outside the lines

  • The latest attempt for the United States Mint to produce a series of dollar coins that actually circulate began in 2007. The previous attempts had included a large sized clad dollar coin with the Ike Dollar from 1971 to 1978, a small sized dollar featuring Susie B. from 1979 to 1981, and a small sized golden dollar featured Sacagawea from 2000, that still prattles on.

    The 2007 attempt was designed after the State Quarter series and provided for rotating designs, which would make the coins more collectible and more exciting. The series known as Presidential Dollars, featured each of the Presidents in the order that they served the country. Starting from George Washington, the series for 2007 was rounded out with John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

    The composition of the dollar coins was the unique alloy developed for the prior Sacagawea Dollars. This consisted of a mixture of 88.5% copper, 6% zinc, 3.5% manganese, and 2% nickel. This is configured as a core of pure copper, with a manganese brass outer layer. The color is golden, but the coins don’t seem to weather circulation very well, often becoming discolored from fingerprints alone.

    To coincide the the series of the Presidents, a separate bullion program was also enstated to honor their wives. This series of First Spouse Coins was done in pure (24 karat) gold. Each First Lady would have her own uniquely designed coin, featuring her likeness and something representative of her life or influence. For 2007, the honorees included Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolley Madison.

    These series both have a long way to go, towards honoring all of the Presidents and spouses. So far, it has ranged towards the mid-19th century with the latest releases for John Tyler and his first and second wives, Letitia Tyler and Julia Tyler.

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