1.(These official government distribution figures, while having the ring of precision, are believed to be approximate.)
Final 40% silver issue: The 40% silver Eisenhower dollar made its final appearance this year as regular issue coinage, with Uncirculated and Proof specimens made available to collectors in the three-piece Bicentennial sets.
The authorizing law required the Mint to finish striking the silver Bicentennials by July 4, 1976. Up through mid-June or so, they were struck in small quantities and packaged immediately to avoid handling and/or spotting. With time running out and sales poor, the Mint decided to coin the last seven million or so Uncirculated sets on high-speed presses and bag the coins against unlikely future sales. However, sales jumped up in 1979 when silver shot up and the .53792 troy oz. of silver in one set became worth more than the bulk sale price, and packaging resumed.
The 40% silver dollars of this year are all of the Variety I style. Beginning next year, 1977, the silver would disappear once more from America's coinage, not to reappear until the commemorative issues of the early 1980s.
Coinage was overly optimistic, and it is believed that many were melted, although exact figures are not known.
The white-strip clue: Eisenhower dollar specialist Dave McHenry noted this:
1976-S Variety I: Mint State coins were sold only as a part of Mint sets. Today, specimens are usually seen one at a time, rarely in quantity. If a coin comes from a Mint set with a white strip on the cellophane, it will usually be of high quality. If it comes from a set without a white strip, it will usuallybe very bagmarked. The Proofs of this issue are usually of very high quality, with nice brilliance.
Certification: Fewer Proofs of this 40% silver issue have been third-party graded than one might expect. As of January 1993, PCGS lists just 230 pieces in all grades from Proof-63 (one piece) to Proof-69 (one piece). A total of 80 coins were at the Proof-66 level.
The grading submissions for the Uncirculated coins of this date outnumber those of Proof coins nearly 4 to 1. More than 800 pieces have been certified, including 469 MS-66 coins, 120 at the MS-67 level, and one graded higher, an MS-68 coin.
VARIETY I: Issues of 1974-1975 THICK, ROUND LETTER O's.
1776-1976-S silver clad. Issued through 1982 in three-piece Uncirculated or Proof sets with quarter
and half dollar.
VARIETY I: Issues of 1974-1975 THICK, ROUND LETTER O's. 1776-197608 silver clad.
SILVER CLAD, VARIETY 1
Enabling legislation: Act of July 23, 1965 (clad metal), Act of December 31, 1970, Act of October 18, 1973, Act of December 26, 1974, and others.
Designer of obverse: Frank Gasparro.
Designer of reverse: Dennis Williams.
Weight (silver clad): 379.512 grains (tolerance 4%); outer layers of .800 silver, .200 copper bonded to inner core of .209 silver, .791 copper:
Melt-down (silver value) in year minted: According to The Coin Dealer Newsletter for 1975, silver spent almost the entire year at the $4 to $4.99 level, with one dip below $4 ($3.99 in the December 12 issue), and one surge above the $5 level ($5.16 in the August 8 issue). The melt value of a 40% Eisenhower during 1975 ranged from $1.26 to $1.63. During 1976, the range was $1.22 to $1.58.
Dies prepared (approximate): Obverse: 43; Reverse: 22.
Business strike mintage: 11,000,000 of which 4,294,081 were distributed.
Comment on availability, MS-65 or better: Common, but not as common as lower grades.
Comment on availability, MS-64: Common, but not as common as lower grades.
Comment on availability, MS-63: Common.
Comment on availability, MS-60 to 62: Common.
Comment on availability, VF-20 to AU-58: Very few
of this date are found in circulated grades, as few individuals wished to spend a premium and then spend a coin for face value.
Characteristics of striking: Usually well struck. Known hoards of Mint State coins: No bag hoards are currently known, although this date is frequently available in lesser quantities.
Dies prepared (approximate): Obverse: 1,305; Reverse: 933.
Proof mintage: 4,000,000 of which 3,262,970 were distributed.
Comment on availability, Proof-65 or better: The vast majority of Proofs are in this category.
Comment on availability, Proof-64: Scarcer than above, but still common.
Comment on availability, Proof-63: Scarce.
Comment on availability, Proof-60 to 62: Scarcer yet.
Comment on availability, less than Proof-60: Scarce, as relatively few Proofs have been damaged.
Gem Proofs are readily available. Gem Mint State coins are somewhat scarcer, but are still common.