United States Dollars: Ike, Susan, and Frank

640px-1981-S_SBA$_Type_Two_Deep_Cameo kim rippere kims koins coin collecting numismaticsUS Mint designer, Frank Gasparro, designed both the obverse and reverse for the Eisenhower and Susan B. Anthony dollar. His original design for the Susan B. Anthony Eisenhower replacement coin showed a modern representation of Liberty on the obverse. This Liberty design was based on a similar design he created for a proposed commemorative half dollar in 1967. There was wide support for this new design including the US Treasury.

Special interest groups and congressional members wanted a real woman depicted. Social reformer Susan B. Anthony was eventually selected.

Gasparro’s Reverse Reversed

The designer expected Congress to authorize his soaring eagle on the reverse but US Senator “Jake” Garn changed legislation to keep the Eisenhower reverse of Apollo 11 on the Anthony dollar.  Garn flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery (April 12-19, 1985).

Controversy

Everything about the Susan B. Anthony dollar was controversial; the obverse, reverse, design and reception. In short, nobody liked the coin for various reasons. The main objection was the size was only 2mm smaller than a quarter and became confusing to the public. Many groups wanted her image to be kept intact while the US Mint wanted to “soften” her features. Many just said she was too “ugly” to be on a coin.

500 million dollars were struck but most are sitting in a government vault because the Treasury deemed it too costly to melt them. Unbelievably, millions more were struck in 1999 after a eighteen year hiatus as a stop-gap measure just prior to the Sacajawea dollar. Why did the Treasury believe the public would want the coin after it was disliked previously and what were officials thinking with the Sacajawea dollar? Unknown.

Where will you see a Susan B. Anthony dollar? They are used in some US post office vending machines. We all know what committees and Congress will produce; mediocrity. {Kim’s note: I disagree and think that groups produce better results.}

Theodore Roosevelt

President Roosevelt took it upon himself to by-pass Congress and redesign what coins he could. According to the rules of the Mint, the following coin designs could be changed without Congress’s input:  the cent, the $2.50 gold piece (“quarter eagle”), the $5 gold piece (“half eagle”), the $10 gold piece (“eagle”), and the $20 gold piece (“double eagle”).  Augustus St. Gaudens was invited to the White House. The rest is numismatic history. Before this, no one outside the U.S. Mint had ever designed a coin.

An eagle clutching a laurel branch in its talons, displayed over a landscape of the Moon. Apollo 11 mission.

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