United States 1980-D Susan B. Anthony Dollar

In 1979, one year prior to the issue of the 1980-D, the Susan B. Anthony dollar was released with a large amount of fanfare.

The new design depicted the eponymous American suffragette as the first historically real woman on a circulation strike coin. 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).

These 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 iss 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.

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.

The 1980-D Susan B. Anthony Dollar in Today’s Market

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, 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.

Design

Obverse:

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.

Reverse:

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.

Edge:

The edge of the 1980-D Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is reeded, as are all other issues of the type.

Designer

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.

Coin Specifications

Country:  USA
Year Of Issue:  1980
Denomination:  One Dollar (USD)
Mint Mark: D (Denver)
Mintage:  41,628,708
Alloy:  75% Copper, 25% Nickel over a pure copper center
Weight:  8.10 grams
Diameter:  26.50 mm
Edge:  Reeded
OBV Designer  Frank Gasparro
REV Designer  Frank Gasparro | Michael Collins
Quality:  Business Strike

 

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Sources

Greene – https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1988-01-11-8803210571-story.html

Reiter – https://www.nytimes.com/1981/10/11/arts/numismatics-what-will-become-of-those-anthony-dollars.html
 

7 COMMENTS

  1. The Mint was being more than a bit disingenuous in claiming the hapless SBA coin was an unprecedented disaster. Numerous numismatic experts had forecast problems:

    > The Mint ignored its own history with the ill-fated 20¢ piece of the 1870s. The “double dime” had multiple parallels, most notably that it was almost the same size as the quarter and used a nearly identical obverse design. Additionally, the denomination that it should logically have replaced (again the quarter) instead remained in full production giving people zero reason to change their behavior.

    > Frank Gasparro, among others, strongly suggested that the new coin be struck on a multi-sided planchet and have a distinctive color. The Mint instead opted for a round, reeded-edge planchet and the same cupronickel sandwich as that used for the quarter. They even claimed that they couldn’t strike a multi-sided coin even though other countries had been doing so for decades, and the US had even used multi-sided blanks when striking foreign coins under contract.

    > Reportedly they farmed out some of the initial design research to a private firm that among other things, compared proposed sizes and weights to many foreign coins – but not to US coins! By contrast, the British Royal Mint did hands-on usability testing of proposals for its then-new 20p coin: focus groups were given samples of different prototypes that were then used to “purchase” goods in simulated retail settings.

    As lots of people have pointed out over the years, Canada looked at our train-wreck and did pretty much the exact opposite. The Loonie’s the same size as the US $1 coin but from Day One had a 12-sided planchet and gold color. Within a couple of years after its introduction the $1 bill was withdrawn – plus of course Canadians aren’t antipathetic to a $2 denomination. Result? Success almost from the beginning, and AFAIK no one ever confuses a Loonie with a quarter.

    • Great follow-up with the benefit of some finer detail and the added bonus of.some case study fodder for drawing comparison. That helped put things in perspective. They write how it was rejected by the greater public but aside from the common complaint of it being too close in size and weight to the U.S. quarter, never provide any explanation asto_why_ it was so universally panned.

      • Thank you. Most of my career was spent as a software designer and analyst which gave me a lot of training in how to run – or NOT to run – a development project. The SBA dollar is a perfect example of the latter.

        It was almost like the Mint took a book on design and implementation best practices … and did the opposite.

  2. They were called Carter quarters due to when he took office a 16oz tap beer was a quarter when he left that same glass of beer was $1 waitresses loved them because one would have to look close to distinguish th
    em from a quarter and it w
    As common to leave the change on the bar as a tip and when making change with them would in that day really boast their tip

  3. I need help I have one with 2 mint marks one is Reg and puffy one is north west sideways about 1/8 away and indented .

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