Society has demanded many changes in the United States over the years including the popularity and use of certain coins and bills. Let me share a few that have come and gone.
The copper United States half-penny was produced from 1793 to 1857. It was slightly smaller than a modern quarter. The coins are now only found in coin collections. The rare designed coins are valued from $100’s to $1000’s of dollars depending on the age, condition and various styles.
The two-cent piece was produced for circulation from 1864 to 1872. Maybe this is where the phrase, “let me put my two-cents worth in,” came from! Even three-cent coins were struck briefly during the Civil War.
The United States half-dollar or fifty-cent piece is the largest U.S. coin currently minted and twice the weight of the quarter. The coin depicts the profile of President John F. Kennedy on the front. Used mostly during the first half of the twentieth century, they are still occasionally seen in circulation. The 1964 Kennedy half dollars are largely collected by the public for sentimental reasons. Those issued through the end of the 1960s were the only precious metal U.S. coin remaining in production, and as the price of silver continued to rise, pre-1964 halves disappeared from circulation.
I fondly remember the fifty-cent piece, a coin I often had during my childhood.
The Susan B. Anthony dollar was minted from 1979 to 1981, when the series was halted due to poor public reception, and briefly produced again in 1999. Proposed as a smaller replacement for the dollar, a number of shapes and compositions were tested, but all were opposed by the vending machine industry, and rejected in part because of its similar size to the quarter.
In 1997, a gold-colored Susan B. coin was produced and a final run of dollars was struck in 1999 and retired in 2000. Most are now privately collected and rarely seen in circulation.
The Sacagawea dollar, another gold coin, has been minted every year since 2000, although released only during various years, due to its general unpopularity with the public. Designs on the reverse side of the coin during various years depict a different aspect of Native American cultures.
The term silver dollar is often used for any large white metal coin issued by the United States with a face value of one dollar whether or not it contains any silver. Dollar coins have never been very popular in the United States. Most Americans currently use the dollar bill rather than dollar coins. The Mint ceased production of dollar coins for general circulation in 2011. Silver dollars can still be obtained at banks on request.
The silver dollar is another of my favorite childhood coins, often received as a birthday or Christmas present.
The two-dollar bill is rarely seen but is available at banks on request. Multiple changes to the face and reverse side occurred over the years, including the size of the bill in 1928 when the size of U.S. currency was standardized.
Changes are now being planned for the twenty-dollar bill. Harriet Tubman, a woman responsible for assisting thousands of slaves to freedom, along the ‘underground railroad’ will likely replace Thomas Jefferson’s face on the front of the bill.
Lastly, the words “In God we Trust” was first added to large coins in 1865 and added to our paper money in 1957. The story of how this all occurred will be discussed another day.