The Peace Dollar, the final silver dollar minted for circulation in the USA, exists largely due to the Pitman Act of 1918. Under the act over a quarter billion Morgan silver dollars were melted down into bullion. Nearly 96% of the bullion was sold to Great Britain at $1.00 per ounce and the balance was allocated to the mintage of silver coins of lesser denomination.
The Pitman Act also mandated the replacement of every silver dollar taken out of circulation, even though there was still more than an ample reserve and demand was so low that production had ceased 14 years earlier. In an unabashed giveaway to US silver mines, the US Mint was required to purchase silver for the replacement coins at $1.00 per ounce, even though the market price had fallen to $0.63 by the time production resumed.
In 1920 the American Numismatic Association (AMA) launched a campaign to adopt a new silver dollar commemorating the end of ‘the war to end all wars.’ On May 9, 1921, a bill was introduced into Congress authorizing mintage of the Peace Dollar.
Although Congress failed to pass the bill, the Secretary of the Treasury had the authority to unilaterally approve the new coin because the Morgan had been in mintage for more than 25 years. The process was set in motion in September 1921 and on November 19 competition for the design began.
The winning design was submitted by Anthony de Francisci, a 34-year-old naturalized Italian immigrant. The original obverse bore a finely detailed bust of Lady Liberty rendered in high relief, modeled after the sculptor’s wife. The coin was difficult and costly to strike, however, and was redesigned in lower relief for all subsequent mintages.
The reverse of the Peace Silver Dollar portrays an eagle at rest atop a rock, its wings folded, gazing outward towards the rising sun. Inscribed on his perch is the single word “PEACE,” the only appearance of the word on any US coin.
For that alone, the Peace Silver Dollar is worthy of investors’ consideration.
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