Ovation: Dollar Coins Instead Of Bills In The U.S.
Throughout my entire life I’ve been an on-again off-again coin collector. Again and again, I’ll amass a collection, sell it, and begin another. For ten years beginning in 1999 I was obsessed with collecting every one of the coins from the United States Mint’s Fifty State Quarters Program. Since each quarter was only produced for about ten weeks I figured they were sure to be collector’s items. It is estimated that as many as 34,787,600,000 state quarters were produced and circulate. So now, fourteen years later, each quarter remains valued at twenty-five cents.
Over time, my numismatic pursuits have dwindled. Now I only collect gold dollar coins. Whenever I bring them home as change, I drop them into a wooden box that looks like a pirates’ treasure chest. What started as a silly collection years ago has grown to be quite a hoard of coins. Most Americans have never taken to using dollar coins. The Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea coins that I collect never became widely circulated and President Obama stopped production of presidential coins in December 2011 to reduce costs. It is estimated that nearly $1.5 billion worth of the coins are stored with the Mint. So, when I see one in the drawer of a cash register I always ask if I can buy it. (It’s been my experience that most cashiers find them to be a nuisance and are more than happy to part with them.(
I think we should use them! Get those babies into circulation so collectors can hoard them!
A consumer advocacy group, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), claims that eliminating the dollar bill in favor of coins could save the nation $13.8 billion over thirty years. It seems to me that they’re right since printing dollar bills is much less costly than minting coins. Currency lasts only about four years compared with thirty years for a coin.
Earlier this week, Senator John McCain (R-AZ ) re-introduced legislation to phase out dollar bills. Canada replaced paper dollars with coins in 1987 after vending machine operators and transit systems lobbied the government for the change. Interestingly, the Canadian dollar coins, known as “Loonies”, were produced using the same dimensions as the little-circulated American coins so as to be compatible with American manufactured vending machines. While similar legislation has not been successful in the past, I’m hopeful that this time we’ll see a change away from paper dollars.
My Fifty State Quarters collection is stored in the back of a closet in my house dog-eared as gifts for nieces and nephews. Perhaps, generations from now, those quarters will magically become valuable. The chest of gold coins, on the other hand, is slowly filling up. Once it does, we’ll take a fabulous vacation … funded one coin at a time.
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