By Bullion Shark LLC ……
Eisenhower dollars, issued from 1971 to 1978, were the first dollar coins issued since the Peace dollar series ended in 1935. Eisenhower dollar coins are also the only circulating cupronickel dollars that are the same size as classic silver dollars, and the last dollar coins that include some silver.
They were struck in three versions: copper-nickel for circulation and both Uncirculated and Proof 40% silver coins with a total silver content of .3162 ounces per coin.
Eisenhower dollars were issued to honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who is depicted on the obverse, and the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, which is alluded to on the reverse. Both sides were designed by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro, best known for designing the Kennedy half dollar reverse and the Lincoln cent Memorial reverse from 1959 to 2008.
In 1969, Mint Director Mary Brooks was interested in reintroducing a dollar coin for circulation, but congressional legislators were split on the matter. Then former President Eisenhower died on March 28, 1969, and a bill was introduced to issue Eisenhower dollars without any silver content, as at the time silver prices were rising and the 40% silver Kennedy halves issued since 1965 were becoming expensive to produce. Others supported silver Eisenhower dollars.
Legislators reached a compromise to strike clad Eisenhower dollars for commerce and Eisenhower silver dollars made of 40% silver for collectors. 150 million silver dollars were authorized, while the clad coins would be made in larger quantities. Support for that compromise was aided by the fact that Eisenhower’s widow, the former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, said her husband liked to give silver dollars as gifts and by legislation that said the new coins would also honor the moon landing
Gasparro was asked to design the coin, using a sketch he had made of Eisenhower during the 1945 parade celebrating the Allied victory as the inspiration for the obverse design, while the reverse was required to be based on the Apollo 11 mission patch designed by astronaut Michael Collins. Gasparro’s initial design included an eagle that the Mint Director found too aggressive, so he made it look “friendlier” in a modified design.
While the Uncirculated and Proof Eisenhower silver dollar coins were made to high standards and sold in blue envelopes and brown boxes, respectively, the clad coins did not strike well, which led some collectors to purchase rolls in search of better-quality coins.
Initially, there was strong demand for the new dollar coins but they never circulated as widely as other modern dollar coins had. The Eisenhower dollars were widely seen as too large, heavy, and bulky for use in commerce but were widely used in casinos in the West where they replaced tokens.
Collectors liked the coins while they were produced, but then interest faded until the late 1990s when demand surged, especially for high-grade examples of the scarce die varieties and doubled die coins. Renewed interest also led to the emergence of groups of collectors and experts on the series like the Ike Group, which maintains a useful website.
Because of large numbers of 1971 and 1972 clad dollars issued (over 100 million and 150 million struck respectively), no coins were needed in 1973, and those were the first Eisenhower dollars issued exclusively in mint sets.
However, over the years 1973 and 1973-D coins have been found in circulation, which has led some to speculate that the 230,798 coins that were supposed to be melted after the mint sets did not sell as well as anticipated were released into circulation despite correspondence from Mint officials indicating that they were melted.
Eisenhower Dollar Values
It is not difficult to acquire a complete set of date and mint marks of the Eisenhower dollar series, which can be had in Mint State for about $300 in MS60-63 and $675 in MS65. It becomes much more expensive in MS66 for certain dates, which runs almost $7,000.
With the numerous varieties that exist, a full set would cost about $500 in MS63, $2,200 in MS65, and $20,000 in MS66. But this does not include the ultimate variety: the 1976 No S Proof with one known example, which is worth $850,000 for a PF66!
As for types coins, a clad MS65 runs $22, an MS66 $65, and an MS67 runs about $1,400. Keep in mind only three dates are available in MS66 for the type price. The rarest, the 1972 Type 2, runs $10,000 in that grade.
A complete set of Proofs costs more at about $6,148 in PF68 and $9,700 in PF69 but lower-grade examples cost much less.
Eisenhower Silver Dollar Value
Mint State examples of the 40% silver dollars from 1971-S to 1974-S are common through MS67-68 depending on the date – with the main exception being 1971-S that is worth $385 in MS67 and $6,500 in MS68. And all of them are valuable in MS69, the top grade, commanding between $3,000 and $9,000 depending on the date.
The 1976-S is common through MS67 at $75 and then hits $300 in MS68, the highest grade.
As for silver Proofs, they are readily available through PF69 with a complete set in that grade running $200.
A type coin runs $38, while in PF70 expect to spend at least $525 and more for some dates. The 1976-S is $1,500 in PF70.
1971 Eisenhower Silver Dollar
Although tens of millions of this date were made, the coins did not strike well on coin presses that dated to World War II and were not included in mint sets. Examples graded MS65 are worth $100, while MS66 runs $625.
1971-D coins struck better than most of the clad Mint State coins (as well as 1976-D), so this coin is $2 in MS65, $65 in MS66, and $1,400 in scarce MS67. Also, with this series, the Denver coins usually look much better than the Philadelphia issues.
1972 Eisenhower Dollar
There are three varieties of the 1972 coin based on differences in the reverse design’s depiction of the earth with Type 1 being the most common, Type 2 being the scarcest, and Type 3 being scarce in grades of MS65 and higher.
Type 1 coins have a flattened earth with Florida pointing to the southeast. Type 2 coins have a rounder earth, and Type 3 is like Type 2 but with two islands to the south of the Florida peninsula.
1972 Type 2 is the series key made by mistake using reverse dies intended for Proof coins. Only eight of them have been graded by PCGS at MS66 out of a total reported population of 2,504 coins. Most collectors will want an MS63 or 64 at $150 and $200, respectively.
1974 Eisenhower Dollar
1974 and 1974-D are among the more common dates in Mint State until MS66 when the first runs $225 in that grade and an amazing $18,500 in MS67. For the 1974-D, it is $110 for MS66 and $1,400 for MS67.
Proofs for this year are very common through PF69 where they are worth just $24. However, they reach an impressive $8,000 for a PF70.
1976 Eisenhower Dollar
No coins dated 1975 were issued because in that year and in 1976 a special U.S. Bicentennial coin was issued with a reverse that features a Liberty bell superimposed on the moon designed by a young art student, Dennis R. Williams. Because the clad version of that coin was not striking well, there was a halt in production in order to make changes to the dies. Type 2 examples have lettering on the reverse that is narrower and sharper than the Type 1 coins. Over 200 million bicentennial dollars were made.
Clad bicentennial dollars in Mint State are much rarer in high grades than Proof clad coins that are common through PF69. Except for 1976 Type 1 that is worth $1,500 in MS66, most of the others are $55 in that grade, and all are rare in MS67 – especially the 1976-D Type 1, which is worth $11,500.
Eisenhower dollars can be collected as a basic Mint State and Proof set on a budget, or one can cherry-pick for rare varieties and high-grade examples that offer great potential. Keep in mind that the variety attribution for this series is quite complex. Collectors should obtain good reference materials and consult dealers as even graded examples can have errors in their variety attribution.