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New Presidential Dollar Coins Start to Circulate

Jul 23, 2008
The United States Mint has recently launched a new series of circulating dollar coins to honor the Presidents of the United States. The Presidential Dollar series will feature four different obverse designs each year, honoring the nation's leaders in the order served. This new coin series is the latest attempt to produce a series of small size circulating dollar coins.

The Mint's first attempt to create a circulating dollar coin was the Susan B. Anthony Dollar. This small size dollar coin featured a likeness of the famous figure in woman's suffrage. These coins were extremely unpopular with the public since they were similar in size and appearance to the quarter dollar coin. The coins were struck for circulation in 1979 and 1980, and then struck for coin collectors in 1981 and 1999.

The second attempt to produce a series of circulating small sized dollars was the Sacagawea Dollar. These coins were launched in the year 2000 with much fanfare. To overcome the similarity with the quarter dollar coin, the Mint utilized a special manganese brass alloy which was golden in color. The coins also featured a smooth edge compared to the quarter dollar's reeded edge. Although the coin was met with some initial excitement, it was struck for circulation only for only two years, in 2000 and 2001. From 2002 onwards, the coin has only been struck for coin collectors.

The latest series of circulating dollar coins is the Presidential Dollar. The series was authorized by the Presidential Dollar Coin Act (Public Law 109-145). This time around, the Act specifically includes a requirement for the Director of the United States Mint to undertake activities which increase public awareness of the dollar coin and promote its circulation. The Mint has already engaged a public relations firm specifically for this purpose, in addition to other activities.

The coin's design is meant to be one of the main selling points for the general public. The Act includes language which specifically portrays the series as an attempt to revitalize the design of United States coinage and promote coins as objects of beauty. The coin's obverse design features a portrait of the President being honored. Inscriptions are also included which list the years in office and the order served. All coins have a common reverse design featuring the Statue of Liberty, intended to symbolize the concept of liberty.

The dollar coins also feature special edge lettering. Incused on the edges of the coin are the year of mintage,the mint mark, and the phrases "E Pluribus Unum" and "In God We Trust." When the coins were first released, this edge lettering caused some controversy as some people mistakenly believed that the motto "In God We Trust" had been omitted from the coin.

Will the new dollar coin series ever gain widespread circulation? The mintages for each subsequent coin in the series have declined, showing lessening demand as the series progresses. Many believe that the coins will not circulate widely unless the government takes a drastic step such as removing paper dollars from circulation. Time will tell if the latest attempt to produce a circulating small size dollar pays off.
About the Author
Michael Zielinski is an internet entrepreneur and coin collector. Learn more about Presidential Dollars as the series progresses. Stay up to date with the latest coin collecting news.
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