Is the new USA dollar coin also doomed?

In his column What happened to 50-cent pieces? (18-Mar-1994), Cecil Adams says

Well, to me, it doesnt seem like the people at Treasury have learned from their mistakes. With the introduction of the new USA Sacajawea dollar coin, has anyone heard of plans to retire the dollar bill (and perhaps produce more US$2 bills)?

I haven’t heard of any such plans, and my first impression was the same as yours: the Treasury seems to be targeting the collectors rather than us regular coin-using schmoes, particularly with the “Get your sackies only at Wal-Mart” promotion.

If people think of dollar coins as novelties, they’ll hoard them. Maybe that’s better for the Treasury’s bottom line (much as the US Postal Service specifically targets philatelists, since they don’t actually use the stamps they pay for), but it won’t be good for the dollar coin.

…but when you get blue, and you’ve lost all your dreams, there’s nothing like a campfire and a can of beans!

A note to everyone who wonders where all the “odd” money is: try taking a ferry in Washington state. If the toll is $6.50, and you hand them a fin, you’ll in all likelihood get back one $2 bill, one Susie B, and one fifty cent piece.

Watch the clerk’s expression at the Subway when you dump THAT load on them the next day.

I could have sworn I saw a special the other night (prob. just propaganda by The Man, but still) about why they opted for the shape and coloring of the dollar in order to easily distinguish it from the quarters, and keeping the size similar enough to the quarter to let it be usable in vending machines. Or was that the night I had the leftover Mexican food? :slight_smile:


Well, they might not actually be as surprised as you think. The Long Island Railroad’s vending machines also like “unusual” coins and will spit up to 8 Anthony dollars and a half dollar back at you if you put a tenner into the slot. It’s fun if you like that kind of thing (I do). Of course, I once was asked by a (somewhat) elderly lady what the thing was she got back from the machine. I explained to her that she was holding in her hand a genuine U.S. dollar.
I have, however, had some strange encounters with vendors when trying to rid myself of the dollar coins, especially with newly landed immigrants. One really didn’t believe my crazy story about the coin being money, and looked almost ill as I walked away with my newspaper.

In any case, one can only hope that the new coins go over better, as it is rather odd that the U.S. continues only to use low-level coinage, usually a sign of heavy inflationary economies in which cheap paper money is constantly printed to keep up with the rise in prices. In Germany, where I now live, coins are used starting at 5 marks ($2.50) although there is also a relatively rare 5 mark note. This makes small purchases somewhat easier, with less hassle with stacks of singles. But alas, the German currency will soon be history, when the euro is fully introduced in 2002. The highest coin will then be 2 euros (now $1.92).

Btw, has anyone seen any of the new U.S. state quarters?

Yes, and I try to get rid of them as soon as I get them. Maybe it’s just an aversion to something new, but they just don’t look right. Neither do the new $20 bills, for that matter: some cashiers have complained about mistaking them for $50 bills, and making change accordingly.

Half dollars are used quite extensively in Las Vegas, Laughlin, and other gambling towns. The 50-cent piece is used if the player gets blackjack with an odd-amount bet on the table (blackjack pays at 3/2 odds). For instance, a $5 bet would win $7.50. Rather than make separate chips in 50-cent denominations, the casinos use real half dollars. A few casinos are now using $2.50 chips, but most aren’t. Also, 50-cent slot machines are fairly common. Not nearly as common as quarter slots, but there are far more half-dollar machines than dime machines.

The only places I’ve seen $2 bills circulated with any frequency are the horse and dog tracks in Phoenix. I’ve not been to either of them for some time, so I don’t know if the twos are still being used there, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” – Yogi Berra

As, a Canadian who recently visited the U.S., I have two words for you: loonies and twoonies. (In other words, the Canadian $1 and $2 coins). I love 'em. Quick, convenient, and universally used.

Yes, SuiGeneris, I agree that we should have coins in larger denominations. For example, in Switzerland, the lowest bill is CHFR 10.00 (approximately $6.00) and the highest coin is CHFR 5.00 (approximately $3.00)

I’ve read that the USA government could effect a large savings by totally replacing dollar bills with coins, due to the longer lifetime of a coin vs. a bill.

The problem is that 'Murcans think that changes in money, like the metric system and international road signs, are plots by the Godless Commies.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Well, some 'Murkians don’t like giant hunks of metal jangling around in their pockets. (Especially when they’re also radio transmitters to the Black Helicopters.)

Me? I like the idea of a dollar coin, but I usually wear jeans (which have a handy coin pocket). I think people who wear suits all the time would prefer to have light folding money.

…but when you get blue, and you’ve lost all your dreams, there’s nothing like a campfire and a can of beans!

Someone back there mentioned that some people confused the $50 bill with the $20… This has always looked strange to me, why you Americans have bills that look very similar?

In lot of other countries the bills have very different colours and even sizes to tell one denomination from another easily.

Of course you are used to it, but it doesn’t seem so practical. You complain about mistaking coins, but don’t care to much about your bills looking very similar.

areynaldos said:

Of course you are used to it, but it doesn’t seem so practical. You complain about mistaking coins, but don’t care to much about your bills looking very similar.

Which is also a real pain for the severely vision-impaired, who find it comparatively easy to distinguish coins by touch but for whom all Merkin bills are practically identical. They’d be helped if we had different denominations of bills with different sizes (and, for those not totally blind, different colors).

Americans can tolerate decimal coinage, but we get very irritated if we get rid of feet, miles, pounds, quarts, etc.

Go figure.

Personally, I always tell the coins apart by looking at them.

Da Ace, thanks for making my point before I posted. I like $1 bills because I can fold them into my wallet. Change fills up the front pocket and jingles and bulges. Now I typically carry around a pocket full of change, but when wearing dress pants it is less than comfortable. I would much prefer to put the bills in the wallet that I’m carrying anyway.

I haven’t seen a new Sackie yet, so I can’t give my opinion on them. I seldom shop at Wal-Mart.

I mentioned this on another thread about the new coins, but I’ll repeat it here: Here in L. A., we have a commuter train system called Metrolink. They have automated ticket machines that make change. Any change greater than a dollar comes in Susan B. Anthonys. (I think the Chicago transit system’s machines do this, too, but my memory is hazy.) Not knowing this, I stuck a twenty into a machine and got fifteen Suzies. I was able to spend them by carefully alerting cashiers I was giving them a dollar and not a quarter.

And as for the new quarters, I’m collecting them “naturally.” That is, I go through my change every night and sort out any new quarters I find. I’m not buying them by rolls. I think it’s more fun that way, like a scavenger hunt. The thing is, some of those new quarters, like Delaware’s, with the horse and rider on the back, and Georgia’s, with the peach, look like tokens because of all the empty space in the design.

Oh, well, five down, forty-five to go…


Germans and other Europeans generally use wallets with coin pouches for this purpose, although it hasn’t seemed to catch on in Britain as of yet. Who knows, maybe this can be the start of a whole new industry in the States. Is it time to buy stock in wallet manufacturers?

Roger the Lodger said:
“A note to everyone who wonders where all the “odd” money is: try taking a ferry in Washington state. If the toll is $6.50, and you hand them a fin, you’ll in all likelihood get back one $2 bill, one Susie B, and one fifty cent piece.”

Actually, if you handed them a fin, all you’d get back is a dirty look, and the demand of another buck-fifty. On the other hand, a sawbuck would probably get you back the assortment listed above.
Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Ed. (Sorry, but it’s the only American English dictionary in the house.)

A committee is a lifeform with six or more legs and no brain.

What is the deal with that? Why can’t American wallets be made with a coin pouch? The purpose of a wallet is to hold money. Coins are money. Therefore, wallets should hold coins.

With good reason: many of us have spent hundreds of dollars for tools based on the English standard. Sudden conversion to metric will render our tools worthless.

Granted, metric is the easier standard to work with. It should have been implemented a hundred years ago. English has become so entrenched, it will take generations to convert.

I’ve yet to see one of the new dollar coins. How does it compare in size to the half dollar? If it’s smaller, people may perceive it as less valuable. Unless it’s made of solid silver.

And where is Wal-Mart putting the dollar coins? Are they phasing out the pennies, or have they introduced new cash drawers?

Agreed, the new quarters look more like tokens than cash. Why did they shrink Washington’s head?

And I also agree that different colors and designs would make paper money denominations easier to identify.

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” – Yogi Berra

Because most American men carry their wallets in their back pockets, and who wants to sit on a pile of coins?