US Mint ends production of one dollar coins

Awhile ago, Last Tuesday, 13 December 2011, the U.S. Mint announced that production of one dollar coins is ending.  A few one dollar coins will still be minted for collectors, as required by law:

Instead of producing 70-80 million coins per presidential administration,  the Mint will now only produce as many as collectors order.

These coins will have numismatic value, and as such will cost far more than their $1 face value. Circulating demand for $1 coins will be met with existing Federal Reserve stockpiles until they are depleted.

reverse face of 2010 Native American one dollar coin

$1 coin: Hiawatha belt bundles 5 arrows symbolizing 5 nations of the Iroquois Confederacy via US Mint 2010


The $1 coins would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars, as they are more durable than paper money. Despite being a more sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to paper currency, they were never popular with the American public: 40% of $1 coins were returned, unwanted, to the Federal Reserve each year.

My favorite $1 coin featured Sacagawea, guide to Lewis and Clark, on the 2010 Native American dollar coin. Sacagawea is on the obverse side. The image above is the reverse side.

I found the U.S. Mint’s description of the coin fascinating, especially in light of recent social and civil unrest in the United States during the spring months of 2020. (I initially wrote this post in 2011; current events are my motivation for expanding upon it now.)

Burying the hatchet

The Haudenosaunee Confederation depicted on the coin was also known as the Iroquois Confederacy or Iroquois League. This league was negotiated by the Onondaga Nation’s spokesman, Hiawatha in the early 1400s, according to the U.S. Mint. The treaty for the league was sealed by burying weapons at the foot of a Great White Pine, a native tree of northeast North America. The Haudenosaunee symbol is the Great White Pine, and represents the Onondaga Nation. I am not certain, but suspect that burying weapons is the etymology of the American English phrase, to bury the hatchet.

The four square symbols on the belt represent the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca nations. The bundle of 5 arrows symbolizes strength in unity for the Iroquois Confederacy. Northern European settlers from France, England and the Netherlands interacted with the Haudenosaunee as a single diplomatic power. The success of the confederation demonstrated that the ancient Greek confederacies were a viable political alternative to monarchy.

Fascist symbolism? No!

The bundle of arrows wrapped together by the Hiawatha belt resembles the symbol of fascism somewhat, although tilted 90 degrees. The ancient Roman symbol for authority was fasces lictoriae (“bundles of the lictors”), which was an axe made out of a bundle of wooden sticks lashed together.

coin face

1916 Mercury dime

I see no hidden meaning in the U.S. Mint’s artwork on the Hiawatha $1 coin. Instead, I take it as an example of why it is important NOT to jump to conclusions when noticing resemblances between symbols, regardless if they seem sinister at first glance or not.

In fact, the reverse side of the 1916 Mercury Dime, which was produced by the U.S. Mint, actually did have the fasces. Even that was not intended to suggest fascism, but rather, the ancient Roman signifier of strength.

official seal

US Tax Court seal

There are many other examples, including the official seal of the U.S. Tax Court!

Copper conspiracy? Probably not

The U.S. Mint remains committed to production of the penny. Despite my fondness for copper, and loyalty to the Arizona as The Copper State, one wonders at the sense of this. Canada and many European countries have already discontinued small denomination paper bank notes, and replaced them with larger denomination coins. I personally find pennies to be bulky and annoying.

I liked $1 coins, as they were useful for buying commuter train tickets. Despite complaints about the Susan B. Anthony dollar (that it was too easily mistaken for a quarter), I will miss them.

Published in: on 21 June 2020 at 8:10 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Ellie,
    Have you considered using the More tag in your posts? It helps readers quickly scan the posts on your front page.

    I think it would be really helpful on your blog since you deal with such a wide range of topics. It also lets you know which posts readers actually click on to read more. If you’re interested, see my post regarding the MORE tag at

    Let me know what you think…

    • Thank you so much for your suggestion. I will definitely have a look at what you do with the MORE tag. I have a terrible time finding anything on my blog recently! The cause is exactly as you described: Too wide ranging an assortment of topics. And if I am having trouble finding things… well, that is hardly what I want my readers to contend with.

  2. Ellie,
    Glad you liked the suggestion. Based on your reply, here’s another: add the SEARCH box to the top of your blog. That way, you and your readers can find those elusive posts. The search box sure helps me.
    Wishing you the best,

  3. Canada has also recently discontinued production of the penny.

    • I only wish that would happen here, too! So unwise to keep pennies but discontinue dollars (as coins).

      And thank you so much for visiting! It is nice to interact with Twitter friends outside of the Twitter-verse.

  4. I was surprised when I was in the US and often got 1 dollar coins as change from the bus ticket machines. I didn’t even know these coins existed! I wonder how we will get the change now, not in 1 USD bills, I suppose…

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