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Your Take: Presidential $1 Dollar Coins

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Dollar CoinsThe sad reality that about a billion dollars in dollar coins currently sits in Federal Reserve vaults has been circulating the last week or so, a staggering sum considering we keep producing them because of a Congressional mandate. The idea behind dollar coins is simple – a coin lasts longer than a bill. We’re supposed to save money by using coins… except we didn’t do away with the dollar bill. All things being equal, people are going to prefer a lighter, foldable bill to a heavier coin. A dollar bill fits in my wallet, a coin will not. If a dollar bill exists, I won’t be using the coin. It seems like simple logic.

How often did you see the larger dollar coin with President Eisenhower? We didn’t use that, why the heck would we use one with other presidents on it?

What makes it more comedic is the sad fact that Congress thought popularity would increase if we made a lot of these coins with different presidents on it, thinking it would be as popular as the program with the quarters. Those were popular because you could collect them. There was a set number (50) and collecting them all cost you exactly $12.50. No one is collecting these coins at a dollar a pop.

I use dollar coins in very rare instances – those cases where we need a small amount of cash. We use it whenever we go to our local bagel place, when we go to the farmer’s market and when I lose bets on the golf course (I lose a lot of them but we usually don’t collect).

Do you use dollar coins? What would get you to use them?

(Photo: joshandrews)

{ 50 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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50 Responses to “Your Take: Presidential $1 Dollar Coins”

  1. michael says:

    the only thing that would get me to use dollar coins would be withdrawing the bill from circulation.

  2. STRONGside says:

    I really don’t use them at all. In fact, we have a change jar in our house, and typically I will swap out dollar coins for quarters or for dollar bills out of the change jar in the rare occurence I would get them. These then get deposited directly to the bank into our savings account. So in reality, I don’t use them at all.

  3. zapeta says:

    I would use them if I ever received any in change. I think they should simply remove the dollar bill from circulation. They’ve done it in many other countries with no problem and it would save the government some money.

    • echidnina says:

      Yes, if they ever just discontinued the dollar bills and forced people to use the coins, they would be able to switch. In the UK they have £1 and £2 coins (the smallest bill denomination is £5), and it works out fine.

    • uclalien says:

      Here’s a funny video discussing the same topic about pennies and nickels.

      “It costs the United States mint 1.7 cents to make a penny. Which means every year $70 million of federal tax money goes to subsidizing the existence of the penny.”

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        I’ve never really understood this. If it costs too much to make penny’s, why don’t they find a way to make them cheaper (change the perecentages of the materials, etc.)

        • MikeZ says:

          I think the penny has reached the point of no return on that factor. They probably could figure out how to make a penny for less than one penny but you’d have to make even more of them so costs would go up. For example suppose I could make a nice counterfeit proof penny out of cardboard for less than one penny. It would only last for about 2 weeks in your pocket so you’d have to quickly get it to a bank so they could turn it in for a replacement.

          1.7 cents for a penny is still cheaper than .2 cents for a penny if you have to make the cheap one 10 times more often. The real solution is to just dump them altogether.

  4. Glenn Lasher says:

    I use them when I get them. I would actually like to see the $1 bill taken out of circulation (nothing personal, George) so that they will start to work.

    I was considering buying a bunch of them and then applying a policy to $1 bills similar to the one I have on pennies and nickels: I don’t carry them, and if I get them in change, I put them into a jar to be taken in to the bank later.

  5. JJ says:

    In 1783, when the signing of the Treaty of Paris ended the revolutionary war, there was no circulating national coinage. Foreign currencies were often used in transactions. British, Spanish, French, and German coins were all still in use, along with the coins of the different states, their value varying appreciably from one state to another. In New England, for example, six shillings made a dollar, while in New York eight shillings made a dollar. In the entire country 1783, there were three banks. The sentiment at the time was to use George Washington’s portrait on the first U.S. coinage.

    On Jan 9, 1792, Robert Morris introduced a bill in the Senate calling for “an impression or representation of the head of the president of the United States for the time being”. An eagle was to appear on the other side of the gold and silver coins.

    Morris had already hired Pennsylvanian Peter Getz in 1791 to produce dies to illustrate his concept of coinage devices. Getz, assisted by Robert Birch, engraved dies intended for a half dollar and a cent. The obverses depict President Washington, with the reverses of each depicting an eagle. Half dollar patterns of copper and silver were struck in December 1791 in Philadelphia and distributed in the Senate when the Morris bill was introduced. The bill passed the Senate Jan. 12.

    Meanwhile, Getz’s cent-sized pattern pieces depicting Washington were produced and distributed in the House of Representatives when the coinage legislation was debated in that chamber. There the idea of depicting the president was received less favorably than in the Senate.

    According to Don Taxay in his “The United States Mint and Coinage”, the copper cent patterns “provoked a storm of criticism because of the “monarchical” effigy of the president’s head. Washington himself seems to have disapproved of the device,” according to a Mint official in 1861.

    James Ross Snowden, Mint director from June 1854 to April 1861, wrote years after the 1792 debate: “It is a well-ascertained fact that Washington did not favor the proposition to place his likeness upon the coins of the United States. It is even said, that when several specimens of that description were exhibited to him, for inspection and approbation, he indignantly ordered the dies to be destroyed; and expressed his desire that there should be placed on the coins an ideal head of Liberty”.

    The house rejected the idea of a presidential portrait on the national coinage. A motion was introduced in the House March 24th to replace the presidential portrait with a design “Emblematic of Liberty”. One member, John Page, commented on why he supported the change. He noted that it was the custom of monarchies to place a portrait or figure of their king on their coins, possibly “to show to whom the coin belonged” or to illustrate to the ignorant “a kind of chronological account of their kings”. Neither was necessary in

    the United States, Page said “… I am certain it will be more agreeable to the citizens of the United States, to see the head of Liberty on their coins, than the heads of Presidents.”

    The house rejected Presidential portraits and the amended bill passed by a large majority March 26th. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792, became law, and it was Liberty, not the sitting president, who would appear on the nation’s first coinage. It would be more than 100 years, until, in 1909 the Bureau of the Mint produced the first circulating U.S. coin to depict an American president (the Lincoln penny).

    US coinage once represented our country’s long standing value of freedom over Tyranny. Now they represent the presidents?

    • uclalien says:

      Ironically, Washington was opposed to having his or any other president’s face on the US’s currency. He found it too similar to the monarchs in Europe that did the same. Now his face is on a coin and a bill.

      • tbork84 says:

        The CharlieCard (metro card) machines in and around Boston issue all change in coins, so that was my first experience with dollar coins. Other than a few people not thinking they were real, I don’t mind using them.

  6. I’m going back to buying these with my credit card for the rewards hustle. That NPR story on the coins made me sick.

  7. mannymacho says:

    I don’t use dollar coins, but I very rarely use cash for that matter. I read an article that dollar coins were popular in places like Ecuador and Panama that use US currency and still have a lot of cash trasnactions. The problem is that, here, most people only use coins for vending machines and laundromats, and half of these still don’t accept the dollar coins.

  8. Martha says:

    I like them, I use them frequently and especially at parking meters. They can be much more effective than carrying around $3 in quarters!

  9. daenyll says:

    I’m if someone convinced a designer to bring back coin purses and got a few celebs caught on entertainment tv using them for dollar coins the demand might see a boost. I like the idea, but rarely use any cash

    • echidnina says:

      Maybe someone should bring coin purses over from the UK. They’re all over here 🙂

      • lostAnnfound says:

        Last time I was in London I went shopping with my cousin at Harrod’s. I remember a clerk there showing us a small purse that would probably fit a few coins, an ID & cell phone…maybe; it was not very big at all… and only cost £5,000!!

  10. Mark says:

    “I was considering buying a bunch of them and then applying a policy to $1 bills similar to the one I have on pennies and nickels: I don’t carry them, and if I get them in change, I put them into a jar to be taken in to the bank later.”

    This defies logic.

  11. SarahB says:

    We’ve been using dollar coins since the Presidential Dollar coins came out. Unfortunately, the banks aren’t carrying them anymore because they don’t want them. None of the banks we have accounts at even have them, all three banks told me that banks simply aren’t ordering them from the mints anymore. So we started buying them straight from the mint using our credit card, which we then get reward points on. We then use dollar coins for small purchases like hot chocolate, pop, snacks, thrift store items, and tolls when we travel out of state. There have been a few times where I’ve had more dollar coins in my wallet than paper bills, so I’ve used $10 in dollar coins to pay for a small purchase.

  12. qixx says:

    i use them to pay for parking or to pay for the bus. i also use them to pay my discover card (at sears). i get them mainly to hit my $3000 credit card threshold to kick in the higher bonuses each year.

  13. echidnina says:

    When I was in the US, I never saw the dollar coins. I remember it being a real novelty to receive a Sacagawea or whatnot in your change. When people don’t use them in favor of bills, they never get into circulation so the people who would use them, never even get them.

    Lots of countries have larger denomination coins, including the UK. It’s actually kind of nice — at the end of the day, that change rattling around in your pocket isn’t worthless!

    If they ever decide to stop printing the dollar bills, then the coins will succeed. But until then, people are always going to be in favor of the lighter $1 bills.

  14. Aaron says:

    We should take the $1 bill out of circulation and beef up the number of $2 bills out there. Today’s dollar has the purchasing power of two dollars from 1984, so it makes sense to me. Today’s dollar is worth the same as a quarter in 1975, so if they had no problem carrying quarters around back then, we should be OK carrying dollar coins now.

  15. skylog says:

    as others have said, get rid of the dollar bill. as long as the dollar remains, i can not find a way that people will use these.

  16. Matt says:

    While you’re at it…get rid of the penny!

  17. govenar says:

    Instead of switching from bills to coins, just make it all electronic.

    • Shirley says:

      I believe we’re getting closer to that all the time.

    • Robert Wayne says:

      No way govenar. Making everything electronic sounds too much like the mark of the beast spoken of in the Bible. I think that mark will actually be some sort of computer chip put under the skin.

  18. Stephanie says:

    I’ve only gotten them as change from a ticket kiosk (for public transit). I’ll be honest, I do collect coins, both the quarters and now the dollar coins. I don’t actively seek them out, I just set them aside when I find one. Yes, that could cost me a pretty penny (pun intended :P) but I don’t really mind. I’m mostly just pulling them out of circulation. I wonder what would happen if more people collected these coins? How would that impact the flow of money?

  19. I could never use them. They would never fit in the micro sized wallet I carry.

  20. Shirley says:

    My husband has two “collector” albums that he is filling out as the $1 presidential coins come out. Our CU orders them as they become available. These will be set aside for our two youngest grandchildren who are now pre-school age. While they certainly are not an investment, they may one day be a novelty.

  21. cubiclegeoff says:

    The only time i have these are when i get them as change from a vensing or other machine. But this is rare. And since i rarely use cash, i have no reason to use them.

  22. Brandon says:

    I use them daily. I get them from the change machine at work. I like them. Does not bother me to carry them as opposed to the dollar bill. I will continue as long as they are made.

  23. Anonymous says:

    As of yet I’ve never even seen these in regular circulation.

  24. BrianC says:

    They have been useful in helping meet some credit card spending requirements, but from what I can tell they are not highly circulated at all.

  25. NCN says:

    I love the dollar coins, but have had trouble on a couple of occasions, when retailers were convinced they weren’t “real”. Seriously. When I was a kid, it was always a treat to get a “silver dollar” or a “fifty cent piece” or a two dollar bill from my grandfather. Each time I see these, I think of him.

    • Robert Wayne says:

      Good Lord, what kind of storekeeper would be stupid enough to not know that dollar coins are legal tender?

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