I haven't seen a new nickel in over a year. Not in circulation anyway. I get the annual two sets every year, and they have nickels, but not in my change since sometime in early '07. One would think that since they changed Jefferson's face from profile to full on in '06, the novelty would have worn off by now. I guess not.
I had got to thinking about this again when I noticed a small note in the paper that the
Senate's last act of the current session was to pass the state quarter extension act. It's hard to believe, but we've gone through the entire roster of fifty states! With that one year extension for the two Commonwealths, three territories and DC that was snuck into an omnibus appropriations bill last year meaning the end was at last in sight, coin collectors were really looking forward to go back to having only one quarter design, Unlike the nickel, people are used to new designs and it would be a bit of a relief, but nope...
The thing that destroyed philately was too much product. Back in the day you'd have at most ten to fifteen commemoratives and some "regular" issues with weird denominations. That was cheap. It was fun. Not any more it's not. There are fifty commemoratives, all expensive. I have nothing against Lon Cheney Jr. as the Wolfman, but in all frankness, he doesn't deserve a stamp. It got too expensive and people stopped collecting and an industry collapsed. The same is happening with coins.
Unlike stamps, coins are something that is controlled by Congress, and it's their fault that there's an oversupply of unwanted product. Consider what's coming out next year: Four designs of pennies, for the Lincoln bicentennial, a nickel, dime, Six quarters, a half dollar, and Five dollars (Presidents Harrison though Taylor, and a regular with a new reverse). Of these, six are entirely useless. Outside of perhaps Las Vegas, nobody uses half dollars, and what about those dollars? It's been known since the ill-fated Susan B. Anthony debacle that the only way a small dollar will circulate is to get rid of the lighter, easier-to-use paper bill. Many other countries have successfully done this, but not us.
Instead, the people in Congress have decided to add faces of Presidents to somehow entice people to use them, but will the likes of Millard Fillmore inspire people to use the thing? No. Will the new "regular" dollar with an annual "Native American" theme reverse do it? No again. Only one thing will, and Congress steadfastly refuses to do so, but in the meantime they will force the mint to put out new product that nobody really wants, which is why the mint is wasting money on TV commercials and print ads.
"Loose change reform" is actually something that is necessary. The only coin that actually circulates is the quarter. Yeah, I know, pennies nickels and dimes circulate as well, but the way they're used has changed. People save up their change in order to avoid getting more change. It's better to have that 18¢ on hand to avoid getting that 82¢ back. Vending machine prices are usually only multiples of 25¢. Pennies are so worthless people drop them on the ground and don't bother to pick them up. This phenomenon has been going on for years. So why do they still make them? The Illinois congressional delegation knows that Lincoln helps tourism. Same with the nickel, the "Lewis and Clark" commemorative bill from earlier in the decade specified that the Nickel have Monticello there forever, and as I've said before, I haven't seen a new nickel in over a year.
Coins are a medium of exchange, not advertising. Sure the designs should be pleasing, if not beautiful, but don't do tourist traps. It's just not right.