The 1922 Peace Dollar has the highest mintage of any Silver Dollar, and it remains the most common date in the Peace Dollar series. Compared to the 1921 Peace Dollar, the 1922 has much lower and flatter relief details, but the strike quality is generally good. Luster ranges from a soft, creamy white to a hard, chrome-like surface. The vast quantity of the 1922 Peace Dollars graded by PCGS fall into the MS63 and MS64 levels. MS65 examples are not rare and the supply seems adequte to meet the demand from collectors. In MS66, the population drops off dramatically and, in MS67, the 1922 Peace Dollar is an extreme condition rarity.
Q. David Bowers:
The following narrative, with minor editing, is from my "Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia" (Wolfeboro, NH: Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc., 1993).
Record mintage: Beginning in 1922, Peace dollars were coined in fantastic quantities. At the Philadelphia Mint that year over 51 million were produced, an all-time record for a United States silver dollar. From this time onward, Peace dollars began to pile up in Mint vaults and other Treasury facilities.
Hoard coins: Mint-sealed bags of 1,000 Mint State 1922 Peace dollars seem to have been released over a long period of time, with the result that this date has never been rare. Often, Eastern dealers searching for rare dates would find to their annoyance that shipments to their banks from the Federal Reserve would consist of $1,000 bags of this date.
Particularly large quantities were released through banks in 1949 and 1950, but there was little call for them by numismatists. Bags were still readily available in 1953 and 1954, and wholesaled for about $75 to $125 above face value, if and when buyers could be found. Most often, such bags remained in bank vaults unwanted. Bags remained available through the rest of the decade and were still being distributed by the Treasury as late as March 1964.
In later years, bags traded frequently. In 1982, Wayne Miller wrote that in one recent year he and his partner sold 40 bags (40,000 coins).
Circulated grades: In worn grades of VF-20 and higher, 1922 Peace dollars are exceedingly common and are considered to be the most plentiful issue of the entire series.
Mint State grades: In Mint State the 1922 is exceedingly common in all grades MS-60, MS-61, etc., through MS-65 and even beyond.
Whether it is absolutely the most common Peace dollar in grades MS-60 through 63 will probably never be known. Most rarity information in print for Uncirculated Peace dollars is based upon population data of the certification services. However, such Peace dollar dates as 1922, 1923, 1924, and 1925 are so inexpensive in lower grades such as MS-60 through 63,that only a tiny fraction have ever been slabbed, as certification costs too much in proportion to the value of the coins. Certainly, in MS-63 either the 1922 or the 1923 is the most plentiful. The distinction is moot, for vast quantities exist of each.
In MS-64 grade, the 1922 is common, but not as common as 1923 (the most common) and 1925; ditto for MS-65 grade. These three dates plus 1924 represent an excellent way to start a set of Peace dollars.
Most higher grade Mint State 1922 dollars, MS-63 or better, encountered in slabs are attractive and lustrous. Many if not most 1922 Peace dollars are bagmarked, sometimes extensively - the result of having been moved around in storage many times. Wayne Miller wrote that one Mint State bag he examined carefully did not contain a single gem coin!
The detail on this and other, later Peace dollars is often unsatisfactory due to the low relief of the design and dies.
Some Peace dollars of this era have white spots on them, resembling dried milk. I am not aware of any way to satisfactorily remove these. Wayne Miller says this:
The most plausible explanation for these blotches is that the planchets were improperly washed and dried after they had emerged from the annealing ovens and subsequent acid bath. Also, an increase in the concentration of sulphuric acid and water solution used during this cleaning and polishing operation could have lightly etched the surface of the planchet in some places.
Something to look for: Some specimens exist with the reverse rotated 100° counterclockwise from the normal orientation.
1. Low Relief Breen-5714. Hub combinations 11-B1 and II-B2. VAM-1 (Hub II-B1); VAM-2 (hub II-B2); VAM-3 (hub II-B2) doubled lower feathers on left side; VAM4 (hub II-B2) slight doubling to bot-tom of WE TR in motto.
Obverse: A Low-Relief copy of the 1921 die, with some modifications, including slightly different rays in Miss Liberty's diadem, thinner numbers and letters, flatter field, and R in TRVST with a longer, curved tail. Reverse: A Low-Relief copy of the 1921 die, with slight changes in the rocky crag and sun's rays, olive branch divided differently, flatter field, etc. Inspection under magnification will reveal these and other small differences.
Dies prepared: Obverse: Unknown; Reverse: Unknown.
Circulation strike mintage: 51,737,000
Estimated quantity melted: Unknown.
Characteristics of striking: Usually fairly well struck, but not especially well detailed due to the low relief of the dies (characteristic of later Peace dollars as well).
Known hoards of Mint State coins: Many bags of Uncirculated coins exist. These have been common for years.
This and the 1923, 1924, and 1925 Philadelphia Mint issues constitute the four most common Peace silver dollars; 1922 is slightly scarcer in higher grades than the other three.
Silver Dollars Popular in Telluride
The Numismatist, January 1922, carried the following filler:
"With gold coin of any denomination difficult to obtain by the public, refreshing news is contained in a press dispatch from Telluride, Col, to the effect that the Bank of Telluride will hereafter handle no paper money, only gold and silver being paid out. All checks are cashed and all large change is given in silver dollars and $5, $10 and $20 gold coins."
Interest Wanes in Peace Dollar (March 1922)
The Numismatist, March 1922, printed this item:
"The New Peace Dollar: Public interest in the Peace dollar has waned almost to the vanishing point, and the few weeks that have passed since it was rather hastily served to the public has enabled collectors to more leisurely pass judgment on the designs and the conditions under which it was issued.
"There is at least one angle from which to view the issue that may have been overlooked by ANA members. In the joint resolution authorizing the coinage of a commemorative peace coin for general circulation, which failed of passage through Congress, and which was urged by a committee of the ANA, it asked for an unprecedented thing. A coin of this character has never been issued by the United States. Collectors have become accustomed to the numerous commemorative coins issued by European countries, which, apparently, are struck in fairly large quantities and placed in circulation at face value, if we are correctly informed. It was such an issue that the ANA sought. But the currency regulations of European countries are on a different basis than those in the United States.
"All commemorative coins of the United States have heretofore been issued as a medium through which funds might be realized from their sale at a premium. Such issues have invariably been placed in the hands of commissions or promoters of expositions or memorial projects at face value, and the selling prices have been left entirely with those in whose hands they were placed. The enhanced price at which they are sold is considered a sufficient safeguard against them passing into circulation. It is very rarely that such a coin is found in circulation. It is improbable that a bill authorizing their issue could be put through Congress without such an understanding regarding the premium to be placed on them. They are issued for souvenir purposes, and not for circulation.
"The joint resolution urged by the ANA provided for an issue of silver dollars of special design commemorative of the establishment of peace between the United States and Ger-many, to be placed in circulation, and not to be delivered to a commission for any particular object. It would have been possible, of course, for the ANA to have secured just what it asked for by the passage of the joint resolution. The coinage could have been continued for a time, and then Congress could have passed a bill authorizing a change of design that was not commemorative in character. But such a procedure would have violated a custom to which the United States seems wedded.
"It would appear that the director of the Mint, in attempting to comply with the request of the ANA committee for such a coin, combined the commemorative feature with a new design for a regular issue, which resulted in a coin that apparently pleases only a few.
"But it was out of the question to get the kind of a coin the ANA asked for, it would have been possible, even with the limitations and restrictions imposed on the designers of coins, to get one more truly commemorative of peace. Much of the dissatisfaction with the design of the dollar selected was probably due to the fact that the competing sculptors were allowed so little time in which to complete their models.
"The coinage law requires that there shall be on one side 'an impression emblematic of liberty.' This does not restrict the designer to the use of a female head, even if such a head has often been used for the purpose. We must consider this head not solely as belonging to a female, but as the head of the goddess 'Columbia.' The head of a female in itself is not emblematic of liberty. Females do not enjoy as much liberty as males. Therefore, if the head of one of the sexes is to be used as emblematic of liberty, it should be a male head. The use of an Indian head on our nickel is entirely out of place. The Indian in these days has little more liberty than the inmates of our penal institutions.
"The female head was used on our $20 gold coin for over 50 years. Saint-Gaudens discarded the head entirely with his design for 1907. Weinman and MacNeil both followed his lead in their designs of the half dollar and quarter dollar a few years ago and gave us a 'Liberty' in a different and more attractive form.
"A design 'emblematic of liberty' can be interpreted as an artist in many ways without approaching the allegorical type. Allegory belongs to the medal rather than to the coin.
"There can be no serious objection raised to the provision of the law requiring that on the other side of the coin shall be a figure or representation of an eagle. It has always occupied a place there, sometimes in a more natural pose than at others. When this provision was enacted 130 years ago the eagle was more numerous than he is today. Perhaps its selection as a fitting emblem for a coin was because he was the king of birds rather than because he was more or less a bird of prey. The eagle does not enjoy any more liberty than other birds except that appropriated by him by virtue of his size-a characteristic we condemn when exercised by an individual.
"But the provision of the law that he shall occupy a place on the reverse on a coin does not necessarily mean that he shall be the whole reverse.
"The United States is a different nation from what it was when our coinage laws were framed, but these laws have remained practically unchanged so far as designs are concerned. Our coins have not kept pace, until in very recent years, with our advancement in other respects. At times there has seemed to be actual retrogression in the types. Is this not an opportune time, when so much dissatisfaction is expressed with our latest emission, to make a concerted effort for some changes in the laws affecting the types or designs?"
No Design Change (March 1922)
The Numismatist, March 1922, advised readers of the following:
"No Change to Be Made in Design of the Peace Dollar. "The report of coinage at the United States mints for January shows that no silver dollars were coined during the month. As a matter of fact, the report shows that no United States coins of any denomination were struck except the one cent piece-a rather unusual thing.
"This fact, as well as the fact that silver dollars had been coined each month in fairly large quantities ever since the resumption last summer, gave rise to press reports that further coinage of them had been suspended for the purpose of making some changes in the designs as the result of criticism made in the press. A dispatch from New York on February 2 said:
" 'Future financiers, now operating as' messenger boys in Wall Street, have started a drive to corner the newly coined 'Peace' silver dollar, it was learned today. The coins, of which slightly more than a million were minted, are selling at a premium of 25 to 50 cents each-the youthful buyers playing a 'hunch' that the issue will be recalled because of criticism of its design and its general make-up, which does not admit of easy stacking.'
"It is hardly likely that messenger boys or anyone else will be able to corner an issue of over one million pieces. Writers of press dispatches should also know that the government does not 'recall' coins after placing them in circulation.
"Another dispatch from New York, dated February 3, said: "'Distribution of the silver 'Peace' dollars bearing the date 1921 has stopped at the government agencies, and while Treasury Department officials here have no information on the subject, they are under the impression no more of the Peace dollars will be issued. They command a slight premium. A total of $1,006,473 of the series of 1921were coined, of which $75,000 were distributed through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It is reported the die may be entirely changed because of criticisms of the dollar. The principal criticism is that the wings of the eagle are close by the side of the bird instead of outstretched, as in every other coin on which the American eagle is reproduced.'
"So far as our observation goes, there has been little or no criticism voiced through the press on account of the wings of the eagle being close to its sides. The writer of the above is also in error in stating that this is the only coin on which the eagle is shown with its wings in that position. The $10, $5 and $2-1/2 gold coins have the eagle with its Wings close to its sides.
"The rumors of a change of design were set at rest, according to a dispatch from Philadelphia on February 9, by a statement from Director of the Mint Baker, as follows:
" 'There is no foundation for the report that Peace dollars will be withdrawn,' he said. 'Dies for the coinage of this piece are about finished and everyone of the three coinage mints will be ready shortly to make them. Many people do not seem to realize that this dollar was designed and put out under the provisions of the law. Designs for dollars or any other form of currency are not made up to suit the arbitrary whims of the director. The federal law says that the design of the dollar may change every 25 years, with the approval of the director of the Mint and the secretary of the Treasury. Designs were submitted by eight of the leading sculptors of the nation, and were passed upon by a committee of artists.'
"The mints are now coining silver dollars, the director said, to reduce the Federal Reserve bank notes and the reissuing of silver certificates backed by silver dollars, under provisions of the Pittman Act. All mints are now on an eight-hour basis, he said."
Peace Dollar Mintage (October 1922) The Numismatist, October 1922, carried this item:
"Director of the Mint F. E. Scobey as quoted as saying that it will probably require two more years to recoin the silver dollars sold as bullion during the war, at the rate purchases of silver being made under the Pittman Act."
The Annual Report of the Director of the Mint for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1922. told of continuing silver dollar coinage under the Pittman Act:
"Over 92 million silver dollars were coined during the year from bullion purchased under the terms of the Pittman Act, practically all of these dollars going into storage and being represented in circulation by silver certificates issued against them in lieu of Federal Reserve bank notes retired. Retirement of the Federal Reserve bank notes permits retirement of certificates of indebtedness held as security against them, thus reducing the public debt and the interest thereon.
"Of coins below the dollar but few were executed during the past year, those struck being confined to memorial [commemorative] half dollars and a small number of nickel and bronze coins for cleaning up partially completed lots. Approximately 12 million pieces of coin were executed for foreign governments, making the year's aggregate number of pieces executed by the three mints 117,912,205. Working periods of 16 hours and 24 hours per day were again a feature of the year's operations, incident to the effort to reduce quickly the 'dead' stock of Pittman Act silver bullion to an active asset in the form of silver dollars, against which silver certificates could be issued. Silver bullion cannot be circulated as cash, nor is it available as a reserve against liabilities or paper currency. While operating on a 24-hour basis the average output reached one million silver dollar coins per day-500,000 at the Philadelphia Mint, 280,000 at San Francisco and 220,000 at Denver ....
"Silver purchased under the terms of the Pittman Act, delivered to mint institutions, totaled to June 30, 1922, 117,512,000 ounces, leaving approximately 91,500,000 ounces yet to be acquired; 86,916,979 ounces have been coined into 111,431,473 standard silver dollars, of which 86,730,000 are of the old [Morgan] design.
"Purchases under the Pittman Act during the two years since they were begun in May 1920, have totaled somewhat more than the quantity of silver produced from domestic mines during the same period. This is due to the working up of considerable stocks of crude domestic material shown by sworn reports of reduction concerns to have been on hand what the time purchases were commenced. The New York price of silver which does not meet Pittman Act requirements averaged during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1922, $0.66821; the lowest New York price was at the opening of the fiscal year, 59-1/8 cents; the highest May 22,74-3/16 cents."
The same issue of the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint, 1922, told of the new design:
"The 'Peace dollar' takes the place of the old design of the standard silver dollar, which was first issued in 1878. This coin commemorates the declaration of peace between the United States, Germany, and Austria, exchanges of peace treaty ratifications having been made in Berlin on November 11, 1921, and in Vienna on November 8, 1921, and peace having been proclaimed by the President of the United States on November 14 and 17, 1921, respectively. No special congressional authority was required for the change in design of the silver dollar, since the law permits changing the design of any of our coins not more frequently than once in 25 years. The design of the 'Peace dollar' was selected by the Fine Arts Commission from models submitted by a number of prominent sculptors, and is the work of Anthony de Francisci.
"On the obverse is a female head emblematic of Liberty, wearing a tiara of light rays, and the word 'Liberty'; on the reverse is an eagle perched on a mountain top, holding in its talons an olive branch, witnessing the dawn of a new day; the word 'Peace' also appears. Other mottoes and inscriptions are as required by the coinage laws. The design for the silver 'Peace dollar' was approved in December 1921, and 1,006,473 pieces were executed by the close of the calendar year. Subsequent coins of this design will bear the year in which made. At the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 1922, a total of 24,701,473 of the new design coins had been struck."