1921 Silver Dollars

One Year and Two Different Silver Dollar Designs. Find Out Why.

An illustration of a 1921 silver dollar

Illustration: The Spruce / Kyle Fewel

In 1921 United States coinage still contained precious metals. $5, $10, and $20 gold pieces were still used as circulating currency. Dimes, quarters, half dollars and one dollar coins were still made out of 90% silver. However, the United States had not minted any new silver dollars since 1904. Politics and legislation entered the scene and required that millions of silver dollars were to be melted and new ones to be minted.

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    1921 Morgan Silver Dollar

    1921 Morgan Silver Dollar Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    The Pittman Act of April 23, 1918 required the melting of millions of silver dollars. According to records at the United States Mint, 259,121,554 silver dollars were melted. The silver bullion that was produced from the melted coins was sold to England. The "Silver Barons" of the time force the inclusion of a clause that required the purchasing of enough United States mined silver to replace all the melted silver dollars.

    Since the U.S. Mint had not made silver dollars in 17 years, new dies had to be created. A new design for the silver dollar was in the works, but it was not ready for production yet. Therefore, the U.S. Mint resurrected the Morgan silver dollar obverse and reverse designs. A total of 86,730,000 Morgan dollars were made at the three U.S. mint facilities in Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco.

    Learn More about Morgan Silver Dollars

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    1921 Peace Silver Dollar

    1921 Peace Dollar Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com

    The Peace silver dollar was created to commemorate the end of World War I and the "lasting" peace that followed. It was designed by Anthony de Francisci and modeled after his wife Teresa. de Francisci submitted preliminary models for the new coin that showed an eagle on the reverse breaking a sword to symbolize disarmament at the end of the war. Members of the fine art commission and officials at the Treasury Department protested because they thought that the design would be interpreted as defeat rather than a negotiated peace. Without the approval of de Francisci Mint Engraver George Morgan remodeled the eagle without the sword and replaced it with an olive branch to symbolize peace.

    After many design changes and trial strikes, the first Peace dollars were minted on December 26, 1921. This was hardly enough time to make a sufficient quantity to contend with the almost 100 million Morgan dollars that were already minted. Over few remaining days left in 1921, the mint managed to produce a little over one million Peace silver dollars. They continued make Peace dollars until 1928 when the bullion purchased from the domestic silver mines was exhausted and enough silver dollars were minted to replace the ones that were melted under the Pittman Act.

    The Great Depression that began in 1929 resulted in a lack of demand for silver dollars. However, when the economy rebounded and production resumed again in 1934 and continued for two more years. These would be the last silver dollar coins ever produced by the United States mint until 1971 when production of the Eisenhower dollar began.

    Learn More about Peace Silver Dollars