It’s been 80 years since the last Peace dollar left the United States Mint. While its predecessor, the Morgan dollar, overshadows it, the Peace dollar is an affordable series with no impossible key dates.
Harry Miller, owner of Miller’s Mint, Patchoque, N.Y., calls the series a great set for the collector.
“Many collectors like Peace dollars because a set is completable within a reasonable budget,” he said. “If you’re collecting a circulated set, the highest priced coin is around $300.”
When starting a Peace dollar collection, Miller recommends a set consisting of extremely fine to about uncirculated coins.
“The average circulated Peace dollar is very fine to extremely fine,” he said. “Average circulated for Morgan dollars is very good to fine.”
He attributes the difference in average grade to saving and age.
“Most Morgans are 20 to 40 years older than Peace dollars,” he said. “The Morgan was also widely used back in its time. By the 1920s, paper dollars had taken over.”
Peace dollars don’t dramatically rise in price in circulated grades, he said.
“With the key 1928 dollar, there’s not much price difference between fine and about uncirculated,” Miller said. “For Morgan dollars, prices can go from $1,000 to $10,000 between fine and about uncirculated. Any readers shopping for a 1928 Peace dollar should look for a favorable price.
“Grade is not a problem until you get into brilliant uncirculated Peace dollars. Then they become a little harder to find.”
Jack Beymer, owner of Jack Beymer Rare Coins, Santa Rosa, Calif., said there’s a good reason why higher grade Peace dollars are tough.
“They have such large open fields that any mark will show up easily,” he said. “A really choice brilliant uncirculated Peace dollar is in the minority compared to common date Morgan dollars.”
Surviving numbers of Peace dollars matter on the secondary market, he said.
“The 1924-S, 1928-S and 1934-S are hard to find in higher grades,” Beymer said. “It’s a matter of survivability. The San Francisco Peace dollars for most dates are tough to find in higher grades because fewer survived.”
Miller said another year for collectors to look out for is the 1921 Peace dollar, featuring a high relief design only used that year.
At 1,006,473 minted, the 1921 is more expensive than the lower mintage 1927, 1927-S or 1934 in grades below MS-63.
“There’s a couple of reasons why it’s more expensive,” he said. “The high relief is a more dramatic design than the low relief used after 1921. People will seek out the high relief with strong strikes.
“It’s also a one-year type coin. It’s required for a U.S. coin type set and a Peace dollar set.”
Hoarding of the 1921 Peace dollar has shaken the market in the past, he said.
“It’s the first year of issue,” he said. “In general, the non-collecting public will hoard first and last year of issue, thinking they will be very rare. The same is true of the 1909 V.D.B. Lincoln cent, the 1913 Type 1 Buffalo nickel, or the 1916 Mercury dime.
“When I was first dealing in coins, there were a couple of people hoarding the 1921 dollars. One kind of hoard from Georgia yielded 20,000 coins and was broken up about eight to ten years ago. At a coin show in Georgia then, I was able to buy 100 1921 Peace dollars at a time. Many other dealers did too, so there was a glut on the market.”
One more Peace dollar to watch for is the 1935-S Peace dollar with four rays, he said.
“On the reverse, some have three rays that cross the end of the eagle’s tail below the word “ONE” while others have four rays,” he said. “The four rays 1935-S can bring in between 20 to 25 percent over the three rays.
“I suspect as more price guides highlight the variety, more collectors will know about it and the price will rise.”
For a set consisting of 24 coins (27 coins if you include the well-known 1928-S and 1934-D large and small mintmarks and the 1935-S rays varieties), completing a Peace dollar collection is within reach of many hobbyists.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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