A new dollar coin was released to the public on
July 2, 1979. It featured Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer of women’s voting
rights who lived
from 1820 to 1906.
The Susan B. Anthony Dollar coin was smaller in diameter than its
predecessors, midway between the quarter and half dollar, and was
intended to facilitate use of coin-operated vending machines.
The obverse carried a portrait of the famous suffragette. The reverse
depicts an American eagle landing on the moon, very similar to the
reverse of the Eisenhower Dollar.
Federal officials thought the Susan B. Anthony
Dollar coin would
circulate better because of its smaller size, but the opposite is what
happened. The public rejected the Anthony Dollar primarily because it
was easily confused with a quarter.
Between 1979 and 1980, the Mint produced nearly
850 million Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. Since there was little
demand, hundreds of millions of the Anthony dollars were tucked away in
government vaults. In 1981, only about 10 million were coined, for
inclusion in collector sets only. After that, the Susan Anthony Dollar
took a long vacation.
Vending machines became more sophisticated later
on in the 1980s and
into the 1990s, capable of accepting paper bills greater than one
dollar. At first, change was given in quarters, but eventually, more
and more machines returned change in the form of Susan B. Anthony
Dollar coins. Also, metropolitan mass transit systems along the eastern
seaboard converted their systems to give and take the Anthony Dollar.
This newfound demand slowly drained the Treasury's supply of Anthony
Dollars. By 1998, federal authorities feared their dollar coin
stockpiles would be exhausted before the new Sacagawea Dollar was
rolled out in 2000. For this reason, the Susan Anthony Dollar made an
encore performance in 1999. Over 40 million of the "Susie B's" were
struck for circulation in 1999.
Susan B. Anthony is the first woman, other than the symbolical Miss
Liberty, to ever appear on United States money. She began campaigning
to advance women's rights in the 1850s. At that time, women could not
own property or enter professional fields on par with men. Worst of
all, women were denied the right to vote. Anthony's style soon earned
her a widespread reputation as an inspirational advocate of social
justice. For the next half century, Anthony tirelessly traveled the
nation giving speeches and winning allies in her quest to convince
lawmakers that women deserved full citizenship privileges.
Anthony was arrested for casting a vote in the presidential election
held on November 5, 1872. At the trial, she gave her famous "On Women's
Right to Vote" speech, which asserted that her vote in the 1872
election was not a crime but the legal right of a U.S. citizen.
Nevertheless, she was found guilty and fined $100.
Suffragette Susan B. Anthony
The cartoon above has President Grover Cleveland, carrying
book "What I know about women's clubs," being chased with a "Women's
Suffrage" umbrella by Susan B. Anthony, as Uncle Sam chuckles in
background. The cartoon was created by Charles Bartholomew sometime
between 1892 and 1896. By then, Anthony and her crusade for
social justice was recognized throughout the world.
Image courtesy of America's Library.
For sixteen years, Anthony petitioned to
before Congress on
behalf of her cause, and for sixteen years, she was denied. Growing
weary of her persistence, Washington lawmakers finally relented on
March 8, 1884, when she appeared
before them to urge passage of a Constitutional amendment granting
women the right to vote. The amendment was soundly rejected.
Anthony retired from public life in 1900. She went to her death six
years later, forever denied legal access to the voting booth.
her death, the suffrage movement lived on. The culmination of Anthony's
lifework was fulfilled on August 26, 1920, with the ratification of the
19th Amendment to the Constitution. Better known as the "Anthony
Amendment", the new law read in part: "The right of citizens of the
United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United
States or by any State on account of sex." Today, women's voting rights
are often taken for granted, but it was through the hard work and
dedication of Susan B. Anthony and others like her that this precious
right was won.
There are no Susan B. Anthony Dollar key dates, but there are a few
varieties that are scarce and worth collecting. Try finding a 1979-P “Near Date, Wide Rim” variety by
rolls. Good luck. In the 1979-S and 1981-S Proof sets, the majority of
the dollar coins bear a filled-in “S” mint mark, resembling
a blob rather than a letter. Coins with this characteristic are
called Type I dollars. The name is carried
over to the
itself, hence it is called a Type I Proof set. Type II dollars have a
clear “S” mint mark and are not nearly as prevalent. Interestingly,
1981-S Type II dollars have doubled in value in recent years.
Here’s something else to think about: More
more, picky Anthony
Dollar collectors are looking for coins with Full Talons, much in the same way
Half Dollar collectors seek examples with Full Bell Lines. Full
Talons are the result of a superior strike. Most of the time, because
of a weak strike or clogged dies, the eagle’s talons lack sharp
definition. Collectors look for talons that are fully separated and
rounded, with no weakness. The best Full Talon examples also show the
folds of skin on the toes. The “FT” designation is not yet applied by
any of the major grading services, but it is increasingly significant.
Should this characteristic become critical in determining trading value
of Susan B. Anthony Dollar coins, we could someday see it recognized by
the grading services.
Don't make the mistake of buying overgraded stock. If the Anthony
Dollar were to ever generate excitement across a wide swath of the
numismatic community, thus triggering much higher prices for the
relatively rare varieties in the highest grades, you'll be very pleased
you had the foresight to be selective when prices were lower. As
always, deal with reputable sellers. A very important layer of security
for buyers of high grade Anthony Dollars is to concentrate on coins
that have been certified as such by one of the leading services in the
industry: PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS.