Learn more about the value and history of this rare and beautiful historic coin.
The peace silver dollar, initially issued from 1921 to 1928—soon after the end of hostilities in World War I, celebrated peace and liberty. It was briefly minted again in 1934-5.
The peace dollar steps into history at a crucial juncture for the U.S. Not only was the country at rest from war, it was nearly a decade into a new monetary system—managed by the Federal Reserve System with the goal of eventually replacing the gold/silver standard with fiat currency. The Pittman Act stipulated the minting of new silver coins to replace Morgan dollars sold to Britain to support the war effort. The Morgans sold to Britain were melted down and used to create British coins, so America used the opportunity to destroy the silver certificates tied to those coins. (Silver certificates were paper bills that looked much like the currency we use today, but which were redeemable upon demand in silver.) Rather than reissue silver certificates tied to the new coins, the Treasury issued un-backed Federal Reserve notes, which remain in use today. Morgan dollars were initially minted under the Pittman Act’s provisions, but were almost immediately replaced by a new design—that of the peace silver dollar.
The irony for precious metals lovers is delectable—dollars minted as part of an effort to wean us off of precious metals are now helping lead the charge back to sound money. While the U.S. won’t likely go back to a gold/silver standard anytime soon, many individuals are building their portfolios on the bedrock of precious metals, and the peace dollar is a great way to do so. It’s beautiful, historical, and a tribute to two wonderful entities—peace and liberty. In fact, the irony continues in that the peace dollar is now being minted again, beginning in 2021, to celebrate the coin’s 100-year anniversary.
As the last silver dollar minted with the purpose of circulating as currency, earlier versions of the peace dollar contained 90% fine silver that weighed .77344 troy oz. The modern version contains 99.9% fine silver weighing 0.858 troy oz., and is not intended for circulation (being unalloyed, it’s considerably softer and easier to mar than the earlier version).
Both the obverse (front) and reverse designs of the coin were the work of artist Anthony de Francisci. The obverse features a left profile of Lady Liberty, the model for which was the artist’s wife, Teresa. The portrait is striking, and evocatively celebratory of its subject—liberty. Ms. Liberty bears a radiant crown, under which her wavy hair streams rearward.
The word “LIBERTY” is arced across the top of the coin. On either side of the lady’s neck, the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” are struck. Finally, the year of mintage is located at the bottom of the coin.
American Bald Eagle
The coin’s reverse features a familiar subject—America’s beloved bald eagle. At rest atop a mountain peak, the eagle clutches the olive branch of peace in its talons. The design initially featured the eagle breaking a sword to signify the cessation of hostilities, but many observers thought it conveyed defeat. As a result, the national symbol at rest and the olive branch were the chosen communicators of the vital message.
The words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” follow the curvature of the coin at the top, with the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” directly beneath them. The words “ONE DOLLAR” horizontally bracket the eagle’s tail and legs, and the word “PEACE” is struck at the bottom.
As noted above, the 2021 and following centennial celebration coins contain 99.9% fine silver weighing 0.858 troy oz. Coins from the 20th century contain 90% fine silver that weighs .77344 troy oz.
It’s an interesting aspect of current American culture that history is so severely devalued. Certainly that explains many of our policies and trends. But it also explains why you can purchase many bullion coins that are beautiful works of art, vital reflectors of momentous history, and repositories of real and valuable precious metals at prices virtually identical—or even at a discount—to those of currently minted coins. People who “walk in the ancient paths,” to borrow from Jeremiah, greatly value such reflectors of yesteryear’s art, events, and virtues. To get such repositories of value at no cost over current coins seems too good to be true. There are few places where you can get so much for so little in this day and age. And the value of the underlying metal will remain fixed to its bullion price. Today, that’s likely a very good thing.
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