In 1999, the US Mint kicked off the largest commemorative program of circulating Quarter Dollars that the US has ever seen. You had 5 Quarters introduced every year from 1999 to 2008 in the order that the States joined the Union. And each Quarter was designed by the State that was represented and told a short story about that State. The total number of Quarters released in 1999 was far greater than the total in 2008. I believe that this was in part due to the Recession that most likely began in 2007, but could also have been due to the fact that the Mint had satisfied the demand for the new obverse Quarter design change that occurred from 1998 to 1999. The lower mintage figures continue for 2009 Territory Quarters and the America the Beautiful Quarters that started in 2010 and will continue until 2021. The dynamics that are at work are that with a low supply of these Quarters, I believe that when people realize how rare these coins are, the demand may increase and as we all know about supply and demand, the end result will be an increase in prices. This 23 year program of circulating commemorative coins has been the largest project that the Mint has ever undertaken and has proved to be quite lucrative for the United States government. In a later article that I plan on writing I will discuss some coins that the US Mint is losing money on. The Territory Quarters are an extension of the State Quarter Program and introduce the 6 Territories that may one day become States of the US. As with the State Quarters the design of these Quarters tells a story about each of the 6 Territories. The difference in the process of choosing a design is that the US Mint gave the States much more freedom in choosing their designs than the Territories and that has continued with the release of the America the Beautiful Quarter Program honoring 56 American National Parks. You can see with the America the Beautiful reverse designs that there is an outer ring on each of the new designs. Though each Quarter will look different, they will all have a standard outer ring on the reverse with the date on the bottom.
In an effort to continue with it’s success, the US Mint decided to roll out a Presidential Golden Dollar program in 2007. This program will commemorate all the non-living presidents from Washington to Reagan and possibly beyond. There is some new technology being used with the introduction of printing on the edge of these coins. There was also some controversy with the motto, “In God we trust” being on the edge. These Golden Dollars minted in 2007 and 2008 were referred to as the Godless Dollars. The US Mint introduced “In God we trust” on the obverse of the Presidential Golden Dollars in 2009. One wonders if this will help make the 2007 and 2008, releases increase in demand and drive up prices. Oddly enough some of the Presidents that may be honored are still alive today. Two presidents who may be honored are Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush. As of the date of this article October 18, 2010, they are still alive, but both were born in 1924 and may not live past the planned release date of their coin which will be in 2016 and 2017 as the schedule indicates, with 4 coins being released each year. It will be interesting in the future to see if the US Mint will honor future presidents the year after they pass away, with a Golden Dollar.
The next program that was introduced was the Native American Dollar in 2009. It is a revamping of the Sacajawea Golden Dollar introduced in 2000. Yes, they still mint the Sacajawea Golden Dollar and the reverse design is set to change every year until at least 2016, according the US Mint. Of course, like the State Quarter program, the Native American Dollars tell a story about the Native Americans on the reverse of these Golden Dollars. As stated on the US Mint website : The 2009 Native American $1 Coin reverse features a Native American woman planting seeds in a field of corn, beans and squash. The 2010 Native American $1 Coin reverse features an image of the Hiawatha Belt with five arrows bound together and the additional inscriptions HAUDENOSAUNEE and GREAT LAW OF PEACE. This collector is waiting in anticipation to see what the next designs will look like and how long this program will last. The US Mint says it will last until 2016, but has not been firm on that date.
As you can see the coins of the US are a collectors paradise and most of us old time collectors never imagined in the 1980’s that the US would ever embark on such a large undertaking. It has been and exciting time and one can only wonder what will be the next circulating commemorative coin that will be introduced.