Jefferson, economics and history

August 15, 2007

Jefferson dollars will be unveiled today in a ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. They officially go into circulation tomorrow, August 16, 2007.

Jefferson dollar; U.S. Mint image via Associated Press

Jefferson dollars are the third in a series commemorating U.S. presidents. The series started with Washington and will proceed, three new coins a year, through all the presidents. (Quick: What’s the cheapest amount you can invest to get dollars representing all 43 administrations? Don’t forget Grover Cleveland’s anomaly . . .)

The Associated Press story notes three things of interest:

History: Fewer than a third of Americans know Jefferson was the third president. They did better with Washington as the first president. I had a few scary moments last year covering a Texas history course when kids kept answering either “George Washington” or “Abraham Lincoln” to the questions, “Who was the the Father of Texas?” (Stephen F. Austin) and “Who was the first president of the Republic of Texas?” (Sam Houston).

Economics: The vending machine industry loses about $1 billion each year when dollar bills jam in the machine’s vending mechanism. The U.S. Mint and vending machine operators hope the dollar coins catch on and help reduce those losses.

Dollar coins are unpopular: This is another in a series of efforts to “wean” people from paper dollars to coins — remember the Sacagawea dollar? The Eisenhower dollar? The Susan B. Anthony dollar? Just last week I got an Eisenhower dollar in change from our local Starbucks — they had mistakenly put it in the coin drawer for quarters. You can get dollar coins in change at the U.S. Post Office, but not at many other places. Our local post office occasionally sneaks a Euro into the dollar change mechanism. Bonus!

The Washington Post story carried more details of the poll, conducted by the Gallup organization for the U.S. Mint: Read the rest of this entry »


%d bloggers like this: