And you thought this was going to be a moan about the economic climate, didn't you?
It turns out the USA has had dollar coins kicking around for ages. They pop up every few years and fade away again as far as I can tell.
One recent attempt is the Susan B Anthony coin which was produced in 1979 and 1980, but they were not popular as they looked too much like a quarter. I have one of these coins. It's cool because it has a reference to the Moon landing on the obverse.
Then came the Sacagawea dollar which is golden in colour and features the Shoshone woman who helped Lewis and Clarke on their journey across America. It was issued in 2000 and 2001; although no more have been released for use, they are still around. We have found one from each year.
However, it seems the US Mint wants to save money on replacing all the scrappy dollar bills that leave circulation each year, so it's trying again. This is a new dollar coin:
image courtesy United States Mint
As you can see it is gold in colour and it is a bit larger than a quarter. We encountered some for the first time in Dallas last month as change out of bus ticket machines, and they seem to be in general use in San Francisco.
The one place we have never seen them is here in Austin. So imagine our surprise when, while watching TV, we start to see adverts which show the coin and basically say 'Yes! This is real money, honest!"
So apparently, Austin is one of four cities that have been chosen to pilot a drive to get people to use the coins. You can read about it here or watch a news item here.
The kick this time is that the US Mint are doing a series of dollar coins featuring the US Presidents. They are issuing four designs per year. It's the same thing as they did with the very cool 50 State Quarters programme (which I am collecting) so they are hoping to repeat that popularity and get people collecting and using the shiny new dollars.
I'm just mentioning all this because we were so tickled to see everyone being told that it is a real coin! And I just like coins.
We have been through this once before of course, when the UK switched from paper pound notes to pound coins. There was a suitable amount of outcry at that time; it will be interesting to see if it is repeated here.