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Time to Like Ike Again?
April 13, 2011

Do you remember ordering the 40 percent silver collector version of the Eisenhower dollar when it was introduced in 1971?

If you do, you also probably remember the disappointing results the coins generally achieved on the secondary market.

Purchasers of the brilliant uncirculated silver version in the blue envelope paid all of $3 for the coin. It sounds cheap now, but not so much then.

The proof version in the brown box cost $10 and that seemed exorbitant.

But we collectors had so few new options that we ordered the coins in large numbers.

For the BU coin, collectors grabbed 6,868,530 million coins and for the proof version, we took 4,265,234.

The logical result was prices dropped dramatically from issue prices on the secondary market and we ordered far fewer coins from the Mint in 1972 and 1973, making the 1973 pieces winners on the secondary market for a time. Then the Ike dollars went to sleep for more than a generation as silver fell after 1980 and general collector interest moved on to create Morgan dollar mania in the 1980s.

Now is the time to look at those 1971 coins again if you still have them. Thanks to the bounty of $40-an-ounce silver, those coins now contain a healthy $12.65 worth of the precious metal.

It is nice to be bailed out of what seemed like a mistake for so long, and if you happen to have pieces that will grade out at the high end of the grading scale at a major third-party grading service, you will do even better.

They say patience is a virtue. What’s 40 years’ worth?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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