The Dollar Coin is Done. Onto the Penny?

In June, NPR’s Planet Money reported on the billion-dollar stash of unused dollar coins piling up at the Federal Reserve. At the time, there were $1.2 billion worth of dollar coins bearing the likeness of U.S. presidents, the result of a 2005 Congressional mandate aimed at getting people to switch from dollar bills to coins. Obviously, that didn’t work. The program, which cost some $300 million, is finally ending.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the pile of unwanted dollar coins has grown to $1.4 billion — enough to meet demand for the next decade. More than 40 percent of all coins have been returned to the government, according to the Treasury Department. The program was supposed to run through 2016, and stamp the likeness of every U.S. president onto a dollar coin. That will still happen, but the amount of coins produced will be significantly reduced, only enough to satisfy the demand of collectors.

This is hardly the first time the government has tried unsuccessfully to foist dollar coins on the U.S. public. There was the Susan B. Anthony, the Sacagawea Golden Dollar, and the Native American $1 Coin – none of which ever really caught on. So, why don’t we (excluding, of course, strippers) like dollar coins? The Canadians have the Loonie, and the British have the one pound coin, both of which replaced small-denomination paper bills.

Whatever the reason, the dollar coin is essentially dead for the time being. Now if we could only get rid of the penny.


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I love the gold dollar coin. I just picked up four rolls of them from the bank. They're great for mass transit fare, for parking meters, and for vending machines in the break room. I've got a handful in my emergency kit (unlike dollar bills, they can't burn or get moldy). I spent three of them just yesterday.

Instead of dramatically cutting production on the Presidential coins (which will eventually have odd effects on the relative value of the coins, with a high-volume 2011 president being worth much less than a low-volume 2013 "collectors only" president), I think they should just delay the production. If we've got a ten-year stash on hand, then take a ten-year break from production, or just spread it out. If 240 million times four presidents each year is twice what we use, then we should only make 240 million times times two presidents each year, or even times just one president each year so that we can start using up the stash.

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Mark B. Hanson

I am dissatisfied that the dollar coin is still larger and heavier than the quarter - though much easier than the fifties versions. Needs to be smaller, thicker and lighter (but the gold color is all right) in order to not further overload pockets. My recollection is that the Canadian Looney is about right (but then all their coins except the penny are lighter than their American counterparts).

I find dollar coins great for tips as well - the gold ones. The silver ones look too much like quarters.

JML

Many have mentioned the obvious fact that we will only convert to coins when the bills are done away with. However, there is a political reason for the continued existence of the bill. The dollar bill has a very short lifetime and must be replaced frequently (I have heard the average lifespan is one year but have no citation for that.) More dollars are printed than any other denomination due to the short lifespan. All bills are printed on paper made by the Crane paper company in Massachusetts. For as long as I have been alive, Massachusetts has been the home of one or two of the most powerful members of the Senate, and often the House as well.

WizardofOz

I know they're impractical, fragile and expensive to keep replacing, but I *love* US $1 notes. One of the joys of travelling overseas is coming home with a fistful of US $1 notes, touching them (they're all felty and papery, ours are plastic and harsh). and showing them to people.
It doesn't hurt that the artwork is cool and old-fashioned either

Silly things . . .

I remember in the seventies, you would go into a bank and the teller would have a bunch of big, hulky, silvery Eisenhower dollars just sitting in their coin trays. Nobody wanted them. I liked the idea of plunking down a big coin when making a purchase, or putting down a tip, so I'd cash a twenty and fill my pockets with them. Stupid, silly thing to do. They were heavy coins bulging in my pockets. But I got a lot of curious expressions when I pulled them out to pay for things. People were intrigued by this big silver coin (actually copper/nickel composition). Later, I found that there were people at the time who would have been willing to pay $2 to get their hands on the ones I had---supply not being uniform across the country. Today, they sell for around $5---not a good long-term investment.

Heron

Singapore did get rid of the 1 dollar note and replaced it with the coin. There's still some notes in the wild, but not much.

We also got rid of our 1 cent coin too. Although I do fully expect to see the 5 cent coin gone sooner rather than later.

Owen

Since the American political climate is so opposed to being forced into anything... perhaps the government should mint coins worth $2 and everyone can send in $1 bills in exchange for a $2 coin (but sorry, no returning those coins).

This could double as a stimulus package.

MW

And as soon as congress starts to discuss the possibility that $1 notes will shortly be exchangable for $2, everyone hoards them and you have to run commerce with hardly any coins/notes in circulation with value between $0.25 and $5.

Paul Anderson

Eliminating the dollar coin and keeping the bill shows a complete lack of understanding of the issue. Dollar coins are less expensive, easier to use, faster to count than the dollar bill.

No one would have suggested in 1976 that a 25¢ bill would have made any sense. Why then, in 2011, when a dollar is worth what a quarter was in 1976, do we still waste a million dollars a day making dollar bills over and over and over?

The American public has never had a chance to "choose" the coin over the bill, unless they wanted to go to a bank that happened to stock them and wait for the teller to go back to the vault to get them. People will use what is handed to them at the store and the bank and not go out of their way to get any particular denomination.

Once you use the dollar coin every day, you realize how much more convenient they are. Coins would save businesses money and time and save taxpayers money too.

The Administration is absolutely wrong on this issue. We should eliminate the penny and dollar bill and everyone would be better off.

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