The most surprising Peace dollar date would have to be the 1928. In almost every respect the 1928 is not what one would expect, making it a very interesting date to study and an even better date to own.
It is natural to expect that the Philadelphia Peace dollar mintages would be high since it came from the main facility. That was usually the case. The 1921 Morgan had a stunning production of more than 44 million. It was followed by a 1922 Peace dollar mintage of 51,737,000.
By 1928, however, the pressure was off. More than 200 million needed silver dollars were basically in hand, and the mintages had started to drop off a couple years earlier.
In fact, 1928 was the last scheduled year for Peace dollar production. There were additional mintages in 1934 and 1935, but they were not planned at the time. That year 1928 saw mintages only in San Francisco and Philadelphia. The silver dollar was circulating well in San Francisco, as opposed to the East where it was seen only sporadically. That may explain the San Francisco mintage of 1,632,000 compared to the Philadelphia total of just 360,649.
The Philadelphia 1928 mintage was the lowest for any Peace dollar. At another time this might have inspired saving or even large-scale hoarding. However, very few were collecting dollars at the time. After all, it was a lot of money and virtually any dollar date was available.
What happened to the admittedly small 1928 Peace dollar mintage becomes a matter of importance when it comes to supplies for collectors today.
Q. David Bowers has tracked the release of Peace dollars in his book American Coin Treasures and Hoards. He observes of the 1928, “I have never seen, nor have I a firm record of an original mint-sealed bag being preserved.”
Bowers does point to various reports, primarily of a roll here and a roll there. There was a report of bags in the 1950s in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but there is no solid evidence. He said that high-grade examples of the 1928 did appear in mixed bags in the 1950s. But even when the 1928 was found, it was not always saved. Moreover, the supply Bowers points to is made up of coins in a range from AU-50 to MS-63.
Things seem to change in Mint State. There the 1928 is priced at $525 in MS-60. That is a premium price, but well below the 1934-S. However, it is more than twice the price of the closest date to it in MS-60, so it comes in at a very strong second in the grade.
The 1928 lists for $4,600 in MS-65. It remains tough in this grade, but it is not a major challenge like it is in other grades.
Whatever the grade, the 1928 remains a most interesting and difficult Peace dollar that could probably be called the overall key Peace dollar.