Collecting high grade "IKES" is proving to be quite a challenge on a number of levels.
Greetings and happy Thanksgiving, three months ago I started a mint-state Eisenhower Dollar set with a goal of acquiring coins that were no less than one grade lower than the highest graded coin. To date, I have collected 16 of the 23 coins in that set, with NGC graded coins accounting for ten of them. Comparing my coins to their respective population reports, I found 15 of them to be one grade lower than the highest graded coin. Across both population reports, my NGC 1972 MS-64 Type 2 Eisenhower Dollar is two grades lower than the highest graded PCGS coin (five at MS-66). One coin, a silver-clad 1976-S is the highest graded coin of both grading services. Another of my coins, an NGC 1974 MS-66 dollar is the top-pop in the PGCS population report with only one MS-67 in the NGC report.
The trouble with "IKES" is that since top-pop coins are so scarce, coins on the next lower tier can be difficult to find and at times rather expensive. For example, among copper/nickel "IKES," there are only 207 coins grading at MS-67 from both grading services with none higher. This effectively makes MS-66 the most likely collectible coin throughout the series. The lone top-pop in my collection is a silver-clad PCGS 1976-S grading at MS-68. With a large supply of 457 coins between both grading services at MS-68 and none at MS-69, the Fair Market Value is reasonable at $400, and the coin is easily obtainable. On the other hand, the only 1974 MS-67 has no FMV listed and could fetch a five-figure price at auction.
Scarce, high-grade Eisenhower Dollars rarely make an appearance at any of the major auction houses. Those that appear for sale on E-bay more often than not, have highly inflated prices that can be up to four times higher than the Fair Market Value. In the listing description, the seller will claim that the coin has a low population. However, what that seller fails to take into account is that the demand for their coin does not match their price. I have often watched an inflated coin re-list on E-Bay multiple times. On the other hand, reasonably priced coins and "true auction" coins are readily sold. For the most part, I believe a person has the right to charge as much as they want for their coin, just as much as I am under no obligation to buy it. For my part, I only need to remain patient and wait for those scarce gems that are reasonably priced.
Another trouble is that cherry picking becomes much more difficult with a lower supply. I have had to settle for coins that are somewhat less than attractive for their grade simply because they are not readily available. Fortunately, I consider most of the coins in my collection to have nice eye appeal for their grades.
On the other side of the coin (no pun intended), because of low collector demand and a short seven-year run on the series, you can collect a complete 23-coin set of high-grade, mint-state Eisenhower Dollars for relatively little money. Contrast this against my 105 coin Morgan Dollar set with a goal of $200/coin (except for key dates) with no top-pops, and the Eisenhower Dollar set becomes a very attractive alternative.
In summary, the diverse sets within my collection and differing collecting goals are what make collecting coins a whole lot of fun. Pictured with this post is my latest acquisition, a NGC 1976 MS-66 Type 2 Eisenhower Dollar, so until next time, happy collecting and best wishes for the upcoming awards.