The Dead Presidents Program:
The United States has created new dollar coins, with the nation’s presidents as the central theme. Each year four presidents will grace the obverse of this coin, beginning with George Washington and continuing in the order that they have served. The program will continue until approximately 2016. The first coin, featuring George Washington, was issued in late February 2007 and will soon be followed by coins featuring Adams, Jefferson and Madison.
The coin follows the same weight (8.1 grams) and size standards (26.5 mm) as the Sacagawea and Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. Sacagawea dollars haven’t been struck for circulation since 2001, and have only been available in Mint Sets. The new law that created the President Dollars requires that an equal number of 2007 Sacagawea dollars be struck and released for circulation.
The Anatomy of a Presidential Dollar
The coin shows a portrait of a President on the obverse; his name is above, and below, his rank and the years that he served. The reverse shows a bottom-to-top angled image of the Statue of Liberty with the torch overlapping an inner ring. The denomination “$1” appears to the left. For the first time the dollar sign appears on a circulating U.S. coin, and the word “Liberty” does not appear. The words United States of America appears around in the outer ring near the rim.
For the first time since 1836, the U.S. Mint has produced a lettered edge circulating coin. The date, mint mark, the legend “E Pluribus Unum” and the motto “In God We Trust” appears on the edge. The edge lettering appears in opposition to the obverse or the reverse, depending on how the coins enter the press containing the edge die. Statistically, approximately half the coins will show the edge in opposition to one side or the other. This is not an error, but it is a variety with no additional value.
Errors and other varieties
Almost immediately after the first release of the George Washington Presidential dollars, it was discovered that some coins were released without having gone through the edge die and therefore had no lettered edge. These have created a huge buzz throughout America, causing the usual apathetic public to be quite enthusiastic about the new coin. Sadly, they are not spending them as much as ripping the rolls apart looking for “treasure”. Price speculation is rampant, and urban legends abound (the government is paying $500 to get them returned).
A couple of comments about the plain edge Washington Dollar:
If you find one, the current wholesale price is $75-$100. If you buy them at prices higher than this, you are daring speculator. Existing quantities of the plain edge examples are estimated to be from 50,000 to 300,000+ pieces. One might speculate that the Mint has “created” this error as a method of getting Americans to use dollar coins without having to discontinue the paper dollar. In any case, all those torn apart rolls will guarantee that the first group of these coins will probably reach circulation. Banks are reluctant to accept large quantities of loose coin.
There is a secondary variety of “plain edge” Washington Dollar. This appears to be the plain edge, but HAS gone through the edge press, and shows a faint image of the lettering, but is difficult to see without a glass. Beware, as this variety doesn’t currently enjoy a premium over face. Other varieties have appeared such as examples that have gone through the edge press more than once, skewing or doubling the edge lettering. These will certainly be in demand from the error collecting community.
NGC has announced a new holder especially created for edge lettered dollars, where the edge will be visible in the holder.