The Joys of Collecting column from the Jan. 18, 2016, issue of Coin World:
The Anthony dollar was conceived in 1977.
With great enthusiasm Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro created a traditional Liberty Cap
World readers, the Treasury Department, and others praised.
Congress, which always has the final say, discarded such
recommendations and mandated that suffragist Susan B. Anthony be
depicted. Gasparro did an about face, studied portraits, and in 1979
created the dollars we know today.
Mint Director Stella B. Hackel sent out invitations for
several ceremonies, including one to be held in the then San Francisco
Assay Office on Feb. 2, 1979. Early the next morning I was among those
on hand to see Proof dollars being made.
The ceremony was held at an early hour because Secretary of the
Treasury W. Michael Blumenthal had to be in Los Angeles
later in the day to give a speech.
After Director Hackel’s remarks, Blumenthal, speaking from prepared
notes, then told of the new Anthony dollar and the government’s
expectation for it.
It would, he said, present great efficiencies, for the pieces would
last longer in circulation than paper dollars and would be of a form
easily handled by the public.
This should effect an economy of $4.5 million a year, an important
factor in an administration trying to cut costs, he emphasized.
He then told a bit about Susan B. Anthony’s life and how she came to
be commemorated on the coin. “If Indians, buffalos, and eagles can be
on coins, then a woman can be also,” was a light-hearted comment that
The Treasury Department stated that before the first coins could be
released to the public, anticipated to be in July 1979, it wanted to
have 300 million to 500 million on hand so that there would be enough
to meet demand. On target, July 2 saw the official release.
Although certain representatives of the vending machine industry
expressed approval of the mini-dollar, it turned out that most vendors
took a wait-and-see attitude. Would the public would be as eager to
use them as the Treasury had hoped? By year’s end, more than
757,000,000 had been struck, or more than two for every man, woman and
child in America. This immense quantity made the entire production of
Morgan silver dollars from 1878 to 1921 look like pocket change! More