What makes a 1922 Peace dollar rare? The 1922 Peace dollar is one of the most sought-after coins for collectors. If you have come across a 1922 Peace dollar, you may be wondering – what makes it so valuable? This coin has an intriguing history and certain minting quirks that contribute to its rarity.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The 1922 Peace dollar is very common, compared to the other Peace dollar series which does have certain key dates and mintmark combinations that are more sought after by collectors due to their lower mintages, errors, or other factors. The 1922 Peace Dollar High Relief variety is what you need to look for.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what makes the 1922 Peace dollar valuable. We’ll look at its history, mintage figures, die variances, price ranges, and tips for identification.
The History of the Peace Dollar Series
The Origin of the Peace Dollar Design
The Peace dollar was minted from 1921 to 1928 and again in 1934 and 1935. The coin was designed by Anthony de Francisci to commemorate the peace following World War I. The obverse depicts the head and neck of the Goddess of Liberty facing left, with the word “Liberty” above her head.
The reverse features an eagle standing on a mountain crag, holding an olive branch, with the word “Peace” below.
The Peace Dollar design was selected through a competition held by the Commission of Fine Arts in December 1921. De Francisci’s design was inspired by his wife and his experience working on medals commemorating the peace.
His original design depicted the Goddess of Liberty with her head turned left, but this was modified to face forward to be consistent with other US coinage. Over a million Peace dollars with the high relief design were struck in December 1921 before the design was flattened to enable mass production.
Why the Peace Dollar was Minted
The main purpose of minting the Peace Dollar was to honor the peace following WWI and commemorate the peace treaties ratified in 1921. As the war ended, there was a desire to mint a coin symbolizing victory and peace.
The Pittman Act of 1918 also required the US government to purchase large quantities of silver, so there was an excess stockpile of silver that needed to be used.
Between 1921 and 1928, tens of millions of Peace dollars were produced at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints. This allowed the government to make use of the additional silver. Peace dollars were commonly used in everyday commerce due to their silver content and $1 face value.
Another driving factor was commemorating the anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in the Americas. As the 300th anniversary was approaching in 1920, some proposed creating a commemorative “Pilgrim” half dollar.
Though that specific proposal wasn’t adopted, the Peace Dollar accomplished the goal of releasing a commemorative coin.
The Peace dollar’s production was halted in 1928 but briefly resumed in 1934 and 1935 when just over 1 million more of the coins were struck. This second round of production allowed the government to make further use of the strategic silver reserve from the Pittman Act.
1922 Peace Dollar Mintage
The 1922 Peace dollar had relatively low mintages at both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. This has contributed to the 1922 Peace dollar becoming collectible and sought-after, especially in higher grades.
Philadelphia Mint Mintage
The Philadelphia Mint produced 51,737,000 Peace dollars in 1922. This was substantially higher than some other dates in the series, like the key date 1928 Philadelphia issue with just 360,649 coins struck.
Despite its relatively large mintage compared to other Peace dollars, the 1922 Philadelphia coin is not always easy to find in mint state condition today. Most examples exhibit heavy bag marks or other signs of mishandling from years spent stacked in Mint bags.
Denver Mint Mintage and Rarity
The Denver Mint’s output of Peace dollars in 1922 was much smaller at 15,063,000 pieces. This lower mintage has increased demand from collectors over the years.
Like its Philadelphia counterpart, the 1922-D Peace dollar suffers from extensive contact marks since most coins saw years of use in commerce before they were set aside by collectors. This means that locating a pristine gem example can be quite challenging.
1922 Peace Dollar Die Variances
The High Relief Variety
The 1922 High Relief Peace dollar features a highly detailed, sculptural design that stands out in high relief from the flat field of the coin. Only around 10,000-15,000 of these coins were struck before the design was changed to the more common shallow relief version.
This makes the 1922 High Relief a scarce and valuable variety.
According to the Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC), a 1922 High Relief Peace dollar certified in Mint State 65 condition sold for $78,000 in 2015, showing how valuable this variety can be in top grades. Even lower-grade examples can sell for several thousand dollars due to immense collector demand.
The No D Variety
Another famous variety of the 1922 Peace dollar is the No D, which lacks the mint mark ‘D’ that should appear beside the word ‘DOLLAR’ on the reverse of the coin. This variety came about when a small number of Denver Mint coins were struck from a reverse die lacking the D mint mark.
According to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), only around 10-15 genuine examples of the 1922 No D Peace Dollar are known to exist. One such coin certified by PCGS in Mint State 63 condition sold in January 2023 for an astounding $456,000, showing the immense rarity and value placed on this variety by collectors.
The Weak D Variety
The Weak D variety of 1922 Peace dollars features a barely discernible mint mark that is very weakly punched into the coin’s reverse die. While not as dramatic as the No D variety, the Weak D is much scarcer than normal 1922-D Peace dollars.
According to the popular coin reference A Guide Book of Peace Dollars, the Weak D 1922 Peace dollar lists for approximately 10-15 times more than common 1922-P or D varieties, depending on the coin’s condition.
So while not as rare as the No D or High Relief varieties, the Weak D 1922 still carries a significant premium over regular 1922 Peace dollars.
Identifying A Genuine 1922 Peace Dollar
Diagonal Die Polish Lines
The dies used to mint Peace dollars in 1922 exhibit distinctive diagonal polish lines across the fields. These lines are a key indicator of an authentic 1922 Peace dollar, as many counterfeits lack this detail. Carefully examine the fields under magnification to check for these diagonal polish lines.
Strike and Surface Quality
Genuine 1922 Peace dollars tend to have sharp strikes and smooth fields free of significant marks or hairlines. Overly weak details, porous surfaces, or heavy hairlines could indicate a counterfeit coin.
Additionally, authentic specimens show luster in protected areas while fakes often appear too dull.
High-grade 1922 Peace dollars are scarce, with most certified examples grading Very Fine to Extremely Fine. Only three 1922 Peace dollars have earned a Mint State grade. So be wary of any purported Mint State 1922 Peace dollars, as most are likely counterfeit.
Careful third-party certification from PCGS or NGC assures authenticity and grade.
The Value of 1922 Peace Dollars Today
1922 Peace dollars in very high grades like MS-67 or MS-68 can be quite valuable. According to the PCGS Price Guide, an MS-67 1922 Peace dollar is worth around $7,200. Meanwhile, an MS-68 coin sold at auction in 2013 for over $100,000.
There is a premium for top-tier examples with virtually perfect surfaces and strikes.
Lower Grade Examples
In lower uncirculated grades through MS-66, 1922 Peace dollars are far more affordable but still carry healthy premiums over melt value. An MS-63 coin retails for around $175 and MS-65 examples sell for around $650-700. Even in circulated condition, 1922 Peace dollars sell for a premium.
An Extremely Fine example might retail around $60-75 while an About Uncirculated coin sells for $100-125.
Die Variance Premiums
There are also premiums for certain die varieties of 1922 Peace dollars. The most famous is the 1922 High Relief variety which displays sharper detail in Liberty’s hair and profile. Only around 10-15 of these coins are known to exist.
In 2012, a PCGS MS-67 1922 High Relief Peace dollar sold at auction for over $35,000. So if you happen to find one of these Major League rarities, it could be your ticket to the big leagues of Peace dollar collecting!
What Makes A 1922 Peace Dollar Rare – Conclusion
The 1922 Peace Dollar enjoys a legendary status thanks to its High Relief design with a low mintage of only 35,401. Finding any 1922 peace dollar is exciting, but locating one of the die varieties takes it to another level entirely.
While lower-grade circulating examples can still trade for considerable premiums, high-grade specimens, and rare die variances fetch huge sums at auction or private sale. With so much history and rarity packed into such an iconic silver dollar design, it’s no wonder why collectors highly covet the elusive 1922 issue.