In the United States, the Peace Silver Dollars of 1921 were some of the last types of dollar coins issued for regular circulation with a composition of 90% silver.
So although there were millions of coins issued, regular Peace Silver Dollars can still be sold for about $18 just for their silver content alone. Of course, many Peace Silver Dollars can be worth a lot more based on their year and specific condition.
A Bit of Background and Context
It is not entirely clear who came up with the idea for a US coin to commemorate the peace after World War I. Some historians point to an article by Frank Duffield published in the November 1918 issue of The Numismatist, where he suggested that a victory coin be issued.
In August 1920, a paper by numismatist Farran Zerbe was read to that year's American Numismatic Association (ANA) convention in Chicago. The paper was called “Commemorate the Peace with a Coin for Circulation”, and Zerbe recommended the issuance of a coin to celebrate peace.
The Morgan silver dollar that was released in 1921 was the last year of that specific design and style. It was also the last coin design of the 19th century that was ever struck. The series was discontinued so that the new Peace Silver Dollar coins could be designed and put into production.
The Peace dollar was approved by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon in December 1921, which completed the redesign of United States coinage that had started in 1907. This is how Peace Silver Dollars came to be introduced by the U.S. Mint to replace the Morgan silver dollars.
Although many Peace dollars can still be found (even in regular circulation), some are very rare and this means that they can sometimes be worth thousands of dollars.
Dollar Design and Original Production
When it comes to the history of Peace Silver Dollars, Anthony de Francisci was the man who designed the new coin. The design was said to be inspired by his wife, Teresa, but it has been shown that the rays on Miss Liberty’s head are in fact strikingly similar to those that can be seen above the Statue of Liberty.
The Liberty head is one of the most striking features of these types of coins. On the other side of the coin (the obverse side) is a striking picture of an American bald eagle that can be interpreted as a symbol of the American dream.
After Anthony de Francisci submitted the original design of the Peace Silver Dollar coin, more than 35,000 of them were immediately minted.
How Many Peace Dollars are There Now?
None of the Peace dollar mintages are particularly rare. When found in higher Mint State grades, the Peace dollar can be a very attractive coin. It is important to consider the fact that (compared to other dollars of earlier types), a full set of all 24 varieties of Peace dollars can be put together for a reasonable cost.
This is one of the main reasons that so many coin collectors (especially with lower budgets) love Peace dollars. They are coins with an excellent yield because they offer a lot of value for a low cost. As in the case of many other coins, the Peace dollar value can be affected by the mintmark and condition.
The right combination of year, mintmark, and condition can soon make a regular coin worth a great deal more money. A Guide Book of United States Coins (or Red Book) lists low-grade circulated specimens for little more than the coin’s bullion value. An exception is the first year of issue 1921 Peace dollar, which was minted only at the Philadelphia mint and issued in high relief.
Mintmarks are always used in the world of numismatics to indicate the branch mint that struck the coin. The Philadelphia mint, the main mint, did not use a mintmark, but you can usually look on the reverse side of most dollar coins above the DO in DOLLAR for marks that refer to the other mints.
San Francisco struck their coins using an "S", and Denver used a "D" mintmark. The 1921 Morgan dollar mintages across all three United States Mint locations (Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco) were very high.
Once the Morgan dollars were discontinued, production of the new Peace Silver Dollar was able to commence at the Philadelphia Mint. On December 28, 1921, Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Freas Styer reported the first striking of the Peace dollar.
The Mint later reported that 1,006,473 pieces were struck in 1921, a rate of output for the four days remaining in the year that was described as “amazing”. Minting of 1921 Peace dollars continued into 1922 with well over 84 million new Peace dollars being made in 1922 and 56 million more of the coins coming into production in 1923, the following year.
1921 Peace Dollar Condition
Preserving coins in the best condition can usually bring some high earnings to coin collectors. A strong strike with exceptionally full details is a characteristic that still makes some of the 1921 Peace Silver Dollars highly valued.
For instance, one 1921 Peace Silver Dollar in decent condition might be worth $10 to $20, but keep in mind that a piece in perfect condition can reach higher prices at rare coin auctions.
Explaining the Grading System
The first step in evaluating Peace Silver Dollars (or any other coins) is to get them evaluated. Experts use the PR scale for regular coins, which ranges from 1 to 70. The condition scale includes (among other) some of the following categories:
- Good (G-4) – Such a coin has been in heavy use for a long time, and there is often a large amount of wear and a lack of fine detail. These coins are not collectible, and their value is usually pretty low, although they might be in demand as silver bullion coins.
- Very good (VG-8) – These types of coins are heavily worn out but with a few details still faintly visible.
- Fine (F-12) – There is evidence of wear and tear, but finer details remain visible on both sides of the coin.
- Very fine (VF-20) – There are a few well-defined details but not as many as there are for coins in better condition.
- Extremely fine (EF-40) – Some details are slightly worn but still strong, while other details can be visible even though they may be a bit faint.
- MS 60 uncirculated (MS-60) – These types of coins are shiny and without signs of wear, but you can often notice a few marks, stains, and other types of impurities or abrasions on the surface of the coin.
- MS 65 gem uncirculated (MS-65) – Coins of this quality are appealing and they display strong luster and barely noticeable contact marks. According to USA Coin Book, pieces in uncirculated (MS 65) mint condition can reach values of up to $650. The finest-known coin is worth about $90,000.
- Perfect (MS-70) – This grade refers to an entirely flawless coin under a magnification of 8x on a microscopic scale. These types of coins are truly regarded as precious collectible pieces.
- Proof (PR – 65) – Experts also use the PR scale for proof coins, and the range is from 1 to 70, just like the MS scale. Proof coins with surfaces that look like mirrors are longer struck under high pressure. They are highly collectible, very valuable, and you can usually only find them in sets of cases.
There are four major coin grading companies that can be found in the USA. All of these are trustworthy companies to use when you are listing your coin for sale because they can provide a professional certification of your coins by making use of the Third Party Grading database (TPG).
These companies are the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), Independent Coin Graders (ICG), and ANACS. We recommend using PGCS, the premier internet site for coin collectors, to grade your coins. Their numismatic experts have certified over 40 million modern and rare coins.
Peace Silver Dollar Value
Many coin collectors believe that Peace Silver Dollars are worth very little since there are too many of them. Some coins, however, can sometimes be worth significantly more than their face value. The reason is the 90% of silver it contains.
The exact price depends on the specific type of coin you have. The dollar value of many coins is based on silver bullion worth about $18 per troy ounce. The actual price will vary depending on the condition, variety, and errors that can be seen on the specific coin.
As a result of massive production, it is true that these types of coins are usually not worth very much. Their price is usually from $20 to $50, except for a few unique pieces that can sometimes sell for $100,000 or more. These are going to be the original coins that were minted during the last days of 1921.
Fully struck 1921 Peace Silver Dollars are very rare and they will always command a premium price. Most uncirculated 1921 Peace dollars are in the MS-60 to 62 range. There are quite a lot of these coins available. MS-63 coins, while a little scarcer, are also fairly easy to find. At the MS-64 level the issue becomes a lot more elusive, and MS-65 coins are very rare indeed.
The USA Coin Book estimated value of 1921 Peace Silver Dollars (of the high relief variety) is about $111 in Average Condition and between $313 to $2,229 or more in Uncirculated (MS+) Mint Condition.
Proof coins of this variety can also be worth $82,500 or more. There is usually no significant difference in the price of two coins with adjacent gradation. However, this can sometimes change, so it is always better to have a better-graded piece.
Many rare proof coins can be worth up to $100,000. According to USA Coin Book, the only 11 remaining proof coins are worth $137,776 each. It is suspected that there is one non-proof business strike coin minted in this design.
Assessing the Average Peace Dollar Value
The quality of preservation is an extremely important factor when it comes to higher coin prices with all types of coins. Although they are now about a hundred years old, some of these Peace dollars are easily available in many cities and online in large quantities in circulated, worn condition.
However, you’ll soon discover that most modern collectors are looking for coins that are in the top range of uncirculated condition. The 1921 High Relief Peace dollar is one of the all-time classic coin issues in the United States.
It was the first Peace dollar, it was a one-year-only type of coin, and it can still look really attractive. In MS-64 condition, the 1921 High Relief piece is very scarce. In MS-65 condition, it is considered a rare coin.
Uncirculated Peace Dollars of high quality such as the one described above can often command quite a significant premium. Coins that are lustrous and have eye appeal, with no wear and few abrasions, are highly valued by many modern collectors.
Hang on tightly to these coins if you happen to have any of them. Even though many valuable coins are rare, the coin values do not always correspond with how rare the individual coins are. For example, some coins are not as widely collected, and so the value of those types of coins will usually be a lot lower than you might expect.
And even though mintage statistics can be important, they are not the only factor when it comes to assessing value. Some types of coinage that were once minted do not even survive in common circulation in the United States of America at all.
The coin’s overall condition can also be a very important factor in terms of its value. Well-preserved coins can have higher values in the numismatic world of coin collecting than similar coins that show a large amount of general damage and wear and tear.
Damaged coins are usually only worth their face value of one US dollar to most coin dealers, even if they do happen to be really old coins. For example, a coin in poor condition might still be worth a few dollars more than the intrinsic value from silver content of around $22.
This might be the case when you are dealing with coin collectors. Coins that are worth a lot more to collectors may turn out to be better long-term investments than regular silver coins. Even if the price of silver as a precious metal drops substantially, you might still have a coin that many numismatists will be interested in buying.
A Few Other Important Things to Consider
It is always of utmost importance to remember that some mint years will be more valuable than others for all types of US coins (including half dollars), and the minting location (as explained in detail above) may also be an important factor to consider in the worth of all of your coins, including 1921 Peace Silver Dollars.
Do some careful research into all of these factors before you start putting a lot of time into pricing any of the coins that you are thinking of selling in US dollars.