Login

ZanzibarCoins's Blog

31 Aug 2021

Large Dollar Coins, The Peace Dollar, Part Four

Young Numismatists Exchange | ZanzibarCoins

Hello everyone, and here is the fourth installment in my Peace Dollars series! I hope y'all enjoy it! I am going to try and cut myself off around 800-1,000 words with this one instead of writing an over 1,800 word piece again, but we'll see how this goes lol. Here we go...


The clang of the dies resounded through the Philadelphia Mint, mingling with the cheers of the Mint employees. The day was December 28th of 1921, and the first Peace Dollar had just been struck. The celebration did not -- could not -- last long however, for the Mint's employees soon started working so quickly the busy ants or bees would have been in awe. Between that first exciting strike and the end of the year -- a mere and daunting 84 hours, which counted the nighttime hours -- they had to strike as many Peace dollars as they could manage. Amazingly enough, in only about three and a half days, they minted 1,006,473 pieces. Or at least, that's how the story goes. Numismatic Historian Roger Burdette calls that rate of output "amazing" and speculates that instead of churning out that many Peace dollars in three and a half days, the Mint continued striking Peace dollars bearing the date of 1921 into the year of 1922. The first coin was supposed to go to President Harding, but interestingly enough, that never seems to have happened. Instead, it seems that the coin literally up and... disappeared. O'Reilly said she sent the coin to him, but looking at his estate's inventory, which was literally prepared less than two years later, since President Harding died in office, has no mention of it at all. He also never mentioned it in his papers. Numismatic Historian Walter Breen said that the coin was delivered by messenger to President Harding on the 3rd of January of 1922, but he does not state the source of that information. So the first strike coin... vanished.


January 3rd was the same day that the Peace dollar was released into circulation. The Sub-Treasury Building in New York received a shipment of the coins the following day, and long lines formed in front of the building, waiting to get some of the new coins. And to put the word "long" into perspective... the shipment contained 75,000 coins, and by the time the lines were gone at the end of the day... the coins were nearly all gone. The dollars proved relatively popular with the public, meeting favorable views from many. They were favorably spoken of in the newspapers too. For example, one newspaper in Philadelphia said, "Liberty is getting younger. Take it from the new 'Peace Dollar,' put in circulation yesterday, the young woman who has been adorning silver currency for many years, never looked better than in the 'cart wheel' that the Philadelphia Mint has just started to turn out. The young lady, moreover, has lost her Greek profile. Helenic [sic] beauty seems to have been superseded by the newer 'flapper' type." Now, I know that sounds like a bizarre mix of praise and... who knows what else, but the "flapper type" Liberty was actually liked by (the majority of) the public.


However, though the coin did find favor with the majority of the public... it was not finding favor with the people of the Mint. The biggest reason for this was the design. The people at the Mint had discovered that it took a ridiculous amount of pressure to fully strike the design onto the coin blanks, and their dies kept breaking over and over again. On only the tenth of January in 1922, O'Reilly -- who was still serving as the Acting Mint Director since Baker was still in San Francisco -- ordered a stop on the production of the coins. The Denver and San Francisco Mints -- which had been sent dies in anticipation of starting coinage at those Mints as well -- were also ordered to stop production. Although in their case, that really meant they couldn't startthe production, because at that time neither Mint had started striking any of the dollar coins. The Commission of Fine Arts was asked for advice on what to do to solve the problem, and both de Francisci and Fraser went to Philadelphia to see what might be done. They tried multiple things to solve it, without reducing the relief of the design, and ultimately all of these failed. So de Francisci agreed to modify his design, reducing the relief. His original plaster models were reduced to coin size with the use of the Mint's Janvier reducing lathe. However... even though the Mint had possessed this piece of equipment for 15 years now, they did not have any experts with it on their staff. According to Burdette, "[h]ad a technician from Tiffany's or Medallic Art [Company] been called in, the 1922 low relief coins might have turned out noticeably better than they did."The low relief version worked, and after limited production runs in Philadelphia in February of 1922, all three Mints began striking the new design. Together, in the year of 1922, the three Mints struck over 84 million coins. As for the high relief coins from the start of the year... approximately 32,400 of these were minted that January, yet they were all said to have been melted. Yet one circulated example of the high relief coin has surfaced, so who knows? More may very well follow. We shall just have to see...


Okay, I am stopping myself there for today lol. Just under 1,000 words lol. The fifth, and possibly final, part of this series will cover die variations, along with the 1964 and 2021 Peace Dollars. Stay tuned!

Bibliography:

The Numismatist, Archived, October 1920 (can be accessed through Google books if you can't find it in the archives)

Supplement to the Revised Statues of the United States, 1891, William Allen Richardson (lots of legal stuff lol)

The Comprehensive U.S. Silver Dollar Encyclopedia, John Highfill

Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan and Peace Dollars, LeRoy Van Allen and George Mallis

Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, Walter Breen

Renaissance of American Coinage, Roger Burdette

US Mint Catalog, Peace Dollar, https://catalog.usmint.gov/peace-2021-silver-dollar-21XH.html

Wikipedia - Peace Dollar



Comments

Kepi

Level 6

Love the Peace Dollar! Nice blog! ; )

Longstrider

Level 6

The Peace dollar is generally not well struck as you say. I feel the '21 is the worst and one of the most expensive. Sounds like you are ready to VAM hunt. Great blog and good bibliography. As Mike says, don't use Wikipedia as a real source of info. I could put up I designed the peace dollar. Thanks.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Very comprehensive, thank you!

Thanks for the blog! Very interesting.

Golfer

Level 5

Nice blog and information. Always like the peace dollar. Great to hold a big silver coin. Thanks

Mike

Level 7

The Peace Dollar was very underrated for a long time. Not anymore. They stand alone. I hope you got one during the pre-sale. Be careful with Wikipedia. It's great for pictures.

We use cookies to provide users the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your cookie settings, we'll assume that you agree to receive all cookies on money.org. You may disable cookies at any time using your internet browser configuration. By continuing to use this website, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use. To learn more about how we use cookies and to review our privacy policy, click here.