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It now pays to like Ike

“I like Ike” was a fresh and effective political slogan when I was very young. It helped elect World War II Supreme Allied Commander Dwight David Eisenhower to the presidency of the United States twice.

After he died in 1969, a new dollar coin struck in his honor persuaded many collectors to like Ike in 1971.

But we liked Ike because we were desperate. The early 1970s were a wasteland. Collectors hardly new what to do with themselves.

The circulation finds pattern of collecting had been upended by the Coinage Act of 1965 and the rapid disappearance of anything dated earlier in change.

Sure, nickels might be turned to. Theoretically they went back to 1938. However, by 1971 most collectors could just shake their heads over the sheer numbers of 1964 and 1964-D coins that they encountered. Any interesting cents in change had been vacuumed up by active collectors by the time the coinage act passed. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

Along came Ike.

The Congress approved both a circulating copper-nickel clad coin and collector versions made of 40 percent silver.

I and many others faithfully bought both the 1971-S silver proof in a brown box and the 1971-S silver uncirculated in a blue envelope.

The magic quickly faded and by 1973 those of us who were still faithfully ordering were fewer in number but we were rewarded with a proof silver issue that was thought to be scarce.

But even for those of us who were loyally buying each and every collector issue from the Mint, the numismatic romance just wasn’t there.

Where I went to a bank in 1971 to get uncirculated examples of the first year of the clad issue, by 1972 I had decided it was too much trouble to make the effort.

What if I had taken the trouble?

Fast forward 40 years and a phone call I received from a coin dealer yesterday who was trying to sort his 1972 Philadelphia pieces according to the Low Relief, High Relief and Modified High Relief listings in Coin Digest.

Could I help?

I couldn’t. I told him so. I said I would give him a call back when I could explain the differences. Later, I did so.

Thank goodness for the Internet.

One more thing: I decided I had better learn to like Ike again. Price differentials for those 1972 coins are significant.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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