The Peace Dollar celebrated the end of terrible conflict.
In 1914 the world changed, as World War 1 started. The world became embroiled with the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire) fighting against the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan, and the United States). With trench warfare and improved weapons of destruction having a major impact on the levels of destruction and death, over 16 million people perished. When the war ended in 1918 people were ready for peace and some sort of normalcy to return.
In the wake of this tumultuous time, in 1920 the historian for the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Farran Zerbe presented a paper entitled “Commemorate the Peace with a Coin for Circulation”. He proposed the idea of a new design for a half dollar or dollar for this occasion. The idea was well received and the ANA created a committee to help prepare a bill for Congress to push this through.
So in November of 1921 the Federal Commission of Fine Arts started a competition to design this coin to celebrate peace and the end of the war. In the early part of December 1921 the Treasury Department and the Mint chose the design by Anthony de Francisci. The model he used for his work was his wife, Teresa de Francisci, shown on the side.
The U.S. Mint ran with this design and produced over a million of these new dollars from December 26 through 31, 1921. The initial design was done in a high relief to showcase the artistic details but this proved difficult to strike so it was changed to a lower relief in 1922.
The original design for the reverse had the eagle standing on a broken sword.
The public believed the announced design suggested defeat. The U.S. Mint hastily acted to remove the sword. There are some Peace dollars which the sword was struck over, turning the end of the sword into an olive branch.
Later, the sword was entirely removed, showing only the eagle standing on an olive branch.
It is interesting to note that the Pittman Act of 1918 resulted in the melting down of over 270 million silver dollars (mostly Morgans) to help pay for the US debt in World War 1. As part of the Act’s stipulations the Mint had to purchase silver from the mines, at wartime prices, to replace the silver melted down and used as the debt payment. The silver bought from the mining companies to replace that sold as bullion was used to help make the Peace dollars.
The Great Depression that started in 1929 put a halt for the demand of silver dollars and so production of the Peace dollar was stopped until 1934.
Basic Facts and Numbers
The Peace dollar was minted from 1921 to 1928 and then again in 1934 and 1935. The basic key dates and varieties are:
- 1921 with the high relief
- 1928 only 360,649 coins were produced for circulation
- 1934 D Doubled die
- 1934 S Uncirculated
The metal content is Silver 90%, Copper 10%.
What can be said about the Peace dollar if one had to sum up its existence in a sentence?The Peace dollar represents a country or the broader picture, a world, putting the ugly past behind and appreciating the peaceful existence we all cherish.
The Peace dollar will forever hold its place in history.
Which Peace dollars do you need in your collection?
Wikipedia – Peace Dollar
The Spruce Crafts – A Profile of the Peace Silver Dollar