Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sacagawea and Presidential Dollars: A Second Chance at Circulating

Last week, I posted an article that expressed my view that the new dollar coins are doomed after multiple personal attempts to try and spend them. (Read article)

Using the U.S. Mint's direct shipment program, I received 10 rolls of the new 2009 Sacagawea $1 coins in the mail. That's 250 coins! Since I only wanted one roll for my collection, that left me with nine rolls to spend. (That's the whole idea behind the direct shipment program, to help get the coins into circulation) So in the article, I related my attempts and frustration at trying to spend those coins. By the time I wrote the article, I had given up.

Then I received a comment on the article from someone else that was having no problems at spending the coins. An observation they made was that perhaps the fact they were in a college town made the difference. So I decided to give it another shot and this time, I was going to pay attention to the age of the clerks accepting the coins.

Well, I am happy to say that I am well on my way to releasing those nine rolls into circulation. Age seems to make all the difference. While baby boomers seem to do nothing but complain about the coins, generation X and Y don't even bat an eye when I hand them the coins. It's actually gotten to the point now where I actually get a kick out of giving the old fogeys the coins just to piss them off.

I recently went to lunch with a couple of baby boomers and when the check came, I pulled out a $5 bill and five $1 coins to pay my part. My two lunchmates were so embarassed by the coins that they wouldn't let me pay with them. The waiter, on the other hand, was young enough that I'm convinced that their fears were unfounded.

So, while I've always been convinced that the dollar coins have no real chance at circulating until we remove the dollar bill, I'm now revising that view a little. I now believe that by the time the Presidential dollar series comes to an end, enough baby boomers will have met their maker and been replaced by a maturing generation X and Y that the coins may actually begin to circulate.

My suggestion to the U.S. Mint:

Stop with the marketing geographically to certain cities (Austin, etc.) and focus more on demographics. Go after the younger generation. Get the coins to circulate in and around schools and universities. Go after the thousands of college towns across the country. I believe if you can get a younger generation to accept the coins, the future for them will be secure.

Or better yet, let's finally do away with the dollar bill!


At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Los Angeles I have only had problems passing the older Susan B's that look too much like a quarter. Clerks have to stop and look at each coin. The gold coloring cured that problem. On withdrawing the dollar: The British withdrew the £1 bill replacing it with the £1 coin. That seemed to work quite well even though the coin is quite heavy. An interesting problem is that the £1 coin is now frequently counterfeited. Would we see the same or is the dollar not worth enough to counterfeit?

At 1:13 AM, Anonymous Silver Dollar Finder said...

I like the insight about younger people people more accepting of the dollar coins.

Perhaps this is because people tend to be more open minded when they are younger, before they have become set in their ways and beliefs. Perhaps it is because people who grew up more recently have been exposed to a greater amount of technological and institutional change and therefore stay more open-minded. Perhaps those who work customer service or as waitresses feel they are just doing it as a temporary job, and therefore are more cheerful about it.

The real question is whether they will actually use dollar coins themselves in daily business transactions. The public in the past has consistently chosen not to use them, in part because bills are easier to carry and can be counted more quickly and accurately. In any event, as a collector, I'm glad to see the mint making the coins. And they should get some use at least within certain niches.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger A.C. Dwyer said...

A quick update to this post: I did finally spend all the 2009 Sacagawea's I got in the Direct Shipment program and I actually found that I miss them in some situations.

Now that many of the stores around my home have self-checkouts(i.e. grocery store, hardware store, etc.), I find that I actually like using the coins.

I make frequent small purchases at these places and I don't always like to be pulling out my credit card to charge small amounts. The coins are much quicker to use and seldom fail at the self-checkouts.

I now keep 4 or 5 in my pants pocket, and you know what?

The weight of the coins doesn't seem to be pulling my pants down around my ankles like I thought it would.

So just last week I received a second box of Sacagawea's to spend. I'm sure this box will disappear much quicker.


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