Louis Golino

Modern Numismatics

Louis Golino

Louis Golino has been a collector of American and world coins since childhood and has written about coins since 2009. In addition to writing about modern coins and other numismatic issues for Coin World, he also has written a regular column for CoinWeek.com since 2011, writes a monthy column for The Numismatist magazine and has written for other coin publications. In 2015, for his CoinWeek column “The Coin Analyst,” he was presented with the Numismatic Literary Guild's award for best online column. He is also a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum. 

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Innovators Coin Program: Issue Quarters, Not Dollars

In December 2011 the Obama administration announced that it was immediately halting production of the Presidential $1 coins except for coins made for collectors and sold at a premium because this would save taxpayers $50 million a year in storage and other costs.

But that overlooked the fact that because those coins cost about 30 cents to make, a seigniorage profit of 70 cents accrues for each coin, which means ending their production resulted in a net loss of $300 million per year, that could go toward reducing the Federal debt.

But years after this had already been done, members of congress continued to propose legislation to end wasteful spending on dollar coins no one seems to want (which they won’t as long as paper dollars continue to be made), even though they last so much longer, which saves money.

Anyone who is familiar with the state of modern coin collecting in our country knows that after the 50 state quarter program, which was followed by the national parks quarter program, and the Presidential dollar coin program begun in 2007 that ended with this year’s Reagan coin, collectors are weary of long-running series, though if done right, they could still work.

So along comes legislation introduced on September 14 by Rep. Jim Himes (D- Conn.), the American Innovation $1 Coin Act (H.R. 6025), which proposes a 14-year program with 4 coins per year starting in 2017 of coins that honor innovators and pioneers from each state.

To be clear, the coins proposed in this legislation would not be for circulation.  They would be numismatic issues, made for collectors and sold at a premium.

With the end of the presidential program, it is perhaps inevitable that legislators would seek to create another such program, and there is certainly nothing wrong in principle with the theme.

But I do not have the sense that collectors are at the moment interested in another series of $1 coins not made for circulation.

Also, the legislation would not impact the Native American $1 coin program, which would continue.

I think the Native American issues are sufficient for dollar collector coins, and their designs are widely admired.  To me it would be better to start thinking about the quarter dollar program, which will be ending in a couple years.

In fact, the proposed innovation coin series would be better suited to a quarter program, and its plan to issue coins honoring innovators from each state would parallel the state focus of the current and previous quarter programs.

Plus, this kind of program works best as a circulating one that has the potential to bring in new collectors the way the state quarters did, and it is great for kids too. 

But that said, it is critical that coins be widely distributed by Federal Reserve banks.  This has been a problem with the America the Beautiful coins, which are hard to collect from change.

The quarters worked and were a boon to numismatics because they really did circulate widely.  

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