Today I had to park in a parking garage, and when I paid the parking fee I got two dollar coins for change. When I looked at the coins, I did a double-take and wondered if I had been scammed, because these dollar coins did not look like bona fide American currency.
Seriously, has anybody else seen these? My coin featured a perplexed-looking Andrew Johnson — arguably the worst President in American history — on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other. It is a garish copper color, it feels like it is made of reclaimed metal, and the art on the coin is pretty cheesy. Is this real American currency? It looks like one of those cheap metal tokens you’d get if you got change for a dollar at a video arcade.
I’m assuming it is an actual American coin, in which case I fear for the future of the Republic. Shouldn’t our currency be a bit more carefully considered and aspirational? Why in the world would we put one of our worst Presidents on any form of legal tender? For that matter, why do we have to put Presidents on everything? Can’t we get back to the point where our coins are more symbolic, like the classic walking Liberty half dollar, or more focused on American history and culture, like the Buffalo nickel? And if we can’t manage that, can’t we at least create a coin that looks like it is worth its face value?