Besides removing silver from the quarter, dime, and nickel, the Coinage Act of 1965 also mandated that no new silver dollars could be coined until 1970, at which time the need for the denomination would be reevaluated.
That “need”, apparently, came from an unexpected source: Nevada gambling casinos. Though small numbers of silver dollars were kept as “rainy day” money by non-collectors who had lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War, large dollar-size tokens largely replaced dollar coins at casinos after 1965. Yet gambling patrons preferred the real deal.
The March 1969 death of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the former Supreme Commander of Allied forces invading France and two-term United States president–as well as the eight-day historic lunar mission and landing by the Apollo 11 crew in July 1969–prompted an October 29, 1969, bill in the House of Representatives that proposed a dollar coin commemorating both events. While U.S. Mint Director Mary Brooks lobbied for the coin to be struck in silver, Congress instead chose to strike the coin for circulation in the same copper-nickel (Cu-Ni) clad composition in use for the dime and quarter dollar. In a compromise, silver-clad versions were authorized to be struck and sold to collectors.
Signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon (Eisenhower’s Vice President) on December 31, 1970, the Bank Holding Company Act Amendments of 1970 authorized the production of the coin.
(Incidentally, the amendments also authorized the General Services Administration (GSA) to sell 2.8 million Carson City Morgan dollars from the vaults of the United States Treasury.)
1974 marked the resumption of Eisenhower dollar coin production for circulation. After a robust output of a combined 285 million coins in 1971 and 1972, the Mint limited production of the unwieldy denomination in 1973 to coins for the 1973 Uncirculated Coin Set.
The Treasury must have anticipated increased demand for the coin in the leadup to the Bicentennial and in 1974, 27,366,000 Eisenhower dollars were produced by the Philadelphia Mint and 45,517,000 were struck in Denver.
1974-D Eisenhower Dollar
Continuing a trend that began in 1971 and would continue for the duration of the series’ run, the quality of the D-Mint coins is almost always a notch above their P-Mint counterparts. The typical 1974-D that you find in the wild will feature an average-to-above-average strike, dull-to-satiny luster, and will grade between MS63 and MS65. Mint Set coins have the potential of grading better, but your best bets for quality are unopened bags and fresh rolls. Although some P-Mint coins come with a “lacquered” luster, we have not seen D-Mint coins with this characteristic.
Certified populations at PCGS and NGC tell the story of how difficult it is for knowledgable submitters to land the 1974-D in Superb Gem grades. As of November 2019, PCGS reports 1,239 examples in MS64, 2,744 in MS65, and 641 in MS66. Much scarcer is the 1974-D in MS67, with just 33 examples graded, five of which are in MS67+.
NGC reports a larger submission sample size, but the results are in line with what we see at PCGS with 405 examples in MS64, 6,821 in MS65, 701 in MS66, and 12 in MS67, one of which is an MS67+.
The highest price paid at auction for a 1974-D Eisenhower dollar is $4,935, which was paid in August 2016 for a non-CAC example with goldenrod toning. Numerically, this coin is tied with the finest known, but it is our opinion that this is not the finest of the MS67/MS67+ 1974-D Eisenhower dollars. Finer examples likely sit in the Oskam and Wang collections. The 1974-D that was formerly in Troy Weaver’s set is also nicer.
Despite the coin’s scarcity in grades above MS65, the 1974-D in MS66 is affordable. Recent auctions show a range of prices between $45 and $85. Cherrypicking for quality, one can get a coin nearly worthy of the MS67 grade for pennies on the dollar. For a series as notoriously tough to find nice, who wouldn’t enjoy the thrill of that hunt?
Frank 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 1974-D 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:||1974|
|Mint Mark:||D (Denver)|
|OBV Designer||Frank Gasparro|
|REV Designer||Frank Gasparro | Michael Collins|