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For years/decades there have been all kinds of different random coins that supposedly have been in circulation, but no one uses them. Some examples are the Saint-Gaudens double eagle and the Reverse Proof Presidential Dollar.

So, why does the U.S. Mint keep making them?

closed as off-topic by Bradley Wilson, Drunk Cynic, Machavity, user4514, bytebuster Jul 7 '17 at 6:29

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about governments, policies and political processes within the scope defined in the help center." – Bradley Wilson, Drunk Cynic, Machavity, Community, bytebuster
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    I've voted to close this question as Off topic because it isn't about politics, politicians, or the political process. – Drunk Cynic Jul 7 '17 at 1:53
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    "[G]overnments, policies and political processes" are on-topic. And the mint is certainly part of the government. This could also be seen as a matter of policy for that matter. Why does the part of the US government that is the mint have a policy of releasing coins that are never used as money? – Brythan Jul 7 '17 at 3:01
  • I agree this is on-topic, but it's also unclear. Can you provide examples? Are you referring to coins that aren't common (like half-dollars) or collectible coins? – Bobson Jul 7 '17 at 14:34
  • Well for instance a St. Claude's double eagle, or a reverse proof presidential coin. People aren't going to use those to buy groceries or pay for car repairs or anything practical, yet the US Mint spent gold to produce them, and now they're so valuable that no one would even use it as currency. I thought the whole point of coins is that they would last longer than money. – RayOfHope Jul 8 '17 at 4:37
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@Max's answer is correct, but I'm not sure it makes its point.

The main issue is not that they are collectible but that they are profitable. If the government gives you a $1 bill and you never deposit it, then the government made almost $1 of profit (or seigniorage. which is the term associated with profiting by printing money). There is less of a profit in coins, as they are more expensive to make. But they are more collectible.

The difference between a collectible and a regular coin is that regular money runs around the economy pushing for inflation. But the collectible just sits on a shelf or in a drawer.

There's even an argument that it counts twice. Once as a dead weight profit, and then again when exchanged. Because it is itself a product, its increasing value takes inflation out of other sectors of the economy (e.g. food).

But in the end, the simple answer is probably the easiest to understand. Minting it makes a profit for the mint. They use that profit to help fund their operations.

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Because they are collectible.

The US mint (and many other national equivalent) is the manufacturer of regular coins used everyday.

"The Mint is the Nation’s sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage and is responsible for producing circulating coinage for the Nation to conduct its trade and commerce."

It is also responsible of manufacture of commemorative coins; which are mostly collectible items and their values are dependant on the rarity and or material of said coins

"The Mint also produces coin-related products, including proof, uncirculated, and commemorative coins; Congressional Gold Medals; and silver and gold bullion coins. The Mint’s programs are self-sustaining and operate at no cost to the taxpayer."

All quotes come from https://www.usmint.gov/about/about

I believe all/most countries have the same institutions and they do the same kind of business, on one side they produce the regular coins, and on the other side they issue commemorative coins.

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    Many countries have something similar for stamp collectors, you can order a subscription where you will receive every newly released stamp, at no cost at all (except the nominal value of the stamp). Obviously if you buy $20 worth of stamps that way, and never put them on any letters, that's $20 profit. – gnasher729 Jul 7 '17 at 15:13

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