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How quickly we forget

We have come full circle in the news cycle regarding Presidential dollars.

Why do I say that?

Well, in the summer of 2011 the U.S. Mint and the Federal Reserve were under scrutiny because supplies on hand at the Federal Reserve were backing up massively to the tune of 1.4 billion coins. The Fed had plans to spend millions of dollars to create a storage facility in Dallas to hold the unwanted dollars and to ship all of the excess coins there from around the country.

The excess supply was the result of the public resisting using the dollar coin yet the Mint was required by law to go on making about 300 million a year.

In December of 2011, the Administration announced with a flourish that production of the coins would be cut back to levels where they would be supplied only to collectors and not to the banking system.

End of problem. Savings of $50 million a year were forecast.

Human memory is a strange thing. We are now approximately 10 months into the new policy. Some have never heard of it or have completely forgotten it – and we have years to go before the Presidential series is concluded.

I just received a letter that is a cry of frustration from a collector.

Some of what he writes is as follows: “We have the Presidential $1 sets and albums. As my regular routine I have (or had) my local bank save rolls of these. Now the Mint has decided not to issue them to the banks. When the Mint lists them (to sell) they are at a high, high premium.

“How does the Mint expect a collector to continue if this is their new policy? My grandson can’t afford to pay these premiums and I won’t.

“Why do we have to pay over face value on a regular issue coin? It doesn’t seem fair and serves to discourage young collectors.”

There is no way to answer such a letter without sounding deliberately evasive or hurtful.

You can’t tell a grandfather defending the future of his grandson that it wasn’t the Mint that authorized the series and then took it back. It was congressional action followed by the Administration under pressure from the public and members of Congress to reverse course.

But the Mint gets the blame.

I don’t know who the banker was who got the first Presidential coins for the writer of the letter, but he deserves a medal of appreciation. He's the hero of this story.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."