If you have not heard by now, the US mint (actually a congressional act mandates the production of these coins) is at it again. In 2007, a new US dollar coin will be put into circulation. Will it circulate? Unlike previous attempts, this coin has a shot at general acceptance.
Looking back at the history of US dollar coins, they have generally been failures. The Morgan Dollar, one of the most popular coins to collect, was forced upon us by special interests in the silver industry and really only used in the west and the casino industry. The IKE dollar was a bust as far as circulation, the Susan B. Anthony Dollar was the biggest bust of all time and the Sacagawea Dollar was just plain ugly after being in circulation. Furthermore, how many people realty know who Susan B. Anthony or Sacagawea were? The failure was attributed to its size being similar to a quarter.
Why then will this new Presidential Dollar gain acceptance?
Vending machine companies are beginning to come around and equip their vending devices with the mechanics to accept dollar coins. Mind you, this is hardly widespread, but after years and years of ignoring dollar coins, some vending companies are coming around. Many newer machines will accept dollar coins. With the cost of many vending items well over a dollar, it makes sense to accept dollar coins. Instead of carrying around a pocket full of quarters, carry around a few dollar coins.
Some vending companies will be forced to accept the $1 coin. Written within the law is some verbiage that mandates that by January 1, 2008, any business that operate on US Government Property, or property controlled by the US Government or Federal Agency, must be capable of using and dispensing the new dollar coins. In addition, they have to display signs that indicate their ability to do so. This would include vending machines, some toll roads and some mass transit. If you are a vending company, and you have to provide this feature, why not use it in the private sector as well? The US Post Office stamp dispensing machines already take and dispense $1 coins.
The US Mint is doing an all-out blitz on advertising the dollar coin. They are diligently working with the Federal Reserve to ensure that financial institutions have an adequate supply on the day of release. If you go to a financial institution today and ask for a dollar coin, you will not likely get them. The US Mint is attempting to ensure that this does not happened with the new dollar coin. The Mint wants dollar coins readily available for the public on release day
The US State Quarter program was hugely successful and brought new collectors into the hobby. The State Quarter program is nearing an end. The Presidential Dollar program is something that can fill the void for these collectors. These collectors will turn to collecting dollar coins as the quarter program draws to a close. OK, collectors buying up rolls of dollars to put away do not make them circulate, but what does, is the collector who buys rolls to search for errors and then spends the coins s/he does not want to keep.
The US Mint is positioning the new dollar coin as an educational tool. I would guess that many educational systems will somehow utilize the presence of the dollar coin and the various presidents as some sort of learning tool. Under this scenario, young people will become accustom to using them and may not be as averse to using them as us older folks.
Continued inflation will eat away purchasing power making many coins Obsolete (penny, nickel, dime and someday the quarter). Seriously, what can you buy today from a vending machine, or anywhere, that costs only a quarter? It seems most people have no qualms about carrying around a pocketful of change for vending machine or other small purchases. Why not carry around a few dollar coins instead? There really is no longer a need for pennies and nickels. Ouch! As a penny pincher, that hurts!