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Too many designs or not enough?

Should we have five designs each year on all denominations of U.S. coinage, cents through dollars?

We have gotten used to five designs a year on quarters since 1999.

We had four Presidential dollars each year 2007-2015 (three in 2016) issued alongside annual Native American designs.

We even had four cent designs in 2009.

A continuation of this state of affairs for quarters and dollars is all but assured.

Legislation requiring four designs a year on the dollar coin while preserving the Native American dollar as the fifth annual design is in the President’s hands and looks like it is about to become law.

The dollar schedule as laid out is to have a duration of 14 years.

The American Innovation $1 Coin Act would anchor dollar coin themes to state and territories starting in 2019.

They would be issued in the same order the state quarter program unfolded, with the Delaware innovators being first dollar coin theme.

The current America the Beautiful quarter program expires in early 2021 after 56 issues.

There is a bill in Congress to succeed it.

It is called “Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act.”

There would be five designs a year to take us through the states, territories and the District of Columbia.

The legislation was introduced in March, and there is only one co-sponsor.

If this quarter program is not authorized, you can bet another one will be.

While we are at it, should we have five designs a year on the cent, nickel, dime and half dollar, too?

What’s to stop this from happening? Self-restraint by Congress?

Imagine being on the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee tasked with reviewing multiple submissions for each of 30 new designs a year in addition to commemoratives and medals.

Collectors have long recognized that they are viewed in Congress as cows to be milked for more and more funds.

The odd thing is that the more coin programs that have come down the pike, the lower individual mintages get.

Collectors have only so much discretionary money to apply to their hobby.

They are now dividing those funds across a greater number of new issues.

Some have given up on new issues completely and focus instead on classic issues where mintages are known and secondary market prices do not include a portion that goes to the government as profits and/or surcharges.

But this reality does not impinge on the Congressional stage, where the impulse to appease special-interest constituents can be given free rein without resulting in a bill to taxpayers generally – just to coin collectors specifically.

Do you think Congress will stop with quarters and dollars?

In my mind, the only question is which denomination will begin multiplying next.

The 75th anniversary of the Roosevelt dime arrives in 2021.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”


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2 Responses to Too many designs or not enough?

  1. Vachon says:

    This “circulating commemoratives” era of U.S. coinage is definitely played out. The state quarters were fine though it certainly lacked for artistry. Maybe had Elizabeth Jones remembered her appointment to Chief Engraver was a lifetime post, she’d’ve still been at the helm and had the necessary competent staff to execute the State Quarter designs better.

    The changing designs on the dollar coin was a bad idea since the coins don’t circulate. It only creates confusion among those put in a position to accept them as payment. They should’ve kept striking the Sacagawea design from 2000 and let it be until the coin can circulate. (also putting the date on the edge was a poor choice, especially for the Native American designs…that weird gap on the obverse where the date used to be and the $1 makes the coin look cheap. Maybe had the Presidential coins put the name of the President, his order, and years he served on the coin’s edge, it might’ve been better or at least superficially more educational. One would pick up the coin, ask who this President is, and you can check the edge to see if you got it right)

    Coins should be a part of a series, with only changing dates, like they used to be. They lose meaning when it’s a one and done deal plus it makes collecting from circulation dull (one from Philadelphia and one from Denver and you’re done). I think these circulating commemoratives additionally suffer because they are only partial redesigns owing to Congress and the Treasury Department being too timid to alter the current portraiture line-up. I’m not sure it made sense to have Washington on the obverse of these state series.

    Eh, I’m rambling.

  2. Does anyone ever consider cost? Obvious no. By what’s coming out of the mint these days I’m terrified that our coinage will be the worst in the world. O.K. let’s change it all do you have any idea what would it will do to our country? No you don’t. What if they don’t like the new designs what then. Back to the drawing board. Don’t use to much copper or nickel. There will be no silver. No half dollar. Remember someone has to go on all these coins. That’s the first problem but there are so many experts I’m sure they can get all the ducks in a row and due it in at least ten fifteen years. That’s just for who’s going on it. I love these articles. Let’s just write write something to change our coinage and currency. I’m not to thrilled with most of the engraver’s anyway that’s my opinion. But no one is buying the coins and only collectors complain about changing everything. The average citizen doesn’t care who’s on what as long as they take it at the store. Please in all my years these articles are old.

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