I am in a statistical frame of mind this week. Yesterday it was state quarters. Today I have the mintage figures for the Presidential dollars before me.
Collectors believe you need to abolish the paper $1 bill to get anybody to use dollar coins. Until then, old habits and loyalties dominate usage patterns.
These old habits dictate a death spiral for the Presidential dollar, though the Mint has just launched a four-city effort to avert this. Will it be enough?
Well on the one hand, the statistics do not yet show that rigor mortis has set in for the Presidential dollar. Mintage numbers are still significant but they do point straight down. Each succeeding design has a lower mintage than the one before it.
Washington sits with a 340,360,000 combined total from Denver and Philadelphia.
Adams follows with 224,560,000. Thomas Jefferson sits at 203,610,000 and Madison is at 172,340,000.
That makes the 2007 first-year total approximately 941 million.
This year the Monroe dollar total is 124,490,000 while the John Quincy Adams is 115,260,000.
If the pattern holds, Andrew Jackson will be lower still. That decline will suit American Indian tribes who are complaining that Jackson should not even be honored at all because of his policies toward Native Americans. There will be a few more Presidents against which this issue can be raised as a reason not to use the coins.
Other than the paid optimism of those executing Mint strategy, it is hard to see success at the end of this effort.