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Little Ike joins collector coins

For 44 years I have been able to write about the Ike dollar. Nearly everybody knows about the large clad cartwheel that was introduced in 1971, almost two years after the death of the former Supreme Allied Commander and President of the United States.

Next week that will change.

On April 13 the U.S. Mint will begin selling the small golden colored Presidential dollar honoring Dwight David Eisenhower in bags and rolls.

At that point, collectors will have two individual Ike dollars.

How will we choose to refer to them?

For a time, I could probably get away with references to the Ike dollar and most collectors would still know I was referring to the older one.

However as time passes, that simply won’t work.

The Ike dollar of 1971 was a coin of a number of firsts.

It was the first U.S. dollar made of base metal, using the standard clad alloy of dimes, quarters and half dollars.

It was the first dollar to be struck in 40 percent silver.

The silver version was also the trail blazer as the first collector-only composition.

Up to that point, U.S. collector coins were made of the same compositions as the standard circulating coins.

Some might argue that honor belongs to the 1970-D Kennedy half dollar. While this coin turned out to only be available in collector mint sets that year, it still reflected the unity of collector coin with circulating coin composition even as no circulation strikes were released to the banking system.

Collectors will look at the new Presidential Ike dollar and evaluate it.

Is the portrait better than what is on the copper-nickel clad Ike?

I think it is.

But there will be others who will disagree with me.

The Presidential coin has a smaller diameter than the clad Ike.

Perhaps hobby shorthand references will become Big Ike and Little Ike.

We collectors like nicknames.

We also don’t want to have to type out the long names the Mint has been assigning to its products in recent years so they can be copyrighted.

In that we are no different than the American people of the 1950s who wore the “I like Ike” buttons for the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections.

Spelling out the full Eisenhower name would have been too formal and it would have required a bigger button.

It would be correct to refer to the clad dollar as General Eisenhower as Frank Gasparro said it was a portrait based on his look in the 1945 World War II victory parade.

The portrait on the Presidential coin is, well, presidential.

General Ike and President Ike might be historically correct names for the coins, but neither one has a ring to it.

I might even refer to coins from the Ike series to distinguish the older ones from the Presidential series.

However, as I write this I am warming more and more to Big Ike and Little Ike.

What do you think?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."