January 09, 2011

Coin Rage

If I may switch gears just for a bit here. May I? Please? Oh thank you so very much.

I've only just recently become aware of the latest government attempt to push a dollar coin on an American public that has steadfastly refused such coercion since, roughly, 1928.

The Susan B. Anthony dollars of 1979 were a mistake, admittedly. They looked too much like a quarter and, even one experience paying $1 for something that only costs 25 cents is one time too many.

So, the government borrowed an idea from our neighbors to the North--Canada, for the slow kids on this blog--and released gold-colored Sacajawea dollars, which were largely used as a creative way to make a $5 graduation donation seem somehow flashy.

As low as the government set the dollar coin bar, you'd think they would have made at least some attempt to surpass their previous failures but, no, the current dollar coin iteration makes one pause and consider the artistic mastery of Monopoly money by comparison.

How serious am I? Several months ago, my wife and I stopped by a automobile sales event that proclaimed they were giving out "GOLD COINS," so we thought we'd see what the scam was. The dealership gave us both two "GOLD COINS," and I honestly thought they were some sort of cheesy fake promotion, so I just tossed them in a drawer when I got home and thought nothing else of them. I mean, jeezum crow, I've seen arcade tokens with better design.

Then, last week, I received three similar dollar coins in vending machine change and I thought "Huh. Maybe these things are legit," so I looked at them a little closer, and the closer I looked the more annoyed I got.

Understand, I used to collect coins, so there are certain things I look for any time an unusual coin lands in my hand. One of the first things you look for is the year it was minted, followed by locating the mint mark indicating the city in which it was struck. I searched my first new dollar coin for these telltale clues and simply could not find them, and it wasn't until I inspected the next dollar coin that I understood why.

Apparently, the geniuses behind the new coin design decided to put the year, mint mark and the phrase "e pluribus unum" on the EDGE of the coin, in impossibly thin and shallow lettering. The reason I couldn't find the year and mint mark on the first coin was because. . . they had been worn off!!! That's right, two of the most important coin designations--at least for coin collectors--are located on the part of the coin that undergoes the most wear. This is like putting a license plate on the wheel of a car.

I also noticed the word "LIBERTY" was nowhere to be found, which is a staple on any coin you normally carry in your pocket. I learned, after a little research, the world LIBERTY was deemed unnecessary because the Statue of Liberty appears prominently on the coin, so the LIBERTY is "understood." This struck me as a strange bit of logic, considering "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" is splashed quite visibly as a banner over Lady Liberty. I mean, using the previous logic, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA should just be understood, because there's a previous American president on the front and the Statue of Liberty on the back. It's all just so OBVIOUS.

Anyway, I find the new dollar coins annoying for these obvious reasons, but also at a more asthetic level. Consider:

New Dollar Coin

Morgan Silver Dollar

Seriously, which one would you be more proud to carry in your pocket?

Posted by Ryan at January 9, 2011 11:22 AM | TrackBack

I had no idea that they had put out a new dollar coin. Obviously I've never come across one.

Posted by: Keith at January 9, 2011 06:27 PM

I'd not noticed that the writing was on the edge, maybe the one I have has already worn itself off.

But I could see an argument for doing it this way, for a coin to be really collectible (i.e. not circulated) the edge printing would be an easy way to tell one way or the other.

What I can't understand is why they didn't put pants on Abe Lincoln?

Haha! Made you look.

By the way, my favorite "carry" coin is a bicentennial half dollar featuring JFK.

Posted by: Erik at January 11, 2011 03:25 PM
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