As the guns fell silent across the battle torn
fields of Europe in November 1918, a great yearning swept throughout
the United States to
commemorate the restoration of peace.
At the American
Numismatic Association Chicago convention in 1920, collector Farran
Zerbe proposed that a new coin, preferably a half dollar or a silver
dollar, be minted to exemplify America’s commitment to peace and
US Coin Values Advisor has cataloged Peace
Dollar values over a period of many years for coins of this
Zerbe’s peace coin proposal was taken to
Washington, DC, where it found
powerful friends. At the same time, the Treasury Department was
operating under the provisions of the Pittman Act, a 1918 law
authorizing the meltdown of up to 350 million silver dollars into
bullion for the purpose of selling it or making into smaller coins.
Furthermore, for every silver dollar reduced to
bullion form, the
Pittman Act required the government to purchase newly mined silver to
mint into a replacement silver dollar.
Eventually, 270,232,722 silver dollars ended up
in the melting pot, representing nearly half of all standard silver
dollars ever produced up to that point in time!
The chief beneficiaries of the Pittman Act were Great Britain, which
purchased about 96% of the silver to help stabilize a financial crisis
in India (then a British colony), and of course, the silver mining
To begin meeting the obligation of producing 270+ million new silver
dollars, the Morgan
silver dollar design was resurrected in May, 1921, following a 17
year hiatus. Within a few months, more than 86 million 1921 Morgan
silver dollars were coined. During this time, backers of Zerbe’s peace
coin concept were successfully lobbying to create a new silver dollar
On November 23, 1921, the Federal Commission of Fine Arts publicly
invited eight of America’s finest sculptors to submit a “Peace Dollar”
design to memorialize the Great War armistice. The winner of the
competition was Anthony de Francisci, a naturalized citizen from Italy,
whose wife, Teresa, posed as his model for
The Lady on the Peace Dollar
The model for the Peace Dollar was Teresa Cafarelli De
Francisci, the wife of the coin's designer, Anthony De Francisci. As a
small child emigrating to the US from Italy in 1902, her ship passed by
the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. Lady Liberty made an
indelible impression on young Teresa. Growing up, she often playfully
posed as Liberty, holding her torch high. Modeling as Miss Liberty for
the Peace Dollar was a great honor and the fulfillment of a childhood
dream, she wrote. Later in life, she was a humble guest at numismatic
shows. Teresa Cafarelli De Francisci died in 1990 at the age of 92.
De Francisci’s Peace Dollar obverse portrayed a
svelte Miss Liberty,
wearing a radiant crown. His original reverse depicted an eagle
smashing a sword, which brought howls of protest from many
Washingtonians, because in their eyes, the image suggested defeat, not
victory or peace. Mint Engraver George Morgan quickly revised de
Francisci’s reverse design by removing the sword, inserting an olive
peace branch in the eagle’s talons, and superimposed the word “PEACE”
at the bottom. De Francisci's powerful eagle was perched on a
rugged, steep slope, gazing toward a sunrise, symbolizing the dawn of a
Production tooling was quickly fabricated, and on December 26, 1921,
the first Peace silver dollars were minted. Over the next 6 days, a
total of 1,006,473 Peace Dollars dated 1921 were made. All 1921 Peace
Dollars were struck in high relief, meaning details of the coin “stuck
out” away from surface of the coin. As attractive as this effect was,
high relief coining proved problematic in the manufacturing process, so
all Peace Dollars dated 1922 and later featured less appealing, low
Sometime during 1928, the Mint reached the magical total of 270,232,722
silver dollars produced since 1921 (Morgan and Peace Dollars combined).
This total equaled the same number of silver dollars melted down years
earlier under the Pittman Act, and these newer silver dollars fulfilled
the replacement mandate of the same law. Since there was no public
demand for silver dollars, production of the Peace Dollar ceased.
The Peace Dollar returned briefly in 1934 and 1935, because Treasury
needed some additional silver specie
to back up silver certificates.
Sadly, the end of the Peace Dollar series in 1935 foreshadowed events
to come. Within four years, the world was once again engulfed in war.
When studying Peace Dollar values, there are a couple of dates that
stand out because of their attention from collectors and resultant
records of appreciation:
These are the key dates of the Peace Dollar
series. Whenever coin
prices in general are on the rise, look for this duo to do the best
amongst this group. The 1921 Peace Dollar, even though a key
date, remains affordable for most pocketbooks. The 1928 is more pricey,
but most collectors can buy one if they scrimp and save a bit.
Some proof specimens, dated 1921 and 1922, are known to exist. Peace
Dollar proofs are extremely rare and valuable, numbering perhaps no
more than 30.
Peace Dollars are not far behind their Morgan Dollar counterparts on
the Buyer Remorse scale. The beauty and availability of Peace Dollars
gives hucksters ample bait to reel in uninformed collectors. They chum
the water with "bargains" that are actually overgraded coins by honest
numismatic standards. Buyers don't discover this until they're ready to
sell. That "MS-65" coin for which they paid an MS-64 price is really an
MS-63. That bargain wasn't such a great deal after all. Scenarios like
occur all too often and have dissuaded many budding collectors from
becoming active hobbyists. The best way to avoid getting turned off is
to purchase only examples that have been graded by PCGS, NGC, ICG, or
ANACS, or at least are being sold by a reputable dealer.
The left hand side of each "Sales Box" below contains Peace Dollar
values over a very long period of time for key dates in F-12 condition.
The percent annual increase is computed for comparative purposes. The
right side of the box is a link to eBay US coin auctions, that pulls
coins of these dates in all conditions offered. The coin pictured
for sale in the right hand side is not necessarily the same condition
coin as that represented in the value trend analysis on left hand side.
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