Many people know that a Low Relief Peace Dollar was struck, as well as a High Relief version. Few people realize, however, there is an entirely unique business strike Modified “Medium Relief” Peace Dollar which exists.
The higher striking pressure that was necessary to produce the 1921 High Relief Peace Dollars caused the dies to fail prematurely, and thus a quest was underway to “modify” the design to make a more commercially viable product.
They lowered the design relief, but only slightly. What came about was a production run of 3,200 coins. The first one, struck in Proof, sold for well beyond $300,000 many years ago. On Strike #3200 the dies failed and every single other coin was melted. What remains is the ONLY circulation strike example in existence of the Medium Relief design, and it is a major prize for any world class collection.
This very example came from Mint Director Raymond T. Baker, given to him by Mint Superintendent Freas Styer in a letter which stated “I beg to submit herewith three Peace Dollars struck from the die in reduced relief…The bright [editor’s note — this coin] and sand-blasted pieces were of the first strike…” This coin was struck on the medal press to bring up the full details of the design. A second example of this die variety was struck on a regular, production press and bears the inked notation “3,200” in the left obverse field. This was the last coin struck before the dies failed.”
Styer of course speaks of the first coin and the last coin, the only ones in existence (Proof and Business Strike formats).
The coin was inked with the number ‘3200’ at the Mint and of course, it is the only example to survive from the entire production run except for the lone Proof.
We have handled some pretty spectacular Silver Dollars in our day, but very few have the historical value of a coin like this.