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W.S. Coin, Inc.
Collecting Eisenhower Silver Dollars
(Today's Sleepers)

Obverse designed by Frank Gasparro, Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.

                      A Great General & A Great Walk

The reverse of the 1971 to 1974 Ike Dollar and the Susan B. Anthony Dollar is an adaptation of the Apollo 11 insignia. This insignia was designed for the Apollo moon mission in July 1969. Astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the lunar surface for the first time. The Eisenhower Presidency and the American Eagle Landing are both celebrated on this coin.

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Some Background & A Few Rumors

The 1971 to 1974 Ike Collector Dollar is 40% silver. The 1971 to 1978 circulating business strike is copper-nickel in composition.

A study done at the time by the General Accounting Office reported that the government would save around 318 million dollars in annual printing cost of $1.00 banknotes. The 4.6 billion $1.00 bills in circulation wear out every 17 months and must be reprinted at the huge cost of 2.6 cents each.

A copper-nickel dollar will last 30 to 40 years in circulation, about twice as long as a silver dollar and a copper-nickel dollar only cost .06 to .07 cents each to mint.

In modern times the general public has resisted carrying dollars and who can blame them, fifty copper-nickel dollars weigh around 4 lbs. and will even tear the bottom out of Levi pockets. In most cities you can't even buy a cup of coffee with a buck and enough to have a couple of drinks would destroy your suit pockets. Who needs them?

So Why Would Congress Authorize Their Minting?

Rumor has it that Congress was heavily lobbied to produce coins for the Nevada gambling industry (special interest groups) called Don's by some.

So, from what rumors I have heard they had their lobbyist and governor talk to the powers that be and the Ike dollar business strike was born. The U.S. Mint produced uncirculated Silver Ikes and Silver Proof Ikes to make a few bucks themselves.

The uncirculated silver Ikes were minted starting in 1971 through 1974 as individual coins. They were originally shipped in blue envelopes. This method of containing and shipping them gave them a new industry name - "Blue Ikes". They came in several grades, ranging from MS60 to MS68 depending on their condition when sealed in their soft sheet of plastic. Along with the Ike dollar, a cheap looking round flat blue plastic button, that said "Eisenhower Dollar" was included.

The 40% composite silver and copper coin weighs 24.59 grams. They worked perfectly in the slot machines.

Both the copper-nickel and silver blanks were not finished very well, so most of the business strikes look, when new in rolls, as if they had been circulated for at least a year. I have yet to find one that truly looked like an uncirculated coin due to the scratched metal the blanks were made of. Nobody in Congress was paying any attention to the business strike products the mint was turning out so they didn't either.

Patchy Looking Silver Proofs

The Silver Proof Ikes from 1971 to 1974 were shipped in big brown boxes, so they were called Brown Ikes.

The amount of frost on the 71-74 Ike proofs are from patchy looking to deep frost (about 2%), most being from patchy to light frost. Book prices on all years and mint mark type Ikes run from $2.00 to $20.00. Book prices are for run of the mill Ike Dollars.

However, this can be very deceiving, if you think you can really purchase a (MS67 or MS68) high grade or highly frosted Ike proof for book prices. High grade slabbed Ike silver coins run from $40.00 to $60.00. Unslabbed raw uncirculated silver Ikes in higher grades, such as MS66 to MS68 can run as high as $60.00 to $70.00 when and if you can find them.

Bicentennial Ikes

In 1975 and 1976 the bicentennial Ike dollar made it's appearance and in a storm of varieties. These Ike coins, like the Washington quarter and the Kennedy half dollar came with dual dates 1776-1976. The bicentennial 3-piece sets were minted and came in envelopes (uncirculated) and the proofs came in a colorful cardboard blue folder. The coins came in their own individual plastic cases. The proof coins in the bicentennial folders also came very lightly frosted to deep heavy frost.

Medium frosted 1776-1976 Kennedy halves and Ikes are quite common and bring a decent premium over the general run of the mill proofs, especially if they have deep black mirroring fields (highly reflective) out of new dies.

Because the government plastic cases were improperly sealed, most Ike Proofs you see are spotted and milky looking. Don't buy them, most dealers won't buy them from you.

After 1976 no more Ike silver uncirculated coins or silver proofs were produced, just copper-nickel clad business strikes and their counterpart proofs.

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The Great 1979 Silver Meltdown

Nobody knows the number, but millions of 40% Ike dollars and proofs, 40% Kennedy halves, and Franklin halves and proofs were sold to refiners, who melted them, refined them, and then turned them into .995 silver commodity bars.

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