Shadow Ike Section I



This article is in three sections.  Each section breaks new ground and combined present perhaps the most important research of the IKE GROUP to date.

Since the high relief 1971 and 1972 Ikes are center stage, this is a good time to summarize the major 1971 and 1972 Ikes to separate low from high relief varieties.  (By the way, the IKE GROUP’s next project is a photographic atlas of the Ike Design Varieties cross referenced to Wiles and Wexler: that will help all of us.)

“Relief” is the term for the amount of elevation a coin’s features have above its fields:  high relief means the design features are taller (and therefore usually fuller as well).  Important new coins like the Eisenhower Dollar in 1971 are struck in the highest relief consistent with available technology and practicality.  Frank Gasparro, the Mint’s Chief Engraver at the time, wanted all of his first-year 1971 Ike Dollar coins to be in high relief, but the Mint’s existing die steels could not handle the new, harder, copper-nickel clad planchets in high relief.  With much scrambling, Gasparro arrived at a new low relief design just in time for the coining of the CuNi-clad circulation Ikes in early July 1971.

The 1971 and 1972 High Relief Ike Silver Proofs  –  Only the 1971-S Proof Ike could be struck in high relief, because it was struck on the somewhat softer silver planchet (80% silver thick outer layer, 20% silver core) and because it was struck twice (all modern proofs are struck twice to assure a full strike).

Therefore, the only high relief 1971 Ike is the 1971-S Silver Proof.

The 1971-S and 1972-S Ike proofs are identical.

The 1971 and 1972 Silver Specimen Ikes  –  The 1971-S Silver Specimen Ike (silver business strike) was struck in low relief with the same design used to strike the low-relief circulation 1971(P) and 1971-D Ikes:  these Specimen Silver Ikes, like the CuNi-clad Ikes, were struck just once.

The 1972-S Silver Specimen Ike, however, thanks to the use of an improved die steel, was struck in high relief, with the same reverse design used on the 1971-S and 1972-S high relief  Ike Proofs.

The 1972(P) Type 2 Ike  –  One of the stars of this article is the 1972(P) Type 2 Ike, the “King of Ikes”.  In fact, this article begins with a first-person account of its discovery by IKE GROUP member, Herb Hicks in March 1972.  This Ike is a “mule” as it was struck with mis-matched dies, the common low relief obverse die mated with a high relief reverse die of the same design as that used for the 1971-1972 Ike Proofs and the 1972 Specimen Silver Ike.

Hicks, Wexler and Wiles’ and Ike Group Terminology for the Ike Reverse Design Varieties  

                                                       Hicks            Wexler                Wiles                 Ike Group
 LOW RELIEF                          Type A         Type I                 RDV-001            T-1 (Ty 1)
 HIGH RELIEF                         Type B         Type II               RDV-002           T-2 (Ty 2)
 MODIFIED HIGH RELIEF*   Type C     TypeE III           RDV-003           T-3 (Ty 3)

Here’s a chart of the reverse relief of 1971 and 1972 Ikes that might help:

                       LOW RELIEF                  HIGH RELIEF

1971              1971(P)                             1971-S SP
                       1971-D, 1971-D FEV
                       1971-S SB

1972               1972(P) T-1                   1972-S SP (BOTH SIDES)

                         1972-D                           1972-S SB (BOTH SIDES)
                                                                   1972(P) T-2 REVERSE (mule)
                                                                   1972(P) T-3 REVERSE (mule)*

* The T-3 reverse has been called “Modified High Relief”:  this is a confusing term as all the different Ike designs are “modified” designs.  Furthermore, just to be clear, we don’t know of any published measurements of “low” vrs “high” relief and this is a project we plan to undertake.

Other Terminology we’ll use in this article  –  There are multiple descriptors for the Silver Specimen business strike Ikes which the authors want to simplify.

We propose to use “SB”, short for Silver Business strike (also know as Silver Specimen Ikes and “Blue Ikes”), and “SP” for Silver Proof Ikes (also known as “Brown Ikes”).

Likewise, “CB” is short for CuNi-clad Business strike (circulation) Ikes and “CP” for CuNi-clad Proof  Ikes.


BOSTON, MARCH 1972  –  “My name is Herbert P Hicks.  It’s March 1972.   I am a piker.  I don’t toss much money around.  Listen, as I walk by, I am so tight, I squeak.

“Strangely enough, such money as I do toss around, I like to spend in the form of man sized hard money coin dollars. I have the heart and soul of an old Westerner misplaced in time and space.  I know of nobody else who gets “silver” dollars from the bank for monetary purposes.

“Still happy that the long drought from 1964-1971 is finally over, I mosey over to my local bank for my modest weekly supply of Ike dollars (10-20).

“I am surprised and pleased to see that they are 1972’s.  They look greatly improved over the 1971’s since the ghosting is now much less.  Setting the best ones aside I quickly build up a hoard of 10 keepers.

“One day later in March, while admiring a weekly Ike dollar purchase, I notice a variation in one of the dollars.  Its reverse is sharper and cleaner (fewer bag marks) than the others but it is also definitely different.

“While well aware of the early Morgan variations, I didn’t think there could be any similar modern variations.  Why, the mint will tell you every coin is alike, made from one original artwork with no modifications whatsoever or else they would be defying Congress who mandated changes only after 25 years.  But by Jove, these reverses are in what can be truly called High Relief.  I can pick them out by touch alone.

“Returning to my hoard of keepers, they are mostly the variant!  Must have kept them because they looked the best.   Now I immediately suspect the high relief reverse might match the 1971 S proof reverse, but I don’t know since I never bought one nor have I seen one.  Why spend $10 when you could get an unc for $3?   But now I had to buy a proof, and it matched!

“When it became obvious that these variants with the high relief reverse were scarce, I decided to hunt for them, started using even more dollar coins, up to 10 a week for tolls and the wife given 40 Ikes for the weekly trip to the grocery store.  But still being an expensive item I would only get 10 or 20 dollars from the bank at a time, just went more often, and saved the few high relief ones.  Twice only got 40 Ike’s at one time.  One batch of these had 6 winners and the other had 7.

“I decided to try the only other full service bank in town.  At first they had no 1972’s but when they got a bag in but there were no variants in it.   Tried many banks and branches around the area:  most had the variant.   A little at a time, I went through the equivalent of almost 2 full bags of 1972 Ike’s.  When the variant High Relief was present, it was in a ratio of 1 in 6 or 7.

“Of interest to me, about 4 in 5 variants had a progressive die crack (Figure 1).

Figure 1, Variant 1972(P) Ike (Type B) Late Stage Die Crack

When the mint announced in mid-1972 that they were going to produce high relief reverse 1972 circulation strikes in August, my heart sank.  The hoard would be worthless, might just as well dump it now.  But being a professional procrastinator, fortunately, I waited until the new ones came out and it turned out to be yet another 1972 Philadelphia Mint Variety!

Recognizing three different 1972 Reverse Designs, I named them Type A, Type B and Type C.  It soon dawned on me that the presence of the same die crack in 4 of 5 Type B Ikes meant the Type B was struck with a single reverse die .

Figure 2

Type A                                      Type B                                     Type C

Herb Hicks, a living legend in the world of Ikes, provided this first person account recently at the other authors’ request.  His “variant” Ikes are the 1972 “TYPE B” (which we now recognize as the 1972 Type 2 “King of Ikes” but in honor of Herb and this stunning personal account we’ll continue to use “Type B” for a while in this article).

Herb published a ground-breaking account of all three 1972 (P) Ikes in the April 1974 issue of the ANA’s THE NUMISMATIST, a pithy, razor sharp piece that has become a classic in Ike dollar literature which described his three reverses in great detail.

His article was the first to point out that the “Type B” reverse has the same high relief design used to strike the reverse of the 1971-S proofs.  He wrote that his March cracked-die “Type B” was a one-die Ike and because the average die life in 1972 was around 100,000 strikes, the Type B mintage was also around 100,000.  This figure has stuck.

In the April 1974 article, Herb mentioned a specific feature of this “Type B” reverse that nobody picked up until Herb brought it almost apologetically to the attention of his IKE GROUP.  That feature, the heart of this article, is a small incuse (cut into the field, inset) crescent that hugs the Earth from about 10:30 to 11:30 (visualize a clock face superimposed on the Earth).


Visible to the naked eye (or loupe for us “mature” folk), this little “shadow” is present on every single 1972 Type 2 Ike.  Be patient trying to see it for the first time, it will not jump off the coin but once found it is easy to see under a good light with naked eye or loupe.  Since it has rounded edges it is curiously difficult to see under a microscope.

Once the authors saw the shadow on Herb’s Type B 1972(P), we soon noticed the shadow was present on another Ike, the only Business Strike Silver Ike with the Type B reverse, the 1972-S SB, but only on about a third of them.


The authors have named the 1972-S BS silver Ike with the incuse crescent shadow “The Shadow Ike” (“SI”).

Getting back to Herb’s 1972 March Type B Variant Ike, Mint authorities and others have stated that this “Type B” was indeed struck with a proof reverse die that somehow got into the Philadelphia for-circulation production line.  Makes sense since the only High Relief reverse die available in January or February 1972 was the High Relief Type 2 reverse die used to strike the 1971-S Ike Proof (and later the 1972-S Proof).

But the incuse crescent is not present on the 1971-S Proof reverse (nor the 1972-S Proof reverse).   What’s going on here?

to be continued –

(Part 2 will start with a review of hubs and dies as we work through this question.)

(Part 3 will introduce the two populations of 1972 Type 2 Ikes.)