This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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There has been a great deal going on regarding the 1928-S Peace dollar, making it a date well worth examining. It tends to be a very tough date in top grades but a relatively available one in lower grades, an interesting combination.
In 1928 silver dollar production was finally winding down. The silver dollars melted under the provisions of the Pittman Act roughly a decade earlier had finally been replaced. It could not have come too early for the Mint as silver dollars were a historic pain in the neck. What were really needed were lower denominations.
The Morgan dollar had been another problem as required silver purchases each month had forced the facilities to make silver dollars far in excess of the numbers needed for circulation. The mintages of other denominations suffered.
The 1928 silver dollar from Philadelphia had a very low 360,649 mintage. Some in the West were actually using silver dollars and that may be why the 1928-S mintage was larger at 1,632,000 pieces.
It certainly appears that the 1928-S reached circulation in some numbers as it is available in lower grades. The problem is whether many were saved in Mint State and whether any of those would qualify as MS-65 or better examples.
It appears that there was at least the normal saving of the 1928-S in Mint State, evidenced by its current MS-60 price of $155. That price, while higher than most available dates, does not put the 1928-S in the top few dates in that grade.
Things are a little different in MS-65. In the top grades, many dates from San Francisco including the 1928-S are tough. It appears that San Francisco simply had a difficult time making top quality Peace dollars. The proof is in the prices as the most expensive Peace dollars are all from San Francisco in MS-65.
Historically speaking, the 1928-S has basically been the key MS-65 Peace dollar, usually followed by the 1925-S. The price difference between the two has not been large. Back in the late 1990s, the 1928-S in MS-65 was $18,250 while the 1925-S was at $14,500. But something happened as today the 1928-S is at $24,850 while the 1925-S is at $25,000. The 1928-S is now behind the 1925-S in price.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, has seen a total of 41 examples of the 1925-S in MS-65 and just 31 of the 1928-S, suggesting that the current prices are possibly wrong at least when comparing the two. Professional Coin Grading Service has seen 29 examples of the 1925-S in MS-65 while the total for the 1928-S stands at 26.
Obviously when the totals are so close they could change any number of times depending on what coins are submitted in the next year. If you own a 1928-S, don’t panic as it remains one of the best Peace dollars in MS-65 and that is unlikely to change.