100 Greatest U.S. Modern Coins Series: 1976, No S, Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollar, Proof

One solitary example. No more, no less. That is how rare our next spotlight in the 100 Greatest United States Moderns Coins series is. With Jeff Garrett and Scott Schechter in the driver’s seat, we will explore a top five pick that has collectors speculating how its creation happened and why. However, answers only go so far and a great deal of mystery still surrounds this incredibly rare coin.

#3 - 1976, No S, Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollar, Proof

The 1976 Eisenhower dollar is unique in itself as it was struck in both 1975 and 1976. However, no dollar coins were actually struck with the 1975 date as they were replaced with the dual date 1776-1976 for the special Bicentennial celebration. The design featured a reverse that was selected from a competition held in 1974 by Dennis R. Williams. The coins issued in 1975 feature a blocky letter style and are coined Variety 1. Later in 1975 the United States Mint would announce a modified version of the dollar and call it the Variety 2. It would feature a more narrow letter style the better match the obverse.

After the designs were first chosen, a small number of examples were struck at Philadelphia with the intent of one of the sets being exhibited at a numismatic convention. The others were presented to government officials. The Variety 1 dollar did not include an ‘S’ mint mark and few of those examples are still in existence and has even been categorized as a pattern. While this was the path for these particular Variety 1 coins, Variety 2 coins were never recorded as having been struck for the same purposes.

As far as the Proof versions go, they were struck in both silver-clad and copper-nickel-clad. However, all the silver coins were a Variety 1. But this particular 1976 Proof coin, the one recorded for this top 100 list, is already unique in that it does not have the ‘S’ mint mark. But even more, it was struck on a silver flan, which makes it the ONLY silver Proof Variety 2 dollar in existence (as far as we know).

So how did the coin get made? There are two theories: it was either a test strike and was created in mid-1975 among the design modifications or it was struck for presentation to a statesmen or dignitary like its No S Variety 1 counterpart. Most people believe it’s the latter assuming that the test strike never left the Mint. The example was found in a cash register at a Washington, D.C., department store and was last sold on auction in September of 2002. It currently is featured in a private collection. However, its origin is still being researched to this day.

The one specimen that has been confirmed was certified by PCGS in a PF66 Cameo condition.

In the first edition of this publication, this coin was listed at #8. It has moved up five spots since.