Jaime Hernandez -
May 21, 2012
In the 1960s it was still possible to receive Silver dollars at face value from the bank. During this time, the price of silver began to increase and as the public became aware, they requested coins at face value. The demand was so high, banks didn't have enough coins to meet the public's requests. In August 1964, Congress approved production of 45 million Silver dollars to prevent coin shortages throughout the country. President Lyndon Johnson approved the order despite heavy opposition, but after several months, no 1964-D Peace dollars were struck.
Finally on May 12, 1965, the Mint struck its first 1964-D Peace dollars; however, these were only struck as a trial pieces. Johnson immediately issued a Presidential Order instructing the Denver Mint to produce circulation strike 1964-D Peace dollars. The Denver Mint had no choice but to begin striking the 1964-D Peace dollars. The coins were struck on 90% silver planchets, had an identical design to the Peace dollars struck from 1921-1935 (with the exception of the date) and had a D mintmark on the reverse. The Mint struck a total of 316,076 circulation strike 1964-D Peace dollars (not including 30 test strike pieces).
The Congressional leaders who were against production of the 1964-D dollars convinced the White House to have the coins destroyed. On May 24, 1965 the White House rescinded the President's instructions to produce the coins and ordered all 1964-D Peace dollars to be destroyed. Eva Adams, Director of the U.S. Mint at the time, oversaw both the production and destruction of the 1964-D Peace dollars.
Due to the large volume of coins struck, the Mint decided to weigh the coins during the retrieval process as opposed to counting each coin individually. The weight of the 1964-D Peace dollars included the scrap and webbing from which the coins were struck to try to obtain an accurate weigh in. There were several U.S. Mint personnel who witnessed the melting of these coins to ensure that all had been destroyed.
As time went by, there were rumors that some 1964-D Peace dollars had escaped the U.S. Mint. Eva Adams was under a lot of scrutiny and when asked whether any of these coins existed, her response was that they were all melted. However, years later according to Mint records, two test strikes resurfaced. The two coins that surfaced were apparently from the 30 test pieces that were sent to Washington for inspection. Those two coins remained in the Treasury Vault until 1970 but were immediately destroyed by the U.S. Mint as soon as they were discovered.
What's suspicious is that over the years several 1964 Special Mint set coins surfaced. There are no Mint records of any 1964 Special Mint Sets being produced; however, we know these coins do exist. According to a prominent coin dealer, the 1964 Special Mint Set coins surfaced from Eva Adams' personal estate collection when they were consigned to a Stack's auction. Over the years, there have been rumors that another prominent coin dealer was offered a few 1964-D Peace dollars. Around the same time, the Mint came out with a statement indicating that if any of these dollars exist, they were illegal to own. The dealer mentioned he never heard back from the seller, but believed he did indeed own a few.
Others have mentioned that in 1965 Mint employees were given the opportunity to exchange the 1964-D Peace dollars at face value when they were originally struck. However, the Mint requested that employees bring them back once they were ordered to be destroyed. If this was the case, some coins could have escaped the Mint through this channel. Another possible way is that coins could have been removed during the weighing process upon destruction; a Mint employee could have replaced the coins with any other pre-1964 Peace Morgan dollars since they had the exact same weight. Of course, this is just speculation. And to make matters more confusing, someone recently came out with Fantasy 1964-D Peace dollars by striking them using their own coin press and making them resemble a genuine Mint product.
It's been almost 50 years since the 1964-D Peace dollars were struck and not one genuine example has surfaced.
Do you think any genuine 1964-D Peace dollars exist? We would love to hear your thoughts. Email [email protected] with your opinions.