Modern coins are hot, and nothing is stoking the fire like Mint State Eisenhower Dollars! Previously ignored, IKEs have taken their rightful place besides Peace, Morgan, and other large U.S. dollar cartwheels in the hearts and minds of collectors.
Several factors explain the exploding popularity of Mint State Eisenhower Dollars. Of course, the wildly successful statehood quarter program is creating a large class of new numismatists. Looking for related series, many of these new collectors are finding that Eisenhower Dollars definitely fit the bill.
Existing collectors are also jumping aboard this runaway train. The series is relatively short, just 21 pieces. This makes assembly of an entire set well within reach. However, there are surprisingly few higher-grade pieces. The Mint struggled with strike and other quality control problems when producing Mint State Eisenhower Dollars. From a collector’s point of view, there are millions of ugly BU pieces, but there are only a handful of true gems. As collectors build their sets, they are beginning to realize the scarcity of truly nice pieces, and the competition for Gem IKEs is intensifying. The discovery of the marvelous peacock hoard, with their intense royal purple, gold, and red colors, and other toned masterpieces, have led to a chase for these pieces in the highest grades. Prices for beautifully toned MS66 and MS67 copper-nickel IKEs are off the charts. These pieces truly have become modern classics.
Nothing has fueled the popularity of Eisenhower Dollars and other modern coins like the PCGS Set Registry. The Registry program allows collectors to rank their sets on-line by average grade and to compare their sets with other sophisticated collectors of the same series. As this article was written, 35 Eisenhower Dollar sets were registered, 17 being complete. As registrants seek to complete their sets, upgrade, and as new collectors enter, demand for better pieces soars. Set ranks can be viewed by clicking here.
Building a Mint State Eisenhower set with a top-five ranking would require an initial investment of many thousands of dollars and additional amounts to retain that ranking over the years. This is a task for only the most serious of the series’ collectors. However, it is still possible to enter the game at respectable levels for only modest cost.
Presented here are three plans. The Basic collection can be completed for well under $1,000 and would likely place in the top 25. The Intermediate collection would cost less than $1,500 and would yield a top 15 set. The Advanced collection would cost just over $3,000 and would probably enter in the top ten. With a few upgrades to the Advanced collection, a top five set is within reach.
There are three categories of Mint State Eisenhower Dollars to consider when planning a set composition.
The first category is the five silver pieces. Minted from 1971 to 1975, these coins have the highest average quality. They can normally be collected at the MS66 to MS67 level without undo expense. The best quality is found in the 1972s, where MS68 pieces typically trade at about $125. The 1973s and 1974s are only a little harder to find. The Bicentennials minted in 1975, but dated 1976, are much tougher, with MS68s trading for over $1,000. But the most difficult, grade for grade, is the 1971. No PCGS MS68 pieces exist. MS67 pieces typically trade for over $400.
The second category is the five key date copper-nickel pieces. In order of rarity these include the 1972, the 1971, the 1976 Type 1, the 1973, and the 1974. No MS67s have been graded by PCGS for any of these dates. MS66s are difficult and expensive, with only the 1973 and 1974 being occasionally available. Collectors often seek these pieces in MS64 or MS65.
The last group is the eleven more common copper-nickel pieces. While condition rarities in MS67, they can usually be found in MS65 to MS66. The two most difficult dates are the 1972-D and the 1976-D Type 1. The remaining pieces would be considered common dates.
The table illustrates three possible sets with typical prices. Use these levels as a guide only. Prices are increasing rapidly in the highest grades. Even in the near future, prices may well be higher than indicated. Prices also represent the author’s view of typical pieces at auction. Dealers who sell Eisenhower Dollars often seek and sell premium quality coins. These often sell at a premium to auction prices. As an eye is developed for what constitutes premium quality, it may be beneficial to consider paying more for such pieces.
The Basic set can be assembled for just over $500, and has an average grade of 64.90. This set would currently rank in the top 25. Each coin is typically priced under $50. All the coins are gems or better with the exception of the five key copper-nickel dates and the more expensive 1972-D for which MS64s are proposed. The set is very suitable for a young numismatist, an adult beginner, or any collector with a limited budget. The coins are beautiful and have appreciation potential. Select the pieces carefully, especially the MS64s. Look for those pieces with attractive toning, and good strikes. Don’t worry too much about bag marks, as they will be there on these large coins. Pay attention to eye appeal, eye appeal, and eye appeal.
Currently, the Intermediate set can be assembled for about $1,335 and has an average grade of 65.61. This set would now rank in the top 15. Each coin would typically cost less than $100 or so. Each piece is a gem except for the key 1971, 1972, and 1976 Type 1 dates, which are MS64s. This collection would appeal to the same type of collector who finds the Basic set appealing. The major difference is cost. If the cost is manageable, start here rather than with the Basic set. The main attraction is that more of the pieces are next to highest in grade. For example, the 1973 can be acquired for about $65 in MS65, while an MS66 coin would cost about $750. As the price of an MS66 piece climbs into the $1,000 range, many more collectors will be compelled to seek the MS65s. This will make them targets for a $100 or more value. Similar logic applies to the 1971-S, the 1974, and the 1976-S.
The Advanced set is ideal for a collector who can invest $3,000 to $4,000, and who wants to enter with a magnificent collection. Each piece can reasonably be acquired for under $500. Most are far less. With an average grade of 66.14, this set would rank in the top ten. Three of the pieces are currently highest in grade. These are the 1971-S, the 1973-S, and the 1974-S. Most of these pieces have excellent appreciation potential if the popularity of the Eisenhower Dollar continues to grow. From this set, it is a short step into the top five. The most logical upgrades going forward include the 1973 and 1974 in MS66 at about $750 per piece, the 1976-S in MS68 at about $1,200, and the 1976-D Type 2 at about $1,500.
Whatever level is collected, be assured that the result will be a beautiful and satisfying set of coins in the finest collector’s tradition of U.S. dollars.