Starting this year The U.S. Mint will be producing a new, dead President series dollar coin to replace the failed Sacajawea dollar, which in turn replaced the equally unaccepted Susan B. Anthony dollar. The U.S. Mint is hoping for public acceptance of the new dollar coin, a denomination never previously accepted by the public during the entire history of our Country.
A Brief History Of The Dollar
The first U.S. dollar was minted by the Federal Government back in 1794. Less than 2,000 coins were produced with that year’s date. It was made of an alloy of about 90% silver and 20% copper. The front had a scraggly haired woman’s face, the reverse an eagle standing with its wings spread out. The woman was a representation of Ms. Liberty. The eagle represented our Country’s might. Unfortunately the eagle was very scrawny and looked more like a starved pigeon than a mighty raptor.
The U.S. dollar was made to replace the usage of foreign coinage in this Country as a medium of exchange. The dollar was named after the German Thaler one of the large coins in circulation at the time.
The 1795 dollar had a much more dignified and feminine looking Ms. Liberty with a bow in her hair. The Eagle soon became more regal with a shield on its chest and arrows in its talons. Future dollars became more and more sophisticated looking with many design changes. However, the dollar was not very widely used, being about one ounce in weight, a little heavy in the pocket. The quarter, dime, nickel and cent were carried more frequently. In addition the Dollar contained more silver that four quarter dollars contained. This lead to widespread melting of the larger coin for its silver content. 1935 saw the last of the silver “silver” dollars.
The Modern Dollar Coins
In 1971 the government became aware that it was loosing roughly five hundred million dollars annually because it lacked a long lasting dollar coin and had to replace one dollar bills relatively frequently. To remedy this they started to produce the dollar coin again. This time with a portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower placed on the obverse of the coin and an eagle landing on the moon on the reverse. This coin to the surprise of everyone in the Government was not suited for general use for the same reason previous dollar coins were not. They were too large and heavy. Though it was made of a nickel and copper alloy and slightly lighter than its silver predecessors, it was still just as large.
The Eisenhower dollar died in 1978. Its proposed successor seemed like a brilliant idea. It was made just slightly larger than a quarter with a portrait of hook nosed Susan B. Anthony on the obverse. It seemed a sure winner. Usage success was not to be one of this coin’s strong points. It died a victim of what was thought to be its strong point, its size. Too often taken to be a quarter, no one wanted to use them. The portrait of an outstandingly ugly woman on the front did not help either. If a coin could be shunned, it was the Susan B. that made people glare if they received one.
The Government seeing the error of their ways put a hottie on their next attempt at a dollar coin. Her name was Sacajawea, and what a nice looker. They even gave her a golden color to help people distinguish her from the quarter, but for some reason this became another failed effort. People just liked their folding money.
An Aside Here
Canada launched its dollar coin program. It took the one and two dollar bills out of circulation and replaced them with $1 and $2 coins. It was a smash hit. The coins called Loons and Double Loons went in place without a problem.
Why did Canada succeed, where we failed? Simple, they eliminated the equivalent bills where we didn’t.
The New Dead President Coins
If you were a U.S. President and have been dead for at least two years, your portrait will be immortalized on the new series of $1 coins starting this February. George Washington will be first, then a new dead President will be circulated every 3 months until all the dead Presidents have had their turn. John Adams followed by Thomas Jefferson, followed by James Madison, etc. Actually Grover Cleveland will get two dollars in his honor because he served two non-consecutive terms.
Don’t ask me what happens after the last dead President is minted. I don’t know. What I do know is this: If they don’t take the dollar bills out of circulation these coins like their predecessors will end up in the back of bank vaults and in children’s educational savings album only. We just love our folding money.