The Peace dollar was first issued in 1921 as a coin commemorating the peace that marked the end of World War I. Originally intended as a commemorative half dollar, the coin was made in the one dollar denomination to replace the Morgan design. By 1921,there was little public demand for a circulating dollar coin. Americans clearly preferred paper. The Pitman act of 1918 ordered large quantities of excess Morgan dollars melted. The mint was then required to replace the melted dollars with newly minted dollars composed of domestically produced silver. Does this make sense? Certainly it did to Nevada senator, Key Pittman, whose state now had an outlet for silver. By 1928, it was clear that Americans had little interest in using the coins. Mintage was suspended in 1928. It resumed in limited quantities in 1934 and 1935.
The 1921 High Relief Peace DollarDuring the first year of issue,1921, the peace dollars were struck in high relief. But as was the case of the St. Gaudens double eagle, the high relief was less practical, and so aesthetics were abandoned. The 1921 peace dollar is relatively scarce, with only about a million coins minted (1,006,473 for those who wish to be precise). The mint had already produced over 85 million morgan dollars in 1921.
The 1926 Peace Dollar and the Scopes Monkey CaseThe 1926 Peace dollar has a subtle difference compared to the other dates. On every single coin, the word God is in boldface. It appears this way on no other date. The master die was prepared in Philadelphia, and then hub copies were made for minting the coins in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Since coins from all three mints are in bold, the bold facing must have been done in Philadelphia. Tennessee had passed a law banning the teaching of evolution. This led to the trial of schoolteacher, John Scopes, who was defended by Clarence Darrow and the American Civil Liberties Union. William Jennings Bryant led the prosecution to a victory resulting in a fine for John Scopes. It has been hypothesized that the word god was boldfaced by an evolution foe working at the Philadelphia mint in response to the trial. How do we test this hypothesis? I do not know. Today, teachers continue to teach the controversial subject of evolution, while the anti-evolutionists continue to pursue a remedy in court. The anti-evolutionists of today generally want equal time for creation science. They seem to be having the same difficulty as the flat-earthers who are trying to have their point of view heard in astronomy classes.
Collecting Peace DollarsThe Peace dollar collection is relatively small -- a mere 24 coins makes a complete set. Most of the dates are fairly common, although many are tough to find in pristine condition. The rarest coin in the series is 1928, in which only 360,649 were struck in Philadelphia. The other relatively scarce coins are 1921, 1927, 1927S, and 1934S. The coins struck in Philadelphia were generally struck well. The coins in Denver were sometimes struck less well. Many San Francisco peace dollars were particularly poorly struck. As a result, they become rare in pristine grades such as MS65 (this grade requires a well-struck coin). Particularly poorly struck coins include 1923S,1925S, and 1928S.
The 1964D Peace DollarThe Peace dollar almost made a comeback in 1965 to fulfill demand from casinos. Congress had already passed a coinage act, which eliminated silver from all circulating US coins (As most of you know, the exception was the Kennedy half dollar, which became 40% silver). As an attempt to skirt the law, Lyndon Johnson, in 1965, ordered the minting of new peace dollars in silver and had them dated 1964. Congress put the kibosh on this, and all were ordered melted. At this time 316,076 dollars were already minted in Denver. It has been rumored that some of these 1964D Peace dollars exist. If they do, they were almost certainly stolen by mint employees. (Of course, the US has an established history of unauthorized coins appearing -- such as the 1933 Double Eagle or the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel). The official word from the government: There are no 1964D Peace Dollars.