Peace Silver Dollar
The last Silver Dollar coin to be struck for issue in the United States was the Peace Silver Dollar. These coins were minted from 1921 to 1928 and then again from 1934 to 1935, and finally once again in 1965, but the 1965 coins were supposedly never issued. Following World War I, which was spoken of as “The war to end all wars,” the “Peace” Silver Dollars were minted as a representation of America’s hunger for worldwide peace.
The Need For A New Silver Dollar
During World War I, Germany tried to destabilize British control in India by circulating reports that the British Government was finding it difficult to exchange it’s printed currency for silver. This, along with silver hoarding led to a spike in silver prices and seemed likely to jeopardize the war effort, and this led Britain to call upon their war ally, the United States, to sell them silver at a cut rate price. The resulting Pittman Act of 1918 allowed the U.S. to sell the British Government up to 350,000,000 Silver Dollars at $1 per ounce plus the cost of the copper in the coins, plus handling and transportation. After 47% of the existing Morgan Dollars were melted down for sale to the British, the Pittman Act obligated the U.S. Treasury to replace the melted coins with new silver coins from American silver mines.The Peace Dollar made a brief return in 1934 and again in 1935 when there was a supplemental need for Silver Certificate backing.
Almost A Comeback
In 1964 in response to the thriving casino industry in Nevada, Congress supported the creation of 45 million new Silver Dollars. In May of 1965 the Denver Mint struck 316,076 Peace Silver Dollars, dated 1964 in order to circumvent the Coinage Act of 1965. These coins were presumably melted. However, rumors continue that some have survived -illegally- to this day.
The Silver Dollar Competition
The design of the Peace Silver Dollar came out of an “Invitation only” competition from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. The competition rules were to portray the head of Lady Liberty on the obverse, or front of the coin, and that she be depicted “As beautiful and full of character as possible”. The reverse, or back, should show an eagle, in accordance with the Coinage Act of 1792. The entries also had to display the denomination, "United States Of America", “E Pluribus Unum”, “In God We Trust”, and the single word “Liberty”.
The winning sculptor, Anthony de Francisci, had the least experience of all those who had entered the competition. On account of the competition’s compressed schedule, de Francisci was unable to hire a model with the qualities he wanted so he based the image of Lady Liberty on the features of his wife, Teresa de Francisci! Teresa was born in Italy and later recalled that when she was a five year old immigrant, while passing the Statue of Liberty with her family, she was fascinated with the statue and called her family over to see her strike a pose of the famous lady.
The Art Deco Design
The obverse shows an Art Deco style female head of Lady Liberty with rays of light forming a tiara with the word “Liberty” arched over her head. In addition, the phrase, “IN GOD WE TRVST” is visible, not with the mistake of a “V” but with a Latin alphabet “U”. On the reverse the national symbol of a Bald Eagle is shown perched on the top of a mountain, bearing the title “Peace”, greeting the dawn of a new day with an olive branch in it's talons.
de Francisci's design was then minted into a planchet that was 38.1 mm (or 1.5 inches) across, and had a mass of 26.73 grams. Of this mass, 90% (or .77344 Troy oz.) is silver, and the remaining 10% is copper. The coin has a reeded edge, much like the U.S. Quarter and Dime in circulation today.
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