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Chance missed to save 1928-S Peace dollar

How does a Peace dollar with an average mintage become one of the keys to the whole set in MS-65 grade?

How does a Peace dollar with an average mintage become one of the keys to the whole set in MS-65 grade? That is a good question. The 1928-S is an important Peace dollar date and one where many seemed to have had the opportunity to acquire an example in top grade, but simply did not take the date seriously.


At $24,000 in MS-65, many probably wish they had spent a little more time with Peace dollars when they were available through banks in the early 1960s. It is a good lesson for us about taking coins for granted.

Back in 1928 the period of high Peace dollar production was ending. The mints had been working hard since 1921 to replace the 270 million silver dollars melted under the terms of the Pittman Act of 1918. Once the number was replaced, there were finally enough silver dollars to back the desired level of Silver Certificate issuance.

In fact, 1928 might have been the last year of coining the replacement dollars, but the pressure was clearly off. In Philadelphia that year just 360,649 silver dollars were made while only San Francisco had anything close to a regular total and that was just 1,632,000, lower than all but one other Peace dollar year. The Denver Mint produced no dollars in 1928.

If there was any reason for San Franscisco to have had the largest total, it was simply the coin use pattern of the time. Out East no one liked carting around dollars. Paper was easier.

Out West it was different. The West had been slow to trust paper money. There were tens of millions of silver dollars in circulation in the 1920s and it is a good guess that most of them in active use were west of St. Louis or even west of the Rockies. This was silver dollar country and it made sense for San Francisco to strike more dollars in 1928.

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Useful as they might have been out west, there were still hundreds of millions of silver dollars in vaults and that slowed the release of the 1928-S. Apparently, this date was put into circulation in some numbers up until about 1950. The problem is that as each new bag was opened and the coins released, they were not saved by collectors. Instead, they went to the gaming tables and other places. Even dealers didn’t save them. Why would they when bag after bag seemed to be available?

By the time customers appeared for the 1928-S it was too late to find pristine examples.
There were reports of a few bags in the Redfield Hoard, but they were damaged by a counting machine.

What we see today are coins that are flatly struck and they have trouble making the MS-65 grade. The bulk of the 1928-S dollars that you see are the AU-50 coins at $66, or the MS-60 at $178.

Over the years the 1928-S and the 1925-S have been going back and forth to claim top MS-65 price honors. Currently the 1925-S has the crown at $25,000. Even the grading services data show that this race is too close to call.

With the limited collecting of Peace dollars at the time of issue, whatever chance there was of gathering a large supply of MS-65 coins was simply missed.

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