Copyright © 2008 THE IKE GROUP. All Rights Reserved.
LEAD AUTHOR ROB EZERMAN, with Lee Lydston, Brian Vaile, Ehab Eassa, David Golan, Gary Hoop and Andy Oskam
Found in a tube of mixed Ikes at a major West Coast Coin Show, this remarkable silver prototype Eisenhower was sent to the Ike Group for our evaluation by Ike aficionado and co-author for this project, Lee Lydston.
This report is a summary of our observations and some speculation based on our research into the 1971 Ikes including the 1971-DFriendly Eagle Variety2.
While the Ike Group is not in a position to make a determination if Lee’s prototype qualifies as a Prototype or Pattern, we nominate it for consideration and will refer to it as “prototype”.
- The prototype is 24.3 gm and 1.50 inches in diameter.
- Its reeding is identical to that on low relief 1971-S silver business strike Ikes (“Blue Ikes”).
- It appears to be struck in high relief on both sides.
- The fields are semi-prooflike, the rims are perfect and square, and the central devices and the Earth have variable and crude cameo. There are fine die polish lines on both sides.
- The obverse letters and numbers are somewhat different than all such on the high relief 1971-S Ike (silver) proof and likewise somewhat different than all such on the 1970 obverse Galvano3.
- In the main, the prototype’s obverse letters and numbers appear more elegant and have lighter serifs.
- Notably, the R’s left leg is almost a “Peg Leg”, associated with coarse die abrasions that run from under the foot of the left leg to Ike’s hairline.
- Ike’s hair is different than on any other Ike obverse design. His ear is slightly different.
- The reverse letters and numbers are essentially identical to all such on the ’71-S Proof and the 1970 Galvano.
- The prototype’s Earth has heavy crude cameo which almost obscures three barely visible in-relief islands that contrast with the incuse “mega island” of the 1971-S high relief proof. The prototype’s Earth seems very similar to the Galvano’s Earth and could be identical.
- The lunar craters on the prototype have the same general configuration as those on the Proof and Galvano but lack many of the details of the Galvano’s craters and lack both design details and added art-work details seen on the 1971-S proof craters.
Figure 1, PROTOTYPE OBVERSE
Note the fine field die polishing and the heavier die “abrading” between the R and Ike’s hairline. Even in this macro view one can see that the letters of LIBERTY are not as heavily serifed and the letters of IN GOD WE TRUST are thinner and more elegant, as are the numbers. Ike’s hair is also different from both the 1970 Galvano and the 1971-S Proof (and the LR hair as well).
Figure 2, PROTOTYPE REVERSE
With the exception of the Earth and crater details, the prototype reverse seems basically identical to the reverse of the 1970 Galvano and the 1971-S Proof. Die polish lines in the fields are again evident.
Highlights of a few differences between prototype and ’71-S Proof obverse.
Figure 3 PROTOTYPE PROOF
Note the outer surface of the “cogs” of Lee’s prototype on the left are almost flat with a central score while on the 1971-S Proof on the right have the same central score but are more rounded, almost pointed. Though not photographed here, the prototype’s cogs are identical to those on the 1971-S BS Silver Ike.
We do not know if the greater visibility of the copper core on the prototype has any significance or if the visible core is related to its weight resting at the low end of tolerance for silver clad Ikes.
Figure 4, PROTOTYPE ON LEFT 1971-S PRODUCTION PROOF ON RIGHT
The prototype’s “R” of “LIBERTY” is almost a “Peg Leg” while the 1970 Galvano’s “R” has modest serifs (Figure 7) and the original 1971-S production Proof was a Peg Leg design5. The coarse die abrasions under the left leg of the prototype’s “R” are fascinating because there is no die clash to repair
It appears the abrading was undertaken purposefully, radially, to reduce the size of the Galvano’s serifs, suggesting this prototype was an early exploration into Peg Leg design.
Differences between prototype and 1971-S Proof reverse
Figure 5, GALVANO EARTH: note Florida points almost toward the tip of the Eagle’s beak on all three (and also on the FEV) but on the low relief 1971 BS Silver and circulation Ikes Florida points almost toward the Eagle’s eye. Also, both prototype and Galvano show Africa more strongly than the 1971-S production proof.
Note the presence of heavy incuse lines outlining the rear of the crater walls on all but the upper left crater on the ’71-S production Proof (the upper most crater photo shown above). These incuse lines appear to be hand-engraved post-hubbing artwork and were likely added to the high relief Master Hub as more than one Working Hub would have been required to mint well over three million proofs.
The walls of the three larger craters on the1971-S production proof are also detailed with many separate finely inscribed in-relief lines and a few incuse lines not present on the prototype.
Figure 6, EISENHOWER MUSEUM’S 1971 GALVANO OBVERSE
Figure 7, EISENHOWER MUSEUM’S PAIRED (1970) GALVANO REVERSE
- Whether reasonable or not we have little choice but to assume the 1970 Galvano pictured above was the original design or close to it. We know from coin magazine photographs5 that there was at least one other obverse Galvano dated 1971 depicting an older Ike with larger jowls and paradoxically more robust hair, go figure, but the differences were not great and it is reasonable that Gasparro would have experimented with several obverse designs in the early phases of creating the Eisenhower Dollar.
- The absence of a “furrowed brow line” on the (1970) reverse Galvano’s Eagle is consistent with Gasparro’s approved sketches6 and a marker of the original design(s). It is worth noting that the 1971-S Ike Proof is quite similar in design to the obverse and reverse Galvanos other than some hair features, the Earth and crater details. Lee’s prototype thus stands out as an exploration into different obverse minor devices and hair, differences that were not picked up in the design of the 1971-S production proof, with the possible exception of the peg leg R.
- It is known that the Gasparro’s originally intended a high relief design for all three 1971 Ikes, the BS Silver, the Proof Silver and the Circulation Ikes, but early in the design process, Gasparro realized that the hard CuNi-clad circulation planchets would have to be struck in low relief.
- The furrowed brow line present on the final low relief reverse design is a crudely engraved post-hubbing incuse feature carried out on an obverse Master Hub. That feature is accompanied on the reverse by a few deep incuse hand-engraved post-hubbing lines that help separate the left wing feathers, and by scratchy in-relief lines that help further that separation and give texture to the feathers. In addition, there are deep incuse and in-relief lines that help separate the tail feathers. All this added artwork presumably helped compensate for the loss of visual impact from the lowered relief.
FIGURE 8, 1971 BS SILVER (LOW RELIEF) LEFT WING ADDED ART WORK
As early as the summer of 1970, “Mint Authorities” were reporting there were two sets of Master Dies, one for high relief and one for low relief7, so we know Gasparro was addressing the hard clad planchet problem early on.
Since Gasparro already had some low relief master dies done up by the summer of 1970, and remembering that minting Ikes did not begin until July 19718, why did the low relief reverse design used for all 1971 circulation Ikes (other than the FEV) and for the 1971-S BS Silver Ike have so much crude and hasty-appearing hand-engraved post-hubbing art work? Why the rush?
The Ike Group offers an intriguing possibility. We speculate that Gasparro’s initial low relief reverse design may have been the FEV reverse, and that the FEV reverse was intended for all three 1971 low relief Ikes, the BS Silver, the circulation clad and a CuNi-clad proof.
For some reason the clad proof project was eventually abandoned (but not until the S-Mint, we believe, had gathered several million clad planchets for proof production, proof planchets that wound up being used in Denver’s 1971-D Ike production and identifiable in about 5% to 10% of 1971-D Ikes9).
The Ike Group speculates that when the clad proof production plan was eventually dropped, Gasparro had little time to decide whether or not to stay with the FEV reverse design on ’71 BS Silver and circulation Ikes. Noting that the FEV reverse design is highly detailed, appropriate for a proof design but problematic in high-volume circulation Ike production beset with clashed dies and die sink, the authors speculate that Gasparro chose to simplify the FEV design and at the same time give this new design some stronger details (like the brow line, larger stars and greater emphasis of Eagle tail, wing and body feathers) that would look sharper in low relief and also stand up better in later die stages.
Time was probably too short to create a new Galvano. The new reverse design was therefore, of necessity, created by modifying an existing reverse Master Hub (hand engraving an incuse brow line and adding incuse feather separation lines) and then modifying its hubbed Master Die (enlarging the stars and adding in-relief feather details).
The reason we are taking this speculative detour into the LR design is to underscore the chaos with which Gasparro was dealing, chaos which might have cut off his efforts to explore the somewhat more elegant obverse and reverse design details we see in Lee’s Prototype.
Our speculative reconstruction may be incorrect in some or many details, but our assessment that 1970 and 1971 through June were chaotic for Gasparro is based on solid observations. That the more elegant details on Lee’s prototype are not seen on subsequent Ikes (with the possible exception of the peg leg R) may simply be evidence that Gasparro was overwhelmed in 1970 and 1971 and had no choice but to retreat to his original 1970 obverse Galvano design for the high relief production proof.
Lee’s prototype appears to the authors to have been minted early in the course of design work on the new Ike dollar. Features like the field die polishing on both sides, the irregular crude cameo frosting and the Earth appearing to be the same as the Galvano’s all point to this Ike being struck with designs that were an early work in progress. It is possible that this prototype dates to a time when Gasparro thought all Ikes would be struck in high relief or a bit later during the time we speculate the FEV reverse design was intended for use on all 1971 low relief Ikes.
Lee’s unique Ike appears to be an early prototype worked up in proof format based on its proof-like fields, cameo, square rims and exceptionally clean appearance. Both obverse and reverse fields show wide-spread fine die polishing as if the designs were a work in progress.
The obverse letters and numbers are largely unique, Ike’s hair is unique toward the front and his ear is somewhat different: the prototype obverse is closer to the 1970 obverse Galvano than to the 1971-S production proof obverse, perhaps also placing this prototype early in the design sequence.
The die abrading under the left foot of the “R” of “LIBERTY”, associated with only one tiny serif remaining, suggests the prototype was an early exploration into the “Peg Leg” design which we now know was the initial 1971-S production proof design.
The prototype’s reverse is very similar to both the (1970) reverse Galvano and the 1971-S production proof reverse with the exception of the Earth and lunar craters. The prototype’s Earth may be identical to the Galvano’s Earth, with low-relief islands that contrast to the incuse maga-island on the production proof reverse. Crater details differ among all three, with the Galvano showing more crater wall details than either prototype or production proof and the production proof showing both more design details and additional post-hubbing artwork compared to the prototype.
The prototype’s reeding has the same design as the low relief 1971-S BS Silver production Ike.
The authors speculate that this prototype may have been crafted at a time when Gasparro intended all 1971 Ikes be struck in high relief, or, a bit later during the period of time we speculate Gasparro may have intended the FEV reverse design for all 1971 low relief Ikes.
The author’s could not find a means to use the “S” Mintmark to establish when the prototype was produced. We think the “S” punch may have been replaced in 1970 and we suspect an older punch was put back into service and used into 1974, the next time the punch was replaced.
1. The Ike Group is six Ike nuts who have combined resources and talents for a single-minded pursuit of learning more about this short series. Our publishing has just begun.
2. The Ike Group published an article devoted to the Friendly Eagle Variety in the July 2007 Issue of Numismatist. Included is our evidence that the FEV design was originally intended for a 1971-S CuNi-clad Proof. We also wrote extensively about Gasparro’s initial reverse sketch showing a proud and somewhat fierce eagle with a heavy furrowed brow line along the lines of the Peace Dollar Eagle’s brow line. When Mary Brooks insisted that Gasparro’s sketch eagle was too fierce, that brow line was dropped and the sketch drawing was then approved. We believe Gasparro must have delighted in being able to replace the brow line on the low relief 1971 Ikes.
3. The pair of 1970 Galvanos pictured in this article (Figures 6 and 7) reside at the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene, Kansas. These photos were taken by a local freelance photographer for the Ike Group and we retain publication rights.
4. All photos in this report, other than the Galvano photos, were taken by lead author Rob Ezerman. Microscope equipment included an LED ring light.
5. The Ike Group published the story of the “Silver Peg Leg Ikes” in the January 2008 issue of “The Numismatist”, including our strong evidence that the original 1971-S production proof design was the “Straight Peg Leg” design.
6. A 1971 or 1972 numismatic magazine had a photo of a 1971 obverse Galvano depicting a more heavily haired older Ike: the Galvano was in a Janvier reducing machine and had an in-relief “1” over the ghost of a previous “0”. The somewhat disorganized author who studied this photograph has mislaid the magazine. If any reader has a copy on hand, the Ike Group would be most grateful.
7. These hasty-appearing hand-engraved features are present to a much lesser degree on the low relief 1971-D Friendly Eagle Variety (FEV) reverse, other than the added incuse and in-relief post-hubbing lower tail feather separation lines and added incuse and in-relief lines that help separate some of the left wing feathers.
8. Hasty-appearing hand-engraved post-hubbing features are present to a much lesser degree on the low relief 1971-D Friendly Eagle Variety (FEV) reverse, other than the added incuse and in-relief added lower tail feather separation lines and added incuse and in-relief lines that help separate some of the left wing feathers.
9. 5 to 10% of 1971-D Ikes show remarkably proof-like surfaces on both sides, including the top surface of the rims and minor devices, independent of die state. There is also a remarkable absence or near-absence of planchet chatter, the multitudinous minor defects for which a loupe may or may not be needed, which are caused by the violent banging experienced by the circulation planchets as they cool off in the huge annealing drums while being kept suspended by baffles (proof planchets are annealed on a slowly moving belt and are then burnished in a vat of moving oblong steel balls).
10. The sketch drawings were originally published in a short hard-cover monograph published by The American Mint and Postal Society in 1971 with the cooperation of the Philadelphia Mint (EISENHOWER, The Man, The Dollar and The Stamps, Thomas W. Becker). Reproductions of the sketches have appeared in several coin magazines since.
11. COIN WORLD, February 28, 1973. We are grateful for this detailed breakdown of 1971 and 1972 mintages including monthly Ike proof and BS Silver Ikes production and to author Herb Hicks for having kept a copy all these years.