The Susan B. Anthony Dollars

The Susan B. Anthony Dollar was one of the very few US coins met with indifference and enmity. Having only been minted on 1979 only for the production to be suspended on 1981, it proved to be one of those coins that the public wouldn’t want to acquire, but a collection that coin collectors would want to get their hands as proven when an adaptation for the coin debuted in 1999.

The History of the Susan B. Anthony Dollars

When the Public Law 95-447 was passed on October 10, 1978, the Congress, needless to say, the Congress had high hope in creating a new dollar coin that the public would welcome and use in everyday commerce. The legislation passed aims to mint coins that were quite similar to the Eisenhower Dollar, a Copper-Nickel Clad Coin. However, the diameter will be lessened from 38.1 mm down to 26.5 mm.

RTI or the Research Triangle Institute, which is a non-profit organization that specializes in providing research and technical services, prompted the United States Treasury Department about a report regarding the US coinage system through the year 1990.

Aside from the need for a new coin since the cent and half-dollar coins were eliminated, they claimed that a new coin that was a lot smaller, bulkier and lighter is needed in order for the public to actually use it in the daily commerce. The reason behind the logic was obvious – the previously minted One Dollar Coin – the Eisenhower Coin was only lightly used in casinos, not in circulation. The RTI reported that a smaller coin would be a more suitable replacement for the Eisenhower Dollar Coin and that it is much more economical to create coins that can last longer the One Dollar Bill.

The Congress did take RTI’s advice, but some important details were overlooked. RTI has already suggested that the new One Dollar Coin have a color or shape that is different and can be easily distinguished once place alongside the current coins in circulation.

The new coin did not have a different color as the Congress wanted the new One Dollar Coin to have the same composition that the current coins have, which was Copper-Nickel Clad. However, they did make serious considerations when it comes to creating a multi-sided coin. There were about thousands of blank coins that had eleven-sided inner borders which were then tested after being distributed to different vending machine companies.

While the shape of the new coin was still being debated, Frank Gasparro, the US Mint Chief Engraver at that time started to work on the coins’ design.

The Obverse

Image courtesy of , 1981-S SBA obverse, size, CC BY 4.0

On the obverse side of the coin, Gasparro used a model of Miss Liberty that was featured in a commemorative medal in 1969 and modified it for her to look more youthful. Gasparro actually loved this profile bust of Miss Liberty as it was already widely appreciated by the numismatic community. Unfortunately, at this point, the White House had already made a decision that a real woman will be featured on the new coin. The chosen one was Susan B. Anthony, a women’s rights advocate. Having no choice, Gasparro set to work by creating a profile bust from Anthony’s photographs. He actually tried to make her profile bust look a little bit softer than her original harsh features.  

Understandably, many of Anthony’s admirers were against this depiction of her. Even if Gasparro’s profile bust for Anthony was historically accurate, there were many who wanted a realistic portrait which only caused the coin more backlash. Since there were already people who were opposed of the idea that the new model for the coin would be Anthony, the coin did receive cruel criticism.

The Reverse

United States Mint, 1999 SBA Rev P, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

As for the reverse, no one actually knows why no serious consideration was made to creating a reverse that was different than the Eisenhower Dollar coin. It was expected that numismatics would be disappointed as the reverse on the Eisenhower was reused on the new Susan B. Anthony Dollar which only shrank the design so as it would fit on the back of the new coin.

The first Susan B. Anthony Dollar was minted in December 1978 but was dated 1979, which was not new in the US coinage. More than 500 million Susan B. Anthony Dollar was stockpiled until these were released on July 2, 1979. Coin collectors hurriedly came to the banks to get themselves a roll or two of the new coin while the public made it clear of their lack of interest on the Susan B. Anthony Dollar coin, while others repulsed it.

As predicted, the new Susan B. Anthony Dollar coin was mistaken for the quarter dollar since both have the same composition and were about the same size. Because of the confusion that the new dollar coin had brought to the public commerce, it was given nicknames that no one would want for themselves – the public names the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin as the “Carter Quarter” or the “Susan B. Agony.”

The government tried to make amends and promote the familiarization of the public with the Susan B. Anthony Dollar. The used advertising campaigns and a large-scale media coverage to try and educate the public about the coin’s advantages over the dollar bill. However, the public made it clear that they are not interested in the new coin. The fact that the production of the later never ceased only made matters worse. It should have been a “lesson-learned moment” for the Congress that was overlooked when another batch of millions of Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins were minted in the year

Despite extensive media coverage and a government advertising campaign to familiarize Americans with the new coin’s advantages over the paper dollar, the public clearly preferred the latter. The failure to discontinue printing one-dollar notes in connection with the introduction of the new dollar coins only facilitated the coin’s rejection. This was a lesson that other nations were to profit from when introducing their own dollar coins, but it was one that Congress failed to comprehend when yet another issue of dollar coins debuted in 2000.

Millions of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins were minted in three US Mints in 1980 – The Philadelphia Mint, Denver Mint, and the San Francisco Mint even after the backlash it received from the public. Most of the coins produced never saw the light outside of the vaults, and in 1981, the US Mint only coined enough Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins for collectors that year. After that, the production was finally suspended.

The US Postal Service had its vending machines dispense the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins as well as some transit systems. For a short period of time, these were also used to pay military personnel who were posted in Europe, who, after some time complained that local merchants would only allow the use of such coins for a discounted price.

In 1999, millions of Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins were issued to which the public used them as a form of a novelty item. Some were hoarded by coin enthusiast and collectors, some were dispensed from vending machines of the US Postal Service while some were believed to be in vaults.

Detailed Specifications of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins

Image courtesy of , 1981-S SBA$ Type Two Deep Cameo, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY 4.0

The Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins were minted from 1978-1980 but were issued in 1979-1981 and then again in 1999. Coins struck in 1978 were date 1979 and there was no Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins dated 1978. These were designed by Frank Gasparro. It has a reeded edge, weighs approximately 8.10 grams is a 26.50mm in diameter. It is made up of 75% Copper, and 25% Nickel over a pure Copper center.

The Obverse

Image courtesy of , 1981-S SBA obverse, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY 4.0

The obverse features a profile bust of Susan B. Anthony facing right, the word LIBERTY on top of her, thirteen stars on the left and right side of the coin, the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST located at the right side of the coin near Anthony’s chin and the date below her portrait. Gasparro’s initials, FG can be seen above a star near the date the mintmark where the coin was minted on the left side of the obverse, on Anthony’s right shoulder. The Mintmark P is for coins minted in Philadelphia, D for Denver and S for San Francisco Mint.

The Reverse

United States Mint, 1999 SBA Rev P, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

For the reverse, an Eagle is seen descending on the surface of the moon, with the logo of Apollo XI being featured. The Eagle is clutching an olive branch with its talons and an arc consisting of thirteen stars surrounds it. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is on top of the eagle right below some stars and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above the row of stars. The denomination ONE DOLLAR is written below while Gasparros’ initials (FG) are under the eagle’s tail.

Regular Strikes of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins according to the PCGS Coin Facts

1979-P Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are 360,222,000 at the Philadelphia Mint

1979-P Wide Rim Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are 360,222,000 at the Philadelphia Mint

1979-D Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are 360,222,000 at the Denver Mint

1979-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are 109,576,000 at the San Francisco Mint

1980-P Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are 27,610,000 at the Philadelphia Mint

1980-D Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 41,628,708 the Denver Mint

1980-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 20,422,000 the Philadelphia Mint

1981-P Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 3,000,000 the Philadelphia Mint

1981-D Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 3,250,000 the Denver Mint

1981-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 3,492,000 the San Fernando Mint

1999-P Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 29,592,000 the Philadelphia Mint

1999-D Susan B. Anthony Dollar    

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 11,776,000 the Denver Mint

Proofs

1979-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type 1 Deep Cameo (Proof)

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 3,677,175 the San Francisco Mint

1979-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type 2 Deep Cameo (Proof)

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 3,677,175 the San Francisco Mint

1980-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar (Proof)

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 3,554,806 the San Francisco Mint

1981-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type 1 Deep Cameo (Proof)

  •    Total number of coins produced are at the San Francisco Mint

1981-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type 2 Deep Cameo (Proof)

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 4,063,083 the San Francisco Mint

1999-P Susan B. Anthony Dollar Deep Cameo (Proof)

  •    Total number of coins produced are at 740,000 the Philadelphia Mint

Collecting Susan B. Anthony Dollars

The Susan B. Anthony Dollar collection is a short and easy to collect series thanks to high mintages of coins. The Proof strikes are the ones most sought after by collectors which are readily available in the highest grades.

Some of the rarities and varieties of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar is the following:

1979-P Wide Rim Susan B. Anthony Dollar – Near Date

This error can be easily determined with the date hanging close to the rim compared to the previous issue.

1979-P Narrow Rim Susan B. Anthony Dollar – Far Date

This variety of the 1979-P has a thinner rim and the date is offset further than the 1979-P Wide Rim.

1979-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type 1 Deep Cameo (Proof) – Blob Mint Mark

Because of the old punch used to strike the coin, the mintmark in this variety looks more like a blob mark that the actual mintmark.

1979-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type 2 Deep Cameo (Proof) – Clear Mintmark

The punch was replaced, and the mintmark S can now be clearly seen. This variety is more common than its Type 1 counterpart.

1981-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type 1 Deep Cameo (Proof) – Clear Mint Mark

In 1981, the punch used was the one used to create the type 2 1979-S Proof which resulted in a similar mintmark.

1981-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type 2 Deep Cameo (Proof) – Flat mint Mark

The mintmark is clearer and has a flat S with a bulbous shape.

One can buy a Susan B. Anthony Dollar for as low as $1 up to $7,500.00. for the price guide set by PCGS-graded Susan B. Anthony Dollars, you can check this link.

References:

PCGS, PCGS CoinFacts, NGCCoin, US Mint, Susan B. Anthony House, The Spruce Craft