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Strangely low prices for 1972-S dollars

Sometimes it is hard to know precisely what people are thinking when it comes to prices.

Sometimes it is hard to know precisely what people are thinking when it comes to prices. The average price guide is the work of a usually well-meaning individual who sometimes gets information from a variety of sources. You mix all that information together a little like making a milkshake and out comes a price. It is perhaps not a perfect science, but it is the best way we have at present at producing reasonably accurate prices.


This method is not foolproof. Nor do prices always reflect the true supply and demand situation. Sometimes big buyers bid up available supplies. Sometimes big sellers who need cash right away dump coins on the market for less than would be obtainable under normal circumstances.

Let’s now look at the 1972-S Eisenhower dollars. It was the second year of the Ike series and the second year of offering proofs in 40 percent silver and uncirculateds in the same composition to collectors. The reaction to the $10 proof price was particularly sharp. There were letters of protest and threats of boycotts. The uncirculated silver coin was $3.

While complaints about the proof price were loud, they were not effective. Orders poured into the Mint. 4,265,234 1971-S silver proofs were sold. Buyers snapped up 6,868,530 uncirculateds. These big numbers set the stage for events in 1972.

By the second year of Ike offerings, the novelty was gone. Prices still seemed high, especially in light of the fact that buyers of the 1971-S proof lost money on their purchases. It did not take an advanced degree in psychology to expect orders to drop in 1972. They dropped by half, totaling 1,811,631. For the uncirculateds, the fall was greater. The tally in 1972 was 2,193,056.

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If you look at the price of the proof 1971-S you will find it now listed at $11 in Proof-65. The lower mintage 1972-S proof is $9. For the uncirculated, the lower mintage 1972-S is the same $15.80 as the 1971-S.

These prices seem to be out of line. Certainly they do not reflect the differences in mintages. Were so many 1971-S coins melted to recover the silver to justify this price? It is hard to see evidence of this, especially for the proof. Silver would have to be over $31.62 an ounce for the silver in the coin to be equal to the $10 issue price.

Besides, there has been no evidence that melting has ever changed relative scarcity between dates. Scarce dates before the melting began remained the scarce dates afterwards in all series.

There is no good way to explain the price except to suggest there is not enough demand for any Ike dollars to dry up the supplies of proof 1972-S Ikes. The proof can be priced at $9 until silver soars, or more collectors notice that they can acquire a lower mintage coin for less money. Just when such a time will come is a difficult question, but if you are looking to buy a 1971-S or 1972-S Ike, choose the scarcer one.

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