Dollar Coins

Alan links this little story about the US attempting to foist the Dollar Coin on us. Go read his post because he brings some grade-A snark at calling the “Progressives” on their Jackboot nature.

I just have a personal story. Back in my more Leftist times I LOVED the idea of Dollar Coins. As a matter of fact I bought some Canadian Dollar and Two Dollar coins off a Canadian student at a Band Competition in Northern Maine one year and kept them proudly displayed in my bedroom, as well as my college dorm room. I probably still have them somewhere. I knew that dollar bills had a VERY short service life and quickly wore out and needed to be replaced, often inside of a year or two of service. This cost the treasury money and just seemed like a bad idea when you think of the long service life of coins. I was all for the dollar coin.

Fast forward to my days as a deck hand and bartender on a small tour boat. I was mixing drinks when a gentleman payed for his booze with four Sacagawea dollars. I was excited to finally see some in the wild and I quickly replaced them with four paper bills and put them in the change purse in my wallet.

It took about a day for my love of the dollar coin to die. My pocket felt like a boat anchor, and it was only four bucks! At the time I was making tips tending bar so I’d often have $10-$15 in ones in my wallet. Can you imagine what that would feel like in Brass and Zinc? I couldn’t spend them fast enough.

Dollar coins are like bullpup rifles, they look AWESOME on paper, but as soon as you shoot one you quickly realize why so few people actually make the damn things.

And of course the crux of the story is that the US Mint cranked out the Dollar coins like they were the cure for Cancer, and now they have a huge surplus of coins nobody wants….just like the Susan B Anthony coin. You want something to do with those coins? Melt them and sell the metal.

That’s the best we can do. Dollar Coins suck!

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0 Responses to Dollar Coins

  1. D2k says:

    The new polymer bills in Canada do a much better job of solving the longevity problem, while still being light.
    It’s a much better solution, but the thing I’d heard the last time someone talked about polymer bills, was that in tests people didn’t like them because they felt they were not real.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      I’ve handled some polymer money (IIRC it was Aussie Bux…might have been Kiwi Cash) It does seem nice.

      As for “Feeling real” the money feels real when I hand it to one person and get in return goods and services.

      I’ve had some really ghetto gift certificates, but they took them, so why would I complain?

  2. Reputo says:

    The US problem with trying to introduce dollar coins is they have no plans to get rid of the bills. I lived in Canada when they transitioned from two dollar bills to two dollar coins. Once they started minting coins, they stopped printing bills and then had something like a 6 month grace period when both could be used, after which the bills could only be turned in at a bank. Being a collector of coins and paper money, I kept a couple of the bills for my collection.

    I happen to be a fan of the coins, but then again, I rarely carry cash on me. What the US should do is just get rid of the penny, nickel, and quarter and go to a tenth denomination. Keep the dime, mint more half dollars (although make them more the size of a quarter), have the dollar coin, a two dollar coin, the five dollar bill, 10 dollar bill, 20 dollar bill, 50 dollar bill, and 100 dollar bill.

  3. Jake says:

    I’ve found that the dollar coins are good for one thing – stashing away as emergency money. I’m less likely to use them if I don’t have to than I am paper money, specifically because they’re much less convenient to carry around and spend in any appreciable amounts. I buy a roll of 25 each payday and put it away, and before too long I can have a couple of hundred dollars squirreled away.

    That may be just me, though. I’m horrible at managing my money.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      only problem is that its like buying guns. If you’re buying them you need to dig them up.

      If you’re squirreling away modern currency when it comes to busting into the cashe they probably won’t be worth shit.

      • Jake says:

        I assume you meant “burying”, not “buying.” 😛

        Different kind of “emergency.” This is for “I had to replace/fix X and don’t have money to get to next payday otherwise” type emergencies, not TEOTWAWKI. For TEOTWAWKI, I’ll be storing hard goods.

        Besides, I don’t plan on hanging on to large amounts. Just enough to act as a “ready” supply. Once I hit that level, everything else will go into the bank. If I need more than that, I probably need to wait for the bank to open, anyway.

        Of course, for SHTF situations (or “things are going bad but it’s not TEOTWAWKI yet” situations), there is another advantage to coins over bills – they don’t have serial numbers, so they’re essentially untraceable once they’re in circulation.

  4. Dollar coins are like bullpup rifles, they look AWESOME on paper, but as soon as you shoot one you quickly realize why so few people actually make the damn things.

    Gotta disagree with you on this one. A current dollar bill has about the purchasing power of a mid-century dime. Amounts of money this small have been made as coins in almost all times and places. The problem we have here is that the physical money has remained the same while the value it represents has dwindled, leaving us with a badly warped currency system. We have small coins with practically no value, large coins of tiny value, and bills doing all the work that silver coins used to, and people are so accustomed to it that any hint of change makes them feel like they’re being cheated.

    The dollar coin is a great idea today, but it’s too small a unit of value to work as the relatively heavy coins they’re piling up now. What we really need is a dime-sized 25-cent piece, a nickel-sized half dollar, a quarter-sized dollar coin, and a Sacagawea-sized five dollar coin, with bills starting at ten bucks. That would be roughly the same currency system people were using in 1950. Coins feel like a burden when you have to carry a fistful to add up to any value.

    • Tam says:


      A $1 tip is almost insultingly small these days. It’s what you toss in the plastic pickle jar at Subway if they don’t mess up your $5.99 sandwich.

  5. Borepatch says:

    Dollar coins are like bullpup rifles, they look AWESOME on paper, but as soon as you shoot one you quickly realize why so few people actually make the damn things.


  6. I have no problem with the weight of the coins – spent three years in Scotland, walking around with pocketfuls of 50p and one-pound coins. (The Scottish banks were still printing one-pound notes, but plenty of coins came up from England.) So I’m all in favour of switching from $1 notes to $1 coins.

    And while they’re at it, they need to do away with those useless one-cent coins….

  7. According to that article, 2005 was when the law was passed mandating production of the presidential dollar coins.

    My memory may be faulty, but if it serves me correctly, there was a certain Republican president at the time. Both houses of Congress were controlled by the GOP.

    So the snark at “progressives” is more properly directed towards “conservatives.”

    (You’re welcome.)

  8. Old NFO says:

    AND it wears out the bottom of the pocket too!

  9. 45er says:

    While I don’t think there is any “darkness” behind the push for the coins, they are a pain in the pocket. I go to Canada pretty often and if you work in cash, by the end of the day you’re pocketing a boat anchor. I’ve worked at a bank for years and the tellers try their best to get rid of the coins. They all hate them. (.50 pieces, too). About the only place I’ve found them to be handy is as emergency money in the car in case I hit the drive-through for a drink and they don’t take plastic. Then I have to accept the hate-filled looks from the cashier that has to deal with them and pawn them off on some other poor customer in change.

  10. seeker_two says:

    I’m with Elmo….the dollar bill is only useful for tipping waitresses and buying from vending machines…and dollar bills are a pain to use with vending machines. I’d like to see a distinctive-looking, lightweight coin for the one-dollar value….maybe made from the same steel that Wolf/Tula uses for their ammo or from Blazer aluminum….besides, going back to coinage might slow up the devaluation of our currency by making it harder to mint instead of print….

    • Jake says:

      You’ve reminded me of an idea I had a while ago, the last time this conversation came up.

      Make the coin out of transparent aluminum (aka “artificial sapphire”). It’s the same stuff used in high-end watch crystals and in bullet-resistant glass, so it’s pretty tough. Another option would be to use some kind of high durability, scratch resistant plastic. Treat it (or insert a treated substrate as a core) so it can hold a hologram, maybe do some laser etching to make counterfeiting more difficult, and you end up with a unique and interesting coin that’s more durable than bills and more lightweight than current $1 coins. It probably won’t last as long as metal coins when circulated, but the advantage in decreased weight would probably make up for that, and it should still last longer than bills do.

  11. Wally says:

    I can take em or leave em. But at the ol salt mine, the finicky vending machines would always take the coins so they worked for me.

    But I firmly believe that part of the system is to make more denominations of short(er) run coins so more folks collect them – and that currency is removed from circulation, essentially not needing to be backed up. Maybe it’s just my hairbrained interpretation.

    Or, we need some $10 coins… I bet I could crank those buggers out in no time 🙂

  12. McThag says:

    When I was stationed in Germany it was cash or nothing for me.

    The smallest paper bill for a deutschemark was 5DM. I saw exactly one. There were 1, 2, 5 and 10DM coins. The 5DM was just a bit larger than a quarter.

    I don’t think our problem is that using coins for dollars is the wrong idea per se, I think that we’re using entirely the wrong sized coins for the job. The 1 pfenning piece was miniscule.

    Pics of pre-Euro money is at:

    • wfgodbold says:

      The Japanese yen is the same way; they have ¥1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 denomination bills, and ¥1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 denomination coins.

      The ¥500 coin was the biggest, and it was barely bigger than a quarter; the ¥1 coin was tiny and minted out of aluminium (and ¥1 coins weigh so little they feel fake).

      It did help that all vending machines (whether for soda, cigarettes, food, beer, porn, or train tickets) took all coins (except maybe the ¥1 coins) in addition to most bills; if you ended up with a bunch of piddling change, you could always dump it into the machine the next time you went somewhere.

      Until then, though, your pocket could get weighed down; even now, Japan is very much cash-required (though more places take credit cards now than when I studied there).

  13. Jackie says:

    US Government loses about 100 million dollars a year by keeping the paper dollar bill. It simply costs more to make them then their value. That’s simply stupid to do.

  14. Alpheus says:

    The problem isn’t figuring out what denominations we have as coins, and what denominations we have as paper. The problem is a government agency controlling money altogether.

    That is, I’m not advocating for the return of the gold standard. I’m advocating for government to stop printing money, and letting individuals choose gold, silver, copper, coal, whiskey, steel, twinkies, and who knows what else, for their trade. I’m *guessing* that we’d settle on gold and silver, and these will become our de-facto “currencies”, but given the nature of what I’m advocating, it’s impossible to say what will happen.

    In this case, we’d carry some of this stuff in our pockets as coin, and have certificates represent other amounts (since a ton of coal is worth about $300, this would probaby be the only way coal would be used as a currency); in any case, it will be individuals who decide what should or should not be “currency”.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      An interesting idea, and certainly seems quite valid. That being said first without set denominations every exchange becomes a negotiation. “I’ll give you some flower seeds for that beer” “Well what kind of flowers are they, and will they germinate?”

      Or somebody handing off a zinc ingot that’s been silver plated, or worse, chromed.

      It sucks having a government currency but also it DOES add a whole lot of convenience to your day-to-day.

      Also there’s nothing STOPPING you from bartering . Hell it appears that Christina is paying her rent with Massages!

      And if you want to give somebody gold, silver, ammo or guns, for goods or services, nothing is stopping you. Lord knows I’ve been paid in all of the above.

      • Alpheus says:

        One of the main factors that is “stopping” me is that I can’t (yet) go to the local grocery store, say “here’s 40 grains of gold”, and walk away with my groceries. At the very least, I’ve never tried, in part because I don’t have gold or silver to trade. I’d like to try to convince my community that being able to do that is a good thing, but that would take “work” on my part, and I’m lazy (or perhaps just overworked)…so ultimately we’ve come full circle, and I’m stopping myself :-).

        If I recall correctly, Utah has recently made gold and silver legal tender. Perhaps that would provide a golden opportunity to try!

        As for consistency in gold and/or silver, we’d have to get to the point where major companies can provide coins and/or paper certificates that we can trust. And that’s likely only to happen when enough people actually start to trade in those things, which is only likely to happen when people provide coins that can be trusted…a classic “chicken and egg” problem.

        I’m sure it can be overcome, but I’d have to get off by duff and start convincing people…which brings us back to problem #1!

  15. RWC says:

    At ‘Ted’s Montana Grill’ the servers have to give change back in dollar coins and/or $2 bills.

  16. julie says:

    huh? you guys don’t have dollar coins????? wow, i’m betting you don’t have $2 dollar coins either.

    we’ve always had them … well i can remember in the dim distant past one and two dollar notes (apparently $1 coins were introduced in 1984, $2 in 1988) and never really had a problem with them … i think it’s like most things – you like what you’re used to.

  17. DonM says:

    Dollar coins are most useful as ammunition for the tooth fairy when (s)he visits after a tough extraction.

  18. Jane says:

    Just saw a TV news item last evening about these useless coins. The government is pumping them out by the millions and will be doing so until something like 2013 or longer. The disgusting part is that no one wants them and our illustrious government is storing them away in huge numbers. And it is costing us even more for the storage of them! I’m sure my blood pressure went up quite a few notches while I was listening to this story! Can’t they stop the crazy project, which obviously nobody is interested in? It would save some of these dollars everyone is talking about at the moment. Why continue to mint the coins that just end up getting stored away somewhere? Who can we complain to in order to put a stop to this kind of useless spending???

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