September 06, 2007
Another year, another dollar coin design

And the great dollar coin experiment continues on.

Congress on Tuesday approved a redesign of the Sacagawea dollar in hopes of enticing consumer and business use of the gold-colored dollar.

Under legislation passed by voice vote in the House and sent to President Bush for his signature, new editions of the coin honoring the young Shoshone who helped Lewis and Clark on their trek to the Pacific Ocean more than 200 years ago will come out in 2009.

The new coins will continue to depict Sacagawea and her child, but they will feature scenes on the reverse side, changed annually, commemorating the achievements of other Native Americans and Indian tribes.

"These designs will take the American people to a journey of different experiences of native people by exposing them to their unique histories while preserving the memories of Sacagawea," said Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., sponsor of the bill.

The Sacagawea dollar was first minted in 2000 to replace the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. But like its predecessor, it failed to win public acceptance and today is produced only for sale to collectors.

You all know how I feel about all this. I'm perfectly happy for there to be dollar coins. Hey, I've collected coins in my life. Coins are cool, and seeing so many new coin designs after a long stretch of sameness is even cooler. Just as long as it's understood that the good ol' dollar bill is here to stay, I'm happy. It seems to me that the mere fact that we keep trying to find a magic design that will make consumers switch from the bill to the coin should tell us how futile this pursuit is. If there was ever a time when the coin could have supplanted the bill, it was back before every vending machine on the planet accepted dollar bills. Now that they all do, there's no advantage to the coin from a user's perspective. The coins will be a curiosity and a collector's item, nothing more and nothing less.

The U.S. Mint this year has produced about 7.5 million Sacagawea coins. By comparison, through July this year the Mint has made about 775 million of the new presidential $1 coins. Those coins depict U.S. presidents, starting with George Washington, with a new coin coming out every three months.

You know, I'd forgotten we even had the Presidential coins out there. Far as I can recall, I haven't even seen one yet. Let's just say that doesn't give me any confidence for its long term success.

By the way, I blogged about the failure of the Sacagawea coin to make it on the market five years ago. The more things change...

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 06, 2007 to National news

I just got some of the presidential coins in change when I bought some stamps. I didn't know they even existed. They actually look pretty cool.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on September 6, 2007 1:37 PM