In 1918, the American congress passed the so-called Pittman Act. It required the US government to melt millions of the old Morgan Dollars in the Treasury vaults, then sell the silver bars to foreign nations. The Act then called for the U.S. Mint to create a new silver dollar to be struck with domestic silver purchased from the powerful mine owners in the West. While the Pittman Act was passed to lift up the flagging silver industry, it created a numismatic masterpiece: the Peace Dollar.
THE CREATION OF A LEGEND
As the guns fell silent across the battle-torn fields of Europe in November 1918, a great yearning swept throughout the United States to commemorate the end of the ´Great War,´ so Congress passed legislation calling for a new coin to mark the new era of peace. A contest was held to decide the new coin's design and renowned sculptor Anthony de Francisci's creation was selected.
The design featured a youthful Lady Liberty wearing a spiked crown -reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty - on the obverse. An Italian immigrant, de Francisci held the statue in the highest regards and used his own wife, Teresa, as the model for the portrait. On the reverse, de Francisci placed an American eagle atop a rock that is engraved with the word ´Peace´. The eagle is looking into a rising sun symbolizing the dawning of a new day of tranquility.
The coin was first minted in 1921 and only ran until 1928, when the silver-purchasing requirements of the Pittman Act had been fulfilled. Since large silver coins had fallen out of favor in place of paper money, it was assumed the Peace Dollar had run its course. But in 1934 and 1935, the coin was once again minted in small quantities as backing for silver certificates.
This created someof the most desirable years among collectors of this beloved coin. Sadly, the end of the Peace Dollar series in 1935 foreshadowed events yet to come; within four years, the world was once again engulfed in war.
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