The Susan B. Anthony dollar is a United States coin minted from 1979 to 1981, and again in 1999. It depicts women's suffrage campaigner Susan B. Anthony. The reverse depicts an eagle flying above the moon (with the Earth in the background), a design adapted from the Apollo 11 mission insignia that was also present on the previously issued Eisenhower dollar.
Though it is round, the Susan B. Anthony dollar may appear 11-sided, due to an 11-sided rim bordering the edge of both sides. The original design called for the coin itself to be a hendecagon, but vending machine manufacturers protested this plan, claiming that available vending machine technology could only accommodate round coins without extensive (and expensive) retooling.
Because of their similar size and color, it was found to be very easy to mistake the coin for a quarter. The originally-planned hendecagon-shaped edge, which would have distinguished it from the quarter, had been replaced with a depiction of an hendecagon and the same reeded edge as the quarter, thus compounding the confusion. (The Sacagawea dollar coin, released in 2000, was given a smooth edge and a golden color in an attempt to remedy this problem, but that coin too fell out of favor for the same reasons.) It was unpopular and was disparagingly referred to as the "Carter quarter" or the "Anthony quarter." 888,842,452 Anthony dollars were produced for circulation (Additional dollars were produced as numismatic items).
While a large quantity were produced in 1979, they failed to circulate well (despite the slogan "Carry three for Susan B.") and a minimal number were produced in 1980. In 1981, none were produced for circulation, but instead were produced for numismatic sets marketed by the Mint. Many of those mint sets have been broken up, and it is not unusual to find 1981-dated Anthony dollars in circulation.
At the end of production, the Treasury was left with hundreds of millions of the coins in its vaults.
In the 1980s and into the 1990s, vending machines (especially transit and postal machines) began to take higher denomination notes, when previously they had been effectively limited to dollar notes. While change could be given in quarters and smaller coins, more and more such machines began to give change in dollar coins. This led to an increased call on the Treasury's supply. By 1998, the Treasury's stock of dollar coins was near exhaustion. The Mint lacked the legal authority to change the design of the coin, and it was not deemed possible to release the new Sacagawea dollar earlier than 2000. Accordingly, after the longest hiatus for the same design of a circulating coin in U.S. history (one year longer than for the Morgan silver dollar), the coin was restruck in 1999.
Since the Sacagawea dollar's 2000 introduction, the Susan B. Anthony dollar circulated along with it--the two coins have identical metallic signatures to vending machines. The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, which initially proposed taking all remaining Susan B. Anthony dollars out of circulation, merely directed the Secretary of Treasury to take a deeper look into the matter and report back to Congress sometime in 2006.
The Susan B. Anthony dollar is relatively simple to collect. It is a short series with large mintages. Referred to affectionately by collectors as the "Susie B," the basic circulated set includes just 11 coins. The basic proof set includes 6 coins. There are several important varieties that can also be collected. In the circulated set, the 1979 P "Near Date" also commonly known as the "Wide Rim" is rather scarce. In the proof set, the main varieties are the 1979 Type I and Type II mintmarks and the 1981 Type I and Type II mintmarks.
A growing segment of Anthony dollar collectors are looking for coins with Full Talons. Like Full Bell Lines on the Franklin half dollar, Full Head on the Standing Liberty Quarter, and Full Split Bands on the Mercury and Roosevelt Dime, FT coins are recognized as having a superior strike. While the FT designation is not yet recognized by any major Third Party Grading companies, it is increasingly popular. The designation refers to the talons on the feet of the eagle on the reverse. Often, either due to poor strike or clogged dies, the eagle has "blob feet," without distinguishable toes. To qualify for FT, the talons must be fully separated and rounded, without any marks or weakness. The ultimate FT also shows the folds of skin on the toes. FT is not a function of die state, as FT coins are known on late state dies as well as early state dies.