Resolved: American Coins are Pig-Ugly

I wish I had enough talent to design a set of alternative coins for the United States. But being talentless, all I can do is rant.

Does any nation* have coins as ugly and poorly-made as the US?

Has there been any American coin you would want to look at since the Ike dollar? Does any nation’s coins have such poor, shallow striking?

We ought to do something about that.
*except Saudi Arabia of course.

This is a Great Debate? It’s totally subjective, and I happen to like the look of American coins; they’re so clean and neat.

American coins are like the truly cool guy. They don’t have to draw attention to themselves through dressing gaudily or acting out. Other countries have coins that are more like tackily dressed attention-whores. Who does everybody really want around? The simply-dressed cool guy or the attention whore in his brightly colored double-knit polyesters?

I like quarters.

I do often think that dollar coins need to be more like the British pound coin - weighty, solid, reassuring. A dollar coin that feels like a quarter doesn’t give you the confidence that it’s actually worth a dollar. I want some heft, dammit!

They just need to stop printing dollar bills. I’m actually pretty fond of most of the dollar coins that have come and gone, I just wish that we actually used them. And killed the penny. And I’m not too fond of the nickel either, but I could probably put up with it.

And what’s the deal with dimes being so small? Am I right?

What the hell?

Aren’t all coins just metal discs with old or dead people’s faces on them? I don’t really understand how they can be ugly. Why should I even want to look at it?

As far as I’m concerned, the baseline should be a plain disc with the denomination and nation of issue. Anything else should be there for counterfeit prevention only.

I’m not a coin collector though, and I’ve always valued function over form. Obviously, since this is an aesthetic judgment, your mileage will vary.

Them pre-decimalization British coins were some ugly motherfuckers.

Ugly? I could see calling them ordinary, or unimaginative, but actually unpleasant to look at? Odd, IMO.

You may have something here. I haven’t seen an American gold-toned coin (Sackies, the new Presidents series) that doesn’t look like something dug out of a bag of candy.

The Loonie, on the other hand, looks great - possibly because it looks like good, honest brass, not gold. Or possibly because it has a very nice picture of a loon, not a bad PC engraving of a Native American Earth Mother Goddess ™ or a Heroic Bust of a Dead President.

The first thing that ought to be done with American coins is to actually put numbers on the damned things. That would be a big help to tourists and children.

There is no reason in the twenty-first century for coins to be marked “one dime” and “quarter dollar”. Even the penny and nickel say one cent and five cents, though they spell that out.

I’m a traditionalist in many ways, but our money ought to work for us, and our small change isn’t doing its job. Having to explain to otherwise smart people haw much their small change is worth doesn’t make sense, when with simple changes they can figure that out for themselves.

If they are to make a new dollar coin that is actually used, it need to be two-toned. Silver in the middle with a gold ring around it like so many other countries have.

Korean coins are pretty damn bad.

Look, the Standing Liberty design (especially in it most recent incarnation) is the most beautiful obverse coin in the world. Why do we keep doing away with it? The Ike “eagle on the moon” is a wonderful reverse. (Heck the “eagle family” is pretty darn good.

The Buffalo and Indian Head nickels were both kick-butt. We can have beautiful coins, and if elected, I will see to it. All we have to do is garner a little bit of gumption to get good-looking coinage.

Also, by the way, the old Spanish coins were not the best. Also any coin made out of aluminum has to go. Heft is important.

No mention of the state quarters? I’ll be sad actually to see the last in the series be printed this year (or is it next). There are some real good designs (and some stinkers, like that of my state, a hapless collage of several unrelated objects).

Pennies that didn’t start turning to zinc oxide just because it’s humid would be a start. The current ones just clack when they hit the floor, too. Not the beautiful ring of a proper copper penny.

I liked the thruppence

I thought the two Lewis and Clark nickle designes were pretty damn good-looking. And the three-quarter view of Jefferson with “Liberty” in his handwriting is really nice; I’m glad they kept it.

I’m not sure what happend with the relief, though. When they started the state quarter program they updated all the dies for coinage so they could use a newer super high pressure minting technique. It supposedly allows for more detail, but it also makes the relief almost non-existant. Look at Lincoln on the pennies - his cheeks are hollow and practically sink below the surface level of the background. Older pennies have a healthy-looking Lincoln that stands out from the surface. The new ones suck.

I agree! I loved those pre-Euro irish coins-neat stylized animals from the Book of Kells.
Actually, we ought to be going to electronic money, why make coins at all? i have a pile of them on my dresser-a pain to ahul around, and impracticable.
Question: why not make them out of aluminum? Then they wouldn’t put holes in your pockets.

I’m not informed on this issue – what aspects of the portrait of Sacagawea are “PC”? Was her appearance somehow altered, or were anachronistic elements included or something?