ZanzibarCoins's Blog

17 Aug 2019

The Eisenhower Dollar Part Two

Young Numismatists Exchange | ZanzibarCoins

All right, here's part two! Last blog post, I covered the events that led up to the release (and creation, for that matter) of the Eisenhower dollar coin. This blog post, I shall cover the first four years of the coin's production. Part three shall cover the last four years, and the coin's replacement with the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. (so sad, but that does make the set an easier one to collect, it only running for eight years.) So here we go! :)

On January 25th of 1971, the Philadelphia Mint struck two prototype dollar coins. However, these prototypes were quickly destroyed. But, it is important to note that collectors have found at least two 1971-S dollar coins that have been certified as prototypes. So they are out there... :) It turned out that striking such large pieces of the copper-nickel composition, which turned out to be rather tough to strike, ended up destroying Mint dies. Therefore, Gasparro repeatedly used the "Janvier reducing lather" to lower the relief of the circulation strikes, and the uncirculated silver clad coins. However, this resulted in quite a loss of detail with the lowered relief of the design. The proof coins that were struck in San Francisco remained in high relief though, thankfully. They are absolutely gorgeous. I have several, my favorite of which is my 1973-S DC Proof. Sooo pretty! :) In 1971, and much of 1972 (until better quality steel was used for the dies), the uncirculated strikes have a lower relief, and a less detailed surface, in comparison with the proof coins. This is in part because proof coins are struck slowly, and multiple times, to ensure that full detail is brought out.

The official striking of the dollar coins began in Denver on February 3rd, without any ceremony whatsoever, apparently. Minting at Philadelphia began early in the year as well, although Q. David Bowers does not record a specific date, in hiscomplete encyclopedia of silver and clad dollar coins. The first coins in 40% silver, with anuncirculated finish, were struck at the San Francisco Assay Office (which is now the San Francisco Mint) on March 31rst of 1971. Mary Brooks (the Nixon Administration's Mint Director,who was the one who began the push for a new dollar coin)operated the presses there for a ceremony. The first coin struck was presented to Mamie Eisenhower, the second to David Eisenhower (The Eisenhower's grandson), and thethird to David's father-in-law, who was, in fact, President Nixon.

The first proof strikes took place in July, in SanFrancisco. The proofs were sold in a plastic holder inside a special brown box with a gold eagle seal. The uncirculated pieces were encased in pliofilm inside a blueenvelope. Theywere dubbed "brown Ikes" and "blue Ikes," and thenames havestuck to this day. Sales of these first coins were ended on October 8th, and the coins were mailed to collectors on October 14th, Eisenhower's birthday. The circulationstrikes of the dollar coin (which is the largest clad coin ever issued by the US Mint)became available to the public through banks, beginning onNovember 1rst of 1971. Many were hoarded by collectors, and there was initially such a demand for these coins that many banksended upplacing a limit of onlyone coin percustomer. The clad coins were struck from coinage strip purchased by the Mint from contractors, so many were not very well-struck. This meant that many collectors purchased rolls of the coins in order to search for better specimens. An oily film was found on many of the coins as well. This oily film was cleaned off by collectors. There was initially great public interest in the new dollar coin, yet from the very start the coins completely failed to circulate. In 1976, a Treasury study that was done in conjunction with a private-sector firm found out that the Eisenhower dollar had an almost 100% attrition rate. This means that a coin is only used in one transaction, then it simply fails to circulate after that. (To give you a comparison, or a frame of reference, if you will, the attrition rate of the quarter is practically zero) The reason for this was because of the coin's bulky size, its heavy (for a coin) weight, and the lack of potential uses for it. Now, the gamblers and casino owners in Nevada quickly found a use for it, replacing private-issue tokens. It was popular at the casinos, and among collectors of course, but almost nowhere else.

The Mint ended up striking more than 125 million Eisenhower dollars in 1971, which more than doubled its largest annual production for a dollar coin. And yet, despite the increased mintage of over 170 million in 1972, and despite what the CoinAgemagazine called "near-heroic measures on the part of the Mint," the coin still simply "refused" to circulate. As proof of this, in a 1974 CoinAgemagazine article, Clement F. Bailey remarked that "the circulation value of the coin has been nil." Many Eisenhower dollars were put aside as souvenirs by non-collectors, instead of being spent. The silver coins, on the other hand, sold so well, that Brooks warned, in October of 1971, that orders for 1971-S proof dollars would not all be fulfilled until far into 1972. She attributed the delay to both the large public demand for the coin, and to production difficulties, which she indicated had been corrected. More than 11 million 1971-S silver pieces were sold, in proof and uncirculated, and nearly 7 million of these were in proof. Treasury Secretary John Connally, when testifying before a Senate committee in May of 1972, stated that the profits that the Mint had made off of the silver version of the dollar coin were "just unconscionable." (unconscionablemeans "not right or reasonable")The average profit off of a silver coin was 3.89$, and he expected the profits to increase as the production became more efficient.

However, in 1972, the sales dropped to just under 2.2 million uncirculated pieces and 1.8 million proof pieces. The Mint had such a supply of the coins to release into circulation, that in 1973, they didn't strike any, except ones to be included in mint sets (this was the first year that the Eisenhower dollar coin was included in them actually.) The 1973 coins were, in theory, only available through the mint sets. However, 1973 and 1973-D coins are known in the circulated condition, which leads to the theory that, after the Mint failed to sell as many mint sets as they had anticipated, they release the 230,798 coins into circulation, instead of melting them all, as they said they did. Either that or people decided to spend their dollar coins out of their mint sets, but hopefully not. That would just be a shame. However, John Wexler, Bill Crawford, and Kevin Flynn, in their volume on Eisenhower dollars, cite a letter written in 1974 by Roy C. Cahoon, the Assistant Director of the Mint for Public Services. This letter states that all of the 1973 Ike dollars from unsold mint sets were melted down. The 1973-S coin was stuck for inclusion in base-metal proof sets, as well as for the regular "blue Ikes" and "brown Ikes." But, the sales of the part-silver coins dipped all the way down to a total (both uncirculated and proof combined) of just under 2.9 million.

The coin was struck once again for circulation in 1974, and it was also included in mint and proof sets, and was available in both proof and uncirculated silver clad from San Francisco. Interestingly, Congress ordered that some of the money from the sale of the 1974-S silver pieces would be used to support Eisenhower College in Seneca Falls, New York. Many coin collectors thought that this set a bad example, but despite that, about 9,000,000$ was paid to the college between 1974 and 1978. However, even after the money from the Mint, the college closed their doors in 1982.

I hope that this blog post was interesting, and that y'all learned something from it! Look for part three to come soon, covering the Bicentennial Issue and the Eisenhower Dollar's final years and its replacement. :) (I've been working on this one for a while by the way, I did all my research earlier, that is why I put out two blog posts somewhat close together time-wise) :)

Bibliography:(It's basically the same as last time, but I'll put it here just in case.) :)

Eisenhower Dollar - Wikipedia,

The Red Book,2018 edition,

Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia- Q. David Bowers,

Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins- Walter Breen,

Coin World Almanac,

The Authoritative Reference on Eisenhower Dollars-John Wexler; Bill Crawford; Kevin Flynn,

A Guide Book of United States Coins 2014 - R.S Yeoman,

And, My Collection of Eisenhower Dollars (it is not quite complete yet, but I'm almost there!) :)


Just Mokie

Level 5

I think the Dollar sized coin for general circulation never really took hold in this country at any time, sure they were popular in the sparsely populated rocky mountain west but not popular anywhere else. So giving a sop to the casino industry was ill advised and probably the result of some Congressional backroom horsetrading. I like the new small sized dollars and wish they would circulate but they never will unless we eliminate the paper Dollar and according to recent government studies, eliminating the paper Dollar and using the minted Dollar will not save any appreciable amount of money due to factors that were not extant when earlier studies showed the opposite.


Level 4

Congressional backroom horsetrading..... That is actually kind of what happened. Basically the biggest pusher for the bill was pushing it because it would help his states casinos a lot. I would've loved to put all of that in the blog, I just didn't have room for it. Wikipedia has a nice story about that in their Eisenhower Dollar section, if you want to check it out. :)

Liberty Walking makes a good point. The Ike Dollar was only a glorified casino token at best, and to the average American felt like carrying 5 extra keys in their pocket. Thankfully the good ol' 38mm dollar lives on in modern commemoratives.

Mike B

Level 6

Many coins did not catch on. If we don't like our coinage we can get rid of it. Not ever coin catches on. We collect what we like. And just because we don't like them does not mean they don't have value. They do. So coins have short sets but they catch on. Only now is the Piece. Dollar getting respect and catching on.. It depends on collectors what they like. The last of the large dollar. The end of an era.. I wrote a email about Civil war tokens. The buyers are dropping of left and right.I know.why greed. Some.collectors bought sets for a few hundred dollars. Now forget it. Not slabed forty dollars and poor quality. The last three years I predicted the number for sale will go up. . And they have next year seven thousand will be for sale.unfortunately they priced me out and thousands more.. Broke my heqrt. Three hundred and five hundred I'm sorry there not wothbitbMr. Bowers. Thanks sorry for getting of point. I did write them to the Society. They don't seemed fazed at all. That's scarry

Mike B

Level 6

Very informative blog I like IKE. I like the large dollars made of good metal . I do not like the small dollars . But The IKE'S are very underrated.. Most people buy the mint sets and proof sets and put a few sets together. Uncirirculaded fifty years of both P & D sell for 399.00 the proof 499.00. Not both at once. But one then the other. Save!! But once you start don't give up. That's my motto. When you put that last coin in the set you will have a smile you will never forget. Thanks. Good research.

I think we should go back to a big dollar coin, cuz people will complain either way, so why not please collectors?


Level 5

It is too bad the dollar coin never caought on.


Level 4

I couldn't agree with you more. I love this coin. :)

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