Eisenhower dollars were never popular as circulation coins, but collectors have a great opportunity to find rarities when cherry-picking them for errors, varieties and high grades.
Mitchell Spivack, owner of Wondercoins, San Clemente, Calif., and an expert on modern U.S. coins, said Ike dollars are being overlooked on the market.
“There is a number of cherry-picking opportunities with this series,” he said. “No one’s looking for them. Chances are 50-50 that if you go to a coin show and ask to look through mint sets from 1971 to 1978, they’ll never have been cherry- picked through. This translates to good opportunity for an Ike dollar collector or a Young Numismatist to learn about the series.”
One area of searching involves finding Ike dollars with rare errors and varieties, he said.
“There are all sorts of interesting varieties in the Cherrypicker’s Guide,” he said. “There are a lot of doubled dies that are valuable.
“For instance, PCGS has graded only 11 Prf-69DCAM (deep cameo) examples of the 1973-S silver proof FS-101 doubled-die obverse Ike dollars.
“In a Heritage Auctions sale in August, there was a unattributed 1973-S silver proof Ike dollar in a PCGS Prf-70DCAM holder on sale. But the catalog noted it was an FS-101 doubled die as well.”
“It sold for $2,585, the same as a normal 1973-S silver proof in PRF-70DCAM. The winning bidder resubmitted it to PCGS to be attributed. It’s now the finest known, population one PRF-70DCAM 1973-S FS-101 Ike dollar. This is a coin where a PRF-69DCAM FS-101 is worth 10 times a non-variety example.”
Another area of searching involves finding rare high grade Ike dollars, he said.
“With clad proof Ikes, the 1971 to 1976 Type I clad proof Ike is elusive with monster deep cameo surfaces,” he said. “I say monster deep cameo because there is a range of deep cameos.
“If you took 100 Prf-69 DCAM Ike dollars, you’d pick out a couple with stand-out deep cameo surfaces. Most would fall in the middle of the deep cameo range, with some below and some above in quality, with only a few exhibiting that monster deep cameo.”
How does one identify a monster deep cameo Ike dollar? It takes a lot of practice and comparison, Spivack said.
“The collector will have to go date by date to understand the nuances of each Ike dollar,” he said. “No one date is like the other. It’s necessary to go out there and see 50 to 100 proof Ikes. Then you can compare and contrast the depths of the cameo fields.”
Some clad proofs to watch out for include 1973-S, 1974-S and 1976-S Type I Ikes, he said.
“These dates with deep surfaces are few and far between,” he said. “A 1976-S Type I Ike dollar in Prf-69DCAM is a $30 to $40 coin. The same coin in PRF-70DCAM is worth at least a $5,000. In just those two grades, PCGS has graded 14,052 Prf-69DCAM 1976-S Type I Ikes and only eight Prf-70DCAM.”
For silver proof Ike dollars, look for deep cameos with the 1971-S and 1976-S Ikes, he said.
“For the 1976-S silver proof Ike, you’ll find many where the reverse isn’t deep cameo, but the obverse is,” he said. “You’ll want one where both sides have deep cameo surfaces.”
When searching clad business strike Ike dollars, the coveted grades are MS-66 and MS-67, he said.
“With the 1976 Type I clad Ike, there are only two dozen in MS-66,” he said. “Clads will be by far the most difficult to cherry-pick. After looking at hundreds of them, you’ll see the average grade is MS-63 to MS-62.”
As for uncirculated silver Ike dollars searching, some dates are common in one grade where other dates are rare, he said.
“The 1972-S, 1973-S, 1974-S and 1976-S silver uncirculated Ikes are easily obtainable in MS-67,” Spivack said. “The 1971-S is different, though, where MS-67s are rare. Finding an MS-68 1971-S silver uncirculated Ike is a holy grail. In all my searching over 30 years, I’ve never found one. There are just three graded at PCGS.
“Collectors will also want to look for MS-69 1972-S to 1974-S silver uncirculated Ike dollars, as well as the 1976-S in MS-68+, another holy grail coin.”
With a multitude of error, variety and grade rarities, the Eisenhower dollar series offers collectors a lot to learn and look for.
For more information on Ike dollar coins, visit The Ike Group at: http://www.ikegroup.info/?p=1