13 October 2003

Dollar coins and dollar bills

Unlike Canada, which introduced its dollar coin, popularly known as the Loonie, a decade and a half ago, the United States has not been famously successful in getting its dollar coins into circulation. Over the past three decades the faces of Dwight D. Eisenhower (1971-1978), Susan B. Anthony (1979-1981, 1999) and Sacagawea (2000-present) have graced the obverse side of the dollar coin. However, these are rarely, if ever, seen in circulation. There are reasons. The Eisenhower dollar was simply too large in size. The Anthony dollar was too close in size and colour to a quarter. The Sacagawea dollar was similarly sized, although its colour resembles that of our Loonie.

But the real reason that the dollar coin has never caught on in the US is that the Treasury Department has not pulled the dollar bill from circulation when it issued the coin. If it was serious about pushing the coin, then it ought not to have kept printing the bill. However, given the global symbolic importance of the US dollar, with its readily identifiable picture of George Washington on the front, dispensing with such a potent emblem of American economic power may have been too much to contemplate.

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