A Dave's Collectible Coins Article

Are We Running Out of Presidential Dollars?

Are We Running Out of Presidential Dollars? As collectors, the Presidential Dollar series is one of our favorite series out there, but it seems like we might be running out of them. This year we only saw three coins instead of the usually four coins that we are more used to. Why is this happening? There has been some speculation as to just what has been happening here, but the harsh truth is that it is probably because the U.S. Mint is running out of dead presidents to make coins out of.

As of right now, President Jimmy Carter is still going strong and he’s still kicking and he is in his 90’s. U.S. coins generally have a figure on them, and if that figure is an actual person from history (like a president), the U.S. Mint cannot use that figure on a coin unless the figure being used has been dead for some time. We’re talking several years here. There have been exceptions to the rule, like when the Kennedy half dollar was made and minted within one month of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. However, for the most part the U.S. Mint needs to wait years to be able to design, mint, and deliver a coin with a person’s visage on it.

Where This Puts Us for the Presidential Dollar Coins

This is the end of the series for now until more presidents kick the bucket. That’s just the truth of the matter. The main reason why the U.S. is putting only deceased Presidents on the new dollars is because it is just pure and simple tradition. If there’s one thing that has the strength of as thousand men in the United States, it is tradition.

To add to the strength of the tradition of not using living people on U.S. coins, the tradition has been legislated into law now. In fact, this traces back to the very founding of our nation and how our forefathers felt about our currency and who it should depict. At that time, patriotic men felt that it was improper to honor any living person by putting their image on the legal tender currency, especially the circulating coins that would be seen by the masses. In fact, George Washington is known for officially declining when our young nation wanted to smack his portrait on the first U.S. silver dollar while he was still alive, which was the start of this long and still unbroken tradition that has carried forward for more than two-hundred years.

Fast forward to present time, and nowadays it is very clearly stated in binding federal law that no living man or woman can appear on the U.S. coinage. Ever. Period. End of story. Presidents must be dead for at least two years before they are eligible for inclusion in the Presidential Dollar series, and that’s straight out of the law. Some optimistic coin collectors and numismatists have speculated as to whether or not Americans will ever find a public figure who is so admired, respected, and liked by the populace that they would allow a living person to grace the circulating coinage, but it is highly unlikely that this will ever happen.

For now, we must simple enjoy the Presidential Dollar Coins that we have, and be happy with them for now. There are certainly many of them that we can collect! Time itself will wrap things up as more old presidents will die and more coins will be made. Just as with any special set or project that the U.S. Mint does, this one too must come to an end eventually.

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