Category Archives: coins

P is for Presidents


When I (mostly) finished collecting the state quarters (I STILL need a Kentucky D and some of the 2009 quarters), I decided to start collecting the new United States Mint Presidential One Dollar Coins. Actually, they are not that new. The series actually began in 2007 with the first four Presidents, then in 2008 with Presidents 5 through 8. The most recent one I have is for James K. Polk, #11, with Zachary Taylor still to come in 2009.

It occurred to me that, for some of these Presidents, these coins may be be their first appearance on American money. Apparently, the government and/or the people were resistant to putting real, specific people on its currency and coinage. Prior to 1909, when Abraham Lincoln first appeared on the penny (one cent), in commemoration of the centennial of the 16th President’s birth, there was an “Indian head” penny. Likewise it was the buffalo head nickel (five cents) prior to 1938, when it changed to 3rd President Thomas Jefferson; Lady Liberty dime (10 cents) before 1946, when Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd President, appeared the year after he died; and Standing Liberty quarter (25 cents) before 1932, when the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth was celebrated.

The portraits that appear on paper currency were adopted in 1929. Initially, it was determined to use portraits of Presidents, but the Secretary of the Treasury altered the plan to include Alexander Hamilton ($10 bill), who was the first Secretary of the Treasury; Salmon P. Chase ($10,000), who was Secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War and “is credited with promoting our National Banking System”; and Benjamin Franklin ($100 bill), who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. U.S. bills are sometimes known as dead Presidents; while one must be dead to appear on U.S. money or stamps, not all of them have to be Presidents. Not incidentally, denominations of $500 and higher were discontinued in 1969, in large part because of fears about counterfeiting.

NOT a President
The Presidents

1. George Washington – quarter, $1 bill
2. John Adams – as far as I can determine, the Presidential $1 coin is his first appearance. This was one of the founders. Why didn’t HE show up on the $2 bill instead of his sometimes rival?
3. Thomas Jefferson – nickel, $2 bill, which was discontinued for a time, and not widely found
4. James Madison – $5000 bill
5. James Monroe, 6. John Quincy Adams – just the 2008 Presidential coin
7. Andrew Jackson – $20 bill, though there are some who would like to see him off the bill
8. Martin Van Buren – just the 2008 Presidential coin
9. William Henry Harrison, 10. John Tyler, 11. James K. Polk, 12. Zachary Taylor – just the 2009 Presidential coin
13. Millard Fillmore, 14. Franklin Pierce, 15. James Buchanan – just the 2010 Presidential coin
16. Abraham Lincoln – penny, $5 bill, Illinois state quarter. There is also a 2009 Lincoln commemorative silver dollar in honor of the bicentennial of HIS birth, separate from the Presidential coin coming out next year.
17. Andrew Johnson – just the 2011 Presidential coin
18. Ulysses S. Grant – $50 bill
19. Rutherford B. Hayes, 20. James Garfield – just the 2011 Presidential coin
21. Chester A. Arthur, 23. Benjamin Harrison – just the 2012 Presidential coin

22 & 24. Grover Cleveland (won in non-consecutive terms) – $1000 bill
25. William McKinley – $500 bill
26. Theodore Roosevelt – just the 2013 Presidential coin. Although, now that I think of it, since TR, along with Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, appear on Mount Rushmore, and Rushmore is on the South Dakota state quarter, I suppose that should count in each of their tallies.
27. William Howard Taft – just the 2013 Presidential coin
28. Woodrow Wilson – $100,000 bill; this note never appeared in general circulation, and was only used in transactions between Federal Reserve Banks

29. Warren G. Harding, 30. Calvin Coolidge, 31. Herbert Hoover – just the 2014 Presidential coin
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt – dime (10 cents)
33. Harry S. Truman – just the 2015 Presidential coin
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower – $1 coin, 1971-1978
35. John F. Kennedy – half dollar (50 cents)
36. Lyndon B. Johnson – just the 2015 Presidential coin
37. Richard M. Nixon, 38. Gerald R. Ford, 39. James Carter, 40. Ronald Reagan – just the 2016 Presidential coin. BUT the Carter coin will be postponed unless he had died two years before its issuance. This is also true of the Class of 2017:
41. George H. W. Bush, 42. William J. Clinton, 43. George W. Bush, 44. Barack Obama
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Here’s an interesting link to Presidents on postage stamps.

ROG

Coins of the Realm


The state quarters that the US Mint started putting out in 1999 should have been a natural thing for me to collect. I love the history that is told in the order of the release dates, which weas the order in which the states joined the Union. I KNOW a good chunk of the statehood dates. Once won $1000 because I could put these in chronological order: Oklahoma statehood, California statehood, Nebraska statehood.

Yet, for a full decade, I resisted, and I knew why. It was because I used to collect as a child. I knew just about everything there was to know about 20th century coins, from the years people were represented on them (Lincoln-1909; FDR-1946; JFK-1964, but the latter was quite easy). I knew about the penny being made with steel during World War II because copper was needed elsewhere. I knew about the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco mints; in the day, the latter two were marked as D and S, respectively, but the Philly wasn’t marked at all.

Then one day, when I was about 13 or 14, many of my coins disappeared. They were not lost; they were stolen. And I had a pretty good idea who took them, too – the son of friends of my parents from church. But I couldn’t prove it, and my parents were afraid of falsely accusing the boy. Still, no one else outside the family could have had access. I had shown this kid, four or five years my junior, my collection of half dollars to keep him busy while our parents chatted.

The theft just sucked the joy out of coin collecting. Forever.

Well, until this year when my colleagues Mary and Alexis decided, just as the 50-state quarters were all released, to start collecting. Their unbridled joy with the process was contagious, and I found myself wrapped up in the process, especially when Alexis ordered online – we couldn’t find them in stores anymore – the coin holders. Oh, my! It was the same navy blue cover with lighter blue on the inside that I used to keep my coins as a child, published by a company called Whitman. I didn’t remember the brand name, but the look was unmistakable.

First thing I learned in my new hobby: the S coins were only available as proof sets. Second thing was that I had to look carefully to distinguish the P quarters (now marked as such) from the D quarters.

In relatively short order I was able to complete my P set, since the Philly mint distributed its quarters to the banks east of the Mississippi. The D quarters were a bit trickier. Even after my sister, who lives in San Diego, mailed me 19 D quarters as a birthday present, I’m still missing 7 D quarters: PA, MO, AR, TX, WI, WA and HI.

I also have not yet seen any 2009 quarters of either variety; the DC coin is already out, with the Puerto Rico coin due out later this month. I will continue to empty my pockets seeking these elusive coins.

Oh, California statehood took place in 1850, the year after the Gold Rush. I can still recall this map in fifth or sixth grade. States were green and the territories brown; there was a big brown gap north and west of Texas, but California was an oasis of green.
Nebraska statehood. I knew it was after the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854; didn’t specifically remember that it was 1867. Why I remember the Kansas-Nebraska Act, I just don’t know.
Oklahoma was the easiest. From the Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical, I knew it was in 20th century. But it had to be before New Mexico and Arizona in 1912, the latter which I remember because of Barry Goldwater running for President in 1964 and the questions about whether he was a natural-born citizen. Oklahoma statehood turned out to be 1907.

BTW, Jaquandor has started reviewing the coin designs here and here.
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ROG