The first four Presidential dollar coin designs were unveiled Nov. 20 in a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution?s National Portrait Gallery.
Joining Mint Director Edmund C. Moy for the 10 a.m. ceremony were Marc Pachter, director of the gallery, and Louise Roseman of the Federal Reserve.
The first of the new coins, featuring the portrait of George Washington, will be introduced to circulation Feb. 15 during Presidents Day. His coin will be followed by those for John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison at roughly quarterly intervals.
Four coins will be issued in each subsequent year much like the state quarter program, though no living President or ex-President can be honored by the series. Only those who have been dead for two or more years can appear.
The coins are made of the same copper-zinc-manganese-nickel clad copperalloy as the Sacagawea dollar, which also will continue to be struck, though the surface will be treated a bit differently to slow the tarnishing process.
The common reverse for all four coins shows the Statue of Liberty and the $1 denomination.
Unique to these coins, the date and mintmark will appear on the edge as will the mottoes, ?In God We Trust? and ?E Pluribus Unum.? ?Liberty? will not appear because the Statue of Liberty is considered a substitute.
?The new Presidential $1 coins are an educational and fun way to learn about former Presidents,? said Moy.
?Our research indicates that, like the 50 state quarters coins, the Presidential $1 coins will be popular with millions of Americans,? Moy added, citing Mint estimates that close to half the population collect coins.
Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., and Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., original sponsors of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 also participated in the ceremony.
National news media covered the event and the usual coin-versus-paper money debate ensued. A spot AOL poll of 7,000 said 58 percent of Americans would be willing to try the new coin. But the usual hobby consensus emerged that the coin would play second fiddle as long as there is a paper dollar.