An amazing thing happened to me last week. I realized yet again that I am not jaded about the hobby. I can still get very enthused about new things.
The specific trigger for this current outburst was the news that there is legislation in Congress to turn the reverse side of the Sacagawea dollar into an annual Native American commemorative.
That was music to my ears. As a collector I cannot tell you how appealing I have found the Indian Head cent design and that of the Buffalo nickel. The Saint-Gaudens Indian $10 gold piece and Pratt?s $2.50 and $5 are compelling also. My only problem with them is I could not afford to collect them all.
My experience tells me my sentiments are shared by a large number of other collectors of American coins, probably a majority. We went wild for the silver dollar commemorative of 2001 that carried the Buffalo nickel design.
Were Native American themes not consistently popular with collectors, I am sure the Mint would not now be producing the proof and uncirculated .9999 fine Buffalo gold coins. Collectors ponied up over $200 million to buy the first-year of issue proof coin. That?s putting our money where our mouths are.
Perhaps soon we will have an opportunity to focus our love of Native American themes on the reverse of the Sacagawea dollar. There is so much rich history to explore, tribes to embrace and culture to learn.
I hope Congress will adopt the measure. My sense is that it will, but these are early days yet and numismatic legislation must simmer on the legislative stove for a while.
The Sacagawea dollar has not languished unused because collectors have rejected it. We buy large numbers of proof sets, uncirculated coin sets, bags and rolls that the Mint cranks out. More purchases will be inspired by a new life to the reverse side of the coin.
Don?t think I don?t like the eagle on the reverse of the Sacagawea dollar. I do. But forgive me if I simply think, ?Been there, done that.?
We have eight years? worth of the new design and that is longer than either the Eisenhower dollar series or the Susan B. Anthony series. Besides, we would be changing just the reverse. It would still be the Sacagawea series much like the state quarter issues are a part of the overall Washington quarter series.
I will throw in one critical note just to prove I do not like everything. What appeals to me so much is the fact that the legislation applies only to the base metal dollar coin. There are no gold or silver versions of the coins. There are no high-priced companion issues like the First Spouse coins are to the Presidential dollar series.
The proposal for the Sacagawea dollar is a meat-and-potatoes issue that can be afforded by most collectors.
What?s more, they can actually be spent should the average American get over his aversion to dollar coins. I like that.
Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that coins that are actually spendable are superior to those that are made solely for the purpose of being sold to collectors.
This feeling isn?t a legal-tender issue. I know that the current Jamestown dollar is spendable technically. It simply is not made for that purpose.
I made this case when I supported the Presidential dollars when that legislation was introduced and when I opposed the First Spouse issues. But I can?t win them all.
The Sacagawea dollar can be spent. It was designed to be spent. Someday we may see that actually occur on a routine basis. Until then, we collectors can enjoy the historical treat of a Native American series of reverse designs.
So sign me up as a supporter of the Native American reverse idea. Let me know what you think about the proposal at firstname.lastname@example.org.