Americans are very picky about their money. We make like change in our pockets, but we don’t like changes in our currency. This is part of the reason why Americans have recently treated the dollar coin very coldly. However, the U.S. Mint hopes that their fourteenth incarnation of the dollar coin will change all that. The new dollar coins will feature the U.S. Presidents in a format that is modeled after the popular state quarters series.

The dollar coin presidents series will unveil a coin featuring a different U.S. president every three months, with four new coins being unveiled each year. The dollar coins will also uphold the tradition of only honoring deceased presidents on currency. The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 specifies that a president must be dead for at least two years before they can appear on a coin. The issue dates for the first 38 presidents are already known, but the number of coins produced after 2016 will depend on how many ex-presidents die before 2014. The above mentioned state quarters series has been wildly popular with both collectors and citizens a like. It has also been very profitable for the U.S. Mint, as at its halfway point it had already generated a $4 billion profit for the government.

The two most recent attempts at introducing the dollar coin have failed miserably. The Susan B. Anthony dollar was introduced in 1979.  This dollar was criticized for having a size and shape that was too similar to the quarter. The Sacagawea coin was introduced in 2000, and was a major failure. It is estimated that only around 20% of the minted Sacagaweas are in circulation. Banks report that their just has not been much demand for the coin. An AP-Ipsos poll taken November 28-30, 2006 found that 75% of the respondents opposed replacing the dollar bill with the dollar coin. The poll was split 50/50 on the idea of having both the dollar bill and the dollar coin.

It appears that many people not only like their paper dollars, but also don’t see the need for a dollar coin. I think part of the reason that the dollar coin hasn’t caught on is that most people don’t like to carry change around with them. Paper money is lighter and easier to carry. However, if vending machines would take the dollar coins and stop taking paper dollars, I’ll bet that you would see the coins become more popular. Since it is unlikely that either or both of these things will happen, it looks like Uncle Sam is going to have to continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year printing dollar bills.

Even though the U.S. Mint won’t come out and say so, if you ask me, these new dollars are aimed at all the people who collect state quarters. I think the Mint already knows that these coins will not become popular currency, but that collectors will gobble them up. If casual collectors get in on this too, then the Mint will make quite a nice bit of profit from these coins.

I think the coins look great, but they don’t fill a need or serve a purpose. If the government really wanted us to switch to dollar coins, it could pull the bills from circulation and leave us no other choice, but they know that Americans love their bills, and making the switch isn’t worth the bad publicity. When the George Washington coin debuts on Thursday many of us will probably pick one up and stick it away, because to most Americans, coins make better collectibles than currency any day.

Related articles:

http://money.cnn.com/2007/02/12/news/presidential_dollar/index.htm?section=money_latest

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=2866951&page=3

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