The Presidential Dollar Series was first introduced in 2007 as part of a program to commemorate former U.S. Presidents. The series was authorized under The Presidential $1 Coin Act, which required the United States Mint to issue four Presidential $1 Coins per year. Each coin features the Nation’s Presidents in the order that they served, beginning with Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison.
When the Sacagawea coin failed to gain widespread circulation in the United States, the Treasury began to explore ways to increase public demand for new coins. It was decided that a new design could reinvigorate U.S. coinage, and reinstate the idea that coins are a form of aesthetic beauty. On December 15, 2005, President Bush signed the Presidential $1 Coin Act, and the Presidential Dollar series was born. The Act required the Mint to continue issuing Sacagawea dollars during the Presidential series, and both coins will have the same weight (8.1 grams) and size standards (26.5 mm). The act also stipulates that for a President to be honored, he must have been deceased for at least two years before issue. It is estimated to take ten years to honor all currently eligible presidents.
The obverse of each Presidential Dollar features a relief portrait of the President being honored. Additional inscriptions indicate the President’s numerical order and years served in office. The designer of the obverse has varied throughout the series.
The reverse of each Presidential Dollar features the Statue of Liberty with her torch extending to the rim of the coin. For the first time, the denomination—expressed as “$1”—appears on a circulating U.S. coin, and the word “Liberty” does not appear. Congress decided that “Liberty” was adequately represented by the Statue of Liberty, and that by omitting the word, the images could be larger and more dramatic. This reverse design, created by U.S. Mint Engraver Don Everhart, has been used for each issue of the series thus far.
Adhering to Congress’ desire to create more prominent imagery on the coin, the Presidential dollars have incused lettering around the edges. The edge inscriptions include the date, the mint mark, and the motto “E Pluribus Unum.” This marks the first time since 1836 that the U.S. Mint has produced a lettered edge circulating coin. For Presidential Dollars issued during 2007 and 2008, the motto “In God We Trust” also appears on the edge. In 2009, by popular and congressional demand, “In God We Trust” was moved to the obverse of the coin.
The first Presidential Dollar Coin, featuring President George Washington, was made available to the public on February 15, 2008, in honor of President’s Day (which was observed on February 19). From 2007 through 2011, the coin series has been minted continuously and abundantly, but in the wake of the economic recession, the Treasury Department has recently suspended all mintage of the Presidential Dollars for circulation. Since 2012, the Presidential coins have only been minted for numismatic purposes.