Popular “Blue Pack” Ike Dollars Present Storage Challenge

Posted by David W. Lange, NGC Research Director on 7/27/2010

Should one of these coins tone or otherwise become unattractive, NCS conservation remains an option for its recovery.

The 1971 debut of the Eisenhower Dollar was highly anticipated by collectors. The circulating edition wasn’t released until November of that year, but on July 1 collectors could begin sending in their orders for the silver-clad editions made at San Francisco. These included the proofs, packaged in a rigid plastic holder within a brown cardboard box, and sold for a whopping $10. Also offered were uncirculated examples at $3 apiece. As delivered, these were packaged in the same transparent, flexible “pliofilm” (polyester) material used for the Mint’s annual uncirculated sets. The pliofilm sleeve was inserted into a fitted blue envelope properly imprinted for the coin.

click image to enlarge

NGC pioneered the grading of these uncirculated “Blue Ikes” as a follow-up to its grading of the proof “Brown Ikes.” The pliofilm sleeve containing the coin and its accompanying plastic disc with US Mint imprint are inserted into a semi-flexible currency holder of the type used by PMG for paper notes. This has an additional window at the top where NGC’s label is sealed, and this includes both the description and the grade assigned by NGC. The end result is a very attractive vehicle for storing and displaying these popular issues.

Because the pliofilm sleeve provided by the US Mint is not equal in quality to the NGC holder, the grade assigned by NGC cannot be guaranteed. Experience has demonstrated that these coins hold up very well after being graded by NGC, but there does exist some risk of reacting with the Mint holder over time. Owners of these NGC-graded Blue Ikes can do a lot to reduce this possibility by being careful in their storage environment. Coins should never be exposed to extremes of heat or humidity, and they should be stored in a location that would be comfortable to humans, such as an air-conditioned home or office. A climate-controlled bank vault is also suitable (for the coins, not for us). This precaution is particularly important for any items such as the Blue Ikes that are in contact with non-NGC plastic.

When Blue Ikes do tone in their original packaging, they often acquire a thick, milky haze, ranging in color from white to blue-green and laced with brown streaks. Unlike some forms of patina acquired during storage in original holders, this toning is seldom attractive and worsens over time. Should one of these coins tone or otherwise become unattractive, NCS conservation remains an option for its recovery, though there is no way to do this without loss of the original Mint packaging. Once conserved by NCS, coins encapsulated in the NGC holder can be stored worry-free for many years of enjoyment.

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