Premature releases of the new Washington Presidential $1 were reported in the week leading up to the official release date of Feb. 15.
Reader Kim Romohr of Randolph, Neb., was the first to report the early release to Numismatic News. She also mailed an example which reached the paper Feb. 13.
Romohr said, ?Today, Feb. 7, my local bank had a sign posted that the Washington dollar was available. I bought five of them, 2007-D?s.
?Contrary to others, I frequently use my SBA?s, Sacs and now soon these new coins in everyday transactions and for tips. My twenty-something daughters enjoy my giving them these coins to spend where they live. If nothing else, the surprised, sometimes stunned looks on retailers? faces make these coins well worth using.?
Romohr said the bank was the First State Bank of Randolph, Neb. She also said she shared the story of the coins with her students.
?As a teacher here, I have made it a point that whenever appropriate I show my classes, which range from junior high to 11th graders, individual coins. My passing around the new Washington dollar brought some oohs and wide-eyed stares as many did not know about the new coins coming. The next generation of collectors sits before me and others. Like a plant, though, it has to be exposed to the sunshine, which in this case would be the interesting coins that are out there.?
On Feb. 9, another reader was able to report success in obtaining the new coins. Dan O?Mahony of Greenwood, Ark., said ?I wanted to let you know that I received the George Washington dollar coins at the bank today.?
When asked what bank it was, he said it was Bancorpsouth (Greenwood, Ark., location). ?We got them to use in our video store to give as change to promote the new coin.?
O?Mahony got a box of 1,000 of the dollar coins.
The Mint was asked if it had a comment about the premature releases, but nothing was forthcoming by press time.
Certainly whatever the Mint says, it won?t be like what happened in 1979 when the Susan B. Anthony coin was released. In that year, a premature release led to a criminal prosecution by the government.
Unlike in 1979, the lead time this year was just two weeks. Banks could order them Feb. 1. The official release date, marked by the presence of Mint Director Edmund C. Moy in New York City at Grand Central Terminal?s Vanderbilt Hall, was Feb. 15.
Things moved more slowly in 1979. The premature release occurred three months ahead of the official July 2 release date. They showed up at the Central States Numismatic Society convention April 28, 1979, in Dearborn, Mich., and the 1,000 or so coins were sold for $2 each on the bourse floor for the novelty value.
This time, the environment was more laid back. Brandie Sigler, a new member of the Numismatic News staff, got to examine the new coin, including the edge, which features the date, the ?D? mintmark and the legends, ?In God We Trust? and ?E Pluribus Unum.?
The Mint wants to encourage the use of the new coin and a little excitement just before the official launch is a useful push in that direction.
Washington?s portrait is on obverse of the new coin and the Statue of Liberty and the $1 denomination on the reverse. The coin is made of the same composition as the Sacagawea dollar coin and has the same golden color.
Check your local bank, dealer advertisements and the Mint?s Web site to obtain the new coins.
Three more Presidents will be honored this year and First Spouse half-ounce gold coins will be issued starting in May.