The 1927-D Peace dollar is a good deal of fun. It is a better date although not a key, and it is interesting to consider how examples survived.
When the 1,268,900 examples of the 1927-D were produced, the pressure to produce large numbers of silver dollars had passed. The Secretary of the Treasury had the more than 200 million silver dollars he needed, and the 1927 mintages were basically meant to use up remaining silver. There are no reports of large numbers of the 1927-D circulating anywhere.
In fact, for some years the 1927-D was seen as an elusive issue. The mintage, while certainly low when compared to the dates of the early 1920s, was not that low if the coins were in circulation, but they were in vaults.
Apparently several bags of the 1927-D were released around 1939, but after a few of those coins reached numismatic hands the rest were spent and the 1927-D was again considered a tougher date.
It continued to be an elusive date for years. The Treasury releases in the period prior to 1964 would normally be seen as likely to produce examples, but in fact they did not. There were some, but nothing like what might have been expected. After all, even with a lower mintage the 1927-D was not melted as had been the case with more than 270 million Morgan dollars.
Then in 1992, as Q. David Bowers recounts in his book, American Coin Treasures and Hoards, two and a half original bags appeared in a Sotheby’s auction. They sold for about $400,000.
The story was that a man gave the coins to his wife as a 25th anniversary present. Two Denver Mint bags were numbers 5758 and 5799, and the extra 500 were in a Bank of Denver bag.
Bowers said dealer Dwight Manley examined the coins and gave a grade estimate as follows: 50 coins are MS-65, 300 coins are MS-64, 550 coins are MS 63, 700 coins are MS-62 and MS-61, and 900 coins are MS-60.
Ultimately we cannot draw too many conclusions from a few bags since 2,000 coins is a small sample of 1,268,900. Both before and since the bags, the presence of even a single roll of the 1927-D has remained an unusual event.
There really are no certain answers about what happened. It could be that large numbers of the 1927-D ended up in Nevada casino operations, which is plausible since Nevada was one place using large numbers of silver dollars. Another possibility is that small numbers of the 1927-D drifted out in isolated locations and ended up in the hands of non-collectors over a period of decades.
Whatever the real story, the fact remains that the 1927-D is better than might be expected. It commands a premium of $28 in VG-8 today, while an MS-60 is at $148 and an MS-65 is at $6,100. Those are very strong prices for a Denver Peace dollar. The 1927-D, still surrounded in mystery, is well worth the cost.