From the Mar. 17 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:
Was it a mistake to put Susan B. Anthony on the dollar instead of Liberty?
Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.
It absolutely was a mistake. In 1979, no one ever heard of her except academics. For the coin that represents the country’s currency unit, something universal and part of our collective psyche would’ve been necessary. 1979 being just 10 years after, the moon landing would have worked. Neil Armstrong on the obverse would have paired with the reverse better.
That being said, no design would have helped the coin being used as long as the dollar bill circulated alongside it. I don’t use the dollar coin, don’t want to and will not unless forced to.
In my opinion, it was a mistake. The design on the platinum eagle, either of last year’s silver medals or some similar design would have been much better. However, no matter what design, I don’t think the American public would have embraced a dollar coin.
St. Louis, Mo.
No, it was not. If, at the time, it was thought desirable to honor Susan B. Anthony on a coin, then the dollar denomination was as good as any, and it was probably a lot easier to change the image on dollar coins over lower-denomination coins that people were more used to. Would the image of Liberty have made the dollar coin more popular? There is no way to know. Those people who were in favor of the dollar coin would have been in favor of it regardless of whose image was on it, and those people who were not in favor of the dollar coin would have not been in favor of it regardless of whose image was on it, so it probably would have been a wash.
The mistake was a size and color that too closely resembled a quarter. A gold tint (as the current dollar coins have) or an odd shape would have made the coin more successful.
The average person doesn’t give a hoot about who or what is on our coinage. Although I have to say, the Susan B. Anthony dollar is probably one of the ugliest coins ever minted by the U.S. Plus the design of the eagle landing on the moon on the reverse didn’t lend itself very well to the smaller format.
It is also a real shame that vending machines don’t take 50-cent or dollar coins. Whenever I’m at the bank I ask for 50-cent and dollar coins as well $2 bills to spend wherever I can. And it’s not uncommon to have a clerk who refuses to take a $2 bill when I’m paying cash for something.
Absolutely a mistake! Political correctness should have no place in the minting of coins or the printing of paper money in our country. On a world level, the United States designs are deplorable in comparison, with a slight exception of some of the ATB quarters. Our paper money, once the envy of the entire world, is now comparable to Monopoly money. One only need look at the bills printed from the late 1800s through the early 1900s to see examples of sheer artistry and beauty. Perhaps this is a major reason why there are no new collectors on the numismatic horizon. Quite frankly, if I were 10 years old today, I could never get interested in our coins or currency. “Bland” doesn’t even begin to describe how awful the country’s designs have become.
Thank you for this opportunity to express my displeasure with the current state of our putrid coin and currency designs.
Denny J. Lescowitch
I personally would have preferred the Liberty, but consider the times and the mood in America in the mi to late 1970s and, hello to the Susie B.
Mistake? As Obi Wan Kanobi (“Star Wars” Jedi Knight) said to Luke, “It depends on your point of view.”
My wife was for the Susie B. Again, I was not.
Big mistake! It was ugly and a big turn-off.
The mistake was not so much who was put on the coin, but the fact that its size was too close to that of the quarter. The dollar coin would have failed no matter whose face was put on it.
Baton Rouge, La.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but without removing the $1 bill from circulation the dollar coin was doomed from the start regardless of whom was on the obverse. Do I particularly like the choice of SBA? The answer is no.
Yes it was a mistake because, sadly, most people to this day still know nothing or care about what she did. Some of our college kids today do not know what country we had to fight to win our Independence or even when that was. A relatively unknown woman from our past, as far as the public was concerned, made no impact and was just symbolic to women’s rights activists.
In hindsight, the unpopularity of the Susan B. Anthony image made minting the dollar coin a mistake. To honor the historic leader, minting a commemorative coin would have been more appropriate.
Any coin that will see widespread circulation should have pleasing eye appeal and be apolitical.
Bruce R. Frohman
Should only be Liberty or allegorical versions of Miss Liberty – no actual person, alive or dead, for coins meant for circulation for 25 years or more. Commemoratives are the only proper place, and then for no more than one year.
The Roosevelt and Kennedy pieces are other examples. They were really P.C. for their introduction period.
Need to go back and follow the law and the wish of people such as George Washington to not have their images on coins as this is a republic, not a monarchy.
Putting the Susan B. Anthony design on the dollar was an excellent choice. Susan B. Anthony was a great American and an inspiration to us all. She deserves the recognition.
I have been a numismatist since 1986 and have been a subscriber to Numismatic News almost as long.
Absolutely. The Susan B. Anthony dollar has to be one of the ugliest coins ever minted. I made the mistake of acquiring a complete set and now I can’t give them away.
Owen F. Devlin
Hindsight is 20/20; that said, Liberty would probably have been a better choice.
The real mistake was not eliminating the paper dollar.
Lorne La Vertu
In my opinion, it was a mistake not to use the excellent Liberty design proposed by Frank Gasparro in 1977.
Yes – well, maybe not. Some of our best coins were those championed by Teddy Roosevelt (Lincoln cent, Buffalo/Indian nickel, Mercury dime, Standing Liberty quarter, Walking half, $10 Eagle, $20 double eagle), and doesn’t Susan B. Anthony fit in? No, she really doesn’t. Besides, it’s a horrible design. The words “In God We Trust” appear to be coming from the mouth of a renown atheist. She was a 19th century suffragette with a scene of the moon landing on the reverse?
I won’t add that the U.S. has no need for a dollar coin. None have been popular (Peace, Eisenhower, Anthony, Sacagawea, Presidential) as long as the $1 bill remains in circulation. Remove the $1 and $2 and they might, just might, have a chance. But we may well drop the cent this year and the nickel next, dropping the one for the $2 and adding a lightweight $1 coin and there is a chance.
I believe it was a mistake because it never really was accepted on the Anthonys. Everyone seems to like the Liberty more.
It was not a mistake to honor Susan B. Anthony on the dollar coin. It was a mistake to make the coin too close in size and color to a quarter without any other distinguishing factors. For instance, rather than have 11 “sides” in the design, if the U.S. Mint made it an 11-sided coin, it would have been a better received design.
The mistake was not who is on the coin, but that the coin was issued at all. The U.S. Mint has turned out billions of coins that do not serve any purpose in today’s economy. People do not use half dollars or dollars in normal daily purchasing, but the Mint does not seem to pay much attention to that fact.
Collectors are the only people who buy these coins from the Mint. The use of cash is becoming a thing of the past. In reality, you are better off using a credit card to make a purchase because there is a 1 to 5 percent return on your money when you spend cash. There is zero return if you put it in the bank.
The SBA dollars were the ugliest coin issued to date. A cute rabbit would have been an improvement. I am not saying I want animals on any of our coinage, just saying the SBA was ugly. Since it was so close to being a quarter size, I received them as quarters in change and in quarter rolls! Maybe the Mint can bring them back.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today
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