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Staff Writer

The History of Presidential Coins

By Staff Writer, ChartExperts.com


If a picture tells a thousand words, Presidential coins will tell a thousand stories. Coins have always played a significant role in societies in terms of tender and historical significance. Patriotic coins that have been developed to commemorate and honor the memory of Presidents and their accomplishments, also immortalizes them in American history and reaffirms their impact on American culture, and ideals. 

In this post, Proud Patriots covers the historical legacy of Presidential coins and how the images and circulation of these coins are important for preserving American history and understanding the roots of American values. 

Early Dollar Coins

The US coinage is fairly new as compared to older civilizations. It came during the late 1700s. Before national coinage, people traded goods and services for foreign and domestic coins that circulated during the Colonial period and the period following the Revolutionary War. The birth of the United States implied it had to have its own unique currency. 

The coins that circulated during the Colonial period included the British pound, the German thaler, the Spanish milled dollar, and the ones produced by the colonies. Minted in the rich Spanish colonies of Mexico and Peru, the Spanish milled dollar was the most circulated coin in the colonies. The coin had a patterned edge that prevented dishonest people from “shaving” the edges. The Spanish milled coin gained the respect of the highest order and soon became the coin for international trade. People used to cut this coin into halves, quarters, eights, and sixteenths if they didn’t have change. During that time, as per the New York Stock Exchange, eight-eights made a whole.

 

Source - http://www.columbiagazette.com

The Articles of Confederation governed the country after the Revolutionary War, which allowed each state to create its own coins and even set values for them. This created big confusion. The same coin had unique values from state to state. 

In 1792, the American Congress passed the country’s first Coinage Act. This act gave the United States Mint the official right to create coins for public use. The Congress chose decimal coinage in parts of 100 and set the value of the U.S. dollar to the already familiar Spanish milled dollar and its fractional parts. As a result, they minted coins of the following metals and denominations:

  • Copper: Cent and Half Cent

  • Silver: Dollar, Half Dollar, Quarter, Dime, Half Dime

  • Gold: Eagle ($10), Half Eagle ($5), Quarter Eagle ($2.5) 

They minted the coins with engravings of words and inscriptions of Liberty. Established in Philadelphia, the National Mint delivered the country’s first circulating copper coins on March 1, 1793 - 11,178 in number. 

Source: https://www.usmint.gov/learn/history/us-circulating-coins

The newly minted coins caused a public outcry. They were large and bulky when compared to the modern quarter. The image of Liberty on the obverse had her hair streaming behind with a frightened expression which according to the people symbolized slavery instead of the unity of the states. The Mint designed a new Liberty a couple of months later.

Individual states could not produce coins. Even after allowing the circulation of certain foreign coins to meet the nation’s needs, The Mint still struggled for many years to produce enough coins for public use. The copper cents were relatively stable in production but still not in large numbers on account of the rise of the cost of copper. After the passing of the Coinage Act, the minting of gold and silver coins started with the ratio of silver to gold kept at 15:1. Being undervalued, the gold coins got exported and melted along with the Silver coins. 

The 19th Century

During the early 19th century, banks supplied gold and silver for the coining process in return for coins they liked. The banks wanted the largest denominations for each metal. To increase the circulation of gold and silver coins, they discontinued the silver dollar and gold eagle, the weights of coins were changed along with the ratio of silver to gold. A new coining technology was used and many minting branches opened all around the country to help increase the circulation of gold and silver coins. 

Source: https://www.usmint.gov/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/circulating_coins_2_1110x555.jpg

The price of gold was fairly consistent around $20 from 1792 to 1833. In 1834, the Coinage Act was passed under the presidency of Andrew Jackson. They adopted a new regulation of weights along with the value of gold to sync with the marketplace and the relative value of silver to gold. This act increased the value of gold along with the ratio of gold to silver to 16:1 from 15:1. 

Silver dropped for the gold standard and the Western silver farmers termed this act as the Crime act. The establishment of the Free Silver Movement (a powerful force) proved to be influential in the passing of the Bland Allison Act in 1878. As per this act, the Treasury Department had to purchase $2-4 million a month of domestic silver and use it for the coining of silver coins for circulation. 

In 1857, they banned all foreign coins as per the Coinage Act of 1857. They passed another act in the late 19th century - The Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1890. It replaced the previous law and led to an increased purchase of 4.5 million silver ounces a month. In 1893, President Cleveland repealed this act as the Treasury's gold reserves were being depleted as investors were selling silver for gold. 

In 1861, the motto “In God We Trust” got approved for inscription on the coins by the Congress on encouragement from the Southern Ministers. By 1873, the Congress approved all coins for the inscription of the motto.

The 20th Century and Beyond

Silver got eliminated from certain coins under President Johnson after the passing of the 1965 Coin Act. The elimination resulted from a shortage of silver and gold. Silver quarters and dimes got eliminated. For half dollar coins, the silver content got reduced from 90% to 40%. Silver was being replaced with alloys of copper, nickel, manganese, and zinc. They passed a freezing date to prevent hoarding. The newly minted coins had a 1964 date for a period. They removed mint marks for 5 years. This prevented the removal of these newly minted coins from circulation. 

Source: http://www.moonlightmint.com/blog_1.htm

Presidential Dollar Coins

As the name suggests, Presidential dollar coins are a series of U.S. dollar coins with relief portraits of U.S. Presidents engraved on the obverse and The Statue of Liberty on the reverse. 

 

Obverse (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:George_Washington_Presidential_$1_Coin_obverse.png)



 


 

Reverse (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Presidential_dollar_coin_reverse.png)

The United States honored its Presidents by issuing dollar coins featuring their portraits on the dollar coins. The developments resulted from The Presidential $1 Coin Program which came into effect in 2007. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison were the first four Presidents whose portraits featured on the dollar coins for the first year. Each President got honored on the dollar coin for three months (four Presidents honored in a year). They decided the program would continue until they honored all the Presidents in chronological order of the President’s term in office. To be eligible for being honored, a President must be deceased at least 2 years prior to the issue.

The Statue of Liberty, the inscription “United States of America”, and the inscription “$1” were on the reverse of the Presidential dollar coins. Along the edge of the coin, the year of minting or issuance, 13 stars, the mint mark, and the legend E Pluribus Unum was inscribed. Before 2009, the motto “In God We Trust” was also inscribed on the edge. They passed a bill in December 2007 by the Congress to move the motto “In God We Trust” to either the edge or at the reverse of the dollar coin. 

Instead of the Liberty legend, they displayed The Statue of Liberty on the reverse side of the Presidential coins as it sufficiently conveyed the message of Liberty. In the honor of President’s Day (9th February), on 15 February 2007, they shared the first dollar coin with the public which had a portrait of President George Washington on it. This was the first time the U.S. coins got edge lettered. 

On 8 March 2007, the mint announced that over 50,000 George Washington Presidential Coins got released into circulation on 15 February 2007 without edge inscriptions. These coins did not have the motto “In God We Trust” inscribed on them and hence they were being called Godless dollars. The so-called Godless dollars were being sold on eBay for $600 initially and then for around $50. The people even produced fake Godless dollars with the motto on the edge filed.

Between 2007 and 2011, the dollar coins were minted in large numbers and got widely circulated resulting in a large stockpile of unused dollar coins. 1.4 billion uncirculated dollar coins got stockpiled by 2011, which could have been 2 billion by 2016. Representative Jackie Speier recommended the U.S. via a "Dear Colleague" letter to not produce any more dollar coins and was also planning to introduce legislation aimed at immediate halting of the Presidential coin program. As per The United States Government Accountability Office, the U.S. government would have saved about $5.5 billion over 30 years if they went ahead with discontinuing the dollar bill in favor of the dollar coin. 

In 2011, Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced the suspension of the minting of the Presidential dollar coins. Presidential coins starting with President Chester A. Arthur were only meant for collectors and were supposed to be minted in reduced quantities. 

As previously mentioned, a President must be deceased for at least two years prior to the issue to be eligible for being honored with the Presidential Coin. Thus, the former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and the then-current President Barack Obama were ineligible for being honored with the dollar coin.

Ronald Reagon was the last President honored in 2016 under the Presidential $1 coin program. Producing coins for Presidents that did not get honored would require the passing of another act by Congress. On 12 February 2019, Senator John Cornyn introduced a bill to honor George H. W. Bush with the Presidential coin and Barbara Rush with First Spouse gold coin (signed into law on 28 January 2020)

This beautiful gold coin is clad with President Trump's "Keep America Great" slogan for his 2020 campaign. Cheer on your favorite candidate with this incredible collectible coin. Delivered to you in an airtight and durable coin capsule, this coin will serve as a reminder of the amazing things America is capable of! The Trump coin is not available from the U.S. Mint but is however made available to the American public through the US based company, proudpatriots.com, and verified with the included certificate of authenticity to protect and add value to the collectible coin.

Source: https://proudpatriots.com/collections/patriotic-coins/products/donald-trump-2020-keep-america-great-24-k-gold-coin

They issued 41 Presidential coins in total. The program aimed at educating the masses about the country’s Presidents along with their history. Here’s a list of all the Presidential coins that were being issued:

Release Number

President Number

President Name

Release Date

Total Mintage

Design

Term

1

1st

George Washington

February 15, 2007

340,360,000

Washington dollar

1789–1797

2

2nd

John Adams

May 17, 2007

224,560,000

John Adams dollar

1797–1801

3

3rd

Thomas Jefferson

August 16, 2007

203,610,000

Jefferson dollar

1801–1809

4

4th

James Madison

November 15, 2007

172,340,000

Madison dollar

1809–1817

5

5th

James Monroe

February 14, 2008

124,490,000

Monroe dollar

1817–1825

6

6th

John Quincy Adams

May 15, 2008

115,260,000

John Quincy Adams dollar

1825–1829

7

7th

Andrew Jackson

August 14, 2008

122,250,000

Jackson dollar

1829–1837

8

8th

Martin Van Buren

November 13, 2008

102,480,000

Van Buren dollar

1837–1841

9

9th

William Henry Harrison

February 19, 2009

98,420,000

William Henry Harrison dollar

1841

10

10th

John Tyler

May 21, 2009

87,080,000

Tyler dollar

1841–1845

11

11th

James K. Polk

August 20, 2009

88,340,000

Polk dollar

1845–1849

12

12th

Zachary Taylor

November 19, 2009

78,260,000

Taylor dollar

1849–1850

13

13th

Millard Fillmore

February 18, 2010

74,480,000

Fillmore dollar

1850–1853

14

14th

Franklin Pierce

May 20, 2010

76,580,000

Pierce dollar

1853–1857

15

15th

James Buchanan

August 19, 2010

73,360,000

Buchanan dollar

1857–1861

16

16th

Abraham Lincoln

November 18, 2010

97,020,000

Lincoln dollar

1861–1865

17

17th

Andrew Johnson

February 17, 2011

72,660,000

A. Johnson dollar

1865–1869

18

18th

Ulysses S. Grant

May 19, 2011

76,020,000

Grant dollar

1869–1877

19

19th

Rutherford B. Hayes

August 18, 2011

74,480,000

Hayes dollar

1877–1881

20

20th

James A. Garfield

November 17, 2011

74,200,000

Garfield dollar

1881

21

21st

Chester A. Arthur

February 5, 2012

10,080,000

Arthur dollar

1881–1885

22

22nd

Grover Cleveland

May 25, 2012

9,520,000

Cleveland 1st Term dollar

1885–1889

23

23rd

Benjamin Harrison

August 16, 2012

9,840,001

Benjamin Harrison dollar

1889–1893

24

24th

Grover Cleveland

November 15, 2012

14,600,001

Cleveland 2nd Term dollar

1893–1897

25

25th

William McKinley

February 19, 2013

8,125,100

McKinley dollar

1897–1901

26

26th

Theodore Roosevelt

April 11, 2013

9,230,700

Theodore Roosevelt dollar

1901–1909

27

27th

William Howard Taft

July 9, 2013

8,120,000

Taft dollar

1909–1913

28

28th

Woodrow Wilson

October 17, 2013

7,980,000

Woodrow Wilson dollar

1913–1921

29

29th

Warren G. Harding

February 6, 2014

9,940,000

Warren Harding dollar

1921–1923

30

30th

Calvin Coolidge

April 10, 2014

8,260,000

Calvin Coolidge dollar

1923–1929

31

31st

Herbert Hoover

June 19, 2014

8,260,000

Herbert Hoover dollar

1929–1933

32

32nd

Franklin D. Roosevelt

August 28, 2014

8,680,000

Franklin Roosevelt dollar

1933–1945

33

33rd

Harry S. Truman

February 5, 2015

8,400,000

Harry S. Truman dollar

1945–1953

34

34th

Dwight D. Eisenhower

April 13, 2015

8,545,998

Eisenhower Presidential dollar

1953–1961

35

35th

John F. Kennedy

June 18, 2015

11,340,000

Kennedy Presidential dollar

1961–1963

36

36th

Lyndon B. Johnson

August 18, 2015

12,040,000

L. Johnson dollar

1963–1969

37

37th

Richard Nixon

February 3, 2016

10,000,000

Nixon dollar

1969–1974

38

38th

Gerald Ford

March 8, 2016

10,500,000

Ford dollar

1974–1977

39

40th

Ronald Reagan

July 5, 2016

13,020,000

Reagan dollar

1981–1989

40

41st

George H. W. Bush

2020

TBA

 

1989–1993

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_dollar_coins

Conclusion

Presidential coins are patriotic coins developed to commemorate and honor the memory of Presidents and their accomplishments. These coins are important for understanding the roots of American values and preserving American history, as well as immortalizing them. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Staff Writer

 

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