Could the recent cyber attacks and growing severity of cybersecurity issues become the motivation for Congress to vote to reform United States currency?
According to Philip Diehl and Edmund Moy, former Directors of the U.S. Mint, the discussion as to remove the cent and paper dollar from circulation should be part of the current budget and tax overhaul debates.
The discussion is the same as it has been. The cost of zinc has risen causing the manufacturing costs of the Lincoln cent to climb above its face value. Even with operating efficiencies that have brought down the cost of manufacturing to its lowest levels in many years, the price of zinc keeps makes the materials cost more than the coin is worth.
As for the paper dollar, the Government Accountability Office has published several reports over the years that demonstrate the cost savings between using the paper dollar versus a coin dollar. The last GAO report (GAO-13-164T) concluded that using a dollar coin instead of the paper note “could potentially provide $4.4 billion in net benefits to the federal government over 30 years.”
This is not a new discussion. The only change is that this is being suggested by former Directors of the U.S. Mint from both sides of the aisle. Diehl was appointed by Bill Clinton and served from June 1994 through March 2000. Moy was appointed by George W. Bush and served from September 2006 through January 2011.
Earlier this year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act of 2017 (COINS Act) (S. 759). McCain’s bill would require:
- Suspending the production of the one-cent coin for 10 years except for collectibles. After three years, the GAO would doe a study to determine whether production should remain suspended or should be reinstated. This would not demonetize the cent.
- Change the composition of the nickel to 80-percent copper and 20-percent nickel. This should bring down the cost of materials used in striking the five-cent coin to be on par with its value. Efficiencies in manufacturing could lower costs further.
- If the bill becomes law, two years after it is enacted, the Federal Reserve will begin removing $1 Federal Reserve Notes from circulation. This will probably be done by the banks who will take the notes on deposit and send them back to the Federal Reserve where they will be destroyed. Coins would take their place. The $1 FRN could still be produced for the collector market.
Sources report that the chances of McCain’s bill getting a hearing are minuscule. While having lunch with on congressional staffer, I was given three reasons why Congress will not address this issue:
- States with a large rural population primarily west of the Mississippi River represented by Republicans are unlikely to support the removal of the one-cent coin. Removal of the coin is viewed as a hidden tax against the people with fear mongering that suggest the government is keeping the extra money that would become on the rounding of prices.
- States with large poor populations, primarily in the south, and their advocates who believe that taking away the pennies are a way to separate more money from poor people who can least afford to lose the ability to pay in cents.
- Surveys show that most of the people older than Millenials are against removing the paper dollar. Since this population constitutes the majority of the voters and donors, the politicians are not about to make those people upset.
Another issue is that McCain is not popular amongst his fellow Republicans. If the issue is addressed, it is likely to be discussed as part of a bill that does not bear McCain’s sponsorship.
Given the partisan nature of politics and the perceptions of the members of Congress, there is a very little chance of the Coins Act or any similar legislation being enacted during this session of Congress.
For the first time in the modern era the date, mintmark, and mottos “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “IN GOD WE TRUST” struck into (incuse) the edge of the coin. The last time edge lettering was used on circulating U.S. coinage was in the 1830s.When the Presidential dollar was struck by the U.S. Mint, the coin went through the normal striking process. To add the edge lettering, the coins were sent to a press that would add the edge lettering before sending the coins to be bagged. With the edge lettering being a new process for the U.S. Mint, it was no surprised that coins left the Mint without the mottos stamped in the edge. Dubbed the “godless dollar” the error caused an uproar over some people suggesting that the government was conspiring against religion by leaving the motto off of the coin. This was described as either a willful omission or a way to attack religion. There was no narrative that accepted that the U.S. Mint said this was just a mistake. Reacting to the outrage, congress passed a law to move the motto from the edge to the obverse of the coin. “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” the date and mintmark was left on the edge.
If you are going to buy Presidential dollars with missing edge lettering, it is advisable to buy them encapsulated by a third-party grading service. After the error was discovered, unscrupulous people began to file the edges of the coin in an attempt to fool collectors. The third-party grading services know how distinguish the legitimate error versus the fake.
Other collectible edge errors include the doubling of the lettering. When encapsulated by the grading services, it is called either “DOUBLE EDGE LETTERING” or “OVERLAPPED LETTERING” depending on the service. Doubled lettering is a rarer mistake than missing edge lettering. Similar to the missing edge lettering error, there has been attempts to alter coins to make it look like they have these errors which it is advisable to buy these coins encapsulated by a third-party grading service.
If you are looking for different ways of collecting Presidential Dollars, the U.S. Mint offered First Day Covers for each of the presidents. Each colorful cover includes the stamp of the day postmarked from the capital or city the president was from on the first day that the coins were issued. They also include one uncirculated Presidential dollar struck on the first day of production. These first day covers are the only way to guarantee that you own coins that were struck on the first day of their production. With information about each president, it makes for an attractive set.
Another option to collecting Presidential Dollars is to collect the coin and medal set. Each specially produced card includes an uncirculated dollar for each president and a 1.5-inch bronze medal of the corresponding first spouse coin. The only difference in design between the medal in this set and the first spouse coin is the medal does not have a denomination. If the president was widowed or not married at the time of his presidency, a special Liberty gold coin was produced. The coin and medal set contains a medal similar to the gold coin. Remember, John Tyler and Woodrow Wilson became widows and then remarried during their term. There are two cards for each president with different first spouse medals.
The Presidential Dollar series covered 39 presidents representing 40 terms were issued.
Along side of the presidents, there have been 35 first spouses were honored (Frances Cleveland appeared twice), four different Liberty coins were issued, and one First Spouse coin was issued to honor suffragette Alice Paul.
As part of the law that created the Presidential $1 Coins, congress authorized the creation of the Native American dollars. The law says that the obverse would continue to feature the portrait of Sacagawea and the revers depict “images celebrating the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the development of the United States and the history of the United States.” Selection of the theme is to be made in consulting with the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Congress of American Indians, and after public review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
Although the law required Sacagawea to remain on the obverse, the date, mintmark and the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” were relocated to the edge of the coin.
Aside from being thoughtful themes, the designs have been met with critical acclaim by the Native American interest groups, historians, and artists. As part of the program, the U.S. Mint has created lesson plans for teachers to use as supplementary material for their classes that coordinate with the release of the coins. These materials show how the lessons fit within the Common Core education requirements.
The Native American $1 Program is a straight forward series. Each year the reverse changes for the chosen theme. Business strike coins are struck in Philadelphia and Denver while proof coins are struck in San Francisco.
For collectors of special sets, the U.S. Mint includes the Native American $1 coin in the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set. These sets also include the uncirculated Presidential $1 Coins (through 2016) and an uncirculated American Silver Eagle coin that was minted at West Point. The American Silver Eagle is the collector version, not the bullion coin that is sold through investment channels.
Since 2014, the U.S. Mint has produced a Coin and Currency Set that includes a proof Native American $1 Coin and a $1 Federal Reserve Note in the most recently issued series printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The coin and note are attached to a folder with information about the theme of the coin. In 2015, the Mohawk Ironworkers coin was struck as an enhanced uncirculated coin minted in West Point and included a Federal Reserve Note from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Since the Mohawk Ironworkers were depicted as helping build the New York skyline, it was deemed appropriate to pair the coin with a Federal Reserve Note also from New York.
Currently, the following reverse themes have been approved for future Native American $1 coins:
- 2018: Jim Thorpe
- 2019: Native Americans in Space
- 2020: Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945
In the last installment, we look at Presidential Dollars.
Since there are no known images of Sacagawea, Goodacre searched for someone she could model her design on. Goodacre found Randy’L He-Dow Teton is a member of the Shoshone-Cree tribe to be the model. Teton was a student at the University of New Mexico majoring in art history and was working for the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe when Goodacre visited looking for Shoshone woman to be her model.
The reverse was a beautiful flying eagle designed by Thomas D. Rogers. The original Sacagawea dollar was produced from 2000-2008 with the only changes in the treatment of the coin to prevent toning.There are two significant varieties of Sacagawea dollars from the 2000 first year of issue. As part of a promotion, the U.S. Mint partnered with General Mills to include a 2000-P Sacagawea dollar with a special card in boxes of Cheerios cereal. Others would contain a certificate for a coin or a similarly packaged uncirculated 2000 Lincoln cent. It wasn’t until many years later that it was discovered that the coin from the Cheerios box was different from the circulation strikes. The difference between the Cheerios dollar and the circulation strikes is the Cheerios dollar has an additional tail feather and has a different, bolder shape. Of the 5,500 reported Cheerios dollars struck, only a few hundred have been found.
There have been stories of estate finds where the coin was selling for under $100. Most of the time the coin has been encased in a third-party grading service holder and selling in excess of $4,500. Finding them in the original package as they were part of the Cheerios box would be a great find.When Glenna Goodacre was to be paid $5,000 for her artwork, she asked to be paid with 5,000 Sacagawea dollars. Goodacre had the coins encapsulated by third-party grading services. These dollars were specially burnished and presented to Goodacre by Mint Director Philip Diehl. Goodacre subsequently sold the coins herself and earned more money. These coins are only available encapsulated and average $500-650 per coin. A few at higher grades may cost more.
A special issue was struck in 1999 in 22-karat gold in an attempt to convince congress to authorize their sale. On twelve have survived and they sent into space aboard Columbia on mission STS-93 in July 1999. The U.S. Mint reports that the coins are stored in the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Anyone selling gold Sacagawea dollars is likely selling a gold-pated coin that is not a genuine finish by the U.S. Mint.
In the next installment, we look at the Native American dollar series.
By the mid-1970s, the appeal of the large dollar had diminished when the U.S. Mint found that the Eisenhower dollar was not circulating. After conducting the study, it was decided to replace the 38 mm (1.5 inches) coin with something smaller.
The U.S. Mint tried testing several different shapes and composition only to be met with opposition from the vending machine industry and their powerful lobby. Even though the U.S. Mint tried to convince congress to approve a multi-sided coin, congress made the decision to change it to a round coin with an eleven-sided inner border.
As the discussions about the coin continued, Treasury proposed a bust of Liberty with a Phrygian hat on a pole, a modern update to earlier designs designed by Frank Gasparo. However, the League of Women Voters lobbied for the inclusion of a woman on a coin. As the idea gained support in congress, chose suffragette Susan B. Anthony for that honor.
When the coin was released to an excited public, the excitement disappeared when it was mistaken for a quarter. Since the coin, nicknamed the Susie B, was only 2 mm larger than the quarter, it did not help that the coin was made of the same alloy and had a reeded edge. It was even denounced by the seeing impaired community as not being distinctive enough to tell the difference tactically.
There were over 757 million coins struck in 1979, 89 million in 1980, and 9.7 million in 1981 that did not circulate well. By the end of 1981, the U.S. Mint reported that they had 520 million surplus coins. The lack of circulation gives the collector the ability to collect a nice set. Even with the 41 million dollars struck for 1999, there are 12 coins to make a complete set.
To extend the collection besides the usual date and mintmark series, a collector may add proof coins and varieties. For circulated strikes, there was an alteration in the design of the 1979 coin that is noticeable around the date on the coins struck in Philadelphia. The 1979-P Type 1 coin is called the Narrow Rim or Small Date variety where it looks like there room between the date and the rim. When looking for Type 2 Wide Rim or Near Date coin, it looks as if the date is almost touching the rim. The Type 1 coin is more plentiful and is inexpensive. The Type 2 Wide Rim coin is less plentiful but still affordable at less than $40 for a nice example.If you add proof coins to your collection, the 1979-S and 1981-S proof coins also have two varieties based on the condition of the “S” mintmark. The 1979-S Type 1 has an “S” that is filled in, almost looking like a blob. It was later fixed to look clearer later in the year creating a Type 2 coin. The difference between the Type 1 and Type 2 1981-S proof coin is subtler. The Type 1 “S” looks the same as the one used for the 1979-S Type 2 and on 1980-S coin. The 1981-S Type 2 proof coin has a much clearer “S” than the others. When trying to assemble a complete series of Susie B Dollars, the 1981-S Type 2 proof coin is the most expensive with an average of $120 and considered the key to the series.
When putting together a complete 16 coin Susan B. Anthony Dollar set, remember that the 1999 proof coin was struck in Philadelphia. It was produced for the regular proof set and in its own presentation case, both are readily available.
In the next installment, we look at the Golden Dollar.
- Coin image is a composite of images from the U.S. Mint.
- Composit image of proposed dollar design courtesy of National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History via Wikipedia.
- 1979 SBA Rim Variety identification image courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts
- “S” mintmark comparison image courtesy of Stuart’s Coins
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) once again introduced the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act of 2017 (COINS Act). Similar to the same bill he introduced in the last congress, the COINS Act (S. 759) proposed to end the production of the $1 Federal Reserve Note, reduce the production cost of the five cent coin by changing its composition, and eliminating the one cent coin. Mike Enzi (R-WY) is a co-sponsor.
“With our country facing $20 trillion in debt, Congress must act to protect the American taxpayer,” in a statement issued by McCain’s staff. “By reforming and modernizing America’s outdated currency system, this commonsense bill would bring about billions in savings without raising taxes.”
Of course “common sense” has a very different definition in Washington than the rest of the country. The first attempt to introduce a bill to end the production of the $1 note started in 1991 by then Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and died at the end of the 102nd Congress. Kolbe introduced the legislation every session until his retirement in 2007 following the adjournment of the 109th congress. McCain has introduced the bill in the last three sessions of congress.
“Change can be hard sometimes, but switching to a dollar coin could save our country $150 million a year,” Enzi said. “Our country is in a difficult financial position because we didn’t value the cost of the dollars we spent. We can’t afford to keep that up, and these innovative opportunities are a way to save taxpayer money that is really just being wasted with each new dollar we print and penny we mint.”
I am sure that the usual arguments about eliminating the paper dollar will come up again. Even though a GAO report has shown that eliminating the paper dollar could save the government about $4.4 billion in production and handling costs, economic surveys have claimed a potential $16-18 billion benefit for the government.
When the public is asked about eliminating the paper dollar, the arguments usually line up along generational lines. Surveys have shown that Baby Boomers (those born before 1964) and those older are overwhelmingly not in favor of eliminating the the paper note. The GenXers, those born 1965-1980, are almost evenly divided while the Millenials, those born since 1980, do not care because they are mostly tied to their credit and debit cards.
The Baby Boomer that writes this blog is in favor of eliminating the paper dollar. In the past, he was in favor of eliminating the one cent coin but is beginning to have second thoughts.
For the longest time, the Massachusetts delegation have held these types of bills back. This is because the Dalton, Massachusetts based Crane & Co., the maker of currency paper, has been the exclusive currency paper supplier to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing since 1879. Although Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has become a more powerful figure in the Senate, she is not a favorite amongst the majority and is tolerated by the more centrist members of her own party. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) does not have the gravitas either of his predecessors, the late Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, to yield influence. The only power the Senators have would be to filibuster any measure that would eliminate the $1 note. Sen. Warren has railed against military-related spending for non-essential equipment so that members of congress could keep these jobs in their districts. Would she be willing to follow her lead that could reduce the revenue of a company in her home state?
Yesterday I wrote about the announcement that the fifth edition of A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars by Q. David Bowers will include evidence that a 1964 Morgan Dollar exists or has existed. As part of their press release, they sent out an image of the cover with the coin. I questioned whether this is real given that their image appears to be of a circulated coin.
After the story posted I have heard from a few readers in private email (I wish you would post it to the page for everyone to read) strongly on one side or another. One person asked why I question the well-respected Q. David Bowers. I responded that just because he is respected does not mean he is not fallible. Bowers is still human and can make mistakes. Besides, we do not learn about our world if questions are not asked.
To add to the suspicion, if you look at the image carefully, there appears to be doubling in the portrait. Look at the left side of Liberty’s face in the image of the 1964 coin and see the doubled image. There is also doubling over Liberty’s throat. Compare it to a known mint state Morgan Dollar and the questions mount.
You decide! Click on the images to enlarge and use the slideshow controls to examine both coins. Do you see the doubling? Do you see the wearing? What do you think?
Do you think the report of the existence a 1964 Morgan Dollar is real?
Total Voters: 25
The press release issued by Whitman Publishing for the new fifth edition of A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars, by Q. David Bowers, that included the following paragraph:
The pricing, text, and certified population data in the fifth edition have been edited and updated. New research covers counterfeit error coins and other topics, including a numismatic bombshell: recent discoveries and photographs revealing the previously unknown 1964 Morgan silver dollar. (emphasis added)
Whitman included an image of the cover as part of its promotion of the book and features this coin. Its grey matte appearance with some flatness on Liberty’s face gives the appearance of a circulated coin.
No other information has been provided.
Without seeing the evidence that is published in the book, the condition of the coin can lead one to question its authenticity. If the coin was a trial or experimental strike that coincides with the striking of the 1964 Peace Dollar, then should the coin appear uncirculated?
What if this coin was part of a rogue like the 1974-D Lincoln cent struck on an aluminum planchet? Did it really exist as a legitimate coin?
We will find out on September 27, 2017 when the book is scheduled to be released to retail outlets (or preorder on Whitman’s website). Until then, we are left to wonder if this is legitimate or a great fish story to sell books?
During a visit to a numerically named convenience store for a cold beverage, I noticed that there were a few “golden dollars” in the register. The cashier hesitated to give them to me but I told her I was a collector and was interested especially since the one on top was very shiny. After trading three paper notes for the coins my suspicion was correct. The coin is a 2009-S James K. Polk Presidential dollar.
While the coin can be used for one dollar in trade, whomever purchased it paid more and could have sold it for at least $5 rather than placing it in circulation. While we do not know the conditions that caused this coin to be in the cash register at the time I stopped in the store, it has been rescued from circulation and will find its way into a collection. I will probably add it to my coin club’s charity auction this December.