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The 1971-D Friendly Eagle Eisenhower Dollar

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Ike Dollar, 1971-D $1 "Friendly Eagle" FS-901 Type 1 Reverse RDV-006, PCGS MS66+. Click image to enlarge.

The Eisenhower Dollar was produced from 1971 through 1978 and includes 32 regular-issue uncirculated and proof coins, not to mention a handful of major collectible varieties. And while a typical collector can assemble the 32-piece set with relative ease for less than $1,000, longtime Ike enthusiasts often go beyond the basics. They also pursue the varieties, and among them is the 1971-D Friendly Eagle Eisenhower Dollar.

This whimsically named coin, officially known as the 1971-D FS-901 Type I Reverse RDV-006 (Regular Strike) Dollar, is arguably the most widely collected variety among the 1971 Ikes. But how do collectors identify the coin? What are its die diagnostics? And what is this 1971-D Eisenhower Dollar variety worth?

Getting to Know the Friendly Eagle

The 1971-D Friendly Eagle Eisenhower Dollar is a variety based on the appearance of the eagle on the reverse, anchored by the Apollo 11 insignia emblematic of the 1969 lunar mission that brought humans to the Moon for the first time. On the coin, the eagle typically has a heavy, pronounced eyebrow suggesting a certain fierceness on the large bird of prey. But a small number of 1971-D Eisenhower Dollars are graced by an eagle with virtually no evidence of a brow line, giving the bird a much more congenial appearance.

To some, the coin may initially blush as simply having some wear on the high points and thus why the brow line is all but absent. But the numismatic significance of this coin is as a true variety, as there are several other diagnostics one can look for when attributing the 1971-D Friendly Eagle. These are some of the more obvious die markers of the Friendly Eagle variety:

  • A rounder Earth than seen on other (Type 2) 1971-D Dollars
  • The Gulf of Mexico appears larger and its northern reaches are more rounded
  • The Caribbean islands form a nearly solid-looking chain
  • The large Moon crater has two debris flow lines between the letters “N” and “E” of “ONE”

The importance of learning these die markers cannot be understated for the Friendly Eagle variety. Not only are they imperative for picking out a true Friendly Eagle specimen versus a normal 1971-D Eisenhower Dollar with heavy wear, but they also help confirm to the numismatic community that the Friendly Eagle is a true and distinct variety born from design modifications and not merely an anomaly caused by heavy die polishing.

Collecting the Friendly Eagle Dollar

The 1971-D Friendly Eagle Dollar is gaining more recognition in the hobby, though it still confounds many numismatists. The dies used to create the Friendly Eagle Dollar are known to have aged rather quickly, resulting in some off features that sometime make the variety’s identification harder. Many pieces also seem corroded, when in fact the appearance of pockmark-like aberrations have to do with the toning accelerated possibly by cleaning fluids or other agents used during the minting process.

There is also some degree of uncertainty regarding mintage and survival estimates for this piece. There are no known mint records pointing to exact production figures for the 1971-D FS-901 Type I Reverse RDV-006. Of a total mintage of 68,587,424 for all Denver circulation strikes that year, perhaps as many as 3% are of the Friendly Eagle variety. That would put the total number around 2 million – scarce, but not nearly as rare as the 500,000 other Eisenhower Dollar experts more conservatively suggest for this piece.

Marketplace prices help shed more light on the economic dynamics of supply and demand for the Friendly Eagle. And this coin is certainly one of the more sought-after varieties among enthusiasts. In About Uncirculated, it garners $25 to $30. Uncirculated examples in PCGS holders take anywhere from $40 to $60 in MS63 or MS64, a grade representing the bulk of Ike Dollars on the market.

It’s in the Gem grade of MS65 where the Friendly Eagle Dollar starts crossing the three-figure threshold, and a smattering of auction prices reflect that. For example, a handful of MS65s took between $104 and $132 in 2019. The following year, in 2020, an MS65 specimen snagged $264 at a Heritage Auctions event. One of the few dozen pieces graded by PCGS as MS66 commanded $504 at a 2018 Heritage Auctions sale, and just two are graded higher at MS66+. To date, none are known in the grade of MS67 or higher – a lofty condition for even the most ordinary Ike Dollars, let alone this relatively scarce collector favorite.

Sources:

Coin Collecting: Basics Eisenhower Dollars (1971-1978)

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