Good News for Numismatics

December 22, 2020


By Patrick A. Heller

First, the good news. Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed H.R. 6192, referred to as the 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act. The bill had previously passed the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote. It is now on its way to the president and expected to be signed into law.

You can read the text of the bill and view other details here.

The legislation calls for the U.S. Mint to issue 2021-dated Morgan and Peace silver dollars to honor the 100th anniversary of the final year of Morgan dollar and first year of Peace dollar mintages. The size and metal content of the coins would match that of the original Morgan and Peace silver dollars. Unlike most legislation for numismatic coins, this bill does not specify any mintage limits.

By tradition, the U.S. Mint has been limited to issuing two different commemoratives annually in recent decades to avoid the problem of a plethora of different issues that appeared in the mid-1930s. Previously, laws had already been enacted for the 2021 commemoratives for astronaut Christa McAuliffe and for the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum. So, in 2021 there will now be three different commemorative coin programs.

The bill specifies that the coins will be treated as numismatic legal tender coins rather than as bullion issues. It also states that the coins have at least a 90 percent silver content, as the original Morgan and Peace silver dollars were made of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. If this is the metal content for the 2021 coins, they would not qualify for inclusion in Precious Metals Investment Retirement Accounts. However, the language in the bill would permit the Mint to strike these coins of pure silver, which could make them potentially includable in Precious Metals IRAs.

Although there are no official statements, it is anticipated that 2021 Morgan and Peace silver dollars will be struck at the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco mints, all of which struck original Morgan and Peace dollars. It is also possible that some of the 2021-dated coins may bear privy marks to commemorate past Morgan dollars struck at the Carson City and New Orleans Mints.

Expect that the 2021 Morgan and Peace dollars will be struck at least in uncirculated and proof condition. It is entirely possible that other versions may also be produced, such as burnished, reverse proof or enhanced reverse proof finishes. Stay tuned for developments.

This bill was not the original legislation proposed for the 2021 Morgan and Peace dollars. The version that was passed was introduced into Congress on March 11, 2020. The legislation was championed by Thomas J. Uram, who is current chair of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), and Mike Moran, who also serves on the CCAC.

The original bill for 2021-dated Morgan and Peace silver dollars was introduced in Congress on July 15, 2019. In my Nov. 10, 2019, column for Numismatic News, I forecasted that these issues would be one of the most popular of all modern U.S. commemorative issues since 1982. Further, I also projected that 2021-dated Morgan and Peace silver dollars would spark great interest among the general public into becoming coin collectors. I continue to expect that these coins will be a major hit with both existing numismatists and with the general public.

As a consequence, I consider it quite possible that prices of the original Morgan and Peace silver dollars will increase from current levels. Prices already started to rise after the original bill was introduced in July 2019. Prices have again increased with the surge in the silver spot price over the past nine months. Despite the price increases that have already occurred, I expect the bulk of the price increases for older U.S. silver dollars will occur in 2021.

Not every recent development is positive for numismatics and precious metals. Next week’s column will discuss worrisome news in the precious metals market. In the meantime, I hope that readers are safely enjoying the holiday season.

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