Susan B. Anthony Dollars: Values and Series Background
The Susan B. Anthony dollar was an American coin minted for just four years: 1979–1981, and again in 1999. Due to its small size and the timing of its release, these $1 coins never caught on with the public.
Today, a growing number of coin collectors are dedicated to collecting Susan B. Anthony coins. Here’s a rundown on current prices for the Susan B. Anthony dollars in circulated grades and uncirculated grades (MS-63 and Proof-65).
Susan B. Anthony Dollar Values and Price Chart
All values listed below are average retail prices for coins that show ordinary surface quality and strike for their respective grades.
|1979-S||Type I, Proof||$1.50||$4|
|1979-S||Type II, Proof||$2||$45|
|1981-S||Type I, Proof||$1.50||$5|
|1981-S||Type II, Proof||$2||$100|
For the most part, circulated Susan B. Anthony dollars are worth only face value. However, there are several issues that are scarcer.
Collectors have identified several minor varieties, such as doubled dies and other curiosities. There are also a fair share of interesting strike errors known among these coins.
All well-preserved business strikes are worth significant premiums above the grade of Choice Gem/Mint State-66. There are also a few varieties in the series well worth noting. These include:
1979-P Wide Rim – On this variety, the obverse rim nearly touches the bottom of the date.
Image: USA CoinBook
1979-S Type II Proof – While most 1979-S proofs show a blobby-looking “S” mintmark, the scarcer Type II shows a more clearly defined “S” mintmark.
Image: USA CoinBook
1981-S Type II Proof – Most 1981-S proof Susan B. Anthony dollars exhibit the “S” mintmark used in 1979. Yet a much clearer (Type II) “S” mintmark was used on some 1981-S proof dollars, and these show more bulbous serifs.
Where to Buy Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coins
The three best places to purchase Susan B. Anthony coins are from your local coin dealer, at coin shows, or from online auction sites like eBay.
- Coin dealers: Your local brick-and-mortar coin dealer is always a good option for finding U.S. coins. Even if they don't have any Susan B. Anthonys in stock, a dealer can generally obtain a specific coin for you through their wholesale network.
- Coin shows: Throughout the year, there are coin shows across the country on almost a weekly basis. These are conventions where many dealers and collectors gather. A coin show is a good opportunity to find a coin dealer who specializes in Susan B. Anthony dollars.
- Online auctions: Websites that host online auctions, such as eBay, can help you find otherwise scarce coins. You will tend to pay higher prices due to auction fees, however. Auction sites are also a good source to see how much other buyers have paid for the coins you're looking for.
Susan B. Anthony Dollar Series Overview: History and Timeline
Susan B. Anthony dollars are the only small-size copper-nickel clad dollar coins the United States Mint has ever made. They were struck from 1979 through 1981 and one last time in 1999.
The Susan B. Anthony dollar has the notorious distinction of being one of the nation's shortest-lived and most unpopular coins.
Yet, in recent years, this modern dollar coin has enjoyed an increasing collector following and more appreciation from numismatic scholars.
This gathering attention has helped spur more market activity for these coins. It has also subsequently pushed prices slightly upward on some issues in the series.
1978: New Dollar Coins Approved
Susan B. Anthony dollars were signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on October 10, 1978. It served as a miniature replacement for the large-diameter Eisenhower dollar coins.
"Ike" dollars had been in production since 1971. They measured 38.1 millimeters wide—the same width as a traditional silver dollar.
The intention behind creating the Susan B. Anthony dollar was to encourage the public to use dollar coins instead of dollar bills. This is because it was—and remains today—cheaper over the long haul to produce dollar coins than to print notes.
Coins survive an average of 30 years in circulation, whereas dollar bills are typically worn out after just 24 months of service.
1979-S Susan B. Anthony dollar. Image: USA CoinBook
The coin's namesake, Anthony, was a leading suffragette who lived from 1820–1906.
Chief Engraver of the United States Mint Frank Gasparro designed and engraved the coin. He used the few surviving photographs of Anthony as a reference. Gasparro also received input and inspiration from her descendants.
The coin began production at the Philadelphia Mint on December 13, 1978. The Denver and San Francisco Mints struck their first Susan B. Anthony coins on January 9th and 29th, respectively, of the following year.
More than 500 million were struck in time for the coin's official release on July 2, 1979.
1979–1981: Public Rejects the New Coin
Problems were evident as soon as the first "Susie Bs" hit channels of commerce.
Many people confused the dollar coin for the quarter, which is of similar size, color, and shape. Within months, the public had become frustrated with using the new dollar coins.
In short order, the coin was derisively dubbed the "Carter Quarter." This was due to their close proximity in size and the fact that President Carter helped bring the coin to fruition with his signature.
The coin was so unpopular that it became nearly absent from circulation by the spring of 1980.
That year, the U.S. Mint launched a new marketing campaign. It hoped to entice the public to use the Susan B. Anthony dollar, but the promotion ultimately failed.
The mint struck Susan B. Anthony dollars in 1981 only for numismatic sales. It retired the coin by the end of the year.
But the Susan B. Anthony dollar did enjoy a prolonged last hurrah.
1999: Susie B. Makes a Comeback
In the mid 1980s, the Susan B. Anthony dollar gradually saw increasing use.
1999-P Susan B. Anthony dollar. Image: USA CoinBook
It served as a means for the public to pay for transit tokens. The coins were also dispensed as change from U.S. Postal Service stamp vending machines.
By the mid 1990s, it became evident there was a place for the dollar coin, even if not in mainstream circulation.
The United States government geared up to release the first Sacagawea "golden" dollar coins in 2000. Yet a growing shortage of dollar coins caused the U.S. Mint to strike one last batch of Susan B. Anthony dollars in 1999.
It was curtains for the Susan B. Anthony dollar after that final one-year striking.
Tips for Purchasing Susan B. Anthony Dollars
As Susan B. Anthony dollars age, more and more collectors are taking the time to study these coins with care. This is particularly true of the original 1979–1981 run. Here are some tips to help you buy Susan B. Anthony coins.
1981-D Susan B. Anthony dollar. Source: USA CoinBook
- Historically, the Susan B. Anthony coin was collected merely as an appendix to the Eisenhower dollars that preceded them. More recently, the Susie B. dollars are becoming more respected for their own merits. Now they are being collected on the basis of the standalone series that they represent.
- Perhaps in time, as more collectors focus on building complete sets, awareness of these varieties and errors will increase. So, too, could their values.
- Be choosy when buying these dollar coins. Look for pieces that exhibit clean (not cleaned!) surfaces with few nicks, bruises, and bumps. These are in the minority and are much more visually attractive. These nicer pieces also stand a better chance of retaining and potentially gaining value down the pike.
- Collectors who want to build sets of Susan B. Anthony dollars have many options available to them. There are several coin albums, coin folders, and coin display cases devoted to organizing collections of Susan B. Anthony dollars in attractive arrangements.
- It's fair to say Susan B. Anthony dollars don't much circulate these days. They are, however, still readily obtainable from coin dealers who specialize in modern United States coinage.
Indeed, there are many wonderful challenges and avenues of discovery just waiting for anybody who wishes to endeavor upon building a collection of these modern dollar coins.
Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor, and blogger who has won multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He has also authored numerous books, including works profiling the history of the United States Mint and United States coinage.
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