WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Mint said it launched a $1 coin on Thursday featuring George Washington, the first in a series honoring former U.S. presidents aimed at collectors and intended for use in vending machines and parking meters.
Modeled on the mint’s popular 50 State Quarters Program, coins depicting each president will be released in the order in which they served, with John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison scheduled to appear later in 2007. The rest will be released through 2016, ending with Gerald R. Ford.
“Americans will soon be receiving Presidential $1 coins in their change and will find them convenient to use at retailers, car washes and vending machines. I even suspect the tooth fairy will love leaving these beautiful coins under pillows,” Mint Director Edmund C. Moy said in a statement.
The coins, which are the same size, color and shape as the gold-hued Sacagawea dollars, are also aimed at collectors and are intended to spur interest in U.S. history, he added.
They are inscribed on the edge with the inscriptions “E Pluribus Unum”, “In God We Trust,” and the date and mint mark, making them unique among circulating coins.
The faces will show original images of former presidents and the years of their terms of office while the reverse will depict an image of the Statue of Liberty and the inscriptions “United States of America” and “$1”.
One coin will be issued for each president, except for Grover Cleveland, the only one to serve non-consecutive terms, who will be honored on two coins, the mint said. No living former or current president can be honored on a coin.
The Sacagawea dollar, introduced in 2000, honors a Shoshone Indian woman who served as a guide to the Lewis and Clark expedition west in the early 19th century.
Its failure to find acceptance with the U.S. public, even with more than 1 billion in circulation, contrasts with other nations such as Canada, Britain, Australia and Japan, where coins of similar value are popular. This is generally blamed on the government’s failure to withdraw dollar bills from circulation.