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Getting a silver dollar education

Is 2014 the Year of the Peace dollar?

It sure looks like it.

Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers sold two rare matte proof high-relief 1922 Peace dollar coins for eye-popping prices in early June. The better of the two sold for $458,250.

Now word is that Stack’s Bowers Galleries will sell five rare pieces from the Peace series in early August at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill.

I expect more unbelievably high prices will be the result.

Will these results be enough to shake me out of my childhood opinion that Peace dollars are somehow inferior to Morgans?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that when I was a kid I was excited by the idea of silver dollars, but Peace dollars seemed to be held in much lower regard by collectors than Morgans. I quickly learned to share the general feeling.

The Peace series was shorter. It ran only from 1921 to 1935. Morgans run 1878-1904 and 1921.

The Peace rarities really weren’t all that rare. The high relief 1921, and the 1928, 1934-S and 1935-S coins paled in comparison to the 1893-S Morgan, the 1895 proof and the 1889-CC.

Instead of looking at lower prices as making it a more accessible series, when I was a kid I viewed the coins as not worth the effort. Morgans meant dreaming big; Peace coins not so much.

The Peace series was something on par with the Franklin half dollar series, which at the time was also an artificially shortened series with low prices.

Morgan dollars also evoked images in my mind of the Old West. Even though I knew Peace dollars were issued during Prohibition when Al Capone was riding high, I did not think of the Peace dollars as being part of the underground world of the speakeasy.

To think my father was a big fan of the television program, “The Untouchables.”

Even the fact that Peace dollars were the first silver dollars I ever owned couldn’t do it for me, either. I received two 1923 Peace dollars in 1963. I valued them. I kept them. I still have them, but they just didn’t grab me as much as Morgans did.

What a difference a half century makes. I am older and wiser and I am being educated by the Goldbergs and by Stack’s Bowers.

I guess the old adage, “Better late than never,” applies in this case.

I do not think I am alone in this Peace dollar educational journey. I think there are many others of my generation who felt as I did and missed the opportunities an accessible, affordable series provided.

The Peace silver dollar rarities on sale this year are no longer affordable to most of us.

Now they are stuff of dreams like an 1804 silver dollar.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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