After the end of World War I, the Pittman Act became law in 1918 and under this Act more than 270 million Morgan Silver Dollars were converted into bullion and more than 259 million of them were sold to Great Britain, which desperately needed silver.
There was exceptionally strong sentiment after World War I for a coin to commemorate the “War to End All Wars.” That was the catalyst for a design change away from the Morgan Silver Dollar. The majority of Americans had been impacted by this Great War and the American Numismatic Association had promoted the idea to issue a silver dollar. Since the Morgan Dollar had been struck for more than 25 years, no Act of Congress was required.
A limited competition for a new Peace Dollar design had been held and the winning design was unanimously awarded to Anthony de Francisci. This designer used his wife as one of his models for Miss Liberty rather than utilizing a purely allegorical representation. The motto “LIBERTY” was above Miss Liberty and the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was separated by the neck of Miss Liberty. There are stops before and after the date, which was displayed in the Roman style as was the letter “U” in the word “TRUST.”
The reverse depicted an American bald eagle standing on a mountaintop looking into the distance. The legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” surmounted the eagle as did the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” beneath it. The denomination was separated by the eagle that clutched an olive branch in her talons. On the rock upon which the eagle sat the word “PEACE” was inscribed. That word was missing from the original design, but it was added to the approved design along with the eagle now clutching a sword with a broken tip. The broken sword tip was thought to symbolize the end of the Great War to the designer and the Commission of Fine Arts.
On December 21, 1921, the New York Herald published a full description of the new Peace Dollar in an editorial titled “The Broken Sword” in which it found the broken sword as belonging to the vanquished instead of the victor and improper to be placed on the new American Silver Dollar coin. America was a victor!
With the American public demanding this change, the Mint, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the coin designer all sought to change the design to meet public approval. The final design was accomplished through the efforts of Chief Engraver George T. Morgan.
December 28, 1921, the presses began striking these “high relief” silver dollar coins. Over one million of these new coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint during the last four days of 1921. The first coin was set aside to be presented to President Harding.
Approximately 187 million Peace Dollars of all dates and mintmarks were struck between 1921 and 1935. The coins were struck in various years at differing times for the three active mints – Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.