Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dollar Coin To Feature Nixon and Others

Remember the Eisenhower Dollar coin? Now that was a dollar’s dollar. It was twice as big as a quarter and felt heavier than it really was and when you had one in your pocket; you knew it was there. One of the reasons that later dollar-coin attempts failed was that their size shrank to smaller than a 50-cent piece. This caused the Susan B. Anthony coin to be nicknamed the “Carter Quarter” because so many people were spending them as 25-cent pieces by mistake.

Despite past failures, the U.S. Mint announced at a ceremony at The Smithsonian Institution on Monday, that they would try again. They will begin circulating a new dollar coin on February 15, 2007. It will still be the same size as the 1979 Susan B. Anthony and the 2000-2002 Sacajawea. The coin will also be made of the same gold colored material as the Sacajawea with an additonal compound added to the metal to keep it from tarnishing as fast as its predecessor did.

The new dollars are set to feature the past Presidents of the United States in order from George Washington to Richard M. Nixon. Instead of a textured or ridged edge, the smooth rim will now hold such features as the mintmark, the date of striking, and the mottos “In God We Trust” and "E Pluribus Unum.” The design change is intended to allow space for larger portraits of the Presidents on the obverse side, and the Statue of Liberty on the reverse.

For the first time the coin will say “$1” instead of “One Dollar”

The criteria for the presidents is that they must have been dead two years to be featured, so the current list will end at Richard M. Nixon. Grover Cleveland will actually be featured on two different coins because he held office in two non-consecutive terms.

The coins will be distributed every three months starting next in 2007 with Washington. Despite the fact that the mint has a 3-½ year stockpile of over $200 million worth of the Sacajawea coins, political pressure will force them to continue minting the Sacagawea coins at the same time.

The current distribution schedule is for each coin to be circulated for three months, and then the next will appear in sequence as follows:

George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison

James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren

William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor

Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanon
Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
James A. Garfield

Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland*
Benjamin Harrison
Grover Cleveland*

William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William H. Taft
Woodrow Wilson

Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson

Richard M. Nixon

The paper U.S. Dollar bill has always been a problem for the mint. A coin is more durable and lasts longer making it more cost-effective. However since the demise of the Eisenhower Dollar coin, the public has mostly rejected all of its smaller replacements.

It is speculated that replacing the dollar bill with a coin could save the U.S. $500 million annually in printing costs, not counting the periodic security redesigns. Canada and various European countries have successfully eliminated their basic currency paper notes, but resistance is strong against such a move by the United States. An additional factor in the opposition of a dollar coin replacing the paper bill is that a stack of $100 in “singles” is relatively light, compared to a pocket weighed down by the same amount of coins.

Some have speculated that the new coins were intentionally designed to go directly into collections, instead of everyday commerce, making the U.S. dollar more scarce and thus more valuable. Other studies have shown that the only way the America Public would accept dollar coins is if the paper currency were completely taken out of circulation.

The timing would seem to indicate that the announcement was held up until after the November 2006 elections. The religious right wing of the Republican Party is sure to be outraged when they notice that “In God We Trust,” while still on the coin is no longer featured prominently.

In a side announcement, there will also be a release of 24-karat $10 pieces featuring the First Ladies at the end of 2007, and also the penny will be redesigned four times in 2009 to honor Abraham Lincoln.
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