How You Can Own Four-Date Peace Dollar Sets at a Fraction of Their Normal Cost
By Brian Zweig
Silver Peace Dollar
The silver Peace Dollar has one of the most celebrated histories and designs in all of numismatics. Its beauty, connection to World War I, and status as America’s last silver dollar make it extremely popular among collectors and investors. Many of our clients own silver Peace Dollars, but what investors may not realize, however, is how rare they are in high grade. Due to the way the coin was designed and minted, only a tiny percentage of specimens grade above MS65. In fact, compared to its Morgan Dollar cousin, the Peace Dollar is dramatically scarcer in lofty grades. We believe this exceptional coin is significantly undervalued by the market in MS66 grade, which is why we wanted to bring it to your attention today.
History of the Peace Dollar
The Bland-Allison Act, passed by Congress in 1878, required the U.S. Government to purchase at least $2 million annually in domestically-minted silver and convert it into silver dollars. This legislation was the genesis of the silver Morgan Dollar, which was released that same year. In 1890, the annual minting requirements spiked even further with the passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, and before long, the U.S. Mint was striking a surplus of silver dollars.
These excess silver dollars remained untouched until World War I, when the Germans accused the British of having a silver shortfall. Rumors spread that the U.K. did not have sufficient silver to cover the paper money, which resulted in international hoarding and a quick rise in silver price. The British countered these rumors by purchasing a large quantity of silver from the U.S. government in the form of Morgan Dollars.
In response, Congress passed the Pittman act, which resulted in a whopping 350 million silver dollars being melted, converted into generic bullion, and sold to Great Britain. This legislation required the Treasury to buy more than 200 million ounces of silver and convert the metal into coin.
Following the passage of the 1918 Pittman Act, the U.S. Mint brought back the venerable Morgan Dollar. However, there was growing sentiment that the silver dollar design should be overhauled. A prominent numismatist, Farran Zerbe, proposed the new silver dollar commemorate the U.S. victory in World War I and the subsequent peace. The Secretary of the Treasury, Mint Director, and Congress soon agreed, and a design competition for the new coin was quickly announced.
Remarkably, the winner of the silver dollar design contest was a 34-year-old Italian sculptor named Antonio de Francisci. The obverse features a symbolic portrait of Liberty wearing a radiate crown similar to that on the Statue of Liberty. De Francisci remarked that his goal was to “capture the spirit of the country—its intellectual speed, vigor, and vitality.” The reverse of the silver Peace Dollar depicts an eagle clutching an olive branch above the word “PEACE.”
Much like the $20 Saint-Gaudens gold piece, the Peace Dollar was initially struck in high relief. However, the Mint complained that it was difficult to bring out all of the design details on the high relief design—as the highest points were not being impressed fully. In addition, banks complained new Peace Dollars did not stack as well as the Morgan Dollars. Ironically, it was George Morgan (of Morgan Dollar fame) himself who adjusted De Francisci’s design so the coins would be fully struck and easy to stack. The final version, released in 1922, was in lower relief but much better struck than its 1921 predecessor.
Production continued without interruption until 1928, when the U.S. Mint satisfied its minting requirements for the Pittman Act. There was another brief mintage spurt in 1934 and 1935, when Congress again required the Treasury to buy more silver and make coins with the metal. However, this proved to be the last time the U.S. Mint would make silver dollars for circulation. The next time the U.S. Mint produced a one-dollar coin for everyday commerce, it was struck in copper-nickel with no precious metal content.
The Peace Dollar—Innumerably Rarer in High Grades
While many Peace Dollars were struck to satisfy the Pittman Act of 1918, very few survived in Gem Uncirculated condition. There are two contributing factors to this. For one, silver dollars were often stored in 1,000-piece bank bags, which resulted in the coins jostling into each other. When these heavy coins collided, they often left extensive and deep marks. In addition, Peace Dollar planchets (blanks) were washed with a solution that often left cloudy, hazy, and unattractive residue. A coin cannot qualify for a high grade if it has negative eye appeal—this disqualifies the vast majority of Peace Dollars from grading above MS64.
The NGC and PCGS population reports confirm this phenomenon. Less than 2% of all Peace Dollars graded qualify for the lofty MS66 grade, with most certified examples landing in the MS63 and MS64 categories. In MS67, Peace Dollars are untouchably rare—NGC and PCGS have only awarded the MS67 grade to 540 pieces (for all dates). Simply put, MS66 is the highest grade the average investor could hope to afford, let alone find. Because MS67 examples trade for thousands more and rarely appear on the market, MS66 specimens have ample room to appreciate.
It’s also worth noting the MS66 Peace Dollar is over 10 times rarer than its Morgan counterpart in the same grade. Many numismatists incorrectly assume that the Morgan Dollar, being an older coin, must be rarer in higher grades. However, the PCGS and NGC population reports reveal the opposite. Thanks to the storage and production methods described earlier, precious few Peace Dollars can qualify for the MS66 grade.
Own MS66 Peace Dollars for a Fraction of Their Normal Price
Depending on the date, MS66 Peace Dollars can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. In 2011, for example, a 1924-S in MS66 fetched a massive $54,625 at auction! This coin is worth just $20 in circulated grades, but in high-end Uncirculated, it becomes a major rarity that is prohibitively expensive in grades MS66 or higher. Nonetheless, we have identified four Peace Dollar dates that are affordable in MS66 and represent outstanding value.
The 1922, 1923, 1924, and 1925 Philadelphia issues are the only dates in the entire Peace Dollar run that can be bought for under $500 per coin. Every other date in the series costs 5, 10, 50, or even 100 times as much! High grade Peace Dollars have a reputation for being untouchably expensive, but these four dates remain a bargain by comparison. In addition, these dates are the first four years of issue for the “low relief” Peace Dollar. As a consecutively-dated quartet, they make an excellent set.
These four dates may be affordable, but by no means are they common. In particular, the 1922 and 1924 issues are remarkably challenging. There’s a reason why they zoom to $9,400 per coin and $8,600 per coin in MS67! These particular dates are virtually non-existent in superb condition. Even MS66 coins are a major challenge to locate. After spending 6 to 12 months searching for these coins, we’ve learned that these two issues are much rarer than their price tags would indicate.
Last year, we worked hard to locate as many of these MS66 Peace Dollars as we could. Our goal was to put together four-coin sets containing a 1922, 1923, 1924, and 1925 Philadelphia issue in MS66. Despite scouring the marketplace for the better part of 2017, we could only assemble 31 sets. We hoped to make 50 to 75 sets available, but we hit a brick wall in terms of supply.
This is the first time in years we’ve been able to offer these four-coin MS66 Peace dollar sets. Whether you’re a new silver dollar investor or an experienced collector, these sets are a great way to own the rare and beautiful Peace Dollar. These four consecutively-dated specimens (1922 to 1925)—all in gleaming MS66 condition—make an excellent standalone collection or addition to an advanced set.
To add these “super-grade” Peace Dollars to your portfolio, please contact us at 800-831-0007 or email us. Available quantities are limited, and we expect the response to be extremely strong.
*Prices subject to change based on market fluctuation and product availability. Prices reflected are for cash, check, or bank wire. Free shipping, handling, and insurance are available for all quantities ordered. Offer expires Friday, February 2, 2018, or while supplies last.