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Numismatics - A little less than a happy high — LiveJournal
Ever think about what happened to all of those Sacagawea dollar coins that got minted in the early 'aughts? Rumor is that a good portion of them were locked away in storage due to the coin's unpopularity. Thanks to the the failure of the quasi-quarter Susan B.'s and the general ease of use of the good ol' dollar bill, I was fairly well convinced that I'd never see one. Remembering the fistfuls of coin you get for spending a five quid note in England, I can't say as I was terribly disappointed. No seriously... it's the Brits smallest bill, and it's worth close to $10.00. Worse, I think they went out of their way to ensure that their coin denominations match their weight standards. Three pounds of change feels like it three pounds in the pocket, and that's just crazy. That said, I'm not a big fan of the base-denomination-as-coin concept, though I had wondered from time to time whether I'd ever get to see one of the new gold dollars.

I assure you it was a passing fancy.

Well, I don't need to wonder any longer. On Tuesday, I used a $20 bill to buy a 4 trip Charlie Card (why did they name a transit pass after someone who was lost forever in the subway?) for $5 out of one of the spanky new machines. The machine spit out the card, and then proceeded to vomit my change in the form of 12 Sacagaweas and, just as an added dig, 3 Susan B.'s. It was kind of like winning at the slots, except with a deep-seated feeling of WTF?? replacing the winning euphoria.

I've spent them at this point, but it required things like joking with the young woman who made my au lait about the T's infernal plans and later stopping to explain to the parking garage attendant what the coins were and how they had been issued from the machines downstairs.
18 comments or Leave a comment
watchamacallit From: watchamacallit Date: November 30th, 2006 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Isn't the mint pushing out a new dollar coin soon? I heard something about former Presidents making an appearance.

The stamp machine in my building pops those out but there's at least a warning sticker so you know before feeding in that crisp $20.
komos From: komos Date: November 30th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congress gets behind pretty much every push because on its face, the proposals end up saving money. This is partly because coins wear better than bills, but also because there's some hope that the coins will be hoarded by collectors and otherwise by folks who just don't want to carry them. It's my understanding that it costs the mint about 20% of the face value of the coin to mint it, which means if they can get them into circulation and then never see them again, they've made $.20 per coin.

The trouble is getting them into circulation. Playing on the collectible aspect is a good tactic, but we'll see how it pans out.
daniela From: daniela Date: November 30th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
we actually see them quite a bit out here in san francisco because of the same scenario - they are change from the bus and subway. the post office machines dispense them, too. they are pretty cool! be careful not to use the susan b's as quarters. :)
komos From: komos Date: November 30th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, the T phased out the token system and has replaced it with disposable cards that usually just end up littering the platforms. As for the coins, I like their look, but I'm still not convinced that I want to use them or carry them.
tigermilkdrunk From: tigermilkdrunk Date: November 30th, 2006 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
In fairness, the £1 note in Scotland has only been phased out in the last couple of years. And British £2 coins, while not in circulation heavily enough, are really pretty.
komos From: komos Date: November 30th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was there in '89, and was pleasantly surprised the first time I got a £1 note in Edinborough. At that point I had already spent several weeks in London and swear that I had worn holes in all my pocketses.

When I came home, I made the mistake of trying to handle American coins while going through tolls. They were all so small and light that I couldn't keep them in my fingers.

faux_eonix From: faux_eonix Date: November 30th, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
We used to get them a lot in DC, too. They sucked.

Also, I used to hate it when my wallet was full of 1 and 2 Euro coins. I always ended up with like 15 euro in my wallet, but felt like I was broke!

Frankly, I'm a big fan of the plastic bills, like the ones they use in Thailand. They come from Australia, are super cool and last up to four times longer than paper bills. Plus, they are even harder than paper bills to duplicate.

komos From: komos Date: November 30th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't say as I've seen them. Thinking on it, though, the US has some boring money.
iterum From: iterum Date: November 30th, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I saw them fairly often when they came out, not so much recently.

For my 18th birthday, my grandfather gave me a sack of 50 Susans.
komos From: komos Date: November 30th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you mistakenly fed them to a machine while doing laundry?

Yeah, Susan B. and I are not talking.
From: lastcallforcorn Date: November 30th, 2006 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
what's the story with charlie?
komos From: komos Date: November 30th, 2006 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a song popularlized by Kingston Trio about a gent that boarded the MTA and didn't have the exit fare to leave the system. There's a wiki article about it, along with external links to the song's lyrics.
guitarcries From: guitarcries Date: December 1st, 2006 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to say I prefer coins for smaller denominations. The smallest bill in Japan is 1000 yen, which is around the same as a 5 quid note. They have coins for 100 yen and 500 yen, which I find pretty convenient. It really makes you realize that you need to go to the bank when you don't have any bills in your wallet, cos then you're carrying around less than 10 bucks. Also, occasionally you can be happily surprised to find a 500 yen coin hiding on the bottom of the change pocket in your wallet.
komos From: komos Date: December 1st, 2006 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not so much with the wallet change pocket. Instead, I have coins that jingle jangle jingle.
bushidokelt From: bushidokelt Date: December 1st, 2006 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a similar experience to that when I first parked at the fan pier automated parking lot. Paying for a $7.00 parking fee, with the standard yuppie food stamp, yeilded more than a handful of the dollar coins. For some reason they got rid of the machines....

I don't thin you need to explain or apologize for the dollar coins. I was stuck behind a woman at shaws who paid for her groceries (mind you $3.43) entirely in pennies... I should think a cashier would be grateful fore the dollar coins...

komos From: komos Date: December 1st, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know that they don't accept more than 10 pennies at the Alewife garage? Admittedly, they're a big pain in the arse, but they are still legal tender.
superbgirl From: superbgirl Date: December 1st, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
When Paul got that HUGE ($$$$.$$) fine from our wonderful commonwealth asking for back taxes and fines and penalties because he was buying cigarettes on-line & not having to pay MA taxes, he wanted to pay the fine in pennies. Admittedly, it would be funny, but not practical.
komos From: komos Date: December 1st, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Would have been more trouble than it was worth.

...and, if he had miscounted somehow, they probably would have charged interest and penalties.
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