Eisenhower Dollars, also called “Ikes” or “Eisenhower “Silver” Dollars, were a series of coins minted annually between 1971 to 1974 and 1975 to 1976. As the name suggests, the coins were struck to commemorate the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Apart from his face in profile, the first four years of coins included a tribute to the Apollo 11 Mission with an eagle flying over the moon holding an olive branch, while the bicentennial design of 1975 included a picture of the Liberty Bell.
Although the coins are sometimes referred to as “Silver Dollars”, the majority of the series for circulation were actually composed of copper-nickel, and indeed were the first dollar coin minted in the United States without containing a precious metal. Confusingly, the Mint did produce a series of Eisenhower Dollars that did contain silver – 40 per cent worth – but they were only designed as collectors’ items. These “Ike Silver Dollars” were all struck at the San Francisco Mint during the years 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1976. They were designed to be uncirculated or proof coins, and include the “S” mint mark on them. Even more confusingly there was an error at the production of the coins at the Denver Mint in 1974, 1976 and 1977 where the “Ike Silver Dollars” were struck with the “D” mint mark and subsequently released for circulation.
While at the time the circulated coins and the uncirculated coins were both mistakenly referred to as “silver dollars”, today most coin valuers and dealers will tell you that there is an easy way to tell them apart, and that’s by their weight: the “Ike Silver Dollars” are heavier at 24.59 grams, while the circulated copper-nickel coins weigh in at just 22.68 grams. Another quick and easy way to distinguish between the two types of coins is to check to see if the coin has been worn away – this will undoubtedly be because it has been in circulation.
It is always a good idea to get the advice of a professional valuer or grader when you’re considering the question, how much is a silver dollar worth. The “Ike Silver Dollar” is a very collectable coin for several reasons. Its rarity, and the fact that it commemorates both a popular President and the extraordinary feat of man landing on the moon makes it a special and valuable coin. In terms of value on today’s market, a collector needs to consider two elements: one is the coin’s intrinsic or “melt” value, and its numismatic value. Its melt value is dependent on the market silver price (for example, at this moment it is worth just over $10 US), while its numismatic value will be dependent upon its condition, its rarity and whether it is a Proof. Don’t forget, also, that if you do happen to find a circulated, copper-nickel Eisenhower Dollar then it is still worth collecting as people can pay more than face value for them (sometimes up to $3), especially if it has remained in relatively good condition.