Collecting the Eisenhower Dollar
Issued from 1971 to 1978, the Eisenhower Dollar commemorated an important figure and a significant event from American history. The series is appreciated by many collectors for its standing as the last large sized dollar coin issued for circulation and the conditional challenges of finding high grade examples of the copper nickel clad issues.
The obverse design of the coin features Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was the supreme commander of allied forces in Europe, a five star general of the United States Army, and the 34th President of the United States. Following his death in 1969, plans were formulated to place his likeness on a circulating coin. The reverse design commemorates the moon landing, which had also taken place in 1969. The design is based on the mission insignia patch from Apollo 11.
Designs for the Eisenhower Dollar were both rendered by Frank Gasparo, who was the chief engraver at the United States Mint. A few years earlier, he had also designed the Kennedy Half Dollar.
Collecting the Eisenhower Dollar can be an achievable goal even for beginning collectors. Although the series had a duration of only eight years, multiple coins struck for collectors and major varieties make a basic set comprise 32 different coins. This will include 40% silver versions struck at the San Francisco Mint for 1971-1974 and 1976, as well as the Variety 1 and Variety 2 reverse types for the 1976 Bicentennial issue. A slightly greater challenge can be found in adding the three different reverse varieties found for the 1972 Eisenhower Dollars. The type 2 reverse is scarce and drives a premium.
A more challenging endeavor is to assemble a higher grade collection of coins. A combination of factors makes high grade examples of the copper nickel clad circulation strikes extremely elusive. For some issues, even examples graded MS65 can be a challenge. Collectors seeking to form Registry Sets with all circulating coins graded MS66 or higher will need time and a large budget to accomplish their goal.