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Is the Eisenhower Dollar 40% Silver or Silver Clad?

Obverse view of a 1971 Eisenhower Dollar.

The Two Varieties of Eisenhower Dollars

The U.S. Mint has produced many large dollar coins, but the Eisenhower dollar is the only one whose circulation strikes contain no silver. The coin was issued in two variations: A silver clad coin for collectors and a copper-nickel clad Ike dollar for circulation.

The silver clad Eisenhower Dollar was 40% silver and contained .316 troy ounces of silver.

How to Tell if Your Eisenhower Dollar is Silver Clad or Cupronickel Clad

While all three active U.S. Mints struck the Eisenhower dollar, only the San Francisco Mint struck silver-clad versions of the coin. While they were made for collecting, many silver-clad Eisenhower dollars made it into circulation.

Look for a Silver or Copper Stripe

If your Ike dollar has an “S” mint mark on the obverse, it is silver clad, or 40% silver. You can also check the edge of the coin for a silver stripe. If you find one, you most likely have a 40% silver, or silver clad Eisenhower dollar. If, however, you find a copper stripe, it is probable that your Ike dollar is the cupronickel clad version for regular circulation.

About the Eisenhower Dollar

The Eisenhower dollar was issued from 1971 until 1978. It was the first one dollar coin the United States Mint issued since the Peace dollar series ended in 1935. The Eisenhower dollar depicts a portrait of President Eisenhower on the obverse with an homage to Apollo 11 on the reverse, based on the mission’s patch designed by Michael Collins. Frank Gasparro designed both sides of the coin.

The History of the Ike Dollar

Following President Eisenhower’s death in 1969, there were calls for a coin to be minted in his honor. Amidst rising silver prices, the House Banking Committee agreed upon legislation to honor the late President’s memory with a silverless dollar. Before the Senate could pass the bill, Colorado Senator Peter Dominick proposed minting the dollar in 40% silver.

Mamie Eisenhower wrote a letter detailing President Eisenhower’s fondness for giving silver dollars away as mementos and had gone to lengths to obtain coins from his birth year of 1890. “It is somehow beneath the dignity of a great President like General Eisenhower to withhold silver from the coin,” remarked Idaho Senator James McClure.

Later, in October of 1969, Texan Representative Robert R. Casey introduced a bill to honor the late President’s memory and celebrate the recent Apollo 11 moon landing. Representative Casey wanted to include the Apollo 11 mission theme, “We come in peace for all mankind,” but the Mint informed him that there was no space for this inscription. Casey settled for a reverse than embodied the Apollo 11 mission theme.

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