The 1925-S Peace Dollar is very common in circulated grades and fairly common in Mint State. However, Gems are very rare, because virtually all 1925-S Peace Dollars suffer from a poor strike. In fact, according to the PCGS Population Report, the 1925-S is the rarest of all the S-Mint Peace Dollars in MS-65 and it is the only date in the entire series where no example has been certified above MS-65! The luster on the 1925-S Peace Dollar is usually frosty, often with a grainy texture, but brilliant examples exist, as well. The 1925-S usually has good eye appeal, but good luck finding one with a full strike.
According to a notice in the June 1934 issue of The Numismatist (p. 416), collectors could still purchase Uncirculated 1925-S Peace Dollars for "the face value of the coins and an amount sufficient to cover the mail charrges by first-class mail."
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).
Small mintage: Like the 1924-S, the 1925-S dollar was made in relatively small quantities. Many of them were stored at the San Francisco Mint until the 1940s and 1950s.
Hoard coins: In 1938 and again in the spring and summer of 1942, many bags of 1925-S Peace dollars were paid out by the San Francisco Mint. The issue became common in dealers' stocks. However, the numismatic market for Peace dollars was limited, and I imagine that following the 1942 release, no more than two or three thousand Uncirculated pieces were sold to collectors during the ensuing 12-month period. Most of these coins disappeared into family holdings, and as few rolls or large quantities went to anyone buyer, any 1925-S dollars reappearing on the market years later did so without notice.
In 1949 and 1950, many more bags of 1925-S dollars came out through San Francisco, Oakland, and other California banks. There was little interest in them at the time, however. Some additional bags were paid out in the late 1950s. This last quantity was not large, but at least 10 to 20 went into the hands of dealers. These may have included the five bags that were later owned by LaVere Redfield, of Reno. John Highfill reported that Redfield sold a full or partial bag to Dean Jones in 1974, and four other bags, all with weakly struck coins, were auctioned by the Probate Court as part of the Redfield estate in January 1976.
Circulated grades: Probably, the majority of the 1925-S dollar coinage went into circulation in the 1920s. Worn pieces in VF-20 to AU-58 grades are easily available today but are far from the commonest in the series. Probably, a couple of hundred thousand or so exist.
Mint State grades: Uncirculated 1925-S dollars are much more plentiful than 1924-S, despite the lower mintage of 1925-S. However, in MS-65 grade, the 1925-S is surprisingly rare. Indeed, it and the 1928-S are the two toughest varieties to find in this grade in the entire Peace dollar series.
The striking of the typical 1925-S dollar is apt to be unsatisfactory, with weakness on the reverse, particularly on the high points of the eagle. Lustre is average. Bagmarks can be a problem.
Cherrypicking is advised and will be difficult, although not as hard as for 1924-S. Be very careful when buying coins in higher grades, for a tiny difference in grade can make big difference in price.
1. Breen-5723. Hub combination II-B2. VAM-1.
Micro S mintmark. This the major variety. Minor positional varieties of mintmarks are not collected. V AM-2 has slight doubling on reverse.
Dies prepared: Obverse: Unknown; Reverse: Unknown.
Circulation strike mintage: 1,610,000
Estimated quantity melted: Unknown
Characteristics of striking: Most 1925-S dollars are lightly struck at the center of the reverse.
Known hoards of Mint State coins: Bags were paid out of the San Francisco Mint in 1938 and the 1940s and 1950s. LaVere Redfield is said to have had nearly five bags in the mid-1970s.
Mint State coins are often lightly struck and/or extensively bagmarked.