The fascinating history behind the Peace Dollar includes:
- A design chosen from a competition made by an Italian immigrant.
- A scandal regarding a national debate for public schools' right to teach evolution.
- Supporting America through the Great Depression.
The idea of a silver dollar commemorating world peace was first put forward at the 1920 American Numismatic Association convention in Chicago by influential coin collector Farran Zerbe. The ANA supported the idea and created a committee to present the request to Congress. On May 9, 1921, the Peace Dollar bill was introduced in Congress. On the very same day, though, it seemed the idea of creating a new silver dollar would be delayed because the United States Mint started striking Morgan Silver Dollars again, in compliance to provisions of the Pittman Act. However, the Treasury Department liked the idea of a new silver dollar and announced a design competition for the new coin.
What the ANA had failed to realize was that because the Morgan Silver Dollar had been in use for over 25 years, Congressional approval was not required for a design change. The idea of a competition for the coin’s design was very popular at the time because it allowed the nation’s most experienced artists and sculptors to compete against one another. With such fierce competition, it is not surprising that some of America’s most beautiful coins were created in the first decades of the 20th Century — Mercury Dimes, Standing Liberty Quarters, Washington Quarters, Walking Liberty Half Dollars and Silver Peace Dollars.
In November 1921, eight of the nation’s leading sculptors were invited to submit designs for a new silver dollar to replace the Morgan Dollar that had been in circulation since 1878. A 33-year-old Italian immigrant by the name of Anthony De Francisci won the competition and the $1,500 first-place prize. He defeated such experienced coin designs as Victor D. Brenner (designer of the Lincoln Cent), Herman A. MacNeil (designer of the Standing Liberty Quarter) and Adolph A. Weinman (designer of the Mercury Dime and Walking Liberty Half Dollar).
Peace Dollar Design
The Peace Dollar Obverse focuses on a youthful-looking personification of Liberty facing left in profile and wearing a tiara resembling the one that appears on the Statue of Liberty. Inscriptions on the Peace Dollar obverse include the word "LIBERTY," the date, the designer's initials, and the phrase, "IN GOD WE TRVST." The letter "V" used in the word TRUST symbolizes "V" for victory.
The Peace Dollar Reverse focuses on a rendition of an American Eagle situated on a mountaintop, clasping an olive branch in its talons, representing the worldwide desire for peace following the end of the first World War. As if continuing from Liberty's tiara on the obverse, radiant lines cross the field of the coin, while the eagle faces towards a new dawn and the hope of a peaceful future. Inscriptions on this face include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," the denomination, "ONE DOLLAR," and the term, "PEACE."
Peace Dollar Highlights
- Peace Dollars were issued from 1921-1928, and then again from 1934-1935.
- Peace Dollars contain 26.73 grams of .900 fine silver and .100 fine copper.
- Peace Dollars were struck at the San Francisco, Denver, and Philadelphia Mints.
- Medalist Anthony de Francisci created the iconic Peace Dollar design. His initials, AF, appear on the obverse.
1921 Peace Dollar
1921 Peace Dollars, from the first year of issue, are notable among not only the rest of the Peace Dollar series but also among Silver Dollars in general. 1921 Peace Dollars were struck in ultra-high relief, giving each 1921 Peace Dollar exquisite detail. This detail came at the price of ease, however. The striking process for making such high relief coins proved extremely difficult to make, so the minting of the Peace Dollar changed to a low relief starting with the 1922 Peace Dollars. Since they are the only year with the high relief style of striking, 1921 Peace Dollars are often sought after by collectors for both quality and uniqueness.
1922 Peace Dollar
1922 Peace Dollars are the first Peace Dollars to be struck in low relief. After the 1921 high relief, Peace Dollars proved difficult to strike at the mintage required, so the United States Mint altered later releases to be low relief. A small amount of 1922 Peace Dollars were struck in high relief, 35,401, many of which were melted down by the U.S. Mint, before the series transition to the shallow relief that would characterize the rest of the series.
1923 Peace Dollar
1923 Peace Dollars were struck in regular relief at three different mints, the San Francisco, Denver, and Philadelphia branches. A total of 30,800,000 Silver Peace Dollars were struck in 1923, making this the second-highest mintage issue in the series.
1925 Peace Dollar
1925 marked an exciting time in both history and science. This is the era of Darwin and evolution. This is the year of the infamous Monkey Trial, where a Tennessee teacher, after days of debate and deliberation, was found guilty of violating Tennessee law by teaching evolution in public schools. During this time, a debate swept through the nation surrounding Darwinism and whether or not it should be taught in school or not. The United States Mint wasn't sitting out on this issue either. There are a handful of 1926 Peace Dollars that has been given the moniker Almighty Peace Dollars. The Almighty Peace Dollar is notable because the word "God" in the phrase "In God We Trust" appears oddly emboldened on the coin surface. The story goes that the chief mint engraver at the time, John Sinnock, purposefully highlighted the word as a testament to his own faith as well as giving his opinions on the national debate going on. Nowadays, the Almighty Peace Dollar is a significant find for collectors. 1925 Peace Dollars are characterized by a flat motto instead of the high relief motto found on 1926 Peace Dollars.
The Wartime Act of 1942 and the Silver Peace Dollar
The Peace Silver Dollar was minted every year until 1928 when the silver originally purchased from the Western mine owners as part of the Pittman act ran out. In the nearly two decades before the Peace Dollar was first introduced, Americans had gotten used to managing without large silver dollars and had become used to paper money. Because of this, few Peace Silver Dollars actually circulated outside of the Nevada gambling casinos.
In late 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a proclamation requiring the United States Mint to once again strike silver dollars from newly purchased silver. Small numbers of Peace Dollars were issued in 1934 and 1935 to use up this silver. Minted at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints, these were America's last circulating silver dollars.
Struck only for 10 years, millions of Peace Dollars met the same fate as the Morgan Dollar where the Wartime Act of 1942 caused the melting of Peace Dollars for the war effort. Untold millions more were melted in later years as the price of silver shot up to over $50 per ounce in the 1980s. No one knows for sure how many historic Peace Silver Dollars still remain today, but it is certain that they are some of the most popular and widely collected American coins in the world.
The 1964 Peace Dollar
The Act of August 3, 1964, called for the U.S. Mint to issue 45 million silver dollars at a time when the silver content in dimes, quarters and half dollars were either being eliminated or lowered. Before the Treasury Department changed its mind and decided not to mint the coins, the Denver Mint had already struck 316,076 Peace Dollars dated 1964. They were not released into circulation, so the coins were melted — but at least seven 1964 Peace Silver Dollars are thought to have escaped destruction. These coins (if they exist) are the most elusive and talked-about silver coins of the 20th Century.
How Much Silver is in a Peace Dollar?
Peace Dollars contain 26.73 grams of .900 fine silver and .100 fine copper, or a net weight of .77344 ounces of pure silver.
Where is the mint mark on a Peace Dollar?
The mint mark on a Peace Dollar, when applied, appears on the reverse design, just above the tail feathers of the eagle and below the inscription "ONE," in the phrase, "ONE DOLLAR." Silver Peace Dollars were struck at the Denver, San Francisco, and Philadelphia branches of the United States Mint. While both Denver and San Francisco struck Peace Dollars will carry their "D" and "S" mint mark, respectively, issues from the Philadelphia branch notably do not have a mint mark.
What does a Peace Dollar look like?
Both the obverse and reverse of the Silver Peace Dollar were designed by a young Anthony de Francisci following a competition to determine the then-to-be-selected new dollar design. Other notable creators who entered the competition included Adolph Weinman, Herman McNeil, and Victor D. Brenner.
The obverse features a left-facing profile of Liberty, based on the profile of de Francisci's own wife. The inscriptions, "LIBERTY," "IN GOD WE TRUST," and the date appear on this face. Liberty's hair streams behind her, and a radiating tiara sits upon her head, recalling the Statue of Liberty. The reverse features a perched Eagle, symbolic of the American Nation, clutching an olive branch. An apt symbol following the world's weariness from World War I and the enthusiasm for the Peace that followed.
2021 Peace Dollar
The very first Peace Dollar was issued in December of 1921, 100 years ago! 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the Silver Peace Dollar series, and the United States Mint is celebrating by issuing 2021 Peace Dollars that will be struck from .999 fine silver instead of the historical .900 fine silver. While much remains to be revealed about the centennial program, collectors are eager to add Peace Dollars struck using the U.S. Mint's modern technology. To find out more about the upcoming program and find out when the 2021 Peace Dollar will be available to purchase from GovMint.com, check out our Coming Soon Page!
Some Peace Dollar Grades
VF-20 Very Fine (VF): Very Fine Peace Dollars are characterized by Liberty's hair over the eye being well worn, but some strands over the ear being well defined. The feathers on top and on the outer edge of the eagle's right-wing will be visible.
EF-40 Extremely Fine (XF): Extra Fine Peace Dollars are characterized by strong but slightly worn hairlines over Liberty's brow and ear. The feathers on top and on the eagle's right-wing's outer edge will be visible but faint.
AU-50 About Uncirculated (AU): About Uncirculated Peace Dollars are characterized by slight traces of wear, and while they boast full mint luster, they may be blemished by contact marks.
MS 60- Uncirculated: MS 60 Uncirculated Peace Dollars are characterized by no traces of wear, and while they boast fill mint luster, they may be blemished by bag abrasions, stains, or other surface marks.
Buy Peace Dollars from GovMint.com
Here at GovMint.com, we are proud to offer a wide variety of Peace Silver Dollars from a variety of dates in various grades. When you purchase from GovMint.com, you can rest assured that you are buying authentic United States coinage and will receive stellar customer service. Free shipping is even available on orders over $149.00. Whether you are looking for a particular date or want to jump-start a Peace Dollar collection of your own, we've got what you're looking for at GovMint.com!