outside the lines

  • The dollar denomination of the United States has had a long, ever changing history. While many pieces had been struck, there were long intervals between the different series, and whole generations would not see a dollar coin in denomination. Following the dollar bills that were introduced in 1862, the majority of citizens preferred those, and when production of the peace dollar, the last of the silver dollar denomination was discontinued, few people bothered. Silver dollars remained in use in the casinos in Nevada, but in most other places dollar bills served the need.

    During the 1970s the situation had remained the same, and the introduction of the Eisenhower dollars did not help much. Not containing any silver, but of the same size as the old silver dollars, the people considered the new dollars to be too big and unusable in circulation. As a solution, a new, lighter and thinner, dollar piece was proposed and experiments to create planchets were made, both by the Mint and private companies. These are all very scarce, although relatively affordable due to lack of collectors interest. Among the proposed metals was titanium, with test pieces produced by Gould & Co. which was based in Cleveland, OH. None of these would make it to the coinage.

    Eventually a small sized dollar coin was authorized under Public Law Number: 95-447. This was viewed as a solution to the problems cited for the large sized dollars. The coins would have a diamter 26.5 mm, a little bit bigger than a quarter, and would be struck from a composition of copper nickel clad. The Susan B. Anthony Dollar was first minted in 1979. Unfortunately, the solution to the problems viewed for the last design, became new problems. The small size dollar coin was clumsy in circulation since it could easily be mistaken for a quarter! After three years, the coins stopped being minted and it would be many years before the small sized dollar would get another chance.

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