The 1977 Eisenhower Dollar – Apollo 11 Reverse Resumed
With America’s Bicentennial celebrations in the rearview mirror, the quarter dollar, half dollar, and dollar reverse designs reverted back to their regular designs. For the Eisenhower dollar, that meant the return of Frank Gasparro’s sculptural rendition of Michael Collins’ Apollo 11 mission patch.
While most people associate NASA and the moon missions with President Kennedy (and rightly so), it was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act into law in 1958. Eisenhower was a strong supporter of America’s space program and accelerated the government’s spending on programs, such as the Saturn rocket. Eisenhower died on March 28, 1969, nearly four months before the Apollo 11 moon landing captivated the entire world.
Seen in that context, Gasparro’s Eisenhower dollar obverse and reverse design makes sense together. This was indeed the legacy this great man left a grateful nation. The final moon landing took place in the second year of the Eisenhower dollar’s production. Americans didn’t know it at the time, but it would be fifty years and counting before another humanity set sights on again walking on the lunar surface.
1977 was not a year without a major space achievement, however. In 1977 the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft launched, putting in motion an odyssey of human space exploration to the fathers reaches of our solar system.
How Many 1977 Eisenhower Dollars Were Made and What Are They Worth?
Despite the Eisenhower dollar’s unsuitability for circulation, the Philadelphia Mint struck 12,596,000 coins in 1977. 2,006,869 of this total were packaged in the annual Mint Set. In Uncirculated condition, the 1977 Eisenhower dollar has a retail value of about $3.00 – $4.00.
Certified examples in high grade can carry a significant premium. Considering that the typical Mint Set Uncirculated example has grade-limiting dings and scratches, finding an example of sufficient quality to justify certification is unlikely without examining dozens, if not hundreds, of Mint Sets. The typical grade of a Mint Set coin is MS63.
Terminal Grade for certified coins is MS65, with the typical MS65 example selling at or below the cost of certification. In MS66, the 1977 retails for between $55 and $70 depending on quality. The top certified grade for this issue is MS67. MS67 coins come in a wide range of quality, and this date is plagued with coins that were bulk graded at this level several years ago. These examples tend to be of poor quality for the date and will not CAC. A CAC-quality 1977 can sell for more than $2,000 with superlative toning and clean surfaces.
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 and below Eisenhower’s neck. 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 1977 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:
|Frank Gasparro | Michael Collins