The 1926-S Peace Dollar is a relatively common coin and it is the only one of the S-Mint Peace Dollars that can be found with a good strike. The mintage was nearly 7 million coins, making this the last of the Peace Dollars with a mintage of over 2 million pieces. Most of the certified Mint State examples fall into the MS-63 and MS-64 categories, with about equal distribution between the two grades. MS-65 examples are fairly plentiful, but the population drops off a cliff in the MS-66. In MS-67, the 1926-S Peace Dollar is a true condition-rarity, and none have been graded finer by PCGS. Luster ranges from frosty to brilliant; several of the top examples have bright, booming luster. Often the eye appeal is diminished by bagmarks, but when clean examples are found, they are very attractive.
According to a notice in the June 1934 issue of The Numismatist (p. 416), collectors could still purchase Uncirculated 1926-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).
Large mintage: It is probably the case that most of the nearly seven million 1926-S dollars minted (a large production for the late 1920s) were released into circulation within a few years of their production. Probably no more than a couple million were held back at the San Francisco Mint, and most of these had been paid out by the early 1960s.
Hoards: In 1941, 1922-S and 1926-S dollars were released in quantity through the San Francisco Mint, where they had been stored for 15 years. Several bags or more came on the market, but the demand for Peace dollars was not very great. Although more could have been obtained from the Mint had dealers desired them, probably no more that two or three thousand coins went into numismatic channels at the time. As noted under the section for 1922-S dollars in this book, quite a few of both dates went to casinos in Reno, Nevada.
More bags came out in the spring and summer of 1942. The price fell to the point at which George B. Rogers, in The Numismatist, September 1942, was offering Uncirculated coins for $1.25 each. Quantities remained unsold in dealers' stocks, and for a long time the 1926-S was considered to be very common. Still more bags were released in 1949 and 1950, mainly through banks in the San Francisco and Oakland area.
Additional bags of 1926-S dollars were released from storage in the San Francisco Mint in the 1950s, particularly from 1953 through 1956. What market there was, consisted of sales through such dealers as Norman Shultz and Bebee's, who mainly retailed single pieces to customers. Dealers were reluctant to buy bags, as they could not be sold for more than face value. There were relatively few silver dollar dealer specialists until during and after the great Treasury releases of the early 1960s. Some 1926-S bags were included in the 1962-64 Treasury dispersal.
By the early 1970s, most 1926-S dollars floating on the market had found homes, and the issue was not often seen in quantity. In 1982, Wayne Miller wrote that the issue was rarer than 1926-D until the Redfield coins came on the market. The Redfield Hoard (dispersed beginning in 1976) contained several or more bags, probably obtained from Nevada casinos in the late 1950s and early 1960s. John Highfill has written that the 1926-S was the third most plentiful Redfield Hoard Peace dollar issue, and that many were damaged by the mechanical counting machine used by the rare coin firm hired to inventory the group. All of the Redfield 1926-S dollars went to numismatists and investors.
Circulated grades: The 1926-S is readily available in circulated grades up through and including AU, indicating that many were placed into the channels of commerce. Some of those seen in AU grade today may have come from vast quantities of 1926-S dollars shipped to Nevada casinos in the 1950s.
Mint State grades: Mint State 1926-S dollars are readily available. The typical piece encountered is fairly well struck, especially on the obverse, and overall is of better quality than such issues as 1924-S, 1925-S, and 1927-S. While the center of the reverse of the typical 1926-S may not be sharp at the center, it is usually frosty and lustrous. In contrast, other San Francisco Mint dollars of the era are apt to be dull on the eagle's feathers.
Choice and gem Uncirculated 1926-S dollars are very attractive, with lustrous, bright surfaces and plenty of "sparkle." Bagmarks, when present, are apt to he light but numerous: Some have the form of tiny slide marks or superficial nicks, rather than the deep marks seen on some other issues. The typical MS-63 or MS-64 coin has a good deal of eye appeal. True MS-65 or better coins are on the rare side; I believe that only a thousand or two survive.
1. Breen-5725. Hub combination II-B2. VAM-I.
Micro S mintmark. Just the one variety. Positional differences in mintmarks are not widely collected, although Van Allen and Mallis differentiate between VAM-1 (mintmark in normal position) and these:
VAM-2 has mintmark high; VAM-3 has mintmark slightly high and tilted left, see VAM plates for identification.
Dies prepared: Obverse: Unknown; Reverse: Unknown.
Circulation strike mintage: 6,980,000
Estimated quantity melted: Unknown.
Characteristics of striking: Usually well struck and very lustrous, a paragon of S-Mint dollar coinage.
Known hoards of Mint State coins: Probably as many as two million were on hand at the San Francisco Mint in the early 1950s. Many of these were paid out in the same decade. Probably somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 went to numismatic ally inclined people in the years from about 1955 to 1963.
In Uncirculated grade, this is one of the more available San Francisco Mint Peace dollars of its era.