December 13, 2010

Production begins on Susan B. Anthony Dollars – 1978

Have you ever thought about the design of money? Somebody gets paid to decide whose face appears on coins and bills, and what words and other pictures adorn the two sides. Somebody gets paid to decide on the size and composition and color of coins.

And sometimes those somebodies make mistakes.

The Susan B. Anthony dollar was the first coin to present a portrait of a real woman. (What not-so-real woman appeared on earlier coins? Answer below.) On the reverse side, a picture of an eagle flying over the moon honored the Eagle lander of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

This coin was one of the most unpopular coins in history. Many people got one or two and stuck them away as keepsakes—but then avoided getting or using the coin any further. In other words, the coin barely circulated. Why was it so unpopular?

It was almost the exact same size as a quarter, and it was silver like a quarter. Coin designers wanted to make the coin different by making it an eleven-sided coin rather than a round coin—a hendecagon—but vending machines would have had a difficult time with a non-round coin, so the designers just drew the hendecagon picture on the obverse and reverse sides of the coin and used the same reeded edge used for quarters.

With the same size, color, and edge as quarters, is it any surprise that the coin was easily confused for quarters? People didn't like being confused and lost money every time they made a mistake with the new coin—again, is it any surprise the coin was unpopular?

Even the U.S. Mint had problems distinguishing the “Susie Bs” (as collectors refer to the coin) and quarters!

The Susan B. Anthony dollars were only minted a few years. Do you know the design on the next dollar coin, released in 2000? What made that coin different from quarters (and Susie Bs)?


What not-so-real woman appeared on coins earlier than the Susan B. Anthony dollar? Lady Liberty.
Do you know the design on the next dollar coin, released in 2000? Sacagawea and her baby on the obverse, and an eagle on the reverse.
What made that coin different from quarters (and Susan B's)? Gold color and plain edges.

Interested in coin collecting? Get some info here

Also, this is Santa Lucia Day

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