President on Dollar Coin
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics
Wed May 16, 7:39 PM ET
- The second dollar coin in the new presidential
series goes into circulation around the country
on Thursday with the U.S. Mint hoping it can
turn 18th century statesman John Adams into
a 21st century marketing phenomenon.
After two famous flops in Susan B. Anthony and
Sacagawea, the U.S. Mint believes it now has
the right strategy for success. But there are
still plenty of naysayers around who believe
a dollar coin will never gain wide acceptance
unless the government gets rid of the dollar
The Mint's new formula has borrowed from the
50-state quarter program, the most popular coin
program in history, which has lured millions
of Americans into becoming coin collectors.
Like the quarters, the dollar coins will feature
constantly changing designs — four new
presidents each year in the order they served
The hope is that the novelty of introducing
a new design every three months will get people
to start collecting the coins and then, as they
get familiar with them, to start putting them
to use in vending machines and other places
where a dollar coin would be more convenient
than using four quarters.
This undated photo provided by
the U.S. Mint shows the President John Adams
presidential $1 coin. The second dollar coin
in the new presidential series goes into circulation
around the country on Thursday, May 17, 2007,
with the U.S. Mint hoping it can turn 18th century
statesman John Adams into a 21st century marketing
phenomenon. (AP Photo/US Mint)
The series got started
in February with the introduction of the first coin
in the series — a shiny gold-colored George
Washington, slightly larger than a quarter.
Millions of John Adams coins — also a golden
color — have been shipped to banks around the
country, where they will be put into circulation on
Thursday. The coins can also be purchased directly
on the Mint's web site. Mint officials believe they
have resolved some of the distribution glitches discovered
in the rollout of the Washington coin.
"People who want the coin are going to be able
to get the coin," Mint Director Edmund C. Moy
said in an interview with The Associated Press. "As
volume increases, we will work out the minor kinks."
Banks have been able to order the Adams coin, the
first to feature the nation's second president, for
the past two weeks. So far the Federal Reserve, which
distributes the coins for the Mint, has requested
production of 191 million Adams coins. That is down
from the Fed's order of 304 million Washington dollars
but well within Mint projections.
Based on the mid-point of Mint projections, demand
for the Jefferson and Madison dollars could total
400 million coins. That would mean that the first
year's issue of presidential dollars would amount
to around 900 million coins. That compares to 700
million Sacagawea dollars produced in the first 15
months after that coin was introduced in 2000.
What the Mint is trying to avoid is the huge drop-off
in demand that occurred with both the Sacagawea and
the Susan B. Anthony, introduced in 1979. Moy said
he was encouraged by the interest being shown by collectors,
an indication that the Mint's stategy of changing
designs is working.
He noted that a survey taken last November when the
designs for the first four coins were unveiled showed
that only 15 percent of Americans knew about the new
dollar coin, which was authorized by Congress in 2005.
However, more recent surveys showed that the number
of Americans who know about the coin has risen to
around 60 percent.
Hoping to build on that growing awareness, Moy said
the Mint is trying to reach out to businesses who
could benefit from greater use of the coins such as
fast food restaurants, vending machine companies,
automated car washes and the operators of city parking
Moy said while this is a niche market, it is a fairly
large niche. Americans spent $16 billion last year
just to feed parking meters. Coin collectors report
high demand for the new coins, in part because of
an inadvertent production mistake which the Mint believes
it has now corrected. To allow for a larger image
of Washington and the other presidents, the Mint moved
some of the lettering including "In God We Trust"
to the edge of the coins.
However, several thousand coins — dealers estimate
50,000 or more error coins — were put into circulation
without the edge lettering. Dubbed "Godless coins,"
they have been selling for between $100 and $300,
according to Jeff C. Garrett, president of the Professional
Numismatists Guild and head of the Mid-American Rare
Coin Galleries in Lexington, Ky.
"There was a gold rush looking for Washington
coins with a plain edge," he said.
Garrett said he still doubts the presidential dollar
will make much headway getting into general circulation
until the United States follows the example of countries
such as Canada, Australia and England in eliminating
their single-denomination currency when they introduced
an equivalent coin.
"The Treasury Department is still printing more
than 15 million one-dollar bills every day, so there's
no compelling reason for the public to use the dollar
coins in commerce," Garrett said.
But Moy rejects that argument. "Our economy is
democratic capitalism at its best and people are used
to choice," he said. "There is room for
both a dollar coin and a dollar bill."
Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del. and the principal House sponsor
of the presidential dollar legislation, said he isn't
surprised that the coin isn't starting to show up
yet in change drawers around the nation.
"We are not going to get rid of the dollar bill.
I don't think there is public support for that,"
he said. "But the number of coins being minted
shows we are having a great deal of success on the