WASHINGTON – George Washington’s birthday celebration will have a golden tinge this year. Millions of new gold-colored dollar coins bearing the first president’s likeness are being introduced in time for the festivities.
The question is whether people will reject them as they did the two previous $1 coins.
U.S. Mint officials are hoping they have overcome the problems that doomed the Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea dollars. Coin experts are skeptical.
The new $1 coins, the first in a series featuring four presidents a year, were to go into circulation today, just before next week’s Presidents Day celebrations.
Learning from past mistakes, the Mint is making sure the coins will be widely available so people will not be disappointed when they show up at banks looking for the coins.
So far the Federal Reserve, the Mint’s distribution agent, has placed orders for 300 million of the Washington coins. Many have already been delivered to commercial banks under orders not to begin selling them to customers until today.
“For the vast majority of Americans, they will be able to get the new dollar coin on the day that we issue it,” Mint Director Edmund C. Moy said.
The changing design with a new president every three months is an effort to match the phenomenal success of the 50-state quarter program that has attracted more than 125 million collectors.
While the government is making a more concerted effort to promote the dollar coin this time around, coin experts said they are not convinced that the results will be much different from the widely avoided Anthony and Sacagawea coins.
“I don’t know of any country that has successfully introduced the equivalent of a dollar coin without getting rid of the corresponding paper unit,” said Douglas Mudd, the author of a new book on the history of money, “All the Money in the World.”
“If the new one-dollar coins are going to win, then one-dollar bills will have to lose,” said Jeff C. Garrett, president of the Professional Numismatists Guild.
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