Just this week, the U.S. Mint announced it had sold more than 3.4 million Benjamin Harrison $1 coins in its first week – a possibly surprising figure considering he's sometimes called the most forgettable U.S. president.
While its main function may seem like getting left in the washing machine or taking up space in your cup holders, America’s coinage does a pretty good job of telling the nation’s story. The U.S. Mint often issues special coin collections that honor American history. Collectors who feel a strong connection to the land, politics, and symbols that have shaped U.S. culture will find a wealth of options to keep them busy.
The 50 State Quarters Program
This popular coin series, which issued state quarters from five states each year for a decade, quickly caught on with the American public. Diehard collectors can still remember the year the U.S. Mint released the quarter representing their home state. To complete your collection, you’ll need to bag all 50 state quarters, beginning with the first five in 1999 – Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut – and ending with the final five in 2008 – Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii. In 2009, the Mint issued a six-coin minting of Washington, D.C. and five U.S. territories.
The U.S. Mint began a new coin program in 2010 that honors the nation’s national parks. It’s called the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. This web page by coin collecting supplier, Whitman, boasts an interactive map that you can use to find out which national parks will be commemorated with coins and when.
Native American $1 Coins
Sacagawea, the Native American woman who helped Lewis and Clark complete their legendary expedition with her baby strapped to her back, first appeared on a golden $1 coin in the year 2000. Later, Congress passed the Native American $1 Coin Act, and the U.S. Mint has produced a new coin in this collection each of the last four years, 2009-2012.