New $1 coins are doomed to be failures

THE U.S. Mint has raked in $4 billion from its 50-state quarters program and they have been a big hit with the public. The Mint hopes the same magic will happen for the new program to put the 37 dead presidents on dollar coins. But don’t bet on it รข€” and blame Massachusetts for its failure.

Why Massachusetts? Simple, because Crane & Co. of Dalton provides the security paper for U.S. currency. The only way to force a dollar coin into widespread use is to eliminate the $1 bill. But Sen. Edward Kennedy and other Crane supporters fight like mad to keep the $1 bill because doing away with it would severely hurt Crane & Co.

It was no surprise that the Susan B. Anthony coin, introduced in 1979 failed to catch on. It looked too much like a quarter, with a similar size and color and milled edge. It also had to co-exist alongside paper money. The Sacagawea $1 coin, first minted five years ago, was better designed, with a gold color and smooth edge. But it also had no chance because Crane supporters in Congress refused to eliminate the $1 bill.

That leaves the United States as just about the only major country that won’t replace its $1 or equivalent paper currency with a coin. Canada did it (along with a $2 coin); Great Britain did it; even Russia replaced its paper ruble with a coin. The public wasn’t happy at first, but quickly got used to it. So would Americans.

There is no logic to this domestic quirk and it is very costly. One estimate said the Treasury can save $500 million by switching from paper to a coin because the $1 coins last much longer than bills.

The presidential $1 coin, which will be issued four per year, starting in 2007, will cover 37 presidents, with Grover Cleveland, who served two nonconsecutive terms, being on two coins. Proponents say they will be miniature history lessons. The only problem is that few people outside of coin collectors will ever see them, even though most vending machines are set up to accept them. After all, when is the last time you got a “Saccy” or a “Susie” in change?

(via The Enterprise)

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