In 1979, one year prior to the issue of the 1980-D Susan B. Anthony dollar, the small clad dollar was released with a great amount of fanfare.
The new dollar coin depicted the eponymous American suffragette and was the first United States circulation strike coin to feature a historically real woman. In preparation for the assumed massive demand, a combined total of 757,813,744 coins were struck for circulation that first year at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco facilities. Unfortunately, the coin was a total flop, and demand remained low in 1980 even though the total combined mintage was dropped to 89,660,708 pieces.
It was evident that the series was a complete failure. The United States Mint reported that while “there may have been other disasters like this in the history of our nation’s currency,” there had never been “anything this bad. Never rejection by the public that is this complete,” and “there is no way to overestimate how badly that coin was received” (Greene).
The 1980-D Susan B. Anthony dollar was issued into circulation and coins were available to the public through circulation at local banks, as well as through the official 1980 Mint Set and special Souvenir Sets issued by each Mint facility. Despite these multiple purchase options, it is estimated that up to 60% of the entire three-year mintage (1979-1981), or 520 million pieces, were still held in reserve by the Treasury for many years after they were struck.
The Mint began to think of how to dispose of the coins and still recoup some of their sunk costs. One idea was to melt the coins, but the composite metal was only worth “about two cents” in 1980 (Reiter). Mint director Donna Pope struck this idea down because the financial loss would be a serious problem.
How Much is a 1980-D Susan B. Anthony Dollar Worth?
Due to the large mintage and the low rate of circulation, the 1980-D Susan B. Anthony dollar is a common coin. In fact, with 41,628,708 pieces struck, it is the series’ largest mintage after the massive issuance of 1979. It is easy to collect Mint State pieces, and population reports definitely do not account for the total extant number of coins. With a reported population of almost 300 in MS-67, examples regularly auction for between $250 and $300. Interestingly, while the record for this type is $899 in a May 2022 eBay auction, at least two specimens recently sold for as little as $20, resulting in massive price fluctuations for the series’ top population.
In MS-66, just one grade lower, 1980-D Susan B. Anthony dollar prices stabilize at between $20 to $30. MS-65s hold half the value of MS-66s and sell for between $10 to $20. The remaining Mint State grades (64 to 60) sell for between $6 and $10.
While there are comparatively large premiums for high Mint State Susan B. Anthony dollars, the premiums shrink to less than face value in lower grades. Examples graded and certified from AU-50 up to Mint State are worth only a small premium over face value of between 10 and 50 cents, for a total of $1.10 to $1.50. For all grades below AU-50, the 1980-D dollar is generally worth between face value and $1.05.
Since these lower grades are worth at most $1.50, there is a very small recorded population in all grades below Mint State. In fact, PCGS records only one in XF-40, two in AU-55, and eight in AU-58. NGC records one in AU-55 and three in AU-58. This is due to the fact that it costs significantly more to grade the coin than the coin is worth.
The obverse displays a right-facing portrait of Susan B. Anthony in a high-necked blouse or shirtwaist, her hair pulled back into a bun. The designer’s initials “FG” appear just below Anthony’s left shoulder. The rim consists of smooth but angular line segments that frame an 11-sided polygon (an undecagon or hendecagon for you trivia lovers). The word LIBERTY is at the top, the date at the bottom, and the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST in small letters to the right of Anthony’s chin. Thirteen five-pointed stars circle the inside of the rim, seven to the left and six to the right; those on the right are split into two three-star groups by the motto. A small “D” mintmark is located just above Anthony’s right shoulder and the date (1980) is directly below her bust.
The reverse features yet another take on the Michael Collins-designed mission patch of Apollo 11 – a mission that included mankind’s first steps on the surface of another planetary body (the Moon). The 11-sided rim is repeated, framing a left-facing eagle with wings spread as if landing on the cratered surface of the Moon pictured on the bottom third of the coin. The eagle is clutching an olive branch. Planet Earth appears above and to the left of the eagle’s head, with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM just to the right at top center. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA encircles nearly the top half of the rim against the darkness of space, and ONE DOLLAR is at the bottom over the lunar landscape. Thirteen five-pointed stars form an arc around the eagle, below the top legend but above the earth and motto. United States Mint Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro’s initials “FG” are also on the reverse, below the eagle’s tail feathers.
The edge of the 1980-D Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is reeded, as are all other issues of the type.
One of the most prolific American coin designers of the 20th century, Frank Gasparro served as a junior assistant engraver under John R. Sinnock and later as the 10th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. Besides the Susan B. Anthony dollar, Gasparro’s most famous coin designs include the Memorial reverse of the Lincoln cent and the reverse of the Kennedy half dollar, as well as both sides of the Eisenhower dollar.
|Year Of Issue:||1980|
|Denomination:||One Dollar (USD)|
|Mint Mark:||D (Denver)|
|Alloy:||75% Copper, 25% Nickel over a pure copper center|
|OBV Designer||Frank Gasparro|
|REV Designer||Frank Gasparro | Michael Collins|
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