Building a Silver Dollar Collection With United States Peace Dollars
The silver dollar has been one of America’s most popular coins throughout its history. As the largest silver coin minted in the US, the silver dollar has traditionally featured some of the most beautiful designs of all our coinage. From the earliest flowing hair dollars, to the seated liberty trade dollars that we used during the 19th century to open trade with China, the silver dollar has a rich and varied history to go along with their stunning designs.
One series prized by collectors is the Peace dollar, which was minted from 1921 to 1928 before being put on hold through the Depression until resuming in 1934 and 35, the final two years of the series. Multiple designers competed with one another, spurred on by the US government wanting to have a new design to inspire hope following World War I. The design is strongly representative of the Art Deco that was popular in the roaring 20’s and was created by New York sculptor Anthony de Francisci. The Peace dollar was the last United States dollar coin minted for general public circulation in silver.
The Birth of an Iconic Design
The mandate to mint Peace dollar was born through a piece of legislation called The Pittman Act of 1918 at a time when post-World War I US was looking for hope; this act required the melting of over 270 million silver dollars in late 1921. New York sculptor Anthony de Francisci won a design competition for the coins design and created the only Art Deco coin minted in US history. The font used in the coins lettering and Lady Liberty’s tiara being particularly classic Art Deco touches. George Morgan was ultimately the creator of the coin; de Francisci’s design originally had an eagle holding a broken sword, which was meant to symbolize peace. An editorial in the New York Herald resulted in a public outcry due to the perception that the broken sword symbolized defeat. As such, Morgan and Francisci worked together to have it removed, and replaced with an olive branch.
Building Your Silver Dollar Collection
The first coins of the series were produced in Philadelphia and the 1921 release were struck in beautiful high relief. Unfortunately, this design was impractical to produce so the relief was lowered in subsequent years. This high relief makes the 1921 coin popular with collectors and a key in the series. It also makes high quality specimens somewhat rare and valuable.
Production levels in general were high during the initial years of the series, whereas 1928 — the final year of the initial run — was the lowest of the series as the Pittman Act targets were achieved.
Peace dollars are a great series for collectors across the spectrum. Because there were many years of high production, common dates are plentiful. There are a few key dates or low-mintage issues and the series is marked by numerous coins that are exceeding rare to find in gem mint condition. A number of issues struck in San Francisco suffer from weak strikes, heavy abrasions, and bag marks, so finding high-grade examples for these issues is challenging and expensive.
That being said, Peace Dollars are a great series for building a complete collection as there are numerous specimens available with only 24 different issues between 1921 and 1935 produced at the Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver mints. Collectors who are patient and have an eye for quality, can be rewarded and successfully build a great collection of this important US series.
Work With a Reputable Dealer
If you’re considering building a collection of Peace dollars, working with a reputable dealer can go a long way. The series has a small number of coins making it somewhat easy to complete, but like the Morgan dollar, there are a few variations and conditional challenges to completing a high-quality complete set.
A reputable dealer works with you to build your collection, and as the relationship develops, they will understand your specific interests and help find coins. Because they deal with collectors on a daily basis and attend multiple shows and auctions throughout the year they can find the coins you need, in the condition your want to fill any holes in your collection. When it’s time to sell specimens to upgrade your collection, they can work with you and help guide you through the process.
Finding a reputable dealer takes a little legwork, but is well worth the effort. Check with trade groups like the Professional Coin Grading Service and the Professional Numismatics Guild which both offer online databases of members; visit coin shows, trade shows and coin auctions, and ask other collectors. They’re always willing to share the name of a solid, reputable, ethical dealer.
Building a quality collection of Peace dollars can be a rewarding experience and there are plenty or reasons to do it. For one, the design is beautiful and represents the only Art Deco coin ever minted, The high-relief 1921 joins only a few coin series that feature these deeply detailed varieties. With only 24 issues throughout the series, it takes a limited number of dates/mint marks to assemble a complete series. Add to all of these reasons the fact that specimens are plentiful and available and this makes the Peace dollar a wonderful series to collect.