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American Innovators Dollar Coin Arrives

December 3, 2018 0 Comments

It was 2011 when a circulation $1 coin was last released – the coin that Americans have shown surprising resistance to using every day. Since then only proof coins for collectors have been made, so the release on December 14, 2018 of the first of a new 15-year series called ‘American Innovators’ is big news for collectors. The Mint is keeping a lid on the exact designs, but enough has been leaked and hinted at that we have a pretty good picture of what the coin will look like.

The arrival of this first coin comes as a bit of a surprise, since as recently as July 2018, the process seemed to have ground to a halt. The problem at that time, as detailed in our earlier blog, was the inability of the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) to reach consensus on any design for the reverse, which will change with each new coin. The imbroglio was settled at a meeting in September, where the CCAC did choose designs for both the permanent obverse and the first reverse. There was still some disagreement though, since the input of the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) is also needed. They agreed with the CCAC on the obverse, although also choosing another possible design.  The CFA proposed other possibilities for the reverse, but it seems that the Mint has gone with the CCAC’s choice of reverse.

The obverse will almost certainly be a design which features a modified version of Dan Everhart’s famous Statue of Liberty, first used in 2007 for the Presidential Dollar. The reverse will also have the denomination of the coin – $1 – and the words, IN GOD WE TRUST.

It was the reverse that caused all the problems, but the choice for the first coin at least seems to have satisfied the brief – if subsequent ones can also do so is an open question. The first design has a diagonal band containing the words, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, dividing the surface into two parts. The upper part shows gears and cogs, symbolizing industry and innovation. The lower part has the words, AMERICAN INNOVATORS above the signature of President George Washington, and the words SIGNED FIRST PATENT. Since this is the inaugural coin, no specific innovator is celebrated. The edges of the coin are stamped with the year of minting, the mint mark, and the words, E PLURIBUS UNUM.  The Denver and Philadelphia Mints will produce uncirculated coins in bags and rolls, and the San Francisco Mint will create proof coins – frosted designs against a mirror-like background.

For the future, the plan is to release four coins each year, one for each state and territory, featuring an innovator from that place. The states for 2019 are Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, released in that order. Collectors will have to wait a while before learning who will be featured, and how well the designer can incorporate all the requirement of the George Washington signature with a ‘emblem’ of the innovation or inventor, since, for reasons that are unclear, a portrait of the inventor is not allowed

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