The 1964-D Peace Dollar represents one of the most enigmatic coins of the 20th century. Based on mint records and other accounts, a quantity of newly minted silver dollars were struck at the Denver Mint after a gap of nearly 30 years. The entire amount was subsequently ordered melted, although rumors persist that a few pieces may have escaped.
The authorization to strike 45 million silver dollars was passed on August 3, 1964 at the behest of Senators from Montana. They made the case that the coins would be needed for circulation in the Western states, as the withdrawal of silver coinage from circulation had made the coins scarce. The Denver Mint was chosen as the location for production, as it was closest to the area where the coins would be needed for commerce.
Despite opposition from Eva Adams, the Director of the United States Mint, production commenced on May 12, 1965. The dies were dated 1964 and the coins carried the “D” mint mark on the reverse. A total of 316,076 silver dollars were struck and almost immediately some dealers started offering multiples of face value for the coins. It quickly became obvious that if released the 1964 Peace Dollars would never circulate as intended, but would rather become an instant collectible.
Shortly after the mintage had taken place, Congress rescinded the authorization to produce the silver dollars and ordered all pieces struck to be melted. The subsequently passed Coinage Act of 1965 would also expressly forbid the coinage of any new silver dollars for the next five years. According to the government, all examples of the 1964 Peace Dollar were melted and none ever left the Denver Mint.
Despite these assurances, there have been rumors since the mid 1960’s that some pieces did manage to escape. Details of the melting lend support to this possibility. The silver dollars were never individually verified and counted prior to melting, but rather they were measured in quantities by weight. This would have presented the opportunity for someone to replace one of the 1964 Peace Dollars with an earlier silver dollar. Some have suggested that a small number of the coins may have been distributed to the President or other members of Congress, although the government denies that any distribution had taken place.
If any 1964-D Peace Dollars exist in private hands, they may never be publicly revealed. The government has stated that all examples of this issue are government property and subject to immediate seizure by the Secret Service.
*The image which appears at the top of this page is a fantasy overstrike created by Daniel Carr of the Moonlight Mint.*