Tuesday, April 03, 2007


"The initial public demand for the Golden Dollar has been extraordinarily strong," said [the Mint Director], "and it is clear that this enthusiasm is fueling demand from banks and retailers. We are hearing from many banks and retailers who have not ordered ... dollars in years, if ever. As a result, we have a backlog of orders we will be filling over the next several weeks. We are working closely with the Federal Reserve to expedite shipments to banks, and we are rapidly increasing production of Golden Dollars."

"Especially gratifying," the [Mint Director] continued, "is what we are hearing from the American people. They are telling us the coins are beautiful ... it is clear that we have exceeded all expectations for the coin's acceptance by the public."

Sounds like the new Presidential dollar series is a winner, doesn't it? The accolades can't get much better than this. So has the new Presidential dollar series really been accepted by the public?

Umm, I have a little secret to tell you. . . . The U.S. Mint press release above was actually released in February 2000. It is announcing the overwhelming success of the new Sacagawea dollar. You know, that dollar coin we all use now in place of the dollar bill.

So just how successful was the Sacagawea . . . really?

Well just by emptying our pockets and looking at our change tells you how well it did at replacing the dollar bill. I have one in my pocket that I got in change from a vending machine. But it's been in my pocket for years. It's not doing much circulating. Recently it was joined by a Washington dollar that I also got from a vending machine.

But was the Sacagawea program really a success?

There was over $1.2 billion worth of dollars minted in 2000 versus a mere $40 million in 1999. With a cost of around 12 cents per coin to mint, that translated to an increase in the Mint's gross profit for the dollar coin from about $35,200,000 to a gross profit of around $1,056,000,000 - an increase of 3000%.

A billion dollar increase in your profit; I'd say that was a success. But within just a couple of years, annual dollar production dropped to about $7 million and has headed downwards ever since.

So what about the new Presidential dollars?

I believe that there were less than $5 million of Sacagawea dollars minted in 2006. If all four Presidential dollars - Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison - are minted in quantities of $300 million dollars each as currently planned, that would be $1.2 billion dollars, just shy of the Sacagawea total in 2000. But wait . . . with the law stating that at least one-third of the total dollar production must be the Sacagawea dollar each year, that's another $600 million dollars for a 2007 total of $1.8 billion dollars - an increase of 36,000% over 2006!

Now I'm sure the cost of producing the dollar is more than the 12 cents of seven years ago, but it's also not close to being a money loser like the cent or nickel. The fact that they will be issuing four new Presidential coins a year and with all the Washington error coins generating interest, they should be able to keep the total mintage figures in the years ahead much higher than the dwindling Sacagawea number of the past few years.

So I would say from Congress's point of view, it sure seems to be a success. If somehow the public actually did accept the dollar coin over the dollar bill, then that would keep the mintage totals even higher each year and the profit that much better. That would also require a more controversial decision by Congress to do away with the dollar bill, which in itself, would be a savings. But Congress usually takes the easy way out, so I don't see that happening anytime soon.

So if they haven't said it already about the Presidential dollars, I'm sure we will hear this soon:

"Especially gratifying, is what we are hearing from the American people. They are telling us the coins are beautiful ... it is clear that we have exceeded all expectations for the coin's acceptance by the public."


At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article! Only time will tell whether the new Presidential series is a success, but my view is people are drawn to this coin because of the errors.

I'm seeing dealers sell these for anywhere from $1.75 to $4.00 each; higher for so called unsearched rolls.

Sadly, this is one of the most uninspired designs in history. And isn't it a bit odd that those who achieved the top office in the nation are honored with a gold colored coin, while their spouses get the higher denomination coins minted in real gold??

And, on the subject of ugly coins, could the Mint have possibly made these poor women look worse?

I think we should all write Mint Director Moy a letter urging the organization to stop competing with coin dealers by coming up with trite and uninspired coin designs!

At 2:23 PM, Blogger A.C. Dwyer (aka The Arlington Collection) said...

I agree with the notion that people are drawn to this coin because of the errors. But that being said, I also would be surprised if there were no errors with future presidential dollars. If the Mint was smart, they'd let quality control go lax every so often to help boost interest.

Remember how all those doubled die obverses kept popping up in the quarter series would start re-generating interest in the quarters?

At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have yet to see a presidential dollar coin in circulation. The only time I've ever seen any was at the Post Office when some poor guy bought stamps with a twenty and got dollar coins in change. He was pretty livid, so I bought them off him.
Here's why I don't like them.
The obverse of the presidential dollar coin resembles a Shell Oil promotional souvenir brass token they issued in the 1960s. By removing the mottoes and the dates to the edge, the mint has made these coins even look like tokens.
The reverse of the coin is a poor redition of a beautiful statue. I'm sure the artist was capable of creating an allegorical Liberty figure that would have done the coin some justice, but his hands (and creativity) were bound by the requirements imposed by a bureaucrat who doesn't even understand why coins have designs.
It's as if the US Mint had said, "Let's look at some of the most beautiful coin designs in world history, the output of our own mint from the first quarter of the 20th century, and dishonor those artists by creating designs that are as far away from them as possible."

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous DONNa GUTHRIE said...

I am a children's author with a new website that I think your readers might enjoy. It is called MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual Field Trips for Kids. (www.meetmeatthecorner.org).

We have a new video podcast about the MONEY MUSEUM , coin collecting and the new Lincoln penny.

Would you look at the website and consider telling your readers about us in your next post?

I appreciate your help in getting the word out about our new site to coin collectors both young and old.

Donna Guthrie


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