression that it doesn’t look “right”.

It’s important to look closely at any silver dollar’s “edges”, but that I mean, how well are the edges of the letters and numbers struck. Also, make sure they’re the correct font for the series and that the date and mint mark match what was actually authorized by the US Mint.

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