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What will be last dollar coin?

For many years I have supported the notion that the United States needed coins of higher value as inflation ate away the purchasing power of current coinage. But the American people have ignored the logic of higher value coins.

The Ike dollar came and went quickly. I obtained two at a bank in 1971 when they were issued, but even I, a collector, did not try to spend them. I was too busy going to high school and then to college and too short of funds anyway.

Ike’s last year was 1978.

We collectors watched the Susan B. Anthony dollar arrive in 1979. We were excited. Its production was suspended in 1981.

The Anthony passed into history, though it had an exciting end in 1999 when more dollar coins were actually needed by the banking system.

In the year 2000 the Sacagawea dollar came and then morphed into the collector-only Native American series. Advertisements to encourage its use were viewed not as a public service but as a government boondoggle – such was American resistance to the coin. Even collectors thought such ads were a waste of money.

Presidential dollars in 2007 put a new look on the denomination, but it was still no dice as far as wider use was concerned.

In 2011 production for circulation of all dollars was suspended. They are made now only for collectors.

How long will we collectors maintain our interest?

Collectors tend to focus on coins they are familiar with and have some experience using.

This is why many of us still fondly recall getting Buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters and Walking Liberty halves in change and have worked to collect them.

Our view of dollar coins is largely colored by our view of the Morgan dollar as an impressive coin that had a huge wow factor when we first encountered it.

But with so many failures to circulate, can even collectors maintain their interest in any new dollar coins in the future?

With the end of the Presidential series in sight there will be just the annual Native American coin to carry on.

This series might prove to be the gentle end of the denomination once and for all as flagging collector interest and advancing technology combine to close the door on the denomination in coin form once and for all.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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One Response to What will be last dollar coin?

  1. Vachon says:

    Why has this become the norm, do you think? When I look back on the adoption of the Euro, why did they opt for creating coins of such low value right from the start? Why didn’t they make the Euro 5 to 1 or 10 to 1 with the US dollar so that the small denominations would actually be able to purchase things? There are no countries around the world that I am aware of that have made any sort of attempt since the ending of the gold/silver standard to have their coins actually have purchasing power. I find this strange.

    As for the US, why have we kept coins in circulation that cannot buy anything? One would think if even ten coins of a particular denomination could no longer purchase even the most trivial of products that it would be discontinued but the reality has been the retention of coins whose purchasing power is nonexistent, practically promoted as a non interest-bearing metallic savings account rather than as useful money.

    It makes our resistance to a dollar coin all the more perplexing. By all accounts, there should be no coin smaller than the quarter and no currency smaller than the $20 bill (the $2, $5, and $10 bills to be replaced with coins). That would be a sensible coin system but instead we cling to this relic.

    I’ve read you often wondering about the future of coin collecting. My experiences show me that young people place no value on coins because they are effectively without value. They view them as a nuisance. Growing up, only quarters held any desire for me as their value added up significantly quickly. All other coins, especially cents and nickels were just not worth keeping: too much weight for too little value.

    Young people might be inspired by coins if they had a mystique to them but their trivial purchasing power makes them appear more like garbage. A combination of inflation and Congress have failed tomorrow’s collectors.

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