Eisenhower Dollar (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 varieites, as well as the proof coins, are likewise quite popular.

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