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All About the American Innovation $1 Coin Series

The Innovation Series was enacted on January 3rd 2018 the Act reads:

“To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of American
innovation and significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or
groups from each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the United
States territories, to promote the importance of innovation in the United States,
the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, and for other purposes.”

If you want to read the full Act that brought this coinage to fruition you can read it here.

A Great Idea On an Underutilized Coin

Once again, the US Mint attempts to make the dollar coin popular. While I love the idea of applauding American Innovation, I am disappointed to see these designs being pushed onto the dollar coins. I doubt these coins will see much use in general circulation.

Even the now-popular Peace and Morgan dollars were not popular from 1878-1935. Where the large dollar coins saw the most use was casinos. Similarly, smaller dollar coins today are usually received as change from parking meters or vending machines. The US population is accustomed to $1 bills and has so far been unwilling to change to dollar coins.

While we are still very new to this series of coins, so far the two most popular have been the Maryland (2020) Hubble Space Telescope Dollar Coin and the Massachusetts (2020) Telephone Dollar Coin.

Notice that none of these coins have people on them, that was intentional! Congress wanted the coins to honor the innovation more than the innovator. The act explicitly states:

head and shoulders portrait or bust of any person and
no portrait of a living person may be included in the
design of any coin issued under this subsection.

Will the American Innovation Series Coins Increase in Value?

I could definitely see the American Innovation Series increasing in value in the long term. Currently, these coins have not gained much popularity with collectors or the general population. Even the Reverse Proof Sets (which collectors usually go wild over) have been slow to sell out even with mintage numbers at 50,000.

My prediction that the Innovation Dollar coins will appreciate in value may be optimistic, however. Consider how many dollar coins the US Mint produces and how little they are circulated. In a few decades we may still have innovation dollar coins that have barely been touched.

If you are looking to make a profit off US minted coins, the Innovation Series is probably not the one to bet on, instead focusing on coins with silver value could be a more profitable long-term endeavor.

The Learning Element

I love when a mint decides to incorporate elements on coins to teach people about the country they live in. It’s interesting to travelers and young kids who often spend more time looking at coins.

The benefit of the Innovation Series being on the dollar coins is that most people are not familiar with dollar coins. Since these coins are scarce in everyday transactions people are compelleed to take a better look at dollar coins when they do get them. (It also causes coin forums to be flooded with photos of dollar coins with the caption “What is this worth?!?”)

Release Schedule:


Introductory Coin


Delaware – Classifying the stars
Pennsylvania – Polio vaccine
New Jersey – Light bulb
Georgia – Trustees’ Garden


Connecticut – Gerber variable scale
Massachusetts – Telephone
Maryland – Hubble Space Telescope
South Carolina – Septima Clark


New Hampshire – Home video game system
Virginia – Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
New York – Erie Canal
North Carolina – First public university


Rhode Island










West Virginia


North Dakota
South Dakota




New Mexico


District of Columbia
Puerto Rico


American Samoa
U.S. Virgin Islands
Northern Mariana Islands

What do you think of the American Innovation Series? Share your comments below and vote in our poll!

Why is the Susan B. Anthony Coin So Poorly Designed?

The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is without a doubt one of the most interesting pieces of US coinage. This coin is widely regarded as being one of the least attractive coins ever made by the U.S. Mint, but along the way there were many times the design could have been fixed but was not.


Before the Susan B Anthony dollar, the US Mint was making large dollar coins that were 38.1mm in diameter. The Mint decided to cut costs and make the coin more usable by bringing the size down to 26.5mm in diameter.

Unfortunately, the 26.5mm diameter along with the gold coloring made the coin too easily mistaken for a 24.3mm quarter. This was one of the reasons the SBA dollar was not widely used.


Originally, to prevent the Susan B Anthony dollar coin from being mistaken for a quarter dollar, the Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint, Dr. Alan Goldman, planned to make the coin an 11-sided polygon.

The vending machine companies lobbied against the proposal of an 11-sided coin, however, arguing that their machines were only meant for round coins. So the mint kept the 11 sides visible on the coin, but made the coin round.

I’m not sure why the mint bothered to keep the decorative edges? I assume this was all very last minute, as the edges only clutter the coin.

Eagle Reverse

Most coins follow a theme. The person on the obverse usually has a relation to the image on the reverse of the coin. For example, Thomas Jefferson’s nickel has Monticello, his plantation. The Lincoln Penny until recently had the Lincoln memorial.

Susan B. Anthony was a woman’s rights leader who was instrumental in getting women the right to vote. Susan B Anthony died in 1906, 63 years before the moon landing.

Susan B Anthony clearly had nothing to do with the moon landing, so why is there an image of an eagle landing on the moon on the reverse of her coin?

The reverse of the eagle landing on the moon originally appeared on the Eisenhower Dollar coin from 1971-1978. As it turns out, Eisenhower was not alive during the moon landing either. He died about a year prior, and while in talk about designing an Eisenhower coin, the U.S. government decided the reverse of the coin should honor the moon landing.

Late in the design process, Utah Senator Jake Garn passed an amendment to keep the ‘Eagle has landed’ reverse. Why? I’m not sure.

Having a Woman On A Coin

Having a real woman on a U.S. coin was as controversial then as it is today. Before 1979, Lady Liberty was the only female featured on a coin. There were many different complaints about the addition of Susan B. Anthony to the dollar coin.

Some argued she wasn’t influential enough and a great many argued that she wasn’t attractive enough. (Ironic, given that Abraham Lincoln, considered one of the least attractive presidents now and in his time, is still honored on the penny and the 5$ bill.)

Granted, there was a lot of political posturing in putting a woman on a coin. Some people were in favor in order to gain more credibility with female voters.

The rush to get a female on a circulating coin paired with the rush of the U.S. Mint to produce more dollar coins is a big reason why this design is so poor. Many elements of this coin on their own are great, but as a whole the coin does not fit together.

What the designers got right:

I think the depiction of Susan B Anthony is really good, Frank Gasparro made an accurate image of Susan B Anthony. She looks regal in her portrait, and the strike is clear.

The Eagle design is also very good. The eagle landing on the moon was already in use for the much larger Eisenhower Dollar Coin, but it scaled down nicely for the SBA dollar.

I wish this had become an 11-sided coin, I am a big fan of coin shapes that deviate from the usual circle. That could have been the saving design factor that pushed the Susan B. Anthony Dollar into popularity.

What it almost was:

The original concept for the small dollar coin by Frank Gasparro is one of my favorite coin designs. I know I complain about Lady Liberty being used on a coin more than real women but I absolutely ADORE this design.

Original concept for the small dollar coin by Frank Gasparro.

Lady Liberty is shown with a Phrygian Cap, a symbol of the pursuit of liberty. I like her adventurous, Grecian look in this design.

Small Dollar Coin Concept Obverse Frank Gasparro
Original concept for the small dollar coin reverse.

The obverse is a very classic design of an eagle. Although Lady Liberty and a soaring eagle are both overused symbols, in my opinion, Frank Gasparro did a fantastic job using them for this design. The design is classic and detailed without being cluttered.

Although the Susan B. Anthony coin has a lot of flaws, all of the flaws are what attract me to this coin as a coin collector. The SBA dollar is one of my favorite coins! There is so much history to just this one coin.

If you are looking to get a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, you can get change from vending machines, or ask your local bank teller. If you are still having trouble finding a Susan B. Anthony Dollar you can buy them on Amazon or eBay. (Seriously, check with your bank first though.)

Even proof coins can be bought for cheap. Here’s a SBA coin selling on Amazon:

What do you think of the Susan B Anthony Dollar coin? Share a comment and vote in our poll!

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