The 1924-S Peace dollar does not get a great deal of attention. Perhaps many collectors assume that better dates in the series come from its later years.
However, the Peace dollar run is definitely front loaded when it comes to available dates. Except for the 1921, coins from the early 1920s are routinely much more available with much higher mintages.
The Peace dollar was something of a rushed project. The Pittman Act of 1918, which saw the melting of more than 270 million silver dollars, had created a problem. Those melted silver dollars had been used as backing for Silver Certificates.
You cannot give what you do not have, of course, and the United States no longer had enough silver dollars to make good on the promise of one for every $1 Silver Certificate. This could have proven problematic, especially if some cult showed up with truckloads of Silver Certificates demanding their silver dollars.
Such confrontations are to be avoided if at all possible, and so Silver Certificates were withdrawn. Backing of the new notes was done by short-term notes paying 2 percent interest.
Paying that interest was not appealing to the Secretary of the Treasury. He desired new silver dollars so that the interest-paying notes could be retired and new Silver Certificates issued in their place.
The three prime years of silver Peace dollar production were 1921, 1922 and 1923. These were the years when the lights never went out at the mints. In fact, they were often so busy making silver dollars that mintages of other denominations many times suffered, if there were any mintages of them at all.
The crisis began to ease in 1924. The Philadelphia mintage of Peace dollars sunk to 11,811,000; San Francisco struck just 1,728,000 coins; and Denver produced no silver dollars at all that year.
Although numbers were down, few collectors noticed. Fewer still would find a 1924-S Peace dollar in circulation, although this caused no concern for two reasons: it was simply assumed to be an available date, and there were virtually no silver dollar collectors.
The value of the 1924-S is right in line with other early strikes at $20 in G-4. In MS-60, it rises to $220, more than any other date from 1922 up to 1927. It reaches $8,720 in MS-65, which is also high.
While its mintage was low for the time, it was not that low. However, it appears that the 1924-S Peace dollar was released in large numbers only sporadically. There are no regular reports of bags, so it apparently trickled out and never received much notice.
The late 1950s saw a few $1,000 bags but not many. In the case of many San Francisco dates, the Redfield estate came to the rescue with bags of otherwise tough dates.
For the 1924-S, however, the total was measured not in bags but rather as only a few hundred Mint State coins.
To make matters worse, the 1924-S is notorious for being heavily bagmarked. We do not know why some dates seemed to pick up bag marks while others did not, but it does make it tough to find a nice example within an already low supply.
The 1924-S may never be the key to the Peace dollar set, but it certainly is well on its way to becoming a Peace dollar sleeper. The totals do not lie, and the 1924-S is a lot tougher than most realize.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
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