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While initially met with intense public objection, the coin has endured to this day as a notable and steadfast asset for new and experienced investors alike. Read more about Silver Peace Dollars by clicking here.
The U.S. Silver Peace Dollar was minted to commemorate the end of World War I and celebrate America’s place amongst the war’s victorious Allied Powers. Replacing the previously struck Morgan Dollars, the Peace Dollars circulated for nearly a decade, first from 1921 through 1928, and again from 1934 through 1935. The Silver Peace Dollar has a diameter of 38mm and weighs 26.73g. It contains 90% silver and 10% copper, with a mass of 0.77344 troy ounces of silver. Due to its relatively short production life, the Peace Dollar consistently enjoys solid market demand, making it a strong addition to any precious metals portfolio.
At the end of World War I, America thought a fresh coin design commemorating the newly established period of peace was in order. Because the 1918 Pittman Act sold more than 270 million silver dollars to wartime Britain, the U.S. was left with a void of the coin that essentially guaranteed its production recommencement in the coming years. As such, the silver dollar was the perfect coin for this new commemorative design. After a nearly 20-year hiatus, minting of the silver dollars resumed in 1921, although initially again in the Morgan design. However, not even a year after production resumed, the new design, which would come to be known as the Silver Peace Dollar, was adopted and put into circulation.
While it is uncertain where the idea for this commemorative dollar originated, history usually points to the November 1918 issue of The Numismatist. An article published in this issue proposed the idea of a victory coin being “issued in such quantities it will never become rare.” In addition, the American Numismatic Association was presented with an essay two years later that further touted the post-WWI commemorative coin concept. Shortly after, a committee was formed and tasked with presenting the proposed idea to Congress for approval.
After nearly a year of dead-end attempts, proponents of the Peace Dollar finally realized that Congressional approval was not needed to progress with the new design. Since the preceding Morgan Dollar had been produced for more than 25 years, it was eligible for replacement at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew W. Mellon.
It was decided that a competition would be held to determine the coin’s new design. The competition included eight prominent sculptors, Mint Chief Engraver George T. Morgan, and 34-year-old Italian-American sculptor Anthony de Francisci. Although a novice coin designer, de Francisci was unanimously selected as the competition winner, and his design was formally approved by Treasury Secretary Mellon on December 20, 1921.
The newly designed Peace Dollar was first struck eight days later on December 28, 1921. The U.S. Mint later reported that 1,006,473 pieces were churned out in the four days between the first striking and the last day of 1921.
The Peace Dollar was circulated mainly in the American West, as people there preferred coins to paper money. By 1928, the last of the Pittman Act silver was struck into coins, and as such, production of the Peace dollar ceased. In 1934, another congressional act was passed, again requiring the Mint to purchase and turn into coins large quantities of American-mined silver. As a result, more than seven million Silver Peace Dollars were again minted, although this run lasted a mere two years. Silver Peace Dollars ceased being struck after 1935, and master dies of the coin were destroyed in January 1937.
The new Peace Dollar design was met with a barrage of negative press and intense public scrutiny following its initial announcement on December 19, 1921. The original design depicted the emblematic American eagle perched atop a broken sword, which, to the highly sensitive American people who just endured the anguish of WWI, unacceptably symbolized disgraced defeat.
A quick, but intense, redesign was initiated. The broken sword was officially removed, and left behind was a sole olive branch being grasped by the mighty bald eagle. This new iteration undoubtedly symbolized the welcomed peace being experience by the world. After a fast and furious five days of reworking, the new design officially went into production on December 28, 1921.
When it was realized that the excessive pressure needed to fully bring out de Francisci’s portrayal was leading to overwhelming breakage of dies, the Peace design was again altered, this time to reduce its relief.
The coins were finally produced in San Francisco, Denver and Philadelphia, with the three mints collectively striking over 84 million pieces in 1922 alone.
The design competition that selected the new Peace portrayal required the head of Liberty to be depicted on the obverse of the coin, and an eagle on the reverse, as ordered by the Coinage Act of 1792. Other than these basic parameters, design details were left up to the individual competitors.
De Francisci’s Liberty portrayal was modeled primarily after his wife, Teresa, although he did note that the design did not solely reflect her features, but rather, was an amalgam face that “typified something of America.” The portrait shows a left-facing Liberty donning a radiate crown, encircled by the word “LIBERTY” to the top and the coin’s issue year to the bottom. The words “IN GOD WE” and “TRUST” flank Liberty’s neck.
De Francisci’s reverse depicts a bald eagle grasping in its talon the olive branch left behind after the controversial broken sword was removed. The top edge of the reverse bears “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” with the country’s motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM” appearing just below. The single word “PEACE” lines the bottom edge, while the words “ONE” and “DOLLAR” straddle either side of the mighty eagle.