Every time I get paid, I like to go to the bank and get a roll or two of dollar coins.
The people at the bank expect to see me. They usually have coins waiting.
"What do we have here?" I asked. "Andrew Johnson? Cool!"
The coins are fun to have, and fun to spend. They are a bit larger than a quarter and are gold in color.
Small dollar coins have been around since 1979 when the US issued the Susan B. Anthony Dollar. The Susan B. Anthony coins were silver in color and many people confused them with a quarter. They weren't very popular.
The Sacagawea dollar was first minted in 2000 and is still being minted. They are not silver but gold in color, making them much easier to differentiate from a quarter. The US has minted approximately 1 billion Sacagawea coins since 2000, but not many people ever see them. I am not sure why. My guess is that collectors may be hoarding the coins.
Since 2007, the mint has been issuing presidential dollar coins starting with George Washington. They issue a new president every three months.
I love the presidential coins. I try to always have some in my pocket. I use them in vending machines, parking meters; I give them away as tips and use them to purchase small items in stores. People always seem to brighten when I hand them one. Sometimes people don't even realize that these small dollar coins are still in circulation.
I bought a cup of coffee the other day and paid my $2.00 bill with four golden Andrew Johnson dollars.
"What's this?" The waitress asked.
"They're golden dollars." I answered.
The waitress brightened. "Really? My daughter would love to have them."
She reached into her apron, dug into her tip money and pulled out a couple of her own dollars to replace the golden dollars that would normally have ended up in the cash register.
I saw this as an opportunity to fill her in on trivial facts about this President.
"Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States." I burbled. " He is listed as a Democrat. He actually ran with Lincoln, not as a Democrat but as a member of the Union Party (Lincoln also ran as a Union Party Candidate instead of a Republican).
Johnson came from a very poor family. When he was very young his mother bound him to a tailor in South Carolina. As a tailor's apprentice, he was essentially a slave. Johnson stayed as an apprentice until he was 16 or 17. In order to get out of his "apprenticeship," he had to run away to his brother's home in Greenville Tennessee.
The Tailor who held his contract, tried to use legal means to get him back, but couldn't. After being in Tennessee for a year he married the 16-year-old daughter of a shoemaker. Up until this time Johnson was self taught and basically illiterate. His new wife taught him arithmetic, basic algebra and how to write.
I could see that the waitress had other things to do, so I left her with this parting shot: "President Johnson was the first President ever to be impeached. He was saved only by one vote. He was a good man, and had a good heart, but he was not a very successful President."
The US mint would like us all to use dollar coins, because they believe that these coins will save our nation money. Paper dollars last less than thirty months. Dollar coins are expected to last thirty years or more. The US mint estimates that they can save the American taxpayer $522 million a year if they would be willing to spend and use dollar coins.
I like the dollar coins. I use them, I learn from them and I have fun with them.
How about you? They cost only a dollar and you can always get your money back.
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