In 1918, America was a land of celebration after the fighting in one of the largest wars in history came to an end. To commemorate the restoration of peace and all the Americans who fought in World War I, a United States Mint competition was held to design a special peace coin composed of .900 fine silver. Produced from 1921 to 1928, and for another 2 years between 1934 and 1935, the Peace Dollar is the last true Silver Dollar ever struck in the country.
The obverse of the Peace Dollar depicts a left-facing and very elegant looking Lady Liberty with windswept hair. Just a few strands of hair appear to be blowing in the wind as most of her hair is tied up at the back of her head. She is wearing a pointed crown and accompanied by three inscriptions with LIBERTY above, IN GOD WE TRUST split up by her neck, and the mintage year below.
On the coin’s reverse is a bald eagle sat atop a mountain while clasping an olive branch in its talons. The eagle is facing right, with rays of sunshine behind, which are shaped just like the pointed elements on Liberty’s crown from the obverse of the coin. There are also four engravings on the reverse including UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM above the eagle. Further down is ONE DOLLAR and towards the bottom is PEACE.
Both pieces of artwork were created by United States contest winner, Anthony de Francisci and ended up being the first and last of his designs to ever feature on an American coin.
On May 9, 1921, the Morgan Silver Dollar was put back on the production lines as a result of the Pittman Act. The very same day, legislation was introduced in Congress requesting authorization for a new coin to commemorate victory and peace following World War I. Although Congress didn’t take any action, supporters of the Peace Dollar later realized that approval wasn’t necessary. This is because the Morgan Silver Dollar had been produced for more than 25 years, the legal minimum for replacement at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury.
The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts decided to arrange a competition to obtain designs for the new coin. Nine invitees took part with the understanding that each participant would receive $100 and the winner would be given $1,500. Surprisingly, the winner was an Italian immigrant called Anthony de Francisci, the least experienced in designing coins. He was 34 years old at the time and based his Lady Liberty image on his wife, Teresa. Francisci also put forward two eagle designs, one of which depicted an angry eagle with a broken sword in its beak. This image was originally chosen for the coin but later swapped for Francisi’s other design after complaints that the wrecked sword symbolized defeat.
It was in December 1921 when the first Peace Dollar was struck. Shortly after, the U.S. Mint felt the relief was too high, so it was reduced in 1922. The low-relief coins were minted at three separate facilities in February 1922 including Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver, striking a combined total of over 84 million coins. By 1928, the Pittman Act requirements were met and the U.S. Mint stopped producing Peace Dollars. After further legislation, the Peace Dollar returned in 1934 and 1935. The Denver Mint struck 316,076 Peace Dollars dated 1964 in 1965, however, all of these coins are believed to have been recalled and melted.
As you’re probably already aware, certain dates and rarities will cause some Peace Dollars to be worth considerably more than others. The 1934-S coin produced at the San Francisco Mint in uncirculated condition is very rare and highly sought after by collectors. Other key dates include 1921 and 1928, struck at the Philadelphia Mint. When searching for a mintmark on a Peace Dollar, look just below the inscription ONE on the reverse. The letter D indicates the Denver Mint and S is used by the San Francisco Mint but all coins from the Philadelphia Mint will not display a mintmark. If you’re interested in matte proof Peace Dollars, 1921 and 1922 are your only options.
Historically, Peace Dollar values rise each year but it’s the ones that show no signs of wear that climb in value the most. The well-preserved coins are always the most eagerly sought, so make sure you think about the condition of a Peace Dollar before making a purchase. Having said that, good or fine key date examples can still be worth a lot more because they are much harder to find.
These coins have a magnificent story behind them, from design to production, and are an important part of American coinage history because they were struck to celebrate the United States victory in World War I. You also need to remember that many Peace Dollars command a higher premium over the silver spot price because they have collector value as well.
If you want to invest in rare Peace Dollars or even non-key dates, Capital Gold Group is the answer. We also offer expert advice and can help you learn more about these coins to ensure you always make sensible purchasing decisions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more about how we can assist you.