Why your 1922 Peace Dollar is Probably not worth 100K
In 1921, the U.S. Mint began production of the new “Peace” design for silver dollars, a design commemorating peace after the end of World War I. The designer, Anthony de Francisci, intended for the coin to be struck in “high relief”, which resulted in a boldly raised design. In 1921 the Peace Dollars were struck in this way, but despite the medal-like beauty of the high relief, the U.S. Mint decided to strike the coins in low relief from 1922 to 1935. The high relief design was just too stressful on the machinery, and resulted in many broken dies. Reluctantly, de Francisci agreed to create a new plaster mold with a lower relief, and starting February 13, the 1922 Peace dollar was made in “low relief.”
Peace Dollars were produced in large quantity: over 84 million coins that year alone. Several million have survived the melting pot over the years, and so if you find a 1922 Peace Dollar in your sock drawer, chances are it is one of these less valuable coins.. These coins are usually worth from about $18 to $50, with some extremely high grade examples or rare varieties worth more.
Only 35, 401 “High Relief” business strike Peace Dollars were produced in 1922, but all were melted. Well, almost all. One is known to exist. A couple of dozen Matte Proof high relief 1922 Peace Dollars were also struck, and of these about 11 are known to exist. These coins can be worth $100,000.00 or more at auction, with one example recently bringing over $300,000.00!
Two Matte Proof high relief 1922 Peace Dollars were recently discovered, and although these particular specimens came from the Mint Director at the time, the discovery raises the possibility that more undiscovered coins exist. The chances that one of your 1922 Peace Dollars is an undiscovered high relief? About a million to one, unfortunately.
What should come as no surprise is that the biggest winners in this issue are the investors who have had the foresight to buy them for the prevailing prices. In 2002 an investor paid just under $52,000.00 for an example in Proof 66 condition. Four years later a coin in the same grade brought over $126,000.00. In 2009 the very same coin (only 3 years later!) brought $161,000.00.
Warning: If you are comparing the photos above to the 1922 Peace Dollars in your collection, they will look almost identical. The rare “high relief” and the much less expensive “low relief” varieties can’t really be distinguished by an untrained eye. Don’t get excited yet. A trained professional should check your coins out!
In 2014, a 1922 high relief Matte Proof Peace Dollar in Proof 67 brought $329,000.00. This reflects a growing trend in U.S. coin rarities: more people want them, and are paying higher prices to get them. This trend is just beginning to pick up momentum in most categories of rare U.S. Coins.
The lesson is one repeated often in the history of investing in rare coins: finding a rare and valuable coin is for the extremely “lucky”, but investing in rare and valuable coins is for the extremely wise.