Monday, February 12, 2007

Dollars and coins

With the new $1 coins coming off the mint now, there's renewed discussion about which (coin or bill) are better or needed. A common sentiment is found in the linked article quoting a fellow citizen, "I really don't see any use for [the dollar coin]. We tried it before. It didn't fly."
I personally disagree. I feel that the issue with the dollar coin is not that we tried it and it failed. It is that our Mint has made a series of mistakes in the design of the coin.
First, for 3 decades, they've been putting somewhat obscure characters from U.S. history on the coin. Susan B. Anthony is important, but is she more important than Eisenhower (who she replaced)?
The person on the coin may not be as big of an issue as the next mistake in the 1970's. They made the dollar coin of similar size, weight and color to the quarter. It is way too confusing for vendors to handle change when they can't immediately tell a quarter and a dollar apart.
Third, they did not commit the U.S. economy to depend on the coin, but rather continued to produce the bill at the same levels.
The fourth and fifth mistakes comes in the late 1990's when they replaced the Susan B. Anthony coin with a brass colored coin of an even more obscure character from pre-U.S. history. Honestly, to me, once these coins hit circulation and got tarnished, they resembled 1950's coins from Latin America. The idea was to make a coin that looked gold in color. They failed horribly on this.
The sixth mistake was again with size. They keep the coin the same size and shape as the Susan B. Anthony coin. This meant that even though the coin was goldish color, in dark lighting or at a glance, it was still very hard to distinguish the them from a quarter.
Given this series of blunders, one might have to suspect that the errors have been made intentionally to sabotage the efforts to establish an American dollar coin.

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