James Buchanan coinTo little or no fanfare, the U.S. Mint is releasing the 15th presidential dollar for circulation on Thursday, in what is becoming a $700 million a year boondoggle.

Four times a year, the government introduces a new $1 coin, pretty much knowing that aside from the odd collectors, most of the coins will stack up in the U.S. Federal Reserve and in selected sock drawers across the country.

The stockpiles began to grow in 2007 when a law took effect creating a new series of $1 coins commemorating U.S. presidents, starting with George Washington. The problem is Americans don't use the coins, preferring the $1 bill. Millions are being spent to encourage the use of the $1 coins, to no avail. Americans just don't want a pocketful of coins.

"We have tried every major idea that we can come up with, with limited success," U.S. Mint Director Edmund Moy said to a congressional panel last month. "Americans are creatures of habit. They are very used to using the bill. They're not used to using coins in regular retail transactions."

The Public Ignores Growing Stockpile

In the meantime, the government continues spending money to promote the coins, shipping them, storing them and protecting the growing stockpile. Retailers, collectors and the general public continue to pretty much ignore them.

Hopes are even lower for the new coin that comes out Thursday, featuring James Buchanan, whose decided incompetence is attributed to leading the country into civil war. In Buchanan's official White House biography, it says "Buchanan grasped inadequately the political realities of the time."

At coin shops around the country, there's a resounding silence about the release.

"I rather doubt we will have anyone waiting in line for it," says Chad Burgardt, an avid collector and employee at the 42-year old Tebo Coin shop in Colorado. "To say there is very little excitement is an understatement."

Commemorative Quarters Still a Hit

Burgardt says there continues to be excitement around the 25-cent releases featuring the states. He also agrees with Moy from the U.S. Mint that unless there is a concerted effort to start phasing out greenbacks, the $1 coins will never take off.

Elsewhere, including Europe and Canada, there is no equivalent to the $1 bill. The euro's smallest denomination in paper form is the $5 bill.

What about the final $1 coin coming out later this year, featuring Abraham Lincoln? The 16th president is securely embedded in U.S. history as skillfully guiding the country through the civil war before being assassinated in 1865.

"Maybe there will be more excitement, but like the others, the coins will likely end up in sock drawers," Burgardt says.

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nkorz6234

The article is so correct, only collectors will buy the coin(I'll get one just for kicks) Why in heavans name do we continue to try and promote coinage, I don't want big coins in my pocket, neither do millions of others. Stop the BOONDOGLING.

September 01 2010 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sandracrites09

James Buchanan was my great great cousin. How much are the coins. My mother's maiden name was buchanan and my great Aunt looked up the Geneoloy and he is our relative. Thank you, Sandra Crites

August 21 2010 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hd404

Unfortunately, the government hasn't used the one method that would turn the program into an instant success and totally exhaust the backed up stockpiles and wasted investment -- stop making $1 bills as have many countries around the world with their equivalent currencies.

August 20 2010 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tollmandot

time for paper bills to be made from material similar to Tyvek , however I dont know of the chemistry of viable alternatives , due to the fact Tyvek has a distain for exposure to sunlight ....... Just as a comparison , I have experienced paper envelopes that are used to deliver junk mail , that have more structure and durability than I have found from the properties to tear and wear resistance of current monetary paper.

August 20 2010 at 10:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mthreecats

Actually, the gold dollars appeal to me, for two reasons. First, I like collecting a series of coins and, second, it gives me the illusion of having gold in my pocket. The only problem with these coins, as I see it, is that vending machines don't take them. Make the machines adaptable to gold dollars and more people will use them. Also, if more banks would carry the new national park quarters, instead of the government trying to sell them in sets, that would be nice. TM, Harrisonburg, Va

August 20 2010 at 8:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mekhong Kurt

This article would be far more informative had it compared the alleged dollar-coin "boondoggle" to the annual costs or replacing paper dollar bills -- being sure to include ALL costs associated, from initial printing to final destruction. After all, if it turns out paper money costs as much as the coins, then the coins aren't such the boondoggle -- financially -- this article makes them appear. I realize Americans resist these coins. But that's a separate question, if a clearly related one.

August 20 2010 at 7:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jmandjs

This is a complicated situation that "flies in the face" of modern society's need for quick fixes. Historically, in the early days of our republic, specifically amongst cowboys in the Old West, it was commonplace to carry large amounts and pieces of coin, including gold (in their satchels). In modern times, with recent decades of (hyper) inflation, few people can/want to carry lots of change. They prefer paper bills in their purses/wallets for everyday purchases. Unfortunately, unlike the judiciary, legislators are “behind the curve,” responsible for the last 39 years of repeated Silver Dollar failures; Eisenhower, Susan B. Anthony, Sacagawea and Presidential series pieces. If our elected officials want the citizenry to spend/use dollar coins, the $1 bill must be eliminated/phased out. Otherwise, we will continue to have endless stockpiles of unwanted coins, stockpiled forever in government vaults, at a tremendous cost.

August 20 2010 at 7:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thepetermedic

yep the goverment has money to waste on something once again the american people dont want

August 20 2010 at 6:27 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Coach Doug

What the mint needs to do is make this thing about the size of a dime, with a hole in the center to distinguish it. Making big, heavy coins is the problem. An idiot can see why no one wants to carry a bunch of heavy large coins.

August 20 2010 at 5:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Coach Doug's comment
bblairb2

This a weak argument. In Europe, they have 1 and 2 euro coins (worth $1.25 or $2.50) that are similar in size to our $1 dollar coins and everybody gets along fine. It just becomes second nature.

August 20 2010 at 5:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thepetermedic

may be great for europe but america dont want it

August 20 2010 at 6:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bvg942

Lets figure this one out. It's really easy,you put 15 one dollar coins in your jeans,you turn to fast & it only costs $18.00 for a truss before tax. So the weight of the coins won't mean a thing! WHAT A COUNTRY!

August 20 2010 at 4:08 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply