2009 marks the 30th anniversary of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, which unsuccessfully was designed to replace the dollar bill.
To honor this occasion, I want to talk a bit about this dollar coin.
But I want to do more than simply discuss mintage numbers and coin values.
Let’s talk about why the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is so fun to collect…
SBA Coin Gets No Respect
The late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield said it best when he lamented he got no respect. His words probably suit the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, too.
The poor Susan B. Anthony dollar, struck from 1979-1981 and also in 1999, is one of our nation’s shortest-lived coins. It also could probably qualify for being one of our least-popular coins, too.
Perhaps the biggest complaints about the coin came from those who lost 75 cents each time they confused the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin with the quarter (because they look so similar and are about the same size). However, I’m sure that each of the Susan B. Anthony dollar detractors can think up other reasons why they just don’t like the coin.
It goes without saying that it is an insult to call the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin the Carter Quarter. This is a direct reference to Jimmy Carter’s signing into the law the bill which authorized striking the about-quarter-sized coin.
Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin History
The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin has been both celebrated — and parodied.
Here are some excerpts from WikiPedia:
On [an] episode of “The Simpsons,” [entitled] “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington,” Lisa proposes that the family attend the memorial to the fictional Winifred Beecher Howe, an ‘early crusader for women’s rights’ who was the leader of the 1910 Floor Mop Rebellion. ‘Later,’ Lisa notes, ‘she appeared on the highly unpopular 75-cent piece.’
The song Sunken Waltz by musical group Calexico features the lyric ‘Tossed a Susan B. over my shoulder and prayed it would rain and rain.’
The TV series based on the “Robocop” movie, which was set in the near future, featured a $1 coin called the ‘Ronnie.’ It was nearly identical to the Susan B. Anthony dollar, except that its obverse depicted Ronald Reagan.
And there are many more references to the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin in pop culture, as you will find.
Rarest Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins
Okay, it is fair to say there really is no such thing as a truly rare Susan B. Anthony dollar. But if you are on the lookout for Susan B. Anthony dollars in circulation, there is one year you will probably have a fairly hard time finding: 1981.
Why? Because of the 4 years the coin was struck (1979, 1980, 1981, and 1999), only in 1981 did the U.S. Mint not strike any Susan B. Anthony dollars for circulation.
All 1981 dollar coins were included only in mint-produced sets. However, there are collectors who have entered 1981 dollars in circulation.
Therefore, it is possible to find a 1981 Susan B. Anthony dollar in change. But good luck.
By far, the most common date for the Susan B. Anthony dollar is 1979 — the year more than 750 million strikes of the coin were made. Roughly a tad more than 140 million were made for all other dates combined. Of all the Susan B. Anthony dollars ever made, only 9,742,000 regular-strike coins were dated 1981.
Collecting Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins
One of the most enjoyable things about the Susan B. Anthony dollar is how relatively easy and inexpensive it is to assemble a complete collection of Susan B. Anthony dollar coins.
Including proofs and varieties, there are in total just 18 different Susan B. Anthony dollars to collect.
The most expensive date in the series is the 1981-S Type II proof, costing around $150 to $175.
The second most expensive date in the series is the 1979-S Type II proof, which will set you back about $75.
The 1979 wide rim variety (a coin on which the rim appears closer to the date than on other 1979 dollar issues) is a collector favorite that can demand around $30 to $45 in typical uncirculated grades.
The 1999-P proof can be had for about $20, and all other dates in the series will set you back between $2 to $5 apiece in typical mint state grades.