Collectors normally do not have a lot of questions about coins of the 1930s, since most of them are pretty well documented. There are, however, some unsettling questions about the 1934-D Peace dollar.
In 1934 and 1935, thanks to a small purchase of silver apparently made to help the mines during the Great Depression, it was decided to strike some additional Peace dollars. This was unexpected, as the last silver dollars had been made back in 1928, and there was no need for more commercially.
With a mintage of 1,569,500, the 1934-D topped both Philadelphia and San Francisco’s output of just under and just over one million pieces, respectively. However, none of these final outputs were considered large.
What happened to the 1934-D after it was released? Typically that would be a dumb question, as coins typically circulated. But Peace dollars did not do a lot of circulating. From the start, they were a sitting-in-the-vault coin, as the only reason they had ever been made was to serve as backing for a new issue of Silver Certificates.
Since they sat, many Peace dollars and their releases can be traced. In fact, we pretty well know of the release for bags of all Peace dollars dates except the 1921. That exception is fairly easy to explain: it was the first, it had a mintage of just over one million, and virtually all were probably released into circulation.
The rest of the dates, however, could be found in Treasury releases over the years, or in the Redfield Hoard or in Reno casino tables, or in an assortment of other places – all except for the 1934-D.
According to Peace dollar authority Wayne Miller, “All of the available evidence suggests the 1934-D is the only Peace dollar which was never released in bag quantities during the silver dollar rush of the early 1960s, or from the Redfield Hoard.”
Some may not fully agree, but numismatic researcher Q. David Bowers does not contest the notion that the 1934-D has not appeared in bag quantities. In his book American Coin Treasures and Hoards, he says of the 1934-D, “Occasionally a roll of 20 pieces will turn up.”
As interesting as the 1934-D is, frequently examples are not very nice. Bowers observes, “Some pieces are extensively bagmarked, especially on the face and cheek of Miss Liberty.”
As one of the last Peace dollars to be produced, it is certainly possible that the 1934-D was paid out in the years that followed. That would have been natural, being in the front of vaults. Had it been paid out in the 1930s, numismatic interest in the 1934-D would have been minimal.
It was also the first and only Peace dollar to be produced in Denver since 1927. The use of silver dollars was still fairly extensive in the Colorado area at that time. The 1934-D might easily have been released in the area without attracting much attention.
Whatever the situation, the 1934-D today lists for $42 in VG-8 condition, which is not a very large price premium. Its MS-60 price is $175, which does suggest that it is not that available in Mint State. An MS-65 example is $1,575. While that is not a key date price by any means, it is still one of relatively few Peace dollars produced outside of San Francisco to be worth more than $1,000.
The grading service numbers seem to basically confirm these prices. The 1934-D is not a key date, but neither is it a readily available date. Someone saved some examples, but we cannot really figure out who, and the 1934-D did not turn up in any of the likely places where Mint State Peace dollars were typically found.
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