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Out of sight, out of mind

Whatever coin collectors might think of Presidential dollars, for the general public the coins are clearly slipping into the past – at least if a recent phone call is any guide.

The caller had a number of Presidential dollars that he had saved some years back and was wondering if they had any value.

He didn’t call them Presidential dollars. In fact in his first description he said he had a number of gold dollars.

I listened.

He said they were quite old. Some are dated in the 1700s and have George Washington’s picture on them, he continued.

When it was polite to reply, I told him that the George Washington dollars were issued in 2007. I told him the date was on the edge.

He stated the dates he saw along the rim on the obverse, 1789-1797.

“That’s old, isn’t it?”

I said that the dates referred to when George Washington was President. I explained that it wasn’t the intention of the government to confuse people, but that is in fact what happened because they put the actual date on the edge.

He began reading the dates on the rim again.

I said the issue date is not on the heads side or the tails side, it is on the edge.

He went back to the rim dates.

Then I said, stand the coin on the table, take a look at the little letters on the edge.

At that point he realized what I was trying to say.

I told him he could spend the dollar coins, or give them to family members, but for collectors they were just current coins and would not have any extra value.

He thanked me.

Then we went on to talk about the freezing rain here in Iola and the 80-degree-temperatures where he was.

It is no surprise to me that someone who does not collect coins would not immediately realize that the edge had a date on it.

It is beyond ordinary experience outside of those dollar coins.

Perhaps the caller doesn’t remember the initial release of the Presidential dollar coins and the hullabaloo stirred up by online allegations that “In God We Trust” had been removed from the coin.

That was just seven years ago, but that is long enough to have passed out of the public mind.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."