The Eisenhower Dollar series ran for just eight years inclusive, from 1971 through 1978, yet it yielded a respectable number of collectible varieties. Among the most popular are three different reverse varieties among the 1972 Eisenhower Dollars struck at the Philadelphia Mint. These varieties are primarily distinguished by the design details on the planet Earth as seen within the Apollo 11 Insignia on the reverse.
Collectors have noticed at least three distinct types of designs within the visage of the globe, with differences noted in the arrangement of the Caribbean islands, the shape of the Florida peninsula, and their relationship with each other and the depicted continental land masses. What follows is a study of these three Eisenhower Dollar varieties, how they are identified, what they are worth, and how collectors typically incorporate these amazing varieties within their sets of Eisenhower Dollars.
1972 Eisenhower Dollar Type I Reverse
While all three of the major reverse types show a rounded geographical outline of the United States, the Type I has some geographical flaws in the location of the islands under Florida. Four islands are present below Florida on the Type I, including Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. However, the long, semi-crescent shaped island of Cuba is shown as a barely elongated blob. Meanwhile, Florida is represented by a truncated stump hanging off the rest of the mainland United States. Perhaps these design issues are what inspired Frank Gasparro and the design team to head back to the drawing board.
The Type I Eisenhower Dollar is struck in low relief and is common in circulated grades. However, among Gem Mint State pieces it is the scarcest of the three 1972 varieties. In fact, in the grade of MS65+ or better, the 1972 Variety I Eisenhower Dollar is extraordinarily rare, with PCGS having graded only four examples in MS65+ and 11 in MS66, with none grading higher. In a grade of MS65+ the Variety I trades around $800, while MS66 specimens take more than $2,000.
1972 Eisenhower Dollar Type II Reverse
The 1972 Type II Eisenhower Dollar is the scarcest of the three Ike Dollar varieties examined here and was struck from just one known reverse die. Of the total 75,890,000 Philadelphia dollars produced in 1972, perhaps only 100,000 were made with the Variety II die and fewer than 40,000 are presumed to survive in a state that can be properly attributed. Considering all regular-issue business strikes and proofs as well as major varieties, the 1972 Variety II reigns as the series key. It is recognized by its long, funnel-like representation of the Florida peninsula and flattish depiction of the Caribbean islands, which are barely visible and appear as minute interruptions in the Atlantic Ocean basin.
The Type II dollars were inadvertently struck with a proof die, adding a degree of intrigue to the coin itself, regardless of the design variations noted here. Even in circulated grades, the 1972 Type II Eisenhower Dollar trades for significantly more than its face value, with XF and AU specimens realizing upward of $25 to $50 apiece. Still, many Eisenhower Dollar collectors prefer uncirculated specimens, which also showcase the most distinguishable details necessary for attributing this piece. Examples grading MS65 trade for around $1,000 while the handful known in MS66, the finest grade presently awarded to certified by PCGS, command as much as $10,500.
1972 Eisenhower Dollar Type III Reverse
This third and final of the three 1972 Eisenhower Dollar varieties is by far the most geographically accurate of all. On this piece, the peninsula of Florida much better resembles the true geographical outline of the state, including its pronounced inward bend just under the southwestern Florida city of Naples and a pointed tip southwest of Miami on the east coast. Meanwhile, Cuba is more fully articulated and extends both southwest and southeast of Florida, as the island nation does in reality. Furthermore, Jamaica is situated much more closely to its true location south of the eastern side of Cuba, while Haiti and the Dominican Republic reside east-southeast of Cuba. All depicted landforms are distinct.
The Variety III Eisenhower Dollar is common enough in circulated grades and lower uncirculated grades that it can be easily located – and at a relatively affordable cost. However, like all business-strike clad Eisenhower Dollars, it becomes tougher in the Gem grades and is thus considered a conditional rarity. Examples grading MS65 sell for north of $100, while pieces in MS66 – numbering but a few dozen in PCGS holders – typically realize $1,000 or more. To date, PCGS has graded just one in MS66+, which represents the highest-known grade for the coin and at this level is worth around $5,000.
Collecting the Varieties
Eisenhower Dollars are increasingly becoming a favorite collectible among modern coin enthusiasts. This could be in part due to the relatively short lifespan of the series and smaller number of coins necessary to complete the set. Yet, the series offers an adequate supply of opportunities for those who wish for overall affordability but with a genuine degree of challenge. A basic date-and-mintmark Registry Set of business strikes and proofs can be easily assembled for less than $1,000. But add in the three 1972 varieties – and aim for top pops across the board? That’s where even the deep-pocketed Eisenhower Dollar aficionados begin breaking a sweat!
PCGS Set Registry members have assembled some impressive collections of Eisenhower Dollars, with two types of sets incorporating the three 1972 varieties. These include the 23-coin Eisenhower Dollars with Major Varieties, Circulation Strikes (1971-1978) and 35-piece Eisenhower Dollars with Major Varieties, Circulation Strikes and Proof (1971-1978). Completing either one in the top grades is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, especially as some of the finest-known PCGS specimens boast but a few examples, and some just one graded survivor. This poses extraordinary obstacles for many collectors but can ignite some exciting competitions for the remainder of the Top 5 or Top 10 slots within any set category.
- Bowers, Q. David. A Guide Book of Modern United States Dollar Coins. Whitman Publishing, 2016.
- Breen, Walter. Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. And Colonial Coins. Doubleday, 1988.
- Morgan, Charles. “When Dealing with Eisenhower Dollars, Grade is Everything.” CoinWeek. March 28, 2018.