Peace dollars

The Peace Dollar is a silver United States dollar coin minted from 1921 to 1928, then again in 1934 and 1935. Early proposals for the coin called for a commemorative issue to coincide with the end of World War I, but the Peace Dollar was issued as a circulating coin.


Designed by Anthony de Francisci, the Peace Dollar was so named because the word PEACE appears on the bottom of the coin's reverse. It contains 0.77344 troy ounces of silver, and was the successor to the Morgan Dollar, which had not been regularly minted since 1904. With the passage of the Pittman Act in 1918, the mintage of dollar coins was enabled to start again. Prior to the design and acceptance of the Peace Dollar, the Morgan Dollar was minted again in 1921.

After a six-year pause in minting, the Peace Dollar was again minted in 1934 and 1935. It was minted briefly in 1965 (dated 1964), but all examples of this issue were never released to the public and were melted. The Peace Dollar is the last silver dollar minted for circulation in the United States.

Controversy

The Treasury announced the new design on December 19, 1921. Photographs of Baker and de Francisci examining the final plaster model appeared in newspapers, along with written descriptions of the designs, since the Treasury at that time took the position that it was illegal for photographs of a United States coin to be printed in a newspaper. Secretary Mellon gave formal approval to the design on December 20. As it would take the Mint several days to produce working dies, the first strike of the new coins was scheduled for December 29.


The new design was widely reported in newspapers, and was the source of intense public attention. A Mint press release described the reverse as "a large figure of an eagle perched on a broken sword, and clutching an olive branch bearing the word, 'peace'". On December 21, the New York Herald ran a scathing editorial against the new design. At the time, given the traumas of the Great War, Americans were highly sensitive about their national symbols, and unwilling to allow artists any leeway in interpretation. The Mint, the Treasury, and the Fine Arts Commission began to receive large numbers of letters from the public objecting to the design.

The objections were heeded and the coin was redesigned. The Peace dollar was released into circulation on January 3, 1922. In common with all silver and copper-nickel dollar coins struck from 1840 to 1978, the Peace dollar had a diameter of 1.5 inches (38 mm), which was larger than the Mint's subsequently struck modern dollar coins. Its issuance completed the redesign of United States coinage that had begun with issues in 1907.

Also see info on Morgan Dollars

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