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Presidential Dollars gone wrong

The United Stated Mint began issuing the Presidential Dollars in February of 2007, and the program will continue until every deceased U.S. President has been honored. Because it goes against U.S. tradition (not to mention U.S. law) to depict a living person on the Legal Tender, ex-presidents can only be honored after they have passed away for at least two years. The Presidential Dollar program, as stated in the legislaton that created it, is scheduled to end in the first quarter of 2016 with Richard M. Nixon. However, it is expected that Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford will be included, and possibly George Bush, Sr., (born 1924.) The front side of each coin depicts the image of a former President and his years served in office. The reverse shows a view of the Statue of Liberty that is common to all presidential dollar coins, along with the inscriptions "The United States of America" and "$1."

The Presidential Dollas program was inagurated with George Washington's bust appearing on the first issue, however an unknown number of the new coins were mistakenly struck without their edge inscriptions, including "In God We Trust". They made it past inspectors and went into circulation on February 15, 2007, fetching some $50 on ebay. The properly struck dollar coins are inscribed along the edge with "In God We Trust," "E Pluribus Unum" , along with the year and mint mark. The U.S. Mint struck 300 million George Washington dollars, which are golden in color and slightly larger and thicker than a quarter. About half were made in Philadelphia and the rest in Denver.

It is unknown how many coins lack the proper inscriptions. Ron Guth, president of Professional Coin Grading Service, said he believes that at least 50,000 error coins were put in circulation. The frenzy over this hugely significant error started a few days after the error caught the attention of the media. The first specimen (manufactured in the Denver Mint and found in Chicago) closed for $612 on eBay, while at least one additional coin was sold for a $200 Buy-It-Now price. Dozens of listings appeared in a matter of days with bids topping out around $80.

How to Tell if a Godless Plain Edge Dollar is Fake


It took little time for unscrupulous people to take advantage of the 'Godless Dollars', by removing the edge lettering and presenting the 'regular' Presidential Dollars as rarities. The edge lettering inscription is often removed by an electric device called a dremel, which is a hand-held tool that looks roughly like a electric screwdriver, and which has various interchangeable heads on the top that spin. Some of these heads have the ability to grind the metal off the edge of a coin. Alternatively, one can use a lathe, which is a heavy duty piece of equipment often found in metalworking shops. A lathe is sort of like a drum or wheel that turns at high speed, and it can strip a quarter millimeter of metal off of a coin's edge in a matter of seconds.

Following the application of the dremel or lathe, a buffing step is used, to hide the tell-tale marks of stripping off metal. Because coin collectors have been referring to these faked plain edge dollars as having "buffed off" edges, fake plain edge dollars have been nicknamed "Buffy Dollars."

How to Check For a Fake Plain Edge Dollar

In order to make sure that you Plain Edge "Godless Dollar" is not fake, you need first to observe the exact weight and diameter of the coin. Genuine, unmodified Presidential Dollars should weigh 8.1 grams (125 grains) +/- 3 grains and have a diameter of 1.043 inches, (about 26.49 mm) +/- 0.003 inch (0.076 mm). Since most people do not have the proper equipment to measure such small weights and lengths, you could use a maginfying glass (preferably 10x) to examine the edges of the coin. As a general rule, the edges on the Presidential Dollars are a mess under good magnification, with dings, dents and other non-letter markings, along with faint vertical lines. If all you see is a smooth, nearly perfect edge, that is bad news.

Presidential Dollars Programs

The presidential coin set is modeled after the popular 50 State Quarter Program created by Congress in 1997. That program has attracted many new individuals to the coin collecting hobby, while renewing interest in our nation's history and the contribution of each state. What's more, Uncle Sam has enjoyed a profit of $0.20 or so for every quarter released into circulation, reflecting the difference between the cost of producing the coin and its face value in commerce, bringing in more than $4 billion extra dollars to the Treasury due to the public demand for State Quarters.

Presidential Dollars Liberty Reverse
Presidential Dollars Reverse Type - Artist Rendering
Presidential Dollar Reverse
Statue of Liberty Reverse of the Presidential Dollar as Struck for Circulation
Presidential Dollars George Washington Coin
George Washington Presidential Dollar Coin Artist Rendering
Washington Presidential Dollar
George Washington's Presidential Dollar as Struck for Circulation
Presidential Dollars John Adams Coin
John Adams Presidential Dollar Coin Artist Rendering
Adams Presidential Dollar
John Adams's Presidential Dollar as Struck for Circulation
Presidential Dollars Thomas Jefferson Coin
Thomas Jefferson Presidential Dollar Coin Artist Rendering
Jefferson Presidential Dollar
Thomas Jefferson's Presidential Dollar as Struck for Circulation
Presidential Dollars James Madison Coin
James Madison Presidential Dollar Coin Artist Rendering
Madison Presidential Dollar
James Madison's Presidential Dollar as Struck for Circulation
Presidential Dollars have edge lettering
Presidential Dollars Incused Edge Inscriptions Artist Rendering
Presidential Dollar Edge Lettering
The Edge Lettering of the Presidential Dollar as Struck for Circulation

The issuance dates for the first 38 presidential dollar coins are certain, carrying us until the year 2016. How many new presidential coins are minted beyond that is dependent on the number of living former presidents who die prior to 2014. Jimmy Carter and George H.W. both turn 90 that year. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both born in 1946, would be 68 in 2014, so the odds are good they won't qualify for their presidential coins by then.