The 1972 Eisenhower Silver Dollar: A Comprehensive Guide to History, Types, and Values

The 1972 Eisenhower silver dollar is one of the most popular and sought-after modern U.S. coins. Issued in honor of President Dwight D. Eisenhower after his death in 1969, this one dollar coin has captured the hearts of collectors for over half a century. From its inspiring design to its interesting varieties and errors, the 1972 "Ike" dollar offers numismatists an exciting challenge to pursue.

Whether you‘re a seasoned collector or just starting out, you likely have questions about these coins. What is the 1972 silver dollar worth? How can you tell the types apart? Are there any rare errors to look for? In this expert guide, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about collecting 1972 Eisenhower dollars.

The History and Origin of the 1972 Eisenhower Dollar

Following the end of the Peace dollar series in 1935, the U.S. Mint did not produce dollar coins intended for circulation for decades. Silver dollars continued to be used heavily in the gambling industry throughout the 1930s. However, as silver prices rose, legislation was enacted to prohibit the use of silver in circulating coinage, putting dollar production on hold.

The situation changed upon the passing of Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower in March 1969. As a former U.S. President and Army general who led the Allied forces to victory in Europe in World War II, Eisenhower was a towering figure of the 20th century. Almost immediately after his death, lawmakers began drawing up legislation for a new dollar coin to commemorate his legacy.

A new series starting in 1970 ending the decades-long hiatus of circulating silver dollars seemed like perfect timing. However, record high silver prices presented a challenge. Instead of the 90% silver used previously, the new Eisenhower dollars would be struck in a cheaper copper-nickel clad composition for circulation. Only special collector coins would include any silver.

U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro, who created many iconic American coin designs, was tasked with designing the new dollar. For the obverse portrait of Eisenhower, Gasparro used a sketch he made of the general during a victory parade in New York in 1945. He presented the completed design to Eisenhower‘s widow Mamie, who approved it for use on the coin.

The reverse design, featuring a bald eagle landing on the moon with Earth in the background, recognizes the historic Apollo 11 moon landing that occurred just months after Eisenhower‘s death in July 1969. Gasparro based the design on the mission insignia created by astronaut Michael Collins and others.

Eisenhower dollars entered production in 1971 with coins struck for circulation at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints and collector pieces at the San Francisco Mint. The series continued until 1978 but struggled to circulate widely, with many coins sitting idle in vaults. The U.S. government ultimately discontinued the large and heavy Eisenhower dollars in favor of the smaller Susan B. Anthony dollar in 1979.

Understanding the Three Types of 1972 Eisenhower Dollars

The 1972 issue is one of the most complex in the Eisenhower dollar series due to the existence of three distinct varieties. The U.S. Mint used different reverse dies that year, creating variations in the appearance of Earth on the coin‘s reverse and other small details. Here‘s how to tell the three types apart:

Type 1

  • Earth appears somewhat flattened
  • Florida points between two islands
  • Distinct shapes to the continents
  • Eagle‘s breast feathers more pronounced

Type 2

  • Earth flatter in appearance
  • Continents less detailed
  • Eagle‘s breast feathers smoother
  • Only found on 1972 Proof coins

Type 3

  • Earth shows greater topographical relief
  • Islands more directly south of Florida
  • Continents more rounded
  • Eagle‘s breast feathers smoother
  • No serif on bottom left of "R" in "LIBERTY"

The Type 2 variety is by far the rarest of the three. The U.S. Mint used special reverse dies intended for 1972-S Proof coins on some of the circulation strikes from Philadelphia before the mistake was noticed. Experts estimate around 100,000 of these error coins were produced, with perhaps only 50,000 surviving today.

A 1972 Type 2 graded MS 65 by a major grading service is worth around $2,000-$3,000 versus $200-$300 for the Type 1 in the same grade. The Type 3 is worth only slightly less than the Type 1 for circulation strikes but carries a significant premium for Proofs.

1972 Eisenhower Dollar Values by Type, Mintmark, and Condition

Now that you understand the three varieties, let‘s dive into how much a 1972 Eisenhower silver dollar is worth. The value depends on three main factors – the type, the presence or absence of a mintmark, and the coin‘s condition. I‘ll break it down for each one.

1972 (P) Type 1

– Circulated: $1 to $2
– MS 60: $7
– MS 65: $50
– MS 66: $250
– MS 67: $2,500

1972 (P) Type 2

– Circulated: $100 to $200
– MS 60: $400
– MS 63: $1,500
– MS 65: $14,400 (record auction price)

1972 (P) Type 3

– Circulated: $1 to $2
– MS 60: $4
– MS 65: $35
– MS 66: $130


– Circulated: $1 to $2
– MS 60: $8
– MS 65: $75
– MS 66: $350
– MS 67: $7,500 (record auction price)

1972-S Silver

– Circulated: $8 to $10
– MS 60: $14
– MS 65: $60
– MS 67: $2,000

As you can see, 1972 Eisenhower dollars are highly affordable in circulated condition but can be quite valuable in pristine Mint State grades, especially the scarce Type 2. Interestingly, the 1972-S silver edition, while worth significantly more than face value, carries the lowest premiums of the three Mint marks for high grade examples.

Proof 70 examples of the 1972-S can bring even bigger money. The record price for a 1972-S Proof graded PR 70 Deep Cameo by PCGS is a whopping $12,000! Clad Proofs from Philadelphia are much cheaper, with PR 70 coins selling for $400-$500.

Eisenhower Dollar Error Coins to Watch For

Error coins are pieces that unintentionally vary from the normal production process. They‘re highly collectible and often extremely valuable due to their rarity. Here are two 1972 Eisenhower dollar errors to be on the lookout for:

1972-D 3% Clipped Planchet

This unusual error occurred when a mis-aligned blank got struck between the dies, resulting in a straight clip on the obverse rim at 4-5 o‘clock. The coin also shows a double-rim effect on the opposite side as a result. One example graded MS 62 by PCGS sold for over $30.

1972-S Silver Double Struck in Collar

An exceedingly rare error, this coin was struck twice by the dies without rotating between strikes. The doubling is most obvious in the lettering on both sides. PCGS has graded only two examples – an MS 66 and MS 67. The coins could bring $1,500 to $2,000 or more if sold.

Final Thoughts

Over 50 years after it was first issued, the 1972 Eisenhower dollar remains a key issue that is in high demand among collectors. Its captivating history, bold design, and intriguing varieties make it a must-have for any modern U.S. coin collection.

Eisenhower dollars may not have successfully circulated, but they were absolutely a success as a numismatic collectible. Prices have continued to rise over the decades as more people discover these fascinating silver dollars.

If you own any 1972 Eisenhower dollars, I recommend inspecting them closely to determine the type. The value difference between a common Type 1 and rare Type 2 is substantial. Luckily, they‘re easy to distinguish with a little practice.

For peace of mind, you may want to consider having your Eisenhower dollars authenticated and graded by a major third-party service like PCGS or NGC. They can grade your coin, authenticate it, and encapsulate it in a protective holder. That way you‘ll know exactly what you have. Plus, certified coins are more liquid and easier to sell.

Whether you‘re buying, selling, or holding your 1972 silver dollars, I suggest keeping an eye on market prices with the PCGS CoinFacts price guide. With this information in hand, you‘ll be in a good position to make smart collecting decisions.

Best of luck in your collecting journey! The 1972 Eisenhower dollar is an endlessly interesting modern coin with a little something for everyone. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt as you work on completing your set.

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