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Modern Dollar Coins

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The United States has issued several dollar coins in the modern coin era.  Despite some government promotional efforts, these coins have not seen extensive circulation among the general public.  For common dates, the coins can sometimes be obtained at face value from banks.  Uncommon dates and mint marks, coins in uncirculated condition, and special-issues that were originally sold to collectors can be obtained from coin stores and online auctions.  All coins intended for circulation are made of coppy-nickel or copper-nickel-zinc alloys. 


Obverse of a 1977-D Eisenhower Dollar. 
1977 Eisenhower Dollar Obverse

Reverse of an Eisenhower Dollar showing an eagle landing on the moon.
1977 Eisenhower Dollar Reverse
Eisenhower Dollars - These were the first dollar coins minted since the silver Peace dollars were discontinued in 1935.  They were minted from 1971 to 1977 and are the same size as the older silver dollars.  These coins bear a portrait of the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the obverse  and an eagle landing on the moon on the reverse to celebrate America's lunar landings of that era.  The circulating version of the coin was made of the same copper-nickel alloy as the modern dime, quarter, and half-dollar.  Certain versions for collectors were made of a 40% silver alloy and were sold in uncirculated and proof finishes.  Uncirculated 40% silver coins were sold in blue packaging and are commonly referred to as "Blue Ikes" on coin markets.  The mint sold proof 40% silver coins in brown packaging, now known as "Brown Ikes" on coin markets.  The 1976 Bicentenial version used a special reverse containing the liberty bell superimposed over the moon.

Like the earlier silver dollars, Eisenhower dollars never received signficant use from the public in circulation due to their large size.  Yearly mintages were fairly low as a result.  However, they have become popular as collectibles.  Common-date, circulated coins used to be available through banks, however, their popularity can make them difficult to come by.  They can also be acquired from coin dealers or online.   

Obverse of a 1980-P  Susan B. Anthony Dollar. 
1980 Anthony Dollar Obverse
Susan B. Anthony Dollars - Just slightly larger than a quarter, Anthony dollars were designed in response to complaints about the large size of Eisenhower Dollars.  The obverse features a portrait of Susan B. Anthony, a 19th century hero in the movement for women's rights.  These coins were not popular with the public though due to confusion with the quarter.  Most were minted in 1979, the coin's first year, before it became clear the coin was not a success.  Most coins sat in storage and were slowly released for use in vending machines and government uses.  By 1999, the supply was exhausted and mintage resumed for that year.

Gold-Colored Circulating Dollar Coins

Starting in 2000 the US Mint began making gold-colored dollar coins using a brass alloy made of copper, zinc, maganese, and nickel alloy.  The gold color was intended to reduce confusion with quarters.   

Sacagawea Dollars

Obverse of a 2005-P Sacagawea Dollar. 
2005 Sacagawea Dollar Obverse

Reverse of a Sacagawea Dollar showing an eagle soaring.
2005 Sacagawea Dollar Reverse
These coins are slightly larger and heavier than a quarter.  The coin honors Sacagawea, a Native American of the Shoshone tribe who helped the early American explorers Lewis and Clarke during their 1804 westward expedition.  Despite a government promotion efforts, the coins were not popular with the American public and have rarely circulated in the United States.  Out of roughly 1 million coins minted, about half circulate in Central and South American nations that use the US dollar as currency.  Most coins were struck in the first year before it became clear the coin was not popular.  A small number continue to be minted, mainly for sale to collectors in proof and mint sets.   Mintage of the coin continues alongside the Presidential One Dollar Coin.  Starting in 2009, a new design, also honoring Native Americans, will be used in place of the current illustration of Sacagawea.

Presidential Dollars

The Presidential Dollar coins mark yet another attempt to popularize dollar coins.  They obverse features a deceased United States president while the reverse shows the Statue of Liberty.  The presidents are honored in the order that they served.  Four presidents are featured each year.  Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison were featured in 2007.  In 2008, the dollar is featuring Presidents Monroe, Adams, Jackson, and Van Buren.  The mint is hoping that this program will popularize dollar coins among the general public just as the state quarter program led to a popularization of coin collecting in general. 

The Presidential Dollars are the first circulating US coins since 1933 to use edge lettering.  The date, mint mark, and inscription "E Plurbis Unum" appear on the edge of the coin, instead of on the obverse or reverse.  The coins are similar in size and weight to the Anthony and Sacagawea dollars.  

Acquiring Modern Dollars

Modern Dollars present a special opportunities for collectors to acquire coins not normally found in circulation.  They can be elusive, but can be tracked down with some effort and resourcefulness. 

Banks - Many banks will allow withdrawals in the form of modern dollars.  Some banks will special-order uncommon coinsthey may not carry at the request of collectors who have accounts there.  Benefits: The coins can be acquired a face value, plus any processing fees the bank may charge.  Banks are most likely to have or order Sacagawea, Presidential, and Anthony dollars.  Drawbacks: Banks are unlikely to have less common coin series like Eisenhower dollars, or less common dates.  The coins will usually be in a circulated condition and thus are unlikely to satisfy the demands of many collectors.  Circulated coins typically do not see the same price appreciation as uncirculated coins because the supply of circulated coins is higher and there is less collector demand for them. 

Coin Stores - Coin stores can be a good source for rare dates or high grade coins.  Their prices tend to be higher, though, to pay for overhead costs such as rent and employees.  Since most modern dollars can be acquired at low cost, the percentage markup on these coins is often higher than it is with more scarce and expensive coins. 

Online - Modern dollars are frequently sold online.  Approximately 200 Eisenhower dollar auctions are completed each day and almost as many for the other dollar series.  Online auctions avoid the overhead costs of a coin store.  Many proofs and uncirculated coins are available, and some sellers offer entire coin sets.  The downsides of ordering online are shipping charges and the inability to personally inspect coins first. 

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