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1934 Peace Dollar in Short Supply
By Paul M. Green, Numismatic News
April 04, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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The 1934 Peace dollar is a mystery coin. The conventional wisdom surrounding it appears to simply have been wrong. That makes it a very interesting date to study even though information is not readily available.

We know that back in 1934 few would have expected another Peace dollar mintage. Thanks to the heavy mintages of the early 1920s, the United States had all the silver dollars it needed. Those mintages enabled the Secretary of the Treasury to order new issues of Silver Certificates. After that time, there had been no need for additional Silver Certificates or silver dollars for years.

The Great Depression and changing silver and gold policy made it even less likely that there would be any more large silver dollar mintages. There was, however, an additional purchase of silver to help out with the struggling mines so small additional Peace dollar mintages were ordered.

The silver dollar mintages in 1934 and 1935 would be relatively low with the 1934 ending up at 954,057. While certainly not the lowest Peace dollar total, it was still one of a few dates to fall below the 1 million mark.

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What happened to the 1934 after being produced is a very good question to which there are seemingly no good answers. There is an assumption that some were paid out at the time. This makes sense because there had been no Peace dollar mintages since 1928.

Back in 1934 there would not have been a lot of numismatic interest in every new dollar. During the Great Depression a dollar was a lot of money, and there were few collectors. Over the years there is only scant information about 1934 Peace dollar bags appearing with the general belief being it was an available date.

What that belief failed to take into account was a fairly low mintage and the fact that, had you tried to buy the 1934 as Q. David Bowers observes in his American Coin Treasures and Hoards, “anyone checking closely would find that few if any quantities were to be had.”

So what would have happened to the 1934? They were likely released and ended up in non-numismatic hands. Since the 1934 was from Philadelphia, it is not likely that it would have been found in Reno on the casino gambling tables. But it is very possible that numbers were used in the East and with no one seeing the 1934 as a better date, people might have not taken the opportunity to acquire rolls or bags when they were available.

The fact that the 1934 lists for $44 in VG-8 – a high price for an available date – is not surprising with its relatively low mintage. Its $115 price in MS-60 is a sign that it was simply not saved. The same might be said of its MS-65 listing of $750.

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has seen 2,606 examples of the 1934. Of that total, 291 were MS-65, 21 were MS-66 and three were MS-67. The Professional Coin Grading Service has graded a total of 3,626 examples, of which 366 were MS-65, 80 were MS-66 and three were MS-67.

The 1934 might be available, but it is certainly not common and it still remains a mystery as to why there are not greater supplies.

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