The 1973 Eisenhower Dollar Was a Non-Circulating Legal Tender Coin
Production totals of Eisenhower dollars for the first two years of the series were enormous: a combined 116.38 million circulation strike coins in 1971 and a combined 168.44 million circulation strikes in 1972. While there was a good deal of collector enthusiasm for the Ike dollar, there was no practical need to circulate the large clad dollar coin. By 1973, it was apparent that the Eisenhower dollar would not fare any better than the Morgan and Peace dollars that preceded it.
For the 1973 issue, the United States Mint decided to forego striking additional dollar coins for circulation and instead produced two million from each mint for the purpose of inclusion in the annual Mint Set.
The Mint reported a total production run of two million 1973 Mint Sets. Ultimately, 1,769,258 sets were sold and the remaining 230,742 1973 (P) and D-mintmark Eisenhower dollars were destroyed. This has long been the published accounting for what happened to the remainder. However, an unconfirmed sighting of an open mint bag of 1973 Eisenhower dollars at a Florida coin shop was reported several years ago by Ike Group member Brian Vaile several years ago. If true, that would mean at least some small portion of the unpackaged mintage was released into circulation. Given that the issue is rarely encountered in circulated grades, CoinWeek assumes that any such emission would have been in very small numbers and quite probably, accidental.
Without the benefit of this explanation, it is easy to look at the mintages for each issue in the series and consider the 1973 and the 1973-D as “key dates”. They are not. Much scarcer in Mint State are the Philadelphia issues of 1971 and 1972, with the 1972 Type 2 reverse being the scarcest of all business strike coins in the series.
1973 Eisenhower dollars differ from 1971 and most 1972 circulation strike dollars in that they were struck from dies using hardened 52100 die steel, as opposed to the W-1 die steel used at the beginning of the coin’s production term. As a result, coins struck with the harder dies were more sharply struck, especially in early and middle die states. The die sinking issue that was also common on the left side of the obverse was also greatly reduced.
The limited production run and method of distribution of 1973 Eisenhower dollars has yielded few significant die varieties or mint errors. Collectors of so-called “Peg Leg” varieties may want to keep an eye on “OK” Peg Legs for the date. OK stands for “Off at the Knees”. The R on LIBERTY on this Peg Leg is so polished that half of the base of the R is absent.
What Is the 1973 Eisenhower Dollar Worth?
The 1973 Eisenhower dollar carries a face value of one dollar, but the coin was never intended to circulate as such. While the 1971-S and 1972-S silver-clad coins were sold at high premiums to collectors, the Cu-Ni clad Eisenhower dollars were intended to be used in commerce as one dollar coins. The 1973 issue was different. It was the first Cu-Ni clad Eisenhower dollar released only in collector sets.
Interestingly, the 1973 Eisenhower dollar was also the first dollar coin to be issued in the Mint’s annual Uncirculated Coin Set. With the inclusion of two dollars face value of new coins, the price for the sets increased from $3.50 in 1972 to $6.00 in ’73. Today, a 1973 United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Set sells for about $18. Individually, ungraded 1973 Eisenhower dollars sell for about $8 a piece.
In Mint State 65, the 1973 Eisenhower dollar carries a retail price of about $25 according to CoinWeek IQ’s current market analytics. This low price does not reflect the difficulty in cherrypicking Gem-quality Eisenhower dollars of this issue in the wild. The quality of coins in mint sets varies dramatically and Choice Uncirculated examples (MS63) are not uncommon. In MS66, the 1973 Eisenhower Dollar sells in three strata. For non-CAC certified examples, MS66 coins sell for a range of $400-$450 at auction. This is a higher price level than we reported two years ago. High-quality specimens in MS66 with CAC approval can bring prices in excess of $600. Superlative examples with CAC approval and PQ toning will bring prices of $1,000 or more, and are highly coveted.
Up until the mid-2010s, MS66 was the top pop grade for Eisenhower dollars. Since 2016, a slow-but-steady trickle of coins have been certified by PCGS at MS66+. The record price paid for one at public auction was $7,637.50 from the Sonoran Monsoon Collection, which was built by former Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr. Shirley built an impressive collection of U.S. dollar coins, but the quality of his top pop Ike dollars was surpassed by coins assembled by at least three rival collectors: Wang, Weaver, and Oskam.
The finest example that exists, according to our census, is the Sego-Weaver specimen, a CAC-approved MS66+ coin with plus eye appeal and fantastic toning. That coin was sold as part of a collection in 2017 in a Private Treaty sale.
Gasparro’s portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower (as President); Eisenhower facing to the left. Designer Frank 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 1973 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:||1973|
|Denomination:||One Dollar (USD)|
|Mint Mark:||None (Philadelphia)|
|OBV Designer||Frank Gasparro|
|REV Designer||Frank Gasparro | Michael Collins|
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