It seems many folks want to know what their 1922 dollar coins are worth - probably because there are millions of 1922 silver dollars around. But just because the 1922 silver dollar is one of the most common silver dollars doesn’t mean it’s not worth saving
1922 Silver Dollar Value
In fact, you may be surprised to find out that the 1922 silver dollar is worth many times its face value! Read on to discover more about the 1922 dollar coin (the 1922 Peace dollar) - including what’s it’s worth, how many of these old silver dollars were made, why it’s called a Peace dollar, and the story behind the coin’s design.
Yes, the 1922 Peace dollar is definitely worth saving because it’s made from a 90% silver composition and it’s worth at least the value of its intrinsic silver content. Here’s what 1922 silver dollars are worth:
- 1922 Peace dollar (Philadelphia Mint, no mintmark) - 51,737,000 minted, $16+
- 1922-D Peace dollar (Denver Mint) - 15,063,000 minted, $16+
- 1922 Peace dollar (San Francisco Mint) - 17,475,000 minted, $16+
The 1922 silver dollar values listed above are based on a silver bullion value of $17 per ounce. Values for circulated specimens without errors or varieties will be higher or lower - based on the prevailing silver spot price.
Is That The Statue Of Liberty On The Peace Dollar?
You’ve probably noticed the likeness of the young woman on the 1922 Peace silver dollar looks something like the Statue of Liberty. There’s actually a sweet story behind the design of the Peace dollar - which replaced the Morgan silver dollar in 1921 and was a U.S. coin minted by the U.S. Mint until 1935.
A small number was also made at the Denver Mint in 1964. However, those 1964-D Peace dollars were never officially released, and all were reportedly melted. The designer of the Peace silver dollar was Anthony de Francisci, who was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States during the great waves of European immigration through Ellis Island in New York City around the turn of the 20th century.
It was a similar story of Francisci’s wife Teresa (nee Cafarelli). She was born in Italy, and with her mom immigrated to the United States at 4 years old early in the 20th century. Young Teresa was overjoyed upon the sight of the Statue of Liberty on their voyage from Italy. She even struck a pose on the ship, emulating Lady Liberty standing tall over the waters of their new home.
Some years later, young Teresa was denied a part in a school production for a part portraying Miss Liberty on stage. But she would have the last laugh. When her husband, Anthony, was commissioned to create a new silver dollar in 1921 to replace the long-running Morgan dollar, he was up against the clock to produce a design.
He turned to his wife to model for the new silver dollar - which was to serve as an emblem of peace in the years immediately following World War I. De Francisci asked his young wife to sit near a window in his studio, and the wind blew her locks behind her head.
The inspiration of the moment resulted in a visage of Miss Liberty that de Francisci later explained “ is not a photograph of Mrs. de Francisci. It is a composite face and in that way typifies something of America.” The rays on Miss Liberty’s head as seen on the Peace dollar are strikingly reminiscent of those upon the Statue of Liberty - which his young wife had loved since she was a little girl.
While a young Miss Liberty appears on the obverse (heads side) of the Peace dollar, a proud American eagle stands on a rock depicted on the reverse (tails side) of the coin. Though Anthony de Francisci passed away in 1964 and Teresa in 1990, the Peace dollar lives on a century later as a symbol of the American dream - and the eternal hope for peace.
Why Is It Called A Peace Dollar?
The Peace dollar is a lasting symbol of the hope for global peace following World War I - which ended in 1918. Many prominent coin collectors supported the idea of creating a victory coin emblematic of peace, though the idea was slow to get off the ground.
At the time, the United States Mint was set to begin striking dollar coins for the first time in more than a decade due to the regulations of the Pittman Act of 1918, which required the U.S. government to strike millions of silver dollars. While the Mint reprised the Morgan dollar design in 1921, 17 years after Morgan dollars were previously struck in 1904, there were many people lobbying for a new silver dollar design.
Supporters of the Peace dollar lobbied members of Congress to change the design, but they eventually realized they didn’t need congressional approval to change the Morgan dollar. The Morgan dollar had already existed for more than 25 years (since 1878), and under U.S. law the coin could therefore be changed without an act of Congress.
The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts formed a design contest to select a new silver dollar design, and they invited several artists to participate. Among them was de Francisci - the youngest of the artists invited to take part in the design contest.
The artists had a few rules to follow:
- The obverse had to depict the head of Liberty “as beautiful and full of character as possible.”
- The eagle had to appear on the reverse, along with the inscriptions “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “I GOD WE TRUST,” and “LIBERTY.”
The artists had just a few weeks to prepare for the task. Invitations were submitted on November 19, 1921, and the designs for the new Peace dollar were due on December 12. The Peace dollar design was approved by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon in December 1921, and the first million Peace dollars, dated 1921, were struck during the last few days of the year.
The History Of Peace Silver Dollars 1922
The Peace dollar of 1921-1935 is the first and only silver coin struck by the United States in which numismatists played a key role in its creation. In April 1918 the Pittman Act had authorized the Treasury to melt up to 350 million silver dollars for the war effort. Some 270 million were actually melted, part of which was used for U.S. domestic coinage.
In agreeing to the melting of silver dollars, Congress stipulated that the dollars had to be replaced, using newly-mined metal from American mines. Furthermore, the Treasury had to buy this silver at one dollar per ounce, regardless of the current international market.
There was a sudden rise in price after the end of the war in 1918, and the Treasury did not at once implement the purchases because market silver was then above $1 per ounce. With the passing of time, the price of silver fell to more reasonable levels. In May 1920 the purchases began at $1 per ounce.
This inflated price proved a bonanza for the U.S. silver mines because the average market price was under 70 cents much of the time for the next few years. In March 1921 the market hit a post-war low of 53 cents per ounce. To qualify for the Pittman Act bonus, however, the seller had to prove that it was freshly-mined U.S. silver.
The New Design
Silver dollar coinage resumed in May 1921. The Treasury ordered the old (1878-1904) Morgan design be used and it was. Millions of Morgan dollars dated 1921 were minted. At the annual ANA convention, held at the Art Institute of Chicago in late August 1920, Farran Zerbe gave an impassioned plea for a new silver dollar for mintage of coin values, one whose design would commemorate the signing of the peace treaties ending World War I.
Zerbe was not the first to come up with the “peace coin” idea, but he is traditionally credited with promoting it the most. There was more than one treaty, but the Versailles Treaty of 1919 is the one that most historians think of in terms of definitive agreements.
Zerbe’s speech struck a receptive chord among many numismatists. By early in 1921 two influential congressmen, William A. Ashbrook of Ohio (Ashbrook, a numismatist, was a member of the American Numismatic Association. He was primarily responsible for the granting of a federal charter to the ANA in 1912, a very unusual distinction for a hobby organization) and Albert Vestal of Indiana had joined the ranks looking for a peace dollar.
The chairman of the Commission, Charles Moore, was soon in close consultation with Mint Director Raymond T. Baker. Together they attacked the problem of obtaining a Peace dollar. The Treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, was soon converted, and the process toward the new coin was off and running.
Eight prominent artists (Victor D. Brenner, Herman MacNeil, Chester Beach, Henry Hering, Robert Aitken, Robert Tait McKenzie, John Flanagan, and Anthony de Francisci) were asked to participate in a design contest by means of a special circular dated November 23, 1921.
The contest stipulated that the drawings had to be submitted within a very short time. In fact, the winning set (for obverse and reverse) was announced on December 19. De Francisci was judged a clear winner and was asked to submit plaster models as soon as possible. The artist did so, but in the meantime, a political storm blew up over the reverse.
Representatives of the World War veterans’ groups had obtained a copy of the drawing for the reverse and did not like what they saw. If featured an eagle breaking a sword. Veterans saw this as an admission of defeat by the United States, but that was certainly not the intent of the artist. Within a day the White House was deluged with telegrams demanding that the offensive artwork be withdrawn.
The Mint Bureau was directed to solve the problem and quickly dumped it in the lap of Chief Engraver George T. Morgan. It is not clear what happened at this point, but it appears that Morgan executed a plaster model based on an alternate design by de Francisci showing an eagle gazing out to sea at the rising sun with the word “PEACE” below.
The eagle was clearly looking to the east (and Europe where the peace treaties had been signed. It also appears that, due to the shortness of time, de Francisci had little real input into the new reverse. Despite the hurried execution, the Morgan/de Francisci reverse is a work of genuine quality and well reflects the mood of the American people with respect to the end of the war.
The eagle is serenely glancing toward the scene of victory and peace, something that could be understood by all. The bird is perched atop a mountain, thus symbolizing strength and determination to watch out for those who would destroy that hard-won peace.
De Francisci’s obverse, also hurriedly done, is loosely based on the Saint-Gaudens’ head for the gold eagle of 1907 and certain other works by the same artist. The direct inspiration was de Francisci’s wife, the former Teresa Cafarelli, who served as a model. Both obverse and reverse were artistic masterpieces and well worthy of the country.
Problems With The Design
Unlike the way most dies were made before 1908, in 1921 the entire design, lettering, and all were put into a new reducing machine, the Janvier, to produce a steel hub containing all but the date. Those collectors who wish to see the difference between the two types of die work may easily do so by comparing the lettering on the Peace and Morgan dollars.
The Peace lettering is slightly fuzzy, while the lettering on the Morgan is very sharp and clear. The hurried execution of the dies gave little time to test the problems endemic to all new coinages. The Peace dollars of 1921, all struck for minting in the last week of the year, proved this point very well.
Those who controlled such matters should have remembered the fiasco with the high-relief Saint -Gaudens MCMVII double eagle of 1907. The centers, especially on the obverse, struck up badly. A well-made 1921 Peace dollar is something of a rarity. The 1,006,473 struck in 1921 were distributed early in 1922 to generally favorable remarks except for the quality of the striking.
Peace Dollars Of Later Years
In June 1934 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as part of his ongoing efforts to end the Depression, pushed through Congress a bill mandating the purchase of newly mined silver at a price (later raised) above the market. The Treasury paid 77 cents per ounce at a time when silver brought well below that elsewhere.
It was exactly the same principle that had operated in 1919-1924 for the Pittman silver bullion, but not for the Morgan dollar of 1878-1904 as in the case the Treasury had paid the only market price. Chief Engraver John Sinnock slightly modified the die style of 1922. From this slightly altered design, about seven million Peace dollars were struck in 1934-1935.
The last of this particular issue was struck in the autumn of 1935 at Philadelphia. Among all issues of Peace dollars, the 1934-S is somewhat scarce in uncirculated grade through easily found in original condition up to about Very Fine.
During World War II 50 million silver dollars were melted for the war effort (including the famous nuclear experiments with the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago), but it is unknown how many Peace dollars were affected. This time Congress did not stipulate that the dollars had to be replaced.
In the early 1960s, the collecting and investing communities began to hoard silver dollars by the bag (1,000 pieces per cloth bag). By the end of spring, 1964, the vast Treasury hoard was but a memory. In the same year, there arose a demand for a new coinage of silver dollars, primarily from casino operators in Nevada wanting coins for their dollar slot machines now that silver dollars were no longer available at banks.
Congress duly passed, in August 1964, an act providing for the coinage of up to 45 million silver dollars. Striking of new coins of the Peace design began in May 1965, and 316,076 were actually minted before President Lyndon Johnson halted coinage and ordered those on hand to be melted.
As the coins had not been officially delivered according to legal requirements, any pieces that might have escaped the watchful eye of Denver Mint inspectors were subject to confiscation by the Secret Service. For this reason, none has appeared in public, though rumors of this or that specimen continue to make the rounds among collectors.
The abortive 1965 coinage, using the 1964 date, was a fitting end to a silver coinage who beginning in 1794 had been steeped in secrecy. The illegal standard of 1794 was thus counterbalanced by a con that might or might not exist struck years later in 1965 but bearing the wrong date (1964). Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 recommendation of 371.25 grains of pure silver in each dollar struck for circulation was no more.
The Final Thought
The 1922 Peace silver dollar value is difficult to grasp. The coin price in the circulated condition is worth at least its weight in silver. The silver melt value for this coin is $19.16 as of April 4, 2021. This melt value is calculated from the current silver spot price of $24.78 per ounce. An uncirculated coin with a high grade can sell for around $500 - so be careful to have coin grading done for what you have!