The Peace silver dollar coin was produced by the U.S. Mint from 1921 to 1928, as well as in 1934 and 1935. The coin was designed by Anthony de Francisci and it is renowned as being the only U.S. coin ever minted to commemorate peace. At the young age of 34 de Francisci was the youngest of the entrants into the coin design competition. He was also noted to be the least experienced in terms of coin design, though quite accomplished with other forms of art by that time.
The U.S. Treasury announced the new design on December 19, 1921 and the first Peace dollars were released into public circulation two weeks later on January 3, 1922.
De Francisci’s design had only slight alterations made before being accepted, including the inclusion of a broken sword that was later the subject of much controversy due to the symbolism of a broken sword.
The front, or obverse, of the coin depicts Lady Liberty in all her glory, as well as the date, the word “Liberty” and the phrase “In God We Trust” passing through the lower region of the coin. The reverse of the coin displays an American Bald Eagle clutching an olive branch and this side also includes the word “Peace” at the bottom of the coin.
Peace silver dollars, like their Morgan dollar predecessor, weigh 0.77 ounces each and have a purity level of 90 percent silver to 10 percent copper. The copper was included to make the coin somewhat harder so it could be used as currency. Each Peace dollar was meant to be 1.5 inches, or 18 millimeters, in diameter, and these specifications are generally thought to be better carried out on the Peace dollar than the Morgan dollar due to improved minting procedures.
Over 270,000,000 Morgan silver dollars were melted down and sold to the U.K. as directed by the Pittman Act, and that same bill required the U.S. Treasury to mint new coins to replace the ones that were melted. Thus, the Peace dollar was born. No one knows precisely who came up with the idea for a U.S. coin commemorating the post-World War I time of peace, although two versions of the origin are more common than others.
One version says that Frank Duffield, a writer for The Numismatist, originated the idea in a November 1918 article about a victory coin. Another version mentions a paper called “Commemorate the Peace with a Coin for Circulation” that was written by Farran Zerbe and read at the American Numismatic Association (ANA) convention in Chicago, IL.
Zerbe wrote in the piece that “if coinage of silver dollars is to be resumed in the immediate future, a new design is probable and desirable, bullion for the purpose is being provided, law for the coinage exists and limitation of the quantity is fixed—all factors that help pave the way for Peace Coin advocates. And then—we gave our silver dollars to help win the war, we restore them in commemoration of victory and peace.”
The majority of Peace dollar examples are common, with two outstanding examples being the 1921 Peace dollar and the 1928-P Peace dollar. The 1921-minted coins were released in limited numbers and are quite scarce as the 1921-dated coins were the first to hit circulation and the first to hit collectors’ hands. The reported mintage of 360,649 for the 1928-P Peace dollar makes it the lowest-mintage variety. However, most other Peace silver dollar coins can be bought in circulated quality for little more than the silver spot price, while uncirculated and PCGS/NGC-certified examples can fetch from double the silver spot price to hundreds of thousands of dollars
Avid coin collectors like to seek out rare varieties of the Peace silver dollar, but many coins are now in the hands of investors seeking shelter from inflation and a hedge against paper investments. Coin dealers sell Peace dollars in every grade from a very circulated “cull” grade to MS66 versions that have been certified by either PCGS or NGC.
The most popular investment-grade Peace dollars are VG+ examples, because they trade for only a few dollars above the silver spot price and sometimes outpace silver bullion in terms of growth. Investors looking for short-term silver investments are often advised to avoid Peace dollars because the market average has been approximately one year to break even on the coins for the last decade. Long-term investors, however, may be better off with Peace dollars than with bullion because of the privacy afforded to Peace dollar investors as well as the historic long-term profitability of these coins.
The Certified Gold Exchange is proud to carry a wide selection of Peace dollars, from “cull” to MS66, and investors interested in buying or selling Peace silver dollars can call our Silver Coin Desk at 1-800-300-0715 for discounted prices and free home delivery, as well as live buy and sell quotes for these historic American coins.
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