The Mint Was Still Refining the Eisenhower Dollar Design in 1972
After one year of development, the Eisenhower dollar was released in 1971. The large dollar coin was struck to honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had died in March 1969 at the age of 78.
The coin was authorized by the Bank Holding Company Act Amendments of 1970, which were signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon. Nixon was a fitting signer of the memorial legislation as he had served for two terms as Eisenhower’s Vice President.
Eisenhower dollars produced for circulation were struck in the copper-nickel (Cu-Ni) sandwich metal that was used to strike all dimes and quarters dated 1965 onward, while special silver-clad versions were struck for the collector market.
The technical challenges of striking large coins in the harder Cu-Ni composition were considerable and throughout the first two years of the coin’s production, it is clear that United States Mint Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro was forced to make a series of seemingly small revisions to the coin in order to correct the deficiencies in his design.
In 1972, these design changes led to the release of three different reverse varieties.
How to Identify the Three 1972 Eisenhower Dollar Varieties
Whitman Publishing’s Guide Book of United States Coins (more commonly referred to as the “Red Book“) lists three varieties of the 1972 Eisenhower dollar. Collectors know these varieties as Types 1-3. Of the three, only the Type 2 is scarce – it was struck with a reverse die that was intended for use on the Proof version of the coin.
In order to distinguish between the three 1972 Eisenhower dollar varieties, you must take note of the shape of the earth and the configuration of the Caribbean islands. The graphic above illustrates the major pick-up points for each variety.
The number of Type 2 coin emissions is not understood with certitude, but contemporary reports of its discovery indicate that small numbers of Type 2 1972 Eisenhower dollars were released in March and then in August 1972. A number of minute die markers have allowed series specialists to differentiate between the two releases and research conducted by the Ike Group revealed that the Mint deployed harder die steel to strike Eisenhower dollars later in the year.
As the 1972 Type 2 commands a significant premium over the more common Type 1 and Type 3 1972 (P) Eisenhower dollars, many dealers and collectors look primarily for the Type 2 coin’s incuse islands and ignore the fact that all three types in grades above MS65 are scarce to rare.
Savvy collectors should take note that due to the Eisenhower dollar’s absence in the 1971 and 1972 Mint Sets, the millions of coins that would have been preserved in Mint State for the issue are simply not available.
Short of a hoard of high-quality 1972 (P) dollars surfacing at some future date, there are no obvious sources for premium business strike Eisenhower dollars from 1971 or ’72, as Mint Sets from each of these years did not include dollar coins.
The CoinWeek video above provides an easy to follow guide to identifying the three 1972 Eisenhower dollar varieties.
How Much Is the 1972 Eisenhower Dollar Worth?
Despite their high mintages, Eisenhower dollars from 1971 and 1972 are less common in Mint State than issues from 1973 onwards. This can be explained by the absence of dollar coins in the United States Mint’s annual Mint Sets. The first Eisenhower dollars to appear in Mint Sets were the 1973 (P) and the 1973-D, which despite that issue’s low mintage (and supposed “key date” status) are actually quite plentiful.
The typical brick and mortar coin shop will have Mint Sets, brown packs (silver-clad Proofs), blue packs (silver-clad uncirculated versions), bicentennial sets (in BU and Proof), and clad Proof Sets, but will not likely have many (if any) uncirculated 1971 or 1972-dated clad business strikes in original rolls. For the 1971 and 1972 issues, barely circulated sliders are plentiful.
In terms of strike and quality, muted luster, average-to-weak strikes, and heavily marked planchets are the norm. The typical 1972 Eisenhower dollar in uncirculated grades will rise to the level of choice but go no further. The typical choice BU example does not possess much eye appeal.
The series specialist is likely to be persnickety when it comes to paying premiums for the 1972 Eisenhower dollar. While raw coins will generally trade for $5 to $10 for Type 1 and Type 3, eBay listings of uncertified Type 2 coins typically fall in the $80 to $100 range. Be advised that many sellers purporting to offer 1972 Type 2 Eisenhower dollars do not know how to properly identify them.
Professionally Graded 1972 Eisenhower Dollars Are More Valuable
As is the case with most modern coins, the 1972 Eisenhower dollar is at its most valuable when it has great eye appeal, is in a high state of preservation, and has been authenticated and graded by one of the three major grading services. Typically, the highest prices realized are for coins that have been graded by PCGS and approved by CAC. In 2023, CAC launched a new grading service at its Virginia Beach location. In time, the market will indicate whether the premium that exists for PCGS + CAC coins takes precedence over the CAC graded coins.
CAC had encapsulated only 25 1972 Eisenhower dollars at the time of publication (November 2023), but has applied their green oval sticker to 173 coins. The 173 coins were predominately graded by PCGS.
NGC’s census data shows 1,802 Type 1, 1,028 Type 2, and 1,767 Type 3 grading events. For Type 1, NGC reports 23 grading events at MS66 and one at MS66+. For Type 2, NGC reports 62 at MS65 and only 2 at MS66. Type 3 has a similar grading dispersal as Type 1, with 685 at MS65, 48 at MS66, and 2 at MS66+.
PCGS has graded more 1972 Eisenhower dollars than the other two services. For Type 1, PCGS reports 3,426 grading events with 623 at MS65, 19 at MS66, and 2 at MS66+. For Type 2, PCGS reports 2,924 grading events, with 153 at MS65, 12 at MS66, and 1 at MS66+. We have personally handled the MS66+ piece and it is remarkable. For Type 3, PCGS reports 3,373 grading events, with 694 at MS65, 51 at MS66, and 4 at MS66+.
Of course, these numbers do not represent the majority of all surviving 1972 Eisenhower dollars. In time, these populations will increase at all levels- but do not expect a sudden explosion in high end coins.
Gasparro’s portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower (as President); Eisenhower facing to the left. Gasparro’s initials “FG” appear raised in the bust truncation. Beneath Eisenhower’s chin, to the left, is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” LIBERTY wraps around the top of the coin in the space between the rim and the top of Eisenhower’s head. The date wraps around the bottom of the design, between the rim and the bottom of Eisenhower’s bust truncation. While Philadelphia-struck pieces bear no mintmark, coins struck at Denver and San Francisco will bear small mintmarks of “D” or “S” above the space between the last two digits of the date. On Eisenhower dollars, mintmarks were hand-punched and may vary in exact location and orientation.
The reverse is based on Michael Collins’ Apollo 11 mission patch design.
In the center, a bald eagle in descent. In its talons, an olive branch. Its left wing is raised. The lunar surface lies below. Above the eagle’s head is a depiction of the Earth. North America is prominently visible. Wrapping around the top of the coin adjacent to the rim is the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” Thirteen small five-point stars circle around the eagle. Below the ring of stars but above the eagle is the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Wrapping around the bottom of the design is the denomination “ONE DOLLAR”.
The edge of the Eisenhower dollar is reeded.
Frank Gasparro was a friend to numismatists and served as Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1965 to 1981. View Designer’s Profile.
|Year Of Issue:||1972|
|Denomination:||One Dollar (USD)|
|OBV Designer||Frank Gasparro|
|REV Designer||Frank Gasparro | Michael Collins|
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