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Sign of the times: The return of Ike

I was in a convenience store the other day and the clerk looked into her drawer with puzzlement.

“What’s this?” she asked as she pulled out three large coins.

I recognized them immediately from my coin-collecting days as a kid: They were Eisenhower dollars, one of the nation’s many failed efforts to develop a one-dollar coin.

The Ike dollar was roughly the size of a manhole cover and featured a picture commemorating America’s 1969 moon landing on the reverse. The U.S. Mint produced them from 1971-1978; the Ike dollar was succeeded by the much-smaller Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, derided as “Carter quarters.”

So why did this convenience store have three Ike dollars in its tray? I guess someone dug into the back of a drawer or raided a coin collection for a few bucks to buy a carton of smokes or a six-pack.

I quickly asked the clerk to trade a paper dollar for one of them; the guy right behind me grabbed one as well.

By Paul Fletcher

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