Today the 1925-S is the second most expensive Peace dollar in MS-65. The most expensive is the 1928-S. That is part of the interesting story of the 1925-S Peace dollar that has never been available in the numbers we expect and is growing in reputation as a very tough coin in top grades.
While not melted like Morgans, it appears that with very little movement in storage, Peace dollar bags would see the coins inside get heavy bagmarks on the obverse portrait and surrounding field. There were also planchet abrasions, especially on coins produced in Denver and San Francisco, on the higher parts of the eagle and what you get is a ?scruffy? looking coin without much eye appeal. On top of that, the San Francisco issues frequently had soft strikes, producing a flat appearance. Suddenly you have a lot of elements working against a nice MS-65 coin, and that is why we see higher prices especially in MS-65 for San Francisco issues.
The 1925-S started off with a mintage of 1,610,000, which would have been a low total at the time. The prior years had seen the heavy production in the hurried effort to produce 270 million dollars to function as reserves for new Silver Certificates.
Q. David Bowers has done some excellent research tracking down the releases of silver dollars in his book American Coin Treasures and Hoards, and Bowers points to releases of the 1925-S in 1938 and then a large release in 1942.
Once again the matter of saving became important. Bowers concludes of that the 1942 release, ?of the many thousands of 1925-S dollars paid out in 1942, probably no more than a thousand or two ever reached numismatists who preserved them.?
The next major release, according to Bowers came in 1949 and 1950 through California banks primarily in San Francisco and Oakland, and it had a similar result as few were saved.
The last reports of bags of the 1925-S came in the 1950s when a small number of additional bags were released. In that last release at least some coins ended up in the hands of dealers and collectors.
In fact, there was another source. Five bags were reported in the LaVere Redfield estate. Some of those coins reportedly made their way to one dealer with others being part of the Redfield estate. While there were numbers, there was not quality, as the Redfield examples of the 1925-S are reported to be weakly struck.
The situation leaves us with a very interesting situation today. The 1925-S is available in Mint State being priced at just $75 in MS-60, or even $1,025 in MS-64. It is in MS-65 where the price jumps to $21,000, but in fact the grading service totals support the prices.
At NGC, for example, they report 847 examples of the 1925-S in MS-63 along with 953 examples in MS-64, but only 41 were called MS-65. The PCGS totals are similar with 1,653 in MS-63, 1,058 in MS-64, but only 31 in MS-65.
Clearly a collector today has a difficult financial choice to make. If you want an 1925-S in MS-65 it?s going to be a costly purchase. Certainly with the numbers known, the 1925-S is worth the price in MS-65, but with the date being available for so much less in slightly lower grades, it?s a tough decision. Whatever you decide, you cannot go very far wrong, as the 1925-S is a much better Peace dollar than many have realized.