During the month of January 2012, the United States Mint began production of the 2012 Presidential $1 Coins, striking a total of 1.68 million coins combined across the Philadelphia and Denver mint facilities. The initial production level represents a sharp decline from the year ago period of January 2011 when the Mint struck 72.66 million Presidential Dollars.
The substantially reduced production level follows the decision of the Treasury Department to suspend production of the series for circulation, with the US Mint striking only the limited number of coins need to satisfy demand from collectors.
During the first five years of the program from 2007 to 2011, the Mint had produced a total of 2,376,250,000 Presidential Dollars for circulation. Production levels had remained at unusually high levels in large part due to a requirement that Federal Reserve Banks make each of the four different designs released annually available to depository institutions during an introductory period. Since a large proportion of the $1 coins were not ordered or ultimately redeposited, this led to a build up of about 1.4 billion $1 coins held in storage at Federal Reserve Banks.
When the suspension was announced, the Treasury Department indicated savings of $50 million in production and storage costs annually. Opponents of the suspension have argued that the potential costs savings from eliminating the $1 bill and fully transitioning to $1 coins would be far greater, citing a report from the Government Accountability Office projecting savings of $5.5 billion over 30 years.
Going forward, the limited number of Presidential Dollars produced by the United States Mint will not be distributed to the channels of circulation. Rather the coins are expected to be made available within rolls, bags, and boxes priced at a premium to face value and sold directly by the United States Mint.
The coins produced last month likely feature Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States. Prior to the announcement of the suspension, these coins were expected to be released into circulation on February 16, 2012. The United States Mint has not yet announced when they will begin sales of the rolls, bags, boxes, and other products containing the coins.