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Denver Coins --> United States Coins --> Obsolete United State coins --> Silver Peace Dollar

Denver Gold and Silver Exchange
5475 Leetsdale Dr Suite 210
Denver, Colorado 80246

Open Monday - Friday from 9 am to 5 pm
Friday 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm
Call anytime - leave a message: Main Number: 303-333-1411
Peace dollar (19211935)

-- Peace Dollar

Introduced in December 1921, the Peace dollar, designed by medalist Anthony de Francisci, was promulgated to commemorate the signing of formal peace treaties between the Allied forces and Germany and Austria. These treaties officially ended the Allies' World War I hostilities with these two countries. In 1922 the Mint made silver dollar production its top priority, causing other denominations to be produced sparingly if at all that year. Production ceased temporarily after 1928; original plans apparently called for only a one year suspension, but this was extended by the Great Depression. Mintage resumed in 1934, but for only two years.

In May 1965, 316,000+ Peace Dollars were minted, all at the Denver Mint and dated 1964-D; however, plans for completing this coinage were abandoned, and most of those already minted were melted, with two known trial strike specimens being preserved (for assay purposes) until 1970, when they too were melted, and none released either for circulation or collection purposes. It is rumored that one or more pieces still exist, most notably any examples obtained by key members of Congress, the President, or mint officials. However, this coin, much like the 1933 $20 gold Double Eagle (aside from the "exception", sold in 2002 for over $7 million), is illegal to own and would be subject to confiscation.

Release of dollars by the US Treasury: the GSA sale

Because of the size and weight of the dollar coins, they circulated minimally throughout their history, except in the West (especially at casinos in the early to mid 20th century, where they were commonly used both at the tables and at slot machines.) As a result, the coins were generally shipped to Washington and stored in the vaults of the US Treasury; at times these stores numbered into the hundreds of millions.

They were very popular as Christmas gifts, however, and from the 1930s to the early 1960s, many bags were annually released to banks nationwide to be distributed as presents. In November 1962, during this annual distribution, it was discovered that there were some rare and valuable dates, still sealed in their original mint bags, all in uncirculated condition, among the millions of dollar coins still in the Treasury vaults. Collectors/investors/dealers lined up to purchase them in $1,000 bags, trading silver certificates for the coins. Before this event, the great rarity of the Morgan series was 1903-O, which was by far the most expensive of the entire set. It was discovered that there were millions of this specific date and mint in the Treasury vaults; an estimated 84% of the entire mintage sat in these bags, untouched for 60 years, all in uncirculated condition. While still relatively expensive in circulated grades, uncirculated examples can be had for a modest amount over common dates.

On March 25, 1964, the Secretary of the Treasury announced that Silver Certificates would no longer be redeemable for silver dollars. Subsequently, another act of Congress dated June 24, 1967, provided that Silver Certificates could be exchanged for silver bullion for a period of one year, until June 24,1968.

Following this, the Treasury inventoried its remaining stock of dollar coins, and found approximately 3,000 bags containing 3 million coins. Many of the remaining coins were Carson City mint dollars, which even then carried a premium. The coins were placed in special hard plastic holders and the General Services Administration (GSA) was given authorization to sell them to the public in a series of mail-bid sales. Five sales were conducted in 1973 and 1974, but sales were poor, and the results unspectacular. There was much complaining among the coin buying public, many stating that the United States Government should not be in the "coin business", especially considering that the government had spent little more than a dollar to mint and store each coin. After these sales, more than a million coins were still left unsold.

These sat again until 1979-1980, where, amidst an extraordinarily volatile precious metals market, the remaining coins were sold under chaotic conditions. The GSA, having published minimum bids in November 1979, announced on January 2, 1980, that those minimum bids were no longer valid, and that prospective bidders would have to "call in" to a toll free number to get current minimum bids. Then, on February 21, 13 days after the bidding process officially began, the maximum number of coins per bidder was changed from 500 to 35. Many bidders, under these confusing conditions, ended up with no coins at all. Complaints again flooded in to Congress, but the damage had already been done, and the last silver dollars held by the United States Treasury were gone.

Over the years, many of these GSA dollars have been broken out of their special holders for purposes of grading or otherwise, and now GSA dollars still in the unbroken original holders carry a small premium. Some third party grading companies have begun to grade coins still in their GSA holders, as a means of preservation, though this is not without controversy.

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