Dollar coins have been minted in the United States in gold, silver, and base metal versions. The term silver dollar is often used for any large white metal coin issued by the United States with a face value of one dollar, whether or not it contains some of that metal. Silver dollars, the first dollar coin issue, were minted beginning in 1794. Gold dollars and gold-colored dollars have also been produced by the United States. The Sacagawea and Presidential dollars are sometimes referred to as golden dollars.
In modern times, dollar coins have not been very popular in the United States. Despite efforts by the government to promote their use, most Americans currently use the one dollar bill rather than dollar coins.
The gold dollar (1849–89) was a tiny coin measuring only 13 mm making it difficult to grasp and easy to lose, a serious problem when a dollar was almost a day’s wage.
Dollar coins have found little popular acceptance in circulation in the United States since the early 20th century, despite several attempts since 1971 to increase usage of dollar coins. This contrasts with currencies of most other developed countries, where denominations of similar value exist only in coin. These coins have largely succeeded because of a removal (or lack) of their corresponding paper issues, whereas the United States government has taken no action to remove the one-dollar bill, due to intensive lobbying.
A major reason for the lack of acceptance of dollar coins is their similarity in size to a quarter. Whatever the reason, a U.S. Mint official claimed in a November 2012 meeting that most of 2.4 billion dollar coins minted in the previous five years were not in circulation.
The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has stated that discontinuing the dollar bill in favor of the dollar coin would save the U.S. government approximately $5.5 billion over thirty years primarily through seigniorage. However, the GAO’s $5.5 billion estimate is controversial, having been attacked as misrepresentation in a lawsuit alleging that the correct sum is in excess of $58 billion. The dollar coin is so unpopular with the Federal Reserve, that it contrived barriers to its distribution, according to the testimony of ex-Mint director Philip Diehl in November 2012.
Silver dollar coins
- Flowing Hair Dollar 1794–1795
- Draped Bust Dollar 1795–1803
- Draped Bust, Small Eagle 1795–1798
- Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle 1798–1803, 1804 (not a regular issue)
- Gobrecht Dollar 1836–1839
- Seated Liberty Dollar 1840–1873
- Seated Liberty, No Motto 1840–1865
- Seated Liberty, With Motto 1866–1873
- Trade Dollar 1873–1878 (Business & Proofs struck), 1879–1885 (Proof Only)
- Morgan Dollar 1878–1904, 1921
- Peace Dollar 1921–1935
- Peace Dollar (High Relief) 1921
- Peace Dollar (Low Relief) 1922–1928, 1934–1935
- American Silver Eagle 1986–present
Gold dollar coins
- Liberty Head (Small Size) 1849–1854
- Indian Head (Large Size) 1854–1889
- Small Indian Head 1854–1856
- Large Indian Head 1856–1889
Copper-nickel clad dollar coins
- Eisenhower Dollar 1971–1974, 1977–1978
- Eisenhower Bicentennial 1975–1976 (all dated 1976)
- Susan B. Anthony dollar 1979–1981, 1999
Manganese brass “golden” dollar coins
- Sacagawea Dollar (eagle reverse) 2000–2008
- Sacagawea Dollar (Native American series) 2009–present
- Presidential Dollar Coin 2007–present