Determining Value and Worth

No, I’m not talking about performance reviews.

The US Mint has recently announced a program where they will be issuing new $1 coins, similar in size, shape, color, and weight to the existing Sacagawea dollars. They feel these new coins will be successful because they will be putting the images of dead white men on them instead of a beautiful woman and her child. The specific dead white men are the Presidents of the United States. No, not the band, but the elected and unelected (depending on what happens to Jerry Ford) leaders of this country, starting with George Washington, and continuing at a pace of 4/year, until… until… they run into the law. You see, the law prohibits living presidents from being depicted on coins, so when they come to President Ford, President Carter, President Bush1, President Clinton, and President Bush2, it is unclear what happens.

Still, I think this is neat, for far too few presidents get the glory, while the Buchanans, Polks, Arthurs, etc. get relegated to the dust bin of history. With this new program, they can go to the coin jar of history. Still, there are other questions, such as whether Grover Cleveland gets two coins. They are also doing some neat things with the coins themselves, putting the date, mint mark, “In God We Trust” etc inscriptions on the rim of the coin, and not putting on the word “Liberty” (only putting the statue thereof on the back).

So where does value some into play here. First, there’s the issue of the value of the presidents we don’t hear of, and whether simply putting them on a $1 coin that few use anyway will increase their value. However, there’s another aspect that hit me when reading the article on this in the New York Times:

The coins were authorized last year by a law that also provides for a series of 24-karat $10 gold coins honoring all the presidents’ wives, which will be sold to collectors and investors rather than released for general circulation. The first of those, showing Martha Washington, will be issued before the end of 2007.

That right. You read it here. Congress passed a bill that values the presidents at $1, and the wives at $10. As the Torah says:

A woman of valor, who can find? Far beyond pearls is her value.

I guess congress believes this.

Alas, I’m sure the $10 Presidential Wives coins will only show their heads. You know, I was going to write “show their busts” (in the sense of the primary definition), but I figured you folks would read it the wrong way. Then again, if they did show their busts (in the sense of the secondary definition) the coins might be a lot more popular 🙂

I should also note that they will be redesigning the penny in 2009 with four new designs to commemorate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. I don’t think this is a statement on the value of Lincoln, because he gets the $5 note. If course, Salmon Chase gets the $10,000 note, so perhaps our priorities still are screwed.