Professional Coin Grading Service officials are hoping that someone
in the collecting community holds a genuine 1964-D Peace dollar, and
the firm is willing to pay a $10,000 reward just for the opportunity
to examine one of the legendary trial strikes from 1965.
PCGS officials announced the reward on Jan. 11 during the grading
service’s luncheon at the Florida United Numismatists convention in Orlando.
Treasury Department officials ruled in May 1973 that the 1964-D
Peace dollar is illegal to own. No examples of the coin have ever been
authenticated, though rumors persist of some pieces surviving in the
Also during the luncheon, PCGS revealed the PCGS Top 100 Modern
U.S. Coins rankings. The 1964-D Peace dollar rests in the No. 1 spot
in the rankings even though no confirmed examples of the trial strikes
exist, not even in the National Numismatic Collection of the
Bureau of the Mint officials claim to have melted all 316,076
examples of the 1964-D Peace dollars after a program to resume silver
dollar production was abandoned in 1965. If any pieces were to have
escaped melting and entered the collector marketplace, the silver
dollars are subject to confiscation by the Treasury Department. United
States Mint officials hold the position that none of the silver
dollars was ever officially released and thus all remain government property.
PCGS officials will consider the legal issues involved with
examining an example of the coin, according to the firm.
“PCGS has not checked with legal counsel, but of course we would
before doing anything, as we did with the 1974 Aluminum cent. Our view
is that the 1964-D Peace dollar, if it exists, is one of the most
important coins of the 20th Century, and a treasure for the numismatic
community. If one does surface, and if there are no legal issues with
us viewing the coin, we are confident our experts would be capable of
authenticating the coin,” said David Hall, president of Collectors
Universe, parent company of PCGS.
PCGS has authenticated and graded a 1974 Lincoln aluminum cent, a
trial strike that Treasury officials also deem illegal for private
ownership, though at least one is known to be in private hands.
Diagnostics for comparison?
If PCGS officials were to be afforded an opportunity to examine a
purported 1964-D Peace dollar, the grading service would presumably
face at least one hurdle: no diagnostics from a previously
PCGS authenticators could compare an example to Peace dollars of
earlier dates. However, the Philadelphia Mint was forced to prepare
new obverse, reverse and collar dies for the coins. According to Roger
Burdette in A Guide Book of Peace Dollars, existing stocks of
reverse and collar dies from the 1930s, when Peace dollars had been
last struck, were unsuitable for use.
Burdette also notes that all hubs and master dies for Peace
dollars were destroyed in 1937. Burdette said on Jan. 9 that the
Philadelphia Mint “still had the original 1921 obverse cast,” though
this would have been of the high relief version of the coin, issued in
1921 (a lower relief version was used from 1922 to 1935). “I have not
been able to learn anything about the new 1922 models and casts that
[Peace dollar designer Anthony] deFrancisci made in low relief. Gilroy
Roberts [the Mint’s chief engraver in 1965] might have used the 1921
obverse in some way, but I found nothing stating that,” Burdette said
Burdette writes in his book that because of the lack of old hubs
and dies, “it is likely that 1964 Peace dollar details differed
noticeably from low-relief varieties of the 1920s and 1930s.” (History
would seem to support Burdette’s conclusions on design differences.
Collectors of Morgan dollars are well aware that the 1921 examples of
that coin differ considerably in detail from those last struck in
1904, due to a need to produce all-new models for the new Morgan dollars.)
Questions to PCGS officials by Coin World about what
diagnostics could be used in any possible authentication of a 1964-D
Peace dollar were unanswered as of press deadline Jan. 11.
1964-D Peace dollar history
The 1964-D Peace dollars were struck from May 13 to 24, 1965, in
part to replenish dwindling supplies of 1935 and earlier silver
dollars held in Treasury Department vaults. For several months in
1965, as the news media covered the production of the silver dollars
and government debate surrounding the coins, the coin collecting
community eagerly anticipated the release of the first silver dollars
struck since 1935. Coin dealers even began publishing advertisements
offering to buy the silver dollars at prices well above their face value.
However, production of the silver dollars began at the approximate
same time that the government was also discussing removing most or all
silver from the nation’s coinage. The final decisions made regarding
the role of silver in circulating coinage, and Bureau of the Mint
objections to possible dealer/collector speculation in the silver
dollars, led the government to stop production of the 1964-D Peace dollars.
Eva Adams, the Mint director at the time, said the 316,076 1964-D
dollars that had been struck were classified as trial strikes and all
were melted, notes PCGS.
Do any survive?
However, rumors persist that examples survive, though no 1964-D
Peace dollar has ever been displayed openly.
One persistent rumor states that Denver Mint employees were
offered the opportunity to acquire examples of the silver dollars at
face value, a decision that if true, could have enabled examples to
have entered the collector marketplace.
Surviving employees who were present during the production of the
coins have different recollections about whether the coins were
offered to Denver Mint employees for purchase.
Michael P. Lantz, a die setter trainee, Coin Press, Branch,
Coining Division, at the Denver Mint in May 1965, contends that no
such sales occurred. Lantz made that claim in an article published in
the Sept. 16, 1996, issue of Coin World.
Tito Rael, another former Denver Mint production employee involved
in the striking of the 1964-D Peace dollars, told collectors attending
the American Numismatic Association Summer Conference in 1993 in
Colorado Springs, Colo., that no 1964-D Peace dollars were ever
offered for sale to Denver Mint employees or the public.
Mint Director Adams, quoted in an interview published in the May
21, 1975, issue of Coin World dedicated solely to the 1964-D Peace
dollar production, said she was unaware of any missing examples.
In the interview, Adams said all steps were followed to ensure
that no 1964-D Peace dollars escaped the confines of the Denver Mint.
“At no time when I was there was there any neglect in maintaining
this system, at least no instance which ever came to my attention,”
Adams said in the interview. “No pieces were ever reported missing.”
However, numismatist Thomas K. DeLorey wrote in a July 15, 1996,
Coin World Guest Commentary that he once spoke with
prominent Denver coin dealer Dan Brown, who claimed he had been told
by a senior Mint official that Denver Mint employees each had been
afforded the opportunity to two examples of the coins on the first day
of production in May 1965. According to DeLorey, the Mint official
told Brown that on the second day of production, Denver Mint employees
were ordered to return the coins they had purchased, and that most
workers complied with the order.
DeLorey states that he later related Brown’s story to a former
Denver Mint employee working in the weighing room, who DeLorey says
confirmed Brown’s account. According to DeLorey, the employee he spoke
with claimed that a fellow Denver Mint worker, when ordered by
officials to return his coins, indicated that he had spent his two
1964-D Peace dollars at a Denver bar.
Other rumors persist, with Burdette noting in his book on Peace
dollars that “a number of notable collectors and dealers [claim] to
have seen or been offered examples.”
The chapter on 1964-D Peace dollars in Burdette’s book provides a
detailed accounting of when, where and how the trial strikes held at
various Bureau of the Mint facilities were destroyed. However,
Burdette does not discount the possibility that examples could have
About the PCGS reward
Don Willis, president of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe
Inc., stated in a press release that 1964-D Peace dollars “have
achieved legendary status with rumors and speculation over the decades
that some examples may have survived. PCGS now is offering a $10,000
cash reward just to view in person and verify a genuine 1964-D Peace dollar.”
Hall, who is also co-founder of PCGS, said: “It sometimes takes
years for famous coins to surface. Until 1920, no one knew there
actually were 1913 Liberty Head nickels in existence. Until 1962, no
one knew the 1804 Draped Bust silver dollar and the other coins in the
special presentation set given by the United States to the King of
Siam in 1836 were still in existence. ...
“Perhaps this new reward offer will help solve the mystery of
whether any 1964-D Peace dollars survived the melting pots. It’s the
number one modern U.S. coin,” Hall explained.
Top 100 Modern Coins
The creation of the PCGS Top 100 Modern U.S. Coins listing
underscores the growing popularity of coins struck since 1965,
according to the grading service.
“Modern coins continue to increase in popularity and are a rapidly
growing part of PCGS submissions. There are numerous types of
collections of modern coins as evidenced by the thousands of modern
coin sets in the PCGS Set Registry,” Willis said.
The complete list of 100 as ranked by PCGS experts and other
consultants is available online at www.PCGS.com/top100.
The top five in the PCGS Top 100 Modern U.S. Coins list are:
(1) 1964-D Peace dollar: “The most controversial and one of the
most famous of all modern issues,” according to Ron Guth, president of
(2) Proof 1975-S Roosevelt, No S dime: Only two known, and one
recently sold at auction for $350,000.
(3) 1974 Lincoln aluminum cent: 1.57 million were minted but only
two are known. One is graded PCGS Mint State 62 and believed to be in
private hands. Another example resides in the National Numismatic
Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
(4) Proof 1976 Eisenhower, Bicentennial, No S dollar, Type 2
design (thick reverse letters): only one example is known.
(5) Proof 2000-W Sacagawea dollar struck in .9167 fine gold: 12
are known from a reported mintage of 39, all held by the United States