Come July the final dollar coin of the Presidential series will become available. For those collectors who have been collecting the series since it began, their nine and a half year effort will come to a close.
Waiting for nearly a decade for a series to be completed is a long time for collectors, but just think how much the country has changed in that time.
In 2007 when the series began, it had been nearly two years since the 2005 authorization legislation had been passed.
It was a time before the Great Recession had begun.
We had been so hopeful. Perhaps at last the dollar coin would find some popularity after the failure of the Ike dollar, the Anthony dollar and the Sacagawea dollar.
Headlines we got. Notoriety we got. But dollar popularity? Not in your life.
No sooner than the very first coin in the series was issued honoring George Washington than the online rumors started that “In God We Trust” had been taken off the coin.
It had been moved to the edge.
In looking for a villain some collectors could not believe that years of Mint officials listening to collectors at coin shows in the early 2000s had in part inspired fully using the “third side of the coin.”
Of course, there was no mass confession of numismatic culpability.
Congress, as it did a century earlier in 1908, was pushed into dealing with a public outcry over the national motto.
Of course, in 1908, the motto truly was missing. The Saint-Gaudens designs of 1907 deliberately had left it off, reflecting President Theodore Roosevelt’s wishes.
In 2008 the motto was merely invisible to anyone who only saw photographs of obverse and reverse.
So the motto was put on the obverse in 2009 and for every year of issue since.
Did the movement of the motto and the headlines about it help the collecting hobby?
They didn’t seem to.
By 2011 the Federal Reserve had over a billion dollar coins in costly storage and the administration caved. No more would be struck for circulation.
The fourth dollar series since 1935 had failed.
There probably won’t be a fifth series of dollar coins.
Even the last year of issue phenomenon that collectors are familiar with, where the public keeps souvenirs of a disappearing coin does not seem to be working.
So far 2016 mintages have tailed off from higher figures achieved by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in 2015.
Without a dollar series to kick around what might happen?
For the Anthony dollar, the end in 1981 proved to be only a long pause. It was revived in 1999 for a year because the coin was needed by transit authorities.
That isn’t likely to happen again in our world of electronic payments.
Perhaps future collectors who did not participate during the time Presidential dollars were available will grow nostalgic for the days when the U.S. government issued dollar coins, but we won’t know that until the year 2040 or 2050.
Perhaps in the year 2107 there will actually be a version made of real gold to celebrate the Centennial of the Presidential series.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
- If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you’ll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.