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US

U.S. Mint hopes public will embrace new Sacagawea dollar coin

coin
The new dollar coin features the face of Sacagawea  

May 29, 1999
Web posted at: 5:47 p.m. EDT (2147 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Mint is once again introducing a dollar coin -- and trying, once again, to get the American public to embrace it.

Earlier this month, the final design was unveiled for the new coin, which will be introduced to the public next year. Gold in color, it features the face of Sacagawea, a Native American teen-ager who helped lead explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark westward in the 1800s.

"Lewis and Clark said she had as much fortitude and resolution as any man they had with them," said Ken Thomasma, Sacagawea's biographer.

Then again, the dollar coin introduced in 1981 bore the image of another female of fortitude, women's suffragist Susan B. Anthony. It still landed with a thud.

For many people, the silver Anthony dollar -- which is being discontinued in favor of the Sacagawea coin -- looked and felt too much like a quarter. The new dollar coin is the same size but, because of its gold color, is more distinguishable from the quarter. Its edge will also have a different texture than either the Anthony dollar or the quarter.

Ironically, even as the U.S. Mint is preparing to remove the Anthony dollar from circulation in 2000, it is minting more of them in the meantime because of the coin's newfound popularity in vending machines at post offices and in mass transit systems.

The New York City subway system alone expects to put close to 100 million Anthony dollars into circulation.

Of course, the problem with a dollar coin -- any dollar coin -- is that it has to compete with the paper dollar.

Many people find it more convenient to carry around a roll of dollar bills than a handful of dollar coins -- even if those bills pay due honor to strong women.

Reporter Jonathan Aiken contributed to this report.



RELATED STORY:
U.S. Mint invites online comments for new dollar coin
December 14, 1998

RELATED SITES:
The United States Mint
   • The U.S. Mint: The Selected Designs for the New Dollar Coin
People in THE WEST - Sacagawea
PBS Online - Lewis and Clark: Inside the Corps
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