During the late 1960’s, Congress began debating
the coining of silver dollars once again, largely at the request of Las
Vegas casino moguls
wanting real coins to replace their dollar-sized tokens.
The bill did not finally become law until
December 31, 1970. In the
meantime, anticipating the eventual passage of the bill, Mint Director
Mary Brooks instructed Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro to get busy
preparing models for the Eisenhower Dollar coin. Gasparro portrayed a
left-facing profile of “Ike” on the obverse.
While This Coin Was Minted...
The Bicentennial of the United States was a major cultural event. Official Bicentennial events began on April 18, 1975. President Gerald R. Ford came to Boston to light a third lantern at the historic Old North Church, symbolizing America's third century. The next day was the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Revolutionary War. A wave of patriotism and nostalgia swept the nation throughout the Bicentennial era. The US Mint issued special quarters, half dollars and Eisenhower Dollars, dated "1776-1976." The celebration on July 4, 1976 was immense. Festivities included elaborate fireworks displays in the skies above major American cities and the ringing of bells. The ceremony in Washington, D.C. was presided over by President Ford and televised nationally. The nation's official Bicentennial Logo, shown above, was a familiar sight to all Americans throughout the mid-1970s.
The first Eisenhower Dollar coins were struck in
1971. Ike dollars bound for general circulation were composed of
the same copper-nickel clad
alloy used in dimes and quarters. Special Eisenhower Silver Dollar
coins containing 40% silver were also produced and sold for a premium
in both Proof and Uncirculated. These were the only “Ikes” minted
in San Francisco. The slang for the Proof version was “Brown Box Ike”
because of the packaging color. The Uncirculated version was called the
“Blue Box Ike”. Beginning in 1973, the San
Francisco Mint also coined a proof edition of the clad alloy for
inclusion in the regular proof set.
All Ikes made in 1975 and 1976 carry the dual
date 1776-1976, in observance of the Bicentennial celebration. Thus,
there are no dollars dated 1975. Dollars struck in 1975 can
easily be distinguished from those produced in 1976, despite the fact
they both bear the identical dual date. Numismatists therefore classify
1776-1976 dollars as Type I and Type II. The Type I dollars (seen
above) have the design in low relief and bold, flat lettering on the
reverse. Type II has a sharp design and the
thinner and more contoured. Taking into account the two design types,
the metallic diversity, and mint marks, there are eight different
varieties alone of the 1776-1976 dollars to collect.
The regular design returned in 1977, but it didn't last much longer. In
1978, the last of the Eisenhower Dollars were minted. The coin never
did catch on, and was considered a failure by many at the time of its
retirement. However, for those wanting to see a winning dollar coin,
another contestant was about the enter the arena: the Susan B. Anthony
Dollar. Federal officials were so certain the “Susie B’s" would win
over the hearts and minds of the American consumer.
If you make an uninformed decision and purchase an Eisenhower Dollar coin that is overgraded, you'll be sorely disappointed when you go to sell. It won't bring near the money you thought it would. Buyers of Eisenhower Dollars with an eye toward reselling at a much higher price should concentrate on the list above, making sure the Ikes they're considering have earned their high grades from PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS, or are being sold by a dealer of high reputation.
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