By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek
I’m happy to announce this week that CAC, the Certified Acceptance Corporation, will announce that they will now accept Cu-Ni clad and silver business strike Eisenhower dollars (1971-1978) for review and certification. The Eisenhower dollar, the last of the “Big Dollar” coins, will be the first clad-era series to be considered for CAC’s green and gold quality assurance sticker. I couldn’t be more delighted for the news, as I have worked with John Albanese, Rob Ezerman, Troy Weaver, and the highly talented members of the Ike Group to make this happen.
For a coin series that has languished in numismatic circles since its introduction, this development may finally excite hobbyists and dealers outside of the small niche of devotees and lead to a wider appreciation for the coin. The Eisenhower dollar, which had a combined mintage well in excess of 600 million pieces  in its short seven year run, is widely available in uncirculated condition, but few are aware of just how difficult it is to find in Mint State 65 and above.
Numismatic acceptance of the coin is a long time coming. In fact, one of the earliest defenders of the Eisenhower dollar in the field of numismatics is author and Accugrade founder Alan Hagar. In Hagar’s 1986 reference book, A Comprehensive Guide to Eisenhower Dollars in Accugrade: Uncirculated, Prooflikes and Proofs, he wrote of MS-65 to MS-67 Eisenhower dollars: “This is the number one investment in the Numismatic field today… [but] finding accurately graded MS-65 and MS-67 Ike dollars will prove your biggest problem due to the tremendous lack of dealer knowledge.“
While Hagar’s assessment of the series turned out to be overly optimistic, the fact that high-quality Eisenhower dollars are scarcely available cannot be denied. Certain dates and major varieties of the coin have proven exceedingly difficult to find in gem or better grades and the few coins that do pop up command significant premiums.
A colleague of Hagar’s, James Sego, owner of JMS Coins out of Naperville, Illinois, is one of a handful of dealers that specialize in high-grade Eisenhower dollars. He has handled and sold many top population coins and recently submitted some of the first silver-clad Ikes to ever be graded MS-69 by PCGS. To Sego, having CAC certify Eisenhower dollars means that the perceived disparity between PCGS’s and NGC’s grading standards will be minimized, which will open up more top-tier coins to the type of collector that tends to be a brand loyalist.
“It will also signify a sea change in the way the industry looks at Ikes,” says Rob Ezerman, author and founder of the Ike Group. The Ike Group has been studying the coin for the past seven years. Their recently published volume, Collectible Ike Varieties: Facts, Photos, and Theories (published through Lulu and available for purchase at www.ikegroup.info) not only explores the world of rare and unusual Eisenhower dollar varieties - of which the group is constantly discovering new ones - but also devotes a section of the book to how Third Party Graders balance market vs. technical grading.
I am working with Rob and the Ike Group to develop the most comprehensive photograph-based grading manual for the series. The project, which we have titled GradeView™, will be out later this year in print and eBook form, and will include many of the 100+ coins that we submitted to CAC to be used as a preliminary grading set, including: Andrew Oskam’s 2011 Best in Class PCGS registry set with its several top pops and many superbly colorful examples, the colorfully toned collection of 2011 PCGS Runner-Up, Troy Weaver, high and mid-grade Ikes owned by Gary Hoop, and various interesting Ikes from Rob Ezerman and my collections, including coins that we felt were seriously over-graded, and curiosities such as a 1971-D struck on a proof planchet.
As to what CAC’s entry into the Eisenhower dollar series means for modern coins remains to be seen. The firm has announced no plans to expand coverage to other modern series, and by accepting Eisenhower dollars, CAC is clearly wading into niche territory. But the market has demonstrated that there is demand for exceptional quality coins across the entire spectrum with CAC stickers, and there’s no reason to think the “CAC effect” won’t catch on with the high-end Eisenhower dollar collector and perhaps, also, with certified coin dealers who might see the potential for creating a market in the coin.
Either way, it feels good to be part of a grass roots effort to make the hobby better. I’m thankful for John Albanese’s consideration of this great modern coin, and for all those Ike Collectors over the years that showed passion the series.
 Mintages compiled from figures released from the mint and reported in The Red Book.
Flip of a Coin:
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