What Is the 1979 Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin?

The 1979 Susan B. Anthony one-dollar coin is a worthy addition to any collector’s set. Though they aren’t the most rare or valuable coin, their historical significance may attract collectors. Here is a short overview of these dollar coins from 1979 and the history behind them.

What Makes This Dollar Unique?

The primary reason the 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is unique is its place in U.S. history. Here are some intriguing historical facts about this coin:

  • It was a failure. As a form of currency, the Susan B. Anthony dollar was widely rejected, much like its predecessor, the Eisenhower dollar, and its successor, the Sacagawea dollar.
  • It was the first coin to depict a real woman. This was the first circulating coin to feature a non-mythical woman. Previous coins primarily featured Lady Liberty.
  • It got a sequel. The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin had another run in 1999 after a United States Postal Service request.
  • The reverse side depicts an eagle on the moon. The dollar coin’s reverse side was carried over from the Eisenhower dollar, and it commemorates the Apollo 11 moon landing.

What Is the History Behind This Dollar?

The United States’ Susan B. Anthony dollar was first issued in 1979. The coin’s production lasted until 1981, and it had a second run in 1999. The main reason for the introduction of the dollar coin into the United States was to eventually replace the paper dollar. By removing the paper dollar, the United States Treasury Department could save millions of dollars per year in manufacturing costs.

The Susan B. Anthony dollar was also created in response to the public’s rejection of the Eisenhower dollar. Many people believed the Eisenhower dollar was too large, so the United States Mint created the smaller Susan B. Anthony dollar. However, this new coin failed as well.

The original design for this dollar coin depicted Lady Liberty’s profiled bust. Suffragette and civil rights leader Susan B. Anthony’s likeness replaced Lady Liberty’s after Ohio Representative Mary Rose Oakar introduced a bill that called it inappropriate to use Lady Liberty’s image instead of a real woman’s.

The coin was also originally meant to have an 11-sided polygon shape. However, the vending machine industry lobbied against this shape because the machines’ designs only accepted round coins. After these adjustments and others, the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was designed and released into circulation in July of 1979. This was largely due to the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin Act, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law the previous year. This law changed the design, size and weight of the one-dollar coin by amending the Coinage Act of 1965. [3]

The 1979-P coins (the ‘P’ mint mark means it was pressed in Philadelphia) had a mintage of 360,222,000 coins. Though the government was incredibly supportive of the coin, United States citizens rejected the new dollar. One of the reasons for this rejection was that the dollar coin was too similar in size to the quarter, so people often confused the two.

How Do You Identify This Dollar?

It’s easy to identify the 1979 Susan B. Anthony coin because it’s so unlike any other American coin. Here are the details to look for:

Obverse Appearance

The 1979 Susan B. Anthony coin has a right-facing profile bust of its namesake. ‘LIBERTY’ is stamped above her head, and ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ is printed to the right of her chin. Below the bust, the year 1979 is stamped, and there are stars around the edge of the coin. The rim gives the coin an 11-sided polygonal appearance. The coin has a reeded edge.

Above Anthony’s shoulder on the left-hand side of the coin, you’ll find a small letter or mint mark that tells you where the coin was produced. ‘P’ stands for Philadelphia, ‘D’ for Denver and ‘S’ for San Francisco.

Reverse Appearance

The coin’s reverse features a left-facing bald eagle landing on the moon with its wings spread and its talons clutching a laurel. Above the eagle’s head, there’s a depiction of a far-away Earth with North America facing the viewer, and there’s a circle of stars around the eagle. The image is based on the Apollo 11 mission insignia.

Around the top edge, you’ll find ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,’ and ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM’ is printed in a smaller font just below it. ‘ONE DOLLAR’ is stamped along the bottom edge.

Composition

  • 91.67% copper overall
  • 8.33% nickel overall
  • Pure copper center
  • Outer layers at 75% copper and 25% nickel [1]

Size

  • Diameter: 26.50 millimeters
  • Weight: 8.1 grams

Are There Any Variations?

The 1979-P Susan B. Anthony dollar has two major variations: the narrow rim and wide rim varieties. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at how close the rim is to the year at the bottom of the coin. The wide rim variation leaves less space between the ornamental rim and the year stamp, while the narrow rim leaves more space.

The 1979-P dollars with wide rims are far more valuable than the narrow rim versions. [1] However, the proof coins minted in San Francisco are even more valuable. These versions were not circulated and should be in mint condition. They will also have the S mint mark, as all 1979 proofs of the Susan B. Anthony coins were pressed in San Francisco.

If you’re interested in collecting Susan B. Anthony coins as an investment, you may want to search for these specific variations.

Who Is Interested in This Dollar and Why?

The 1979 Susan B. Anthony coins are collected primarily for nostalgic reasons. They’re relatively cheap, and they’re popular among coin collectors. You can buy a standard uncirculated 1979-P Susan B. Anthony dollar coin for around $3. Wide rim versions sell for about $30. [2] Individual Susan B. Anthony coins may not interest investors, but proofs and complete sets of the coins are worth significantly more.

Though these rarer coins may be a larger investment, Susan B. Anthony coins are probably more appealing to collectors than private investors. No matter which side you find yourself on, the 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is an interesting piece of American history.


Article Sources

1. My Coin Guides. ‘Susan B. Anthony Dollar,’ https://susanbanthonydollar.org/susan-b-anthony-specifications/. Accessed Sept. 3, 2020.

2. The Spruce Crafts. ‘Susan B. Anthony One Dollar Coin Values and Prices,’ https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/susan-b-anthony-dollar-coin-values-4046950. Accessed Sept. 3, 2020.

3. The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. ‘Susan B. Anthony Dollar,’ https://susanb.org/susan-b-anthony-dollar/. Accessed Sept. 8, 2020.