Aside from the $1 bill, the $1 coin exists and was, in fact, released by the U.S. Mint in the 1700s but its use never became popular in the U.S. mainland, then and now. Only a few states have this in circulation and, currently, none here in the CNMI.
In the 1800s, it is believed that since the gold $1 coin measures just 13mm, people found it hard to keep, especially at a time when $1 was a day’s wage. Since then its use never picked up.
U.S. Mint director David Ryder said that $1 coins are still in production in the U.S. mainland but circulation is limited and deciding which coins should be distributed across the United States is a decision made only by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
“I didn’t quite frankly know that there weren’t $1 coins here in the CNMI. It is not a coin that circulates very brightly as it is a coin of very small distribution,” he said. “It is still in use in the [U.S.] mainland but not widely because it is not a popular product. People don’t use it and that’s probably the reason why you don’t see it here.”
Commerce Secretary Mark Rabauliman said he hasn’t seen $1 coins in the CNMI. “But if the coin reaches the islands and start circulating, then we should recognize it as it is an official coin of the United States of America,” he said.
“If businesses and commercial establishments encounter such a coin, especially when a customer uses a $1 coin to pay for something, and they are unsure whether they should accept it or not, they can call the Department of Commerce at (670) 664-3000 and we will gladly help them with their inquiry,” he added.
The ones currently in circulation in the U.S. mainland have the faces of America’s sixth and 12th president John Quincy Jones and Zachary Taylor, respectively.
Ryder said the U.S. Mint has manufactured millions of them over the years and many of the early ones are stored in their vaults. “Hopefully, one day, some might come here.”