Michael Bugeja

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Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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​Toned Peace Dollars

Whenever the topic of toned Peace dollars comes up in numismatic conversations, someone usually remembers this famous quote by PCGS co-founder David Hall:

“I am of the very strong opinion that any 1921 Peace dollar...indeed any Peace dollar...that has any rainbow colors (blue, red, green, etc.) is absolutely artificially toned. While not very scientific, my approach to toning on coins is to remember the colors I saw in the 1960s and 1970s and if a new look appears, it's artificial to me. …”

You can see the quote in context by clicking here.

Indeed, the vast majority — almost all, in fact — of Peace dollars slabbed by PCGS and NGC are white, gray, or spottily streaked or tarnished. But you can find some beautifully toned coins if you look hard enough, and, when you do, a major grading company just might slab the Peace dollar if the toning appears natural.

Why don’t Peace dollars tone like Morgans? Some believe the silver used for Morgans had impurities that Peace dollars lack, thereby resulting in rainbow patina. Fact is, rainbow toned Peace dollars are rare, but you should still look for them online.

Albums sometimes tone Peace dollars, and if you search long enough, you might identify one on Proxibid or eBay. 

It goes without question that any Peace dollar with rainbow toning will bring substantially higher premiums, if the coin appears in a top-tier holder.

I won the uncertified 1922 Peace dollar pictured above with an $80 bid. It slabbed Mint State 65 at PCGS, worth $130. But I would wager that this coin would bring $500 to $1,000 if consigned to a major auction house.

Coin World last year ran an article on a 1934-D Peace dollar with rainbow toning that sold for $7,975. Typically, it would sell in MS-65 for about $1,200.

The demand for toned Peace dollars is so great that even ones graded “questionable color” by PCGS go for high prices. That is why I invest in TrueView photography, which also helps sales, especially if the toning has a natural look to it.

For a recent example of such a coin, click here or enter the PCGS certification number, 82683875.

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Older Comments (2)
I have searched for toned Peace dollars for several years. I concur that toned Peace dollars are scarce. Most vibrant colored specimens are artificially toned.