The Story Behind the Peace Dollar

By: Adhitri Sethuraghavan

The Peace dollar was designed by Anthony de Francisci and was first designed as a commemorative to celebrate the peace at the end of World War I. The design of the Peace dollar was expected to be made beautiful and full of character. The model used was the designer’s wife, whose name was Teresa de Francisci.

At first, the announced design was not favored by the public because part of the design showed a large figure of an eagle perched on a broken sword. The design was trying to show that since the Great War (World War I), there was now peace. Instead, the public felt that it symbolized defeat and surrender. Many times in world history, handing an opponent a broken sword was considered a sign of surrender. So, the U.S. Mint quickly removed the broken sword from the coins.

The obverse showed Lady Liberty with a tiara beaming sunshine from it. Teresa de Francisci’s features were used for this. When Teresa came to the United States as an immigrant child, she was fascinated by the Statue of Liberty. She was not at all the least bit happy when another little girl got to play that role at her school drama. Mrs. Francisci felt that playing the role of being the model of Lady Liberty on Anthony’s coin design made her dreams that she had as a child come true. 

lady liberty profile

The Peace dollar had two mintage time periods, from 1921-1928 and from 1934-1935. The reason there is a gap is because during the Great Depression, there was no demand for those coins. The Great Depression was a period of economic downturn when many people were poor. The first Peace dollars were struck in late December 1921. It was also minted in 1964 at the Denver Mint, and in 2021, but in both cases, they did not go to circulation.

In 1964, Peace dollars were only struck in Denver. The 1964-D coins were technically all melted down, but some people argue that some do still exist. It would be very good if they did still exist, for they would be a great addition to the hobby. Although law says that people can not privately own one of these spectacular rarities, that may just be a rumor. PCGS, which set out a search for this coin, is willing to strike a deal with the government so that whoever finds the coin can keep it.

Dan Carr in Loveland, Colorado owns a private mint – the Moonlight Mint. This mint made copies of the 1964-D and 1917-1920 Peace dollars. This is not considered counterfeiting as these coins were only produced as fantasy pieces. The U.S. Mint did not technically release the 1964-D Peace dollars.

The 2021 coins, on the other hand, are very real and special and are not meant for circulation. these coins, along with the 2021 Morgan dollar, celebrate the end of Morgan dollars and the beginning of Peace dollars. You may enjoy collecting these coins. The ANA has ways to educate you on these collectibles, and Whitman has a coin folder dedicated to storing Morgan and Peace dollars.

The “Red Book” has some pages showing the value of these coins, so if you want to buy one or two of these, you can choose the cheapest one. 


Image Sources

Teresa de Francisci, the Peace Dollar Lady Liberty

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