HomeUS Coins1978 Eisenhower Dollar : A Collector's Guide

1978 Eisenhower Dollar : A Collector’s Guide

1978 Eisenhower Dollar. Image: CoinWeek.
1978 Eisenhower Dollar. Image: CoinWeek.

As the Philadelphia Mint Prepared to Strike Susan B. Anthony Dollars, the Final Eisenhower Dollars Were Struck

The United States Mint recognized that the large size of the one dollar coin was suboptimal if the coin was to see widespread circulation and acceptance in vending machines. The Eisenhower dollar measured 38.1mm in diameter and was the same size as the standard silver dollars struck by the Mint from 1840 to 1935. Then, the large dollar coins and many of America’s subsidiary coins were struck on planchets that were made of .900 fine silver.

The Coinage Act of 1965 marked a departure from silver coinage on the dime and quarter, and called for the production of a debased 40% silver half dollar. By 1970, the Mint had come to realize that producing half dollars in silver was a mistake. This was apparent in the wording of the legislation that authorized the production of the Eisenhower dollar, as the bill called for the production of copper and nickel-clad coins for circulation and 40% silver-clad coins to be struck solely for collectors. That same bill called for the half dollar to be struck in copper-nickel as well.

Without the intrinsic value of silver, the coin’s large size was owed more to tradition than practicality. True, casino interests found the coins an ideal replacement for the silver dollars that once poured into their slot machines, but for the rest of America, the Eisenhower dollar was a novelty coin at best, and a government boondoggle at worst.

1978 (P) Eisenhower Dollar

By the summer of 1976, work was well underway to rethink the future of American coinage. In its Comprehensive Review of U.S. Coinage, the Research Triangle Institute contemplated the elimination of the cent, the introduction of a two-cent coin, and the introduction of a “more convenient-sized” one dollar coin.

The “more conveniently sized” one-dollar coin went from a think tank idea to the subject of Congressional interest by the end of the decade. In 1978, Congress held numerous hearings regarding a change in the size and design of the dollar coin. In July, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the United States Senate filed its report and proposed a bill to authorize the production of a small dollar coin bearing the likeness of Susan B. Anthony. Anthony beat out a number of other historical figures for the coin’s obverse, including Corps of Discovery member Sacagawea. Sacagawea would replace the stern-faced suffragette as the face of another dollar coin debacle.

This was the climate under which the last of the Eisenhower dollars of 1978 were made. The United States Mint struck 25.7 million Eisenhower dollars at the Philadelphia Mint. On December 13, 1978, the striking of the first Susan B. Anthony dollars marked the end of America’s last large circulating dollar series.

How Much Is the 1978 Eisenhower Dollar Worth?

Although it’s been 45 years since the final Eisenhower dollars were struck, these durable coins can still be acquired in circulation. Larger bank branches will occasionally have a few on hand – but these coins are typically worn. Bag and roll quantities of the coin still persist, but these are infrequently encountered.

Circulated 1978 Eisenhower dollars are worth a small premium over their $1 face value. Uncirculated examples are also plentiful. A common source for these coins is the 1978 United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Set. 2,006,869 of these sets were sold and each one contains a single example of every circulating coin struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. These sets carried an issue price of $7 and today are worth about $15. A loose uncirculated 1978 Eisenhower dollar typically sells for $5 to $7 on eBay.

Collectors particular about the quality of their coins may prefer to buy examples that have been graded by one of the three major grading services: CAC, NGC, or PCGS.

In Mint State 65, the 1978 Eisenhower dollar is worth about $18, 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. Mint set coins tend to have the best strikes, but this is a trend and not a rule. In MS66, the 1978 Eisenhower Dollar sells for about $80.

The coin is conditionally rare in the grade of MS67 and recent auction records indicate that at this level, this issue has a value of approximately $5,000. With the appearance of new coins in the condition census, expect this price to soften somewhat. CAC-approved coins, especially those of extraordinary quality for the grade, will bring substantial premiums over these guide values.

Design

1978 Eisenhower Dollar obverseObverse:

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.

Reverse:

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”.

Edge:

The edge of the 1978 (P) Eisenhower Dollar is reeded.

Designer

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).

Coin Specifications

Country:  United States
Year Of Issue:  1978
Denomination:  One Dollar (USD)
Mint Mark:  None (Philadelphia)
Mintage:  25,702,000
Alloy:  Copper-Nickel (Cu-Ni)
Weight:  22.68 g
Diameter:  38.10 mm
OBV Designer  Frank Gasparro
REV Designer  Frank Gasparro | Michael Collins
Quality:  Uncirculated

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

10 COMMENTS

    • The lack of a mint mark means your coin was struck in Philadelphia. The P mint mark didn’t appear on most circulating coins until 1979/80.

      Unless it’s uncirculated, it has little or no added value above $1.

  1. I have a 1976 lost indicated brilliant uncirculated Eisenhower Dollar numbers on it cereal numbers are as read be a one seven – 00040-029 Liberty with the letter B on it and also on the back it has the Liberty Bell and something else I don’t know what it is but it does have the E PLURIBUS,And the bottom of the Liberty Bell and something else

  2. Sorry it was a voice text and some of the numbers and letters didn’t come out properly. Sorry about that but do you know what I’m talking about?

  3. I have one I need graded that is a mule that has a peacock on Ike . Seems to be Burmese coin mule on Ike ..no need to have sight assistance. As it’s stands out !

  4. I have a 1978 Eisenhower coin with a P under the wing, not D or S , handstruck or what?
    Cant find one like it elsewhere,so someone knows more?

    • Whatever may be under the wing wouldn’t be a mint mark. As the article notes, the mint mark position is on the _obverse_ above the date. In addition the P mint mark didn’t appear on $1 coins until 1979. In any case without seeing the coin it’s impossible to know what the mark might be – maybe post-mint damage, a die error, or some other anomaly. Your best bet would be to take it to a local dealer or coin-club meeting for an up-close examination.

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