WASHINGTON - Coming soon on new presidential dollar coins - Old Hickory, Old Kinderhook, Old Man Eloquent and the Last of the Cocked Hats.
The U.S. Mint, maker of the nation's coins, today is unveiling the stately images of the next four presidents whose faces will appear on the front of the shiny gold-colored dollar coins next year. James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren will be the new additions to the presidential dollar- coin series that started with George Washington in February.
Monroe, the nation's fifth president, who was nicknamed the Last of the Cocked Hats - a reference to the hat worn by soldiers of the American Revolution - will be the first of the 2008 presidential coins. The Monroe dollar coin will be released Feb. 14.
Up next: Adams, the country's sixth president, who was nicknamed Old Man Eloquent because of his long speeches. The Adams coin will be put into circulation May 15.
The dollar coin bearing the likeness of Old Hickory, the moniker for seventh president Andrew Jackson because of his leadership in the War of 1812, will be rolled out Aug. 14. The Van Buren dollar coin, honoring the eighth president, will come out Nov. 13. One of Van Buren's nicknames was Old Kinderhook, a reference to his hometown in New York.
The Mint hopes the presidential series will breathe new life into dollar coins, which have suffered from little use in the past. The Susan B. Anthony and the Sacagawea dollar coins flopped - failing to get into cash registers and peoples' pockets.
The presidential-dollar series is modeled on the Mint's popular 50-state quarter program, which lured millions of Americans into becoming coin collectors.
Like the quarters, the dollar coins will feature changing designs - four new presidents each year in the order they served in office. The president's faces are on the front of the coins, and the backs feature the Statue of Liberty. Some of the lettering, including "In God We Trust," was moved to the edge of the coins.
Some people believe that the dollar coins won't gain wide acceptance unless the government gets rid of the dollar bill.
"We hope the next four presidential $1 coins will not only jingle in pockets but be spent as well," said Mint Director Ed Moy. "These coins are convenient. Each presidential $1 coin weighs less than four quarters, and they're especially useful for vending machines and mass transit."
One problem hobbling the use of dollar coins in the past was that they weren't widely accepted in vending machines and mass-transit systems around the country. To overcome such problems this time around, the Mint is launching a pilot program in the Washington metropolitan area aimed at stimulating business and bank demand for the coins. The effort will help the Mint identify impediments to widespread use of the dollar coins and find solutions for them.
"We will be working with several local retailers and banks in a concentrated area to facilitate the increased circulation of the presidential $1 coins," Moy said. "We want to see more of these coins used in daily transactions and given out as change like other denominations."
More than 800 million presidential coins were put into circulation in 2007, the Mint said. Those first four coins carried the images of Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. *