U.S. & World Coin News and Articles

PCGS Certifies Rare Transitional Peace Dollars From Former Mint Director's Estate

1921 $1 PCGS SP64
A discovery coin, this 1921 Peace dollar, PCGS SP64, has a normal High Relief design, but with a sandblasted and antique finish.

Five rare 1921 and 1922 proof and circulation strike Peace dollars that reflect historic transition changes in the original high-relief design of the series have been authenticated and graded by Professional Coin Grading Service. The coins exhibit different finishes and relief, including a previously unreported 1921 High Relief sandblasted and antiqued finish presentation specimen.

For over 90 years the coins were under the numismatic market radar, owned by and later in the estate of Raymond T. Baker (1877 - 1935) who was United States Mint Director at the time the five Peace dollars were struck.

"This is a fantastic group of 1921 and 1922 transitional coins, and is one of the most significant group of 20th century coins we've seen in a long time," said PCGS Co-Founder David Hall.

1922 $1 3200 J-2020 PCGS MS65
Graded PCGS MS65, this 1922 Modified High Relief (J-2020) Peace dollar. It has the number "3200" inked in the left obverse field indicating it was the last coin struck from the production run.

The coins were submitted for certification by PCGS Authorized Dealer Ronald J. Gillio on behalf of Stack's Bowers Galleries. Stack's will offer them in their upcoming public auction in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association's World's Fair of Money in Rosemont, Illinois.

"There are three 'discovery' pieces among these five important coins, and PCGS has created three new classification numbers to formally recognize and catalog them. Each of the five transitional Peace dollars now have the "Baker Estate' pedigree indicated on the insert label in their PCGS holders," explained PCGS President Don Willis.

"With submission of these historic Baker Estate coins, PCGS now as identified and certified over the years a total of 19 different proof 1922 Peace dollars," said Willis.

Baker served as Mint Director from March 1917 to March 1922.

"During his tenure, Baker oversaw the introduction of the new Peace dollar in 1921 and the subsequent design modifications in early 1922. Because of his position, he was able to acquire several important numismatic rarities that have remained off the market since the time of their production," explained Ron Guth, President of PCGS CoinFacts, the Internet's most comprehensive resource for information about U.S. coins.

The five recently certified coins and their grades and varieties are:

1922 $1 J-2020 PCGS PR67
From the Baker Estate and graded PCGS PR67, this is one of the few surviving trial examples (J-2020) of 1922 Peace dollars with a Modified High Relief and a Satin finish.
  • 1921 $1 PCGS SP64. A discovery coin that has a normal High Relief design, but with a sandblasted and antiqued finish.
  • 1922 $1 PCGS PR67. Modified High Relief (Judd-2020). Satin (or "Bright") finish. A total of 3,200 production trial examples were struck, but only a few were not subsequently destroyed. This surviving example is believed to be one of the first made and produced on a Mint press used to strike medals to bring up the Peace dollar design details.
  • 1922 $1 PCGS MS65. Modified High Relief (J-2020, same die pair as the preceding coin). It has the number "3200" inked in the left obverse field indicating it was the last coin struck from the production run of 3,200 before the obverse die failed. It was struck on a normal production press.
  • 1922 $1 PCGS MS67. Low Relief (Early hub dies, as adopted, but with the B1 reverse). It was pulled from production when the press indicator reached 140,000 coins struck.
  • 1922 $1 PCGS MS67. A second Low Relief, early hub dies example, pulled from production at the same time as the preceding coin.

"This remarkable assemblage traces the transition from the High Relief design of 1921 to the Low Relief design of 1922, and all of the intermediate steps," said Guth.

1922 Low Relief Early Hub Dies $1 PCGS MS67
1922 Low Relief, Early Hub Dies Peace dollar, PCGS MS67

"The higher striking pressures required to bring up the full details of the 1921 Peace Dollar caused the dies to fail prematurely. In an attempt to solve this problem, Mint employees lowered the relief of the design, but only slightly. These coins are known as the Modified (or Medium) Relief design, but they failed for the same reason as the 1921s. Ultimately, the design details were reduced drastically, as seen on all of the circulation strike Peace Dollars from 1922 to 1935," Guth explained.

One of the coins in the group can be tied directly to a January 8, 1922 letter from Mint Superintendent Freas Styer when he sent three 1922-dated experimental coins to Mint Director Baker. Superintendent Styer wrote: "... the coin marked '3200' was the thirty-second hundredth piece struck – the last before the die sunk."

Guth stated: "The historic importance of that coin is immeasurable. This is one of the rare instances when a particular coin can be tied positively to contemporary correspondence."

1922 $1 Early Hub Dies PCGS MS67
Another 1922 Low Relief, Early Hub Dies Peace dollar from the Baker Estate, also graded PCGS MS67.

Circumstantial evidence supports a claim that the 1922 "Bright" finish Modified High Relief was also included with that letter. The "Sandblast" finish coin cited in the letter remains unidentified.

Earlier this year, PCGS certified the finest 1922 Matte Finish High Relief Peace dollar, graded PCGS PR67, that also originated from Mint Director Baker's estate. It will be one of the featured exhibits in the official Museum Showcase display at the ANA 2014 Chicago World's Fair of Money, August 5 - 9, courtesy of collector Bob R. Simpson of Texas and Legend Numismatics of New Jersey (www.legendcoin.com).

Since its founding in 1986, Professional Coin Grading Service experts have authenticated and graded over 27 million coins with an estimated market value of $27 billion.For additional information about PCGS services, visit www.PCGS.com or call PCGS Customer Service at (800) 447-8848.

PCGS Library