Last week, the fourth entry in the Presidential dollar coin series, bearing the likeness of James Madison, made the scene.
While there are a lot of doubters, Mint Director Ed Moy says he is hopeful that the latest attempt to introduce a dollar coin will be more successful than previous efforts. The past two dollar coins -- the Susan B. Anthony, introduced in 1979, and the Sacagawea, introduced in 2000, were spectacular flops.
The new presidential coins, in an effort to tap into the huge success of the 50-state quarter program, feature a changing design with a new president introduced every three months in the order they served in office. The hope is that the changing designs will keep interest high and avoid the sharp drop-off in demand seen with other coins after their initial introduction.
Moy said there were some encouraging signs. The number of dollar coins ordered in the first eight months of the program totals 810 million, well ahead of demand for the previous two coins. But Moy concedes that much of the demand is coming from collectors. He said there are continuing problems in persuading the public and retailers to put the coins into circulation.
"These coins have been much more successful than critics said they would be, but they are not as successful as they can be," Moy said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
One worry is that demand has been falling steadily. After an initial order of 300 million George Washington coins, introduced last February, orders for the John Adams coin fell to 200 million, with the Thomas Jefferson coin falling to 170 million. The Mint will be producing 140 million Madison coins, less than half the size of the Washington production.
Moy said the Mint's unofficial goal is to stabilize production around 500 million coins per year. "We are shooting for that as the floor and we hope to do better," he said.