Modern coin collecting can be confusing sometimes with the wide selection of coins to choose from and almost as many opinions about those coins as coins themselves. One can rarely go wrong with a few Eisenhower dollar coins though, an affordable icon of not only American presidential history, but of American conquests to space too.
The First Five Things Any Coin Collector Needs to Know about the Eisenhower Dollars
Any veteran numismatist knows an Eisenhower dollar, “Ikes”, when they see one, but let’s take it back to the basics. Below are five things any coin enthusiasts from long time collectors and dealers to brand new hobbyists needs to know about these iconic American coins:
1. Why was the coin made? The year was 1969. Federal legislation at that time sought to create a circulating dollar coin which would commemorate Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower who had died earlier that year. Also, the coin was meant to commemorate the Apollo 11 space flight, which marked man’s first steps on the moon. The result? The Eisenhower dollar coin. A modified bill was eventually passed on December 31, 1970 and production of the coins began forthwith.
2. What did the coin look like and what was the significance of the coin? The Chief Engraver for the United States Mint, Mr. Frank Gasparro himself, designed both the obverse and the reverse of the Eisenhower dollar coin. The obverse side of the coin bore a profile bust of Eisenhower with inscriptions “Liberty”, and “In God We Trust”, and the date. The reverse side of the coin was actually based on the original mission insignia from the Apollo 11 space flight. The idea to commemorate these two events together was deemed particularly appropriate by Congress since the space program began under Eisenhower’s administration many years ago. The reverse design of the coin featured a bald eagle landing on the surface of the moon, carrying an olive branch, with the Earth visible in the background of the coin.
3. Was that the only style for the coin? No. Though the obverse side of the coin always stayed the same, a different reverse design was introduced for the 1976 Eisenhower Dollar to celebrate the bicentennial of the American Revolution. In fact, many American coins had special versions of their original style made in 1976 for this very reason, and the Ikes were no exception. The design was done by Dennis R. Williams and it featured an image of the Liberty Bell and the moon both. The second element paid tribute of course to Gasparro’s original design, while the bell was included as a symbol of the liberty and freedom that was fought for in 1776.
4. What was the coin made out of? Eisenhower Dollars were always struck for circulation (meaning they were meant to be used as actual currency) using the copper-nickel clad composition that was very common at that time. This was the same composition used for circulating dimes, quarters, and half dollars in fact. The composition itself consisted of an outer layer of 75% copper and 25% nickel, bonded to a core of pure copper metal. The resulting net composition was 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel all said and done.
5. Was that the only composition? No. Actually, as provided by the authorizing legislation that was put in place when the coin was first approved, Eisenhower Silver Dollars were struck for collectors. To start with, a quantity of 150 million silver dollars was authorized for production over a four year period of time. These coins had an outer layer of 80% silver and 20% copper and an inner layer of 40% silver and 60% copper, a very common combination for collectible coins of that era. The resulting net composition was 40% silver and 60% copper, with a total silver content of 0.3161 troy ounces per coin.
The Eisenhower dollar coin had multiple styles it was issued in. Of particular interest to the consumer was both a proof and BU Eisenhower coin that each contained ninety percent silver. The commemorative ninety percent silver dollar was first minted in 1990 years after the Eisenhower series was ended. Never entering circulation, these styles of the coin were reserved particularly for collectors and are cherished.
Eisenhower dollar coins, whether the ones made for currency or the collectible ones, are a treasure of the nation’s mint and a warm remembrance of a great president and a huge space achievement. Different Eisenhower coins fetch different prices depending on the rarity of the coin, but all in all these are a must for novice collectors and veteran numismatists alike.