The Eisenhower dollar holds a special place in numismatic history as the first dollar coin minted by the U.S. government since the Peace dollar, which had its last issuance in 1935. The coin was not only a token of appreciation for a significant historical figure but also a vehicle for numismatic innovation. It was the inaugural dollar coin to be produced with a copper-nickel clad composition, akin to the circulating dime, quarter, and half dollar coins of its time. This compositional choice ensured the coin’s durability, a feature crucial for coins intended for everyday circulation.
The physical attributes of the Eisenhower dollar were equally notable. It had a diameter of 38.1 millimeters, making it larger than most coins in circulation at the time. This size was chosen deliberately to allow for a detailed and prominent portrayal of President Eisenhower on the obverse. The coin’s design showcased his likeness with great clarity, ensuring that the commemorative aspect was evident at first glance. The reverse of the coin bore another remarkable feature – a dual-date design, with “1776-1976” inscribed, commemorating the bicentennial of the American Revolution. This added an extra layer of historical significance to the coin.
Despite the impressive design and historical context, the Eisenhower dollar faced some challenges during its production and circulation. Several design changes were made in response to these issues. The original design by Frank Gasparro featured a full-portrait of Eisenhower on the obverse and an eagle landing on the moon on the reverse. However, concerns arose about the coin’s size and weight, particularly its compatibility with vending machines and general circulation. These concerns led to a revised design in 1975, which reduced the size of Eisenhower’s portrait and replaced the eagle landing on the moon with an image of the Liberty Bell superimposed on the moon.