The US Presidential $1 Coin Program, which began in January 2007, was initiated in tribute to the former Presidents of the United States of America. The program basically regulates the production of $1 coins with portraits of former U.S. Presidents, impressed on its obverse side, by the United States Mint.
The issuance of these coins will feature the depiction of four separate US Presidents on an annual basis, one design every quarter, until every eligible president is honored. The Act of Congress, Pub.L. 109-145, 119 Stat. 2664, enacted 2005-12-22, states that in order for a president to be honored, the former president must have been dead for at least two years before the issue, in order of eligibility. The George Washington Presidential $1 Coin was first issued on February 15, 2007, just in time for the President’s Day which is celebrated on February 19th.
Although it may seem that, given the statute, it would take approximately 11 years for the program to depict all 40 over presidents to date, if so, the program will not be able to feature all US presidents by the end of its course, because of its terms of eligibility.
As for the reverse side of these coins, the impression of the Statue of Liberty, the “$1” sign, and the words “United States of America” will be a permanent fixture. The legends E Pluribus Unum and In God We Trust, along with the year of minting and the mint mark will adorn the edges of these coins.
It is said that in February 2007, at least 50,000 coins were released without these inscriptions on the reverse side of the George Washington Presidential $1 Coins. This simple yet interesting error resulted in these coins being referred to as the “Godless dollars”, because of the missing “In God we trust” inscription. These coins have been known to fetch between $40 to $600 dollars amongst coin collectors all around the world.
Although it was not specified anywhere in the act what the color of these coins should be, it was consented by the US Mint that the specification be similar of that to the existing Golden dollar.
The Presidential $1 Coin Program was predominantly introduced to replace the Sacagawea $1 coin, which failed to garner enough interest in the United States. The program also recognized the need of $1 coins in the private sector and hoped that the change in design would increase public demand for these coins, just as the recent success of the US States Quarters program did.
Apart from educating the public on the history of our presidents, US Mint was also determined that these coins would create enough interest amongst collectors, just as it did with the State Quarters which was said to have generated almost $5 billion dollars in seigniorage.
Following the Presidential $1 Coin Program, the nation is also honoring the former first ladies by issuing $10 gold coins under the First Spouses Program. These coins will feature the images of all former first spouses, by order of term served, and will be issued to coincide with their respective $1 Presidential coins. I wonder what happens when they have to produce a spouseless president’s coin