Dollar Coin: Three Strikes You're Out

U.S. President Millard Fillmore

The United States Mint put the Millard Fillmore Presidential $1 Coin into circulation in ceremonies at Monrovia, N.Y., on February 18, 2010.
The United States Mint put the Millard Fillmore Presidential $1 Coin into circulation in ceremonies at Monrovia, N.Y., on February 18, 2010.

Sacagawea Dollar Coin

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Whenever I see a report about the (re)current idea of replacing greenbacks with new $1 coins I suffer a mild case of deja vu. Don't you?

After the government's experience with the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, you'd think the idea would be rejected out of hand.

But, no. It keeps coming back, not so much like a song as, perhaps, like a bad penny.

But wouldn't it be wise to take a close look at the reasons the scheme didn't work in the first place?

Dollar Coin Idea Resurrected

Some members of Congress, bent on delivering a double-barreled barrage on the country's financial deficit, have resurrected the dollar-coin idea, even though any supposed savings would be neither immediate nor significant.

Their idea is that dollar coins would last longer than paper money; bills don't last very long. The U.S. Treasury Department has to keep the presses humming almost constantly to keep enough bills in circulation. It's expensive.

Coins, on the other hand, would last much longer -- saving millions of dollars.

The Other Side of the Coin

On the other side of the coin, however, the whole scheme will be folly if the public fails to accept the new coins; the government could lose, not save, money.

It's not hard to imagine the Treasury Department renting vast storage areas to house newly minted coins near where it already has stockpiled the unwanted Eisenhower and Anthony coins.

The Eisenhower dollar found little favor among Americans because of its immense size; it weighs a ton. The Anthony dollar fell flat even before it achieved any significant circulation because it is so nearly the size and weight of a quarter that, too often, it caused great confusion.

I have several Eisenhower dollars in my minuscule coin collection at home; yes, and I have a few Anthony dollars as well. Doesn't everyone?

Confused With Quarters

Although it's been many years since the Anthony dollar was introduced, I vividly recall my late grandmother's angry incantations whenever she pulled a coin from her purse. She was in her 70s at the time and her eyesight was failing. Invariably she would hand me a quarter, or an Anthony dollar, and ask: Is this a quarter?

To avoid the recurrent pleas of merchants who always seem to ask "Do you have anything smaller?" I always try to keep a few dollar bills in my wallet.

Obviously, I couldn't do that if the government were to quit printing one-dollar bills and begin stamping out one-dollar coins -- whatever their size and shape!

Annoying Nickels, Dimes, Quarters

I find it so annoying to carry nickels, dimes and quarters in my pockets (I rarely come across half-dollar or dollar coins) that I empty my pockets of such heavy, annoying coins each morning. At any given time, one small compartment of my desk drawer is chock full of unwanted change; sometimes, however, my associates find the cache useful for making change of a dollar bill for nearby vending machines.

Like everyone else, I fill any number of jars I find at home with the all-but-useless pennies that find their way into my pockets. I also have another small stash of nickels, dimes and quarters (at home.)

Personally, I wouldn't give you a plug nickel for the chances of any new $1 coin.

I wrote this column for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn. It appeared on June 10, 1995 as an"My View." At the time, I was a reporter and editor at The Hour, where I spent 32 years, from November 1968 until I retired on June 1, 2000. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. You can, too. It's easy, and free! Get paid for writing about what you love, or whatever interests you! HubPages makes the technical part easy. Make friends and get help on its active forum. Take a quick tour to see how easy it is to get started today Click Here -- To view my HubPages Profile Click Here


Should the U.S. government replace paper dollars with dollar coins?

  • Yes
  • No
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Bing Sings, 'I Found a Million Dollar Baby in a 5 & 10 Cent Store'

Susan B. Anthony: Quotes, Suffrage, Biography, Childhood, Accomplishments, Legacy (1995)

More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

Terri Paajanen profile image

Terri Paajanen 8 years ago from someplace in Canada

I don't understand the American reluctance to try something new. We've had $1 and $2 coins here in Canada for many years and they never received the resistance that coins seem to have in the states. They're great for vending machines or anything automated. Besides, who uses cash much anyways these days? :)


jormins profile image

jormins 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

I'm the same way I hate coins. They stack up in a jar and if you're lucky you have time to run to the bank and exchange them. I rarely have cash anymore either, seems like almost everywhere is taking plastic now. Only good use for coins is the tollways.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks for the comment, Terri. Yesterday I filled up my gas tank -- it cost $40. It's a lot easier to carry two $20 bills than 40 heavy coins (they tear my pockets anyway!) Jormins, I'm with you. I refuse to buy postage stamps from the machines at the Post Office because they give change in dollar coins!


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Money be-it Coins or notes are something i wish was changed for a plastic card or something!..I really don't like touching money because of the filth and everyones D.N.A. who handles them..


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

We all handle dollars and doorknobs every day, compu-smart. What I dislike more than anything else is all those useless pennies we get back in change!


Bob 8 years ago

Bill..........I'm with you 100 % on this one. Those $1 coins make nice collection pieces , but it sure is easier to carry paper in your pocket.

If I don't see you ..HAPPY NEW YEAR , and the boys were missing you Friday ....LOL


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Bob. Got tied up on the computer! Sorry I missed it. Happy New Year!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

Haha - well, my post office machines take penies, so that's where I use them. But carrying aroind $40 in coin is not comfortable. -- around my ankles for walking weight maybe. :)


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Patty. Some ankle bracelet!


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 8 years ago

The English pound note went some time ago and Euros are insanely heavy. Unfortunately, you never value coins the same way you do notes for some reason, and I think the main reason governments want to get rid of the notes is to encourage more losses.


highwaystar 8 years ago

Thanks William, (aka bing) as the value of money drops away far below what it's worth to print, maybe the huble coin could be a reminder of the days when the greenback meant something...


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Mark. I spend more time emptying my pockets of annoying coins -- and there wear holes in pockets as well. And thank you highwaystar for your comment. I prefer the greenbacks. I don't even like the new paper money (I notice they tear very easily, and I'm sure they won't wear as well as the old bills.)


HeartHealth profile image

HeartHealth 8 years ago

I suppose one very lopsided vote in favor of coins is that coins arent easy to forge LOL looking forward to seeing you in my coins hubs! Cheers! With such a laidback hub, I cant resist being a fan!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

It's true, HeartHealth, not many people are going to try to forge coins, but it isn't the dollar that our government is concerned about. It's the $20 and $100 bills, and it's some of the world's governments that are printing our money like it's going out of style. Thanks for visiting, and you have a new fan as well.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Have any experience with England's one pound coins? They're the size of our 50-cent pieces but twice as thick - and weigh a *ton*. I had 9 of the buggers the morning I arrived in Windsor. Had breakfast at the Hart & Garter before touring the castle, and just to get rid of all that weight, I left them for the verrrry attentive waiter. Only after I got home did it dawn I'd tipped him almost $20 U.S., but the thought of hauling them around until I got the gift shop outweighed common sense and frugality. (btw, it was my birthday that day, but I'm sure that waiter thought it was *his*!)

Anyway, from the grumbling I heard (this was 2003), Brits *hated* one-pound coins for much the same reasons I did, and were trying to bring back paper one-pound notes.

I too HATE $1 coins from vending machines *almost* as much as I hate the colors of our new paper bills. Brit paper money is *gorgeous*, especially the 50-pound note, but ours just looks DIRTY.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

If I ever saw England's one pound coin I think my hub would have been a bit (no pun intended) longer. And I thought our dollar coins were bad! I can understand minting them just for collectors (to make a buck) but they're useless for general circulation. I think I might have done the same thing you did if I had a pocketful of those one pound coins. I avoid buying stamps at our post offices here because the stamp machines inevitably give you dollar coins for change (I've still got the Sacajawea coins from the change I got a few years ago from the post office. They're trying to save money on the new paper dollar bills, too. I notice that they tear very easily and look horrendous.


Ryan North 6 years ago

I really like using $1 coins. I use them at self checkouts at walmart with ease instead of trying to force a dollar bill in that takes forever and might not be taken. I use them for small purchases more than large ones. The Government can save a lot of money if we switched over, that can go to helping pay for this free health care I keep hearing about. I've even carried around $50 worth of Dollar coins just to see how heavy it was...it wasn't bad at all and I think it would benefit most Americans with new found leg strength. lol


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

$50 in coins? What do you carry them in, Ryan, a knapsack? Personally, I find just carrying a few pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters is unwieldy. The government could save money on dollar coins only if they gain widespread use -- which I'm certain will never happen. They've been making dollar coins for many decades without a hint of success. If they weren't used in Post Offices and other government places they'd just be sitting on them in the Treasury building. I very much appreciate your comment. I just wouldn't bet any dollar coins on the success of those annoying disks.


Ryan North 6 years ago

Nah I carried the $50 worth in my pocket as an experiment. Not to bad but really in one day would someone carry that much, lol? If the Government would get rid of the $1 bill then people would accept the $1 coin. That is the only way anyone is gonna accept that coin. I'm with you on the penny as it is a waste of time and space. I actually give out $1 coins and $2 bills as a bonus to some of my workers for a job well done in hitting a specific goal. I also use $1 coins in my register system to give out change and about 35% of my customers would ask for a $1 bill instead of the $1 coin. Will the $1 coin ever truly be successful, only until this government is truly committed to change. Loved the Article Mr. Torpey.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I admire your persistence, Ryan, but I'll stick with paper dollars. I think it would be a disaster if the government stopped circulating dollar bills, but I think it's great that you make good use the $1 coins and $2 bills. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Good luck, and keep a needle and thread handy to patch the inevitable holes in your pockets from all those coins.


Ryan North 6 years ago

I guess we can say "To each his own". I appreciate the different opinions on this subject. Once again I do agree that the "Penny" doesn't need to be minted anymore as nobody really cares about them anymore. If I ever get a hole in my pockets anytime soon from $1 coins you'll be the first to know, lol.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

With prices the way they are today, Ryan, I'm not sure we'll be needing any coins at all in the near future. There's not a whole lot you can buy with less than a dollar -- even at the dollar stores. I'll be looking forward to hearing from you after those coins start spilling out of your pockets.


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

I love coins and I love this hub. I do collect coins in a huge glass jug in the corner of my dining room and when full, it will go to my retirement. I can count on my jug better than on my 401k.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I love coins, too, BobbiRant,but not in my pockets. I have pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters all over the place -- and it's almost impossible to get rid of them. Every time I buy something I get more coins back. I try to carry three quarters, two dimes, a nickel and five pennies with me at all times so I'll have the loose change to give merchants so I don't get any coins back, but it's not always practical. The dollar coins I get I throw in yet another jar. I wouldn't even think of giving a supermarket clerk 10 one dollar coins to pay my bill. I'm sure they would not be welcomed. But they're all OK as collectors' items. I glad you like the hub. Thanks.


Marc 6 years ago

Let's get this straight: why do Americans love $1 bills? It no sense economically whatsoever! Aside the waste of money in printing dollar bills, they are so full of bacteria that I would rather carry $1 coins. Btw, the dollar is devaluing at a very fast pace so it buys less & less each day. And even now, what does it buy you anyways??

In Switzerland we have the the equivalent of $5.50 as a coin and even the smallest denomination in bills is around $10 and even that we're trying to get rid of ;)

But rest assured folks, with the increasing use of QE, US will be forced into converting the greenback into a coin and may even go to a $5 coin as well; It is inevitable.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I have enough pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in my pockets, Marc, without carrying bulky $1 dollar coins. Higher denomination coins do not exist in circulation in the U.S. but possibly could be of some use -- but certainly not until the smaller coins are taken out of circulation.


Mr Nethead 6 years ago

I'm a big advocate of the dollar coin. It just doesn't make economic sense to use dollar bills when simply switching to the coins would save the United States billions of dollars over time.

So I order the coins direct from the U.S. Mint and spread them all over town. I've circulated hundreds of them and am swiftly moving towards 1000 coins circulated.

Personally I find them easier to use than dollar bills now. If I want a drink from a vending machine I only have to pull a couple coins out of my pocket. It's faster than opening the wallet and fumbling around for the proper currency.

I know some people complain about the weight, but most people probably don't carry around a significant amount of one-dollar bills anyway. Carrying 10 one-dollar coins only weighs a few ounces.

Considering the fact that a dollar today is equivalent in value to a quarter in 1975, it seems fitting to use dollar coins now.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I appreciate your comment, Mr Nethead, but, obviously, I can not agree that dollar coins are easier than to use than dollar bills for the reasons I've outlined above. The fact that the dollar is worth so much less than it did years ago is all the more reason to shun it in favor of paper money.


Adventure Colorad profile image

Adventure Colorad 5 years ago from Denver,CO

Very interesting read, I just wrote a hub about the "pros" of using dollar coins, but I agree that they end up as more of a collection intrest rather than actually getting spent. I personally use a debit card for most things, I don't always even have cash on me.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks for your interesting comment, Adventure Colorad. It sure looks like cash is one the way out, but, in any event, I think the dollar coin will live on only with collectors.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

As a teller I liked the dollar coins but many tellers didn't.

I wish the penny would go away - very annoying.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I like dollar coins, too, GmaGoldie, but not in my pockets -- even more so for the pennies.


Blackspaniel1 profile image

Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

You have made a good point, and you would think the mint would have learned after the twenty cent piece disaster.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 2 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Blackspaniel1. Every time I buy something I get pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters back as change. My pockets are full of near-worthless coins. It's gotten so bad that I have to carry my coins in a tin box so they dont' cut a hole in my pocket. There's not much anymore that you can buy for less than a dollar. It annoys me that gasoline stations and most advertisers still show their prices in mills, not just cents: Gasoline, for instance, is advertised as $3.59.9 or three dollars, fifty-nine cents and nine mills. It's absurd!

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