Between 1971 and 1978, the United States Mint released a $1 coin with President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the obverse. Commonly called “Ike Dollars”, these coins did not see much popularity. Because of their bulky size, Americans tended to associate them with 90% Silver Dollars, such as the Morgan or Peace Dollar.
Eisenhower Ike Dollar Die Varieties (1971-1978)
After the aborted Peace Dollar coinage in 1965, Congress mandated that no more silver dollars be coined for a period of five years. As this restriction ran out in 1970, the owners of gambling casinos were lobbying for dollar coins to replace the ones lost to silver hoarders.
An omnibus bill passed at the end of that year provided for the elimination of all silver from the half dollar and production of a new dollar coin that was likewise to be of the copper-nickel-clad composition.
These dollars were of the traditional size and bore a portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the late president and Army general. The reverse carried a reproduction of the Apollo XI emblem, both Eisenhower’s passing and the first moon landing having occurred in 1969.
Designed and sculpted by U. S. Mint Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro, the Eisenhower Dollar debuted in the fall of 1971. The circulating edition of the ” Ike” Dollar, though it did answer the needs of casinos, was otherwise a flop with the public.
During its eight years of production, it enjoyed the same obscure status as the half dollar and was a coin rarely seen outside of areas where gambling was legal. The 1973 Eisenhower Dollar was produced solely for collectors, and there were no dollars dated 1975.
The entire production that year was devoted to a combination of back-dated 1974 coins and those bearing the dual bicentennial dates 1776-1976. These featured a distinctive reverse design by Dennis R. Williams of the Liberty Bell superimposed over the moon.
The Eisenhower Dollar series has recently found a wide base of support. The primary focus is on collecting all of the Eisenhower Dollar varieties, dates and mints, in high grades. For several issues, such examples of varieties are quite elusive. Eisenhower Dollars were, for the most part, poorly made.
The Philadelphia Mint Ike Dollars are especially challenging to locate on good planchets and free of numerous or heavy marks. The silver-clad collector editions of 1971-74 and 1976 Eisenhower Dollar varieties, as well as the proof coins, are likewise quite popular.
There exists a small but devoted corps of Eisenhower die variety enthusiasts, and the most desirable die varieties are recognized by NGC. The 1971-S proof Eisenhower dollar with doubled-die obverse is a highly prized rarity. Also popular are the three reverse sub-types of 1972 Eisenhower Dollars. The Wiles book is quite comprehensive, but most of the remaining Eisenhower Dollar die varieties are minor and of interest primarily to specialists.
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