1971-S The prototype of the Eisenhower dollar sells for the first time at auction


How do you price a part without real comparable direct sales? Bidders faced that challenge when Heritage offered a prototype copper-silver-plated 1971-S Eisenhower dollar at its Jan. 14 Florida United Numismatists Platinum Night auction in Dallas.

The coin, graded Specimen 67 by Professional Coin Grading Service, made its first appearance at auction. Specialists believe that this “discovery coin”, which appeared in 2008, was a working prototype of the Frank Gasparro design which would be minted from 1971 to 1978.

Bidders decided it was worth $264,000.

Heritage led its description by writing, “This prototype is one of the rarest of all silver dollars minted since 1794, and it has been poetically described as the ‘Birth Certificate of America’s Last Silver Dollar'” noting that It was one of three prototypes. known, one of which is struck with another obverse die prototype.

The Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection has no representative, as do major museum numismatic collections.

Heritage advised potential bidders, “We would not be surprised if the new owner had the opportunity to loan this piece to one of these worthy institutions, among many others, and hope they would accept such an invitation.”

The auctioneer turned to the 1975-S Roosevelt, No S dime that sold for $456,000 at a 2019 Heritage auction for guidance, as it is one of two only known examples of this classic 1970s rarity. Rather than being a prototype, this penny is the result of a proof die, produced at the Philadelphia Mint, which did not have the S Mint mark of the San Francisco Assay Office.

Prototype or model?

Heritage calls the offered dollar a “prototype” rather than the more often used term “model”, distinguishing the two terms. “A pattern coin is generally considered to be a concept coin, minted to assess a purely conceptual design that has never been officially approved for circulation”, while “prototypes, on the other hand, are coins produced at the Mint for the real daily work of the chief engraver”. daily use” serving as “a tool to perfect an officially approved coin design for circulation”.

Paul Gilkes wrote about the coin’s discovery in a September 29, 2008, World Currency cover story, sharing that collector Lee Lydston discovered it while searching through rolls of Eisenhower dollars for varieties at the Long Beach Expo earlier that year. He paid less than $10 for the discovery.

The collector said, “This particular coin is an example of one of the many reasons I enjoy collecting Eisenhower dollars,” he told other collectors. “Who knows which varieties are just waiting to be discovered? Only those who watch will ever know.

Gilkes clearly explained the different types of dies used in the production of the 1971 and 1972 Eisenhower dollars in this article, writing: “During the first two years of production of the Eisenhower dollar, the Mint produced several different versions, or under -types, of the converse, in which the relief differed slightly, as well as other design differences. The Low Relief reverse was intended for use on the 1971 and 1971-D copper-nickel plated circulation strikes and the uncirculated 1971-S silver-copper plated dollar. The High Relief (Type II) reverse was introduced for use on the Proof 1971-S silver-copper plated dollar and the Proof and Uncirculated 1972-S silver-copper plated dollars. A third inverted subtype, an improved version of the High Relief design, was introduced in late 1972 for the Philadelphia Mint’s circulating dollar. All three subtypes were used on the Philadelphia Mint’s circulating 1972 dollars,” and, Gilkes reported, “researchers have identified other reversed styles.”

The edge reeding is identical to the 1971-S Eisenhower copper-silver plated dollars, but the obverse and reverse are both struck in higher relief, with a design that more closely resembles the original 1970 designs in galvanos by Frank Gasparro. US Mint press releases in 1971 stated that “test strikes” had been struck and would be destroyed. Heritage guesses: “This prototype and its two companions could have come from these experimental rooms, if they somehow escaped destruction.”

The search is ongoing.

Another theory is that these were prototypes minted at the San Francisco facility (then designated as an assay office rather than a mint) on presses intended to mint proof coins that were not present at the Philadelphia Mint.

Change of grades

Gilkes’ 2008 paper indicates that the find was originally certified Proof 64 by ANACS in 2008, and was later recertified as Specimen 65+ by PCGS.

Heritage wrote, “The coin also exhibited the usual surface hazing conferred on uncirculated silver Blue Pack Eisenhower dollars, due to their long-term exposure to the Mint’s pliofilm wrapper,” and it was preserved in 2019 at the request of then owner David Frohman. , which trademarked the phrase “The Birth Certificate of America’s Last Silver Dollar” with respect to the coin, as noted in Heritage’s pre-sale materials.

He “strongly felt that the haze should be removed, both to protect the piece in the long term and to reveal its extraordinary beauty. He also felt that once the coin was retained by PCGS and reclassified, it would receive a significantly higher rating,” according to Heritage.

It has since been upgraded and moved to oversized PCGS “Rarities” media with Specimen grade 67.

Heritage observed, “It has a stunningly beautiful, almost medal-like high relief appearance, with an obvious doubling on the motto and date.”

The cataloguer calls the rims “perfect” and adds: “A strong proof-like reflectivity is evident in the fields, and numerous die-polish lines appear on both sides. Virtually flawless surfaces add tremendous visual appeal. A small depression near the tail of the eagle may be the result of Mint personnel testing the hardness of the blank. Significantly, a similar mark appears in roughly the same location on another prototype.

Heritage Co-Chairman Jim Halperin wrote ahead of the auction, “I have chosen to make this piece a personal pet project.

It was offered without reservation. Halperin explained, “David and I both want to encourage new collectors (and especially younger ones) to learn how to bid, and what better way than to place a bid on this prototype? Only one bidder will actually win the coin, but many might have the unique and fun experience of placing perhaps their first coin bid.

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