The dollar coin has been valid currency for a long time, but has long been dismissed by the general pubic. From the Susan B. Anthony to the Sacagawea, and now the George Washington, the one dollar coin has never caught on. In Britain, the Pound only comes in coins for the one and two pound denominations. My time in London taught me what that small pocket in my jeans was for- the change pocket became quite useful, and it was nice to not have to dig in to my wallet to buy something small. Coins are cheaper to make and last longer than bills, but that has been discussed by people smarter than me.
So, what will it take for America to embrace coinage as a popular form of currency? My initial thought is that we need it named after someone everyone knows and likes. Susan B. Anthony isn't going to cut it; most people don't know why she is historically important. While more people could say why Sacagawea is famous, she still doesn't carry that general fame and unquestioned love from the general public. But, not many figures are greater than George Washington. Despite a failed marketing campaign and the fact that they're still unsuccessfully out there, I think it's time for something new.
I offer two propositions: One, have a series of the all the presidents, much like the state quarters. Release them over time, and limit them to length of term served. The FDR dollar? Maybe less popular, because it's got 4 terms (well, 3.5) worth of coins out there. Find yourself a William Henry Harrison (30 days in office), and that's a keeper. My other thought is to release the JFK dollar. I feel like no one really hated JFK; he's a figure big enough to make this work.
What about the coin itself? What would distinguish it from a quarter? I say we take guidance from the Pound, and make it thicker, to distinguish it. Also, get rid of that fake gold sheen. Make it look like a coin, not like a something you'd find in a treasure chest.
We should also embrace the two dollar denomination. Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of the dollar, and realistically, most single items cost more than a buck. The two dollar bill (or coin) would prove more useful, as users could carry less currency, worth more. I realize that $2 bills are considered oddities, but why not use them more? It's more practical to carry more value in less physical capacity; it's quite literally more bang for the buck.
To summarize: make coin money that works, and catches on, and make the $2 denomination more prevalent.
Per usual, thanks for reading.