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Peace Dollars Detailed
By Mike Thorne

Believe it or not, I'm reviewing yet another Official Red Book from Whitman, this one devoted to Peace dollars. Of course, with only 24 different date/mintmark combinations, the Peace dollar series is considerably shorter than most series to which an entire book is devoted. As a result, there are some obvious differences between the layout of A Guide Book of Peace Dollars and other Red Books devoted to single series, such as the ones for Morgan dollars and Lincoln cents.

Although the overall length of the book is similar, A Guide Book of Peace Dollars has larger print. Also, as you would anticipate given the brevity of the series, less of the book is devoted to the obligatory date-by-date analysis, which begins on p. 178. Compare that to the same analysis in the book on Lincoln cents, which begins on p. 127, or the analysis of Morgan dollars, which begins on p. 111. Note that I'm not being critical of the book, I'm just noting some differences.

The book was written by Roger Burdette, with assistance from Barry Lovvorn. Burdette is a prolific writer whose numismatic books include ones that won the Numismatic Literary Guild "Book of the Year" competition three years in a row beginning in 2006.

Lovvorn received a handful of Peace dollars from his grandfather, an event that turned him into a devotee of the series. His collection of Peace dollars, put together after Lovvorn examined literally thousands of the coins, "has twice been honored with NGC's recognition as one of the best presentations in its registry competition." Lovvorn helped with the date-by-date presentation in the book, as well as interviewing Denver Mint employees about the 1964-D Peace dollar, which was never actually issued.

The first three chapters in A Guide Book of Peace Dollars detail the story of the reason for a dollar following the Morgan series, the idea for a dollar to celebrate the peace after World War I, and the design competition that produced Anthony de Francisci's design.

In Chapter 3, "Producing Peace Dollars," I read with interest the section titled "Morgan Saves the Peace Dollar." It turned out to be about how George Morgan skillfully removed the broken sword from the reverse after this symbolic device received negative comments. According to the authors, "Morgan's work was of such high quality that it took more than 85 years for anyone to detect the alteration on the 1921 coins."

Chapter 4 is devoted to the story of the 1964-D Peace dollars. The impetus for such a dollar came from Mint Director Eva Adams, who called for funds to produce new silver dollars when it became apparent the available supply of dollars was being rapidly depleted as banks paid out the coins in response to public demand.

At least part of the issue surrounding the production of a new dollar concerned the design to use. In 1963, when the idea surfaced, no silver dollar had been coined for nearly three decades. There was at least some desire for a return of the Morgan design rather than the Peace design.

Unfortunately, the call for a new silver dollar coincided with a time when there was a coin shortage (blamed on coin collectors, of course), the price of silver was rising, and Congress was thinking about taking all silver out of coins. Also, everyone in the administration realized that minting new silver dollars would be a futile gesture, as the coins would never circulate but would immediately disappear into collector's hands.

Eventually, some 322,000 1964 Peace dollars were minted at the Denver Mint and quickly melted. Did any escape destruction? "Rumors and assertions about the existence of 1964-D Peace dollars are commonplace, with a number of notable collectors and dealers claiming to have seen or been offered examples."

Chapter 7 looks at errors, hoards, counterstrikes, and artist's samples. The hoards examined include the Redfield hoard, the Binion hoard, and the General Services Administration hoard. Of course, when we think of the GSA hoard, we tend to remember the Carson City Morgans. The authors note, "several thousand Peace dollars of mixed dates were included."

I was a bidder/buyer in some of the GSA sales, and one of the coins I received for $3 had to be the lowest grade Peace dollar imaginable. I could almost believe that the coin had been constantly circulating from the day of its minting in 1922 until just before it was packaged and sold by the GSA. I got rid of it as quickly as I could, but now I wish I had saved it as a souvenir.

Chapter 8 considers proofs, patterns, and trial pieces, and I was particularly fascinated by a table of estimated mintages of certain issues of the first two years. Of the proof version of the 1921 high relief, the estimate is five. Of the 1922 high relief, approximately 32,401 were minted for circulation, with about five proofs. The 1922 also exists in a medium relief, which is news to me, and about 3,200 were made for circulation. Of the 1922 medium relief, only about two proofs were minted, with another five or so proofs of a low relief version.

Chapter 9 covers Peace dollars by date and mintmark. I spotted one obvious error on p. 223, where the mintage of the 1926-D is given as 348,700, which is less than the mintage of the big key, the 1928. It should be 2,348,700, but this is a minor quibble:

This book will be a fine addition to the library of any Peace dollar collector. Listing at $19.95, it's available from the publisher and from other online booksellers.


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