How Much Are Silver Dollars Worth? - Eisenhower Dollar Value January 07 2016

Silver Dollar Value Guide

If you're looking for an Eisenhower dollar price guide and don't want to read the full article, click the link or scroll down.  

 

In previous articles, we've explained how to value earlier series of U.S silver dollars, like Morgan and Peace dollars (produced 1878-1935) as well as Trade dollars (1873-1885).  In today's article, we're going to discuss a more underappreciated dollar coin—the Eisenhower dollar.  

As you might guess from the name, Eisenhower dollars were created to commemorate President Eisenhower, whose portrait is featured on the obverse.  

Eisenhower was selected in part because of his Republican party affiliation.  Congress agreed that the Mint needed a "right-wing" coin to balance out the recently-created Kennedy half dollar.  

The coin's reverse features the Apollo 11 insignia, in commemoration of the first moon landing.  The coin's designer, Frank Gasparro, was ordered to change his original design of the eagle because it was "too fierce and too warlike."  He reluctantly modified the eagle's expression to make it look friendlier.

Originally struck from 1971 to 1978, Eisenhower dollars (or "Ikes") were the first large-size dollar coins to be produced by the U.S. Mint since the end of the Peace dollar series in 1935.  

But unlike Peace silver dollars, Eisenhower dollars were struck in copper-nickel rather than 90% silver.  

By the 70's, silver prices had risen to a point where striking general circulation coins from silver was no longer cost-effective.  This proved a point of contention for Congress—several congressmen argued that producing base metal coins would dishonor Eisenhower.  

But eventually a compromise was formed.  All Eisenhower dollars produced for general circulation would be struck in copper-nickel, while the Mint would also sell 40% silver dollar coins to the public at a small collector's premium.  

As a result, most Ikes aren't true "silver dollars."  But the upside of that is that Eisenhower dollars are much more affordable than their 90% silver predecessors.  

There are two main designs within the Eisenhower series.  From 1971 to 1974 and from 1977 to 1978, the Apollo 11 design was used for the coin's reverse.  But for 1976, the Eisenhower dollar featured a special reverse design in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial -the Liberty Bell superimposed upon the moon. 

Free Download - Our 20-page Beginner's Guide to Coin Collecting

* indicates required

Enter your email address below to receive our free 20-page PDF guide to coin collecting, including:

  • 5 Rules Every Collector Should Know
  • How to Determine Coin Value
  • How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off
  • How to Grade Coins

Values

(Values derived from the Red Book, the definitive price guide for U.S. coins).  

U.S. Eisenhower Silver Dollar Values

Circulated Condition means a coin with signs of wear or marks, from being circulated/used by the general public.  

Uncirculated Condition means a coin with no signs of wear and bright luster.  

As you can see, most Eisenhower dollars are readily available and are worth little more than face value.  However, there are a few more valuable coins that are well worth keeping an eye out for.  

While all Ikes intended for general circulation were struck in copper-nickel, the U.S. Mint also struck a number of S-mintmark (produced at the San Francisco mint) coins for collectors in 40% silver (each containing 1/3rd ounce pure silver). Not all S-mint Ikes are silver.  

The silver coins can be identified by their lighter color (see copper-nickel vs silver).  A simple way to determine whether your Ike is silver or copper-nickel is the tissue test, as found on the Coin Community forums. 

Simply place a tissue on top of your dollar coin and see whether the color that shines through is darker or lighter.  The coin on the left is silver-clad, whereas the darker one on the right is copper-nickel.  

There is also one copper-nickel variety that commands a premium. The rare 1972 "Type 2" design variety with no mintmark is worth upwards of $30 in all conditions. Type 2 dollars are identified by the details of Earth on the reverse side.   Next to the outline of Florida, there are no distinguishable islands. On the less valuable Type 1 and Type 2 1972 dollars, there are distinct islands in the Caribbean.   

Here's a picture to illustrate the difference: Type 2 is on the far left, followed by Type 1 in the middle and Type 3 on the right.   

 

Outside of the 1972 Type 2 and the silver Ikes, there are no real winners within the series.  Proof coins, with mirrored surfaces, are generally only worth a small premium.  

 

But the lack of keydates means that a nice set of Eisenhower dollars is easily attainable no matter what your budget.  

 

 Last updated 10/27/2016

 

 

Written by Max Breitenbach
Max Breitenbach has been collecting US, foreign, and ancient coins for over a decade, and has been writing about them for nearly as long!  Max is a regular guest blogger on CoinWeek.com.  He is currently working on a collection of European silver crowns and is planning on finishing his US type set sometime within the next century. You can find him on Google+.