The United States Mint is once again promoting its Direct Ship Program for the 2009 Native American $1 coins. These had been removed from the program several weeks ago, with an assumption by most that the 2010-dated $1 coins would be added in January.
Under the program, the US Mint offers boxes of ten 25-coin rolls of the Native American strikes at their face value of $250. (See Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship Rolls.) The Mint does not add a premium to the cost of the coins, and even foregoes its normal shipping charge. By way of an explanation for the seemingly generous program, the Mint states the following on their website:
The intended purpose of the Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship Program is to make $1 Coins readily available to the public, at no additional cost, so they can be easily introduced into circulation –particularly by using them for retail transactions, vending, and mass transit. Increased circulation of $1 Coins saves the Nation money.
The 2009 Native American dollars were first placed on the Direct Ship Program early in the year, on January 2nd. They were available until late October, when the Mint ended their sales.
They are once again available, being promoted both on the US Mint’s homepage as well as by "Special Notices" sent to Mint customers via e-mail.
What makes this re-introduction intriguing is the fact that individual rolls of the Native American coins were just added to the sold-out list by the Mint last week. The 25-coin rolls from the Denver Mint sold out on December 8, with the rolls from the Philadelphia Mint following a day later.
For most of the year, the Mint had been selling these $1 rolls for $35.95, plus the standard shipping charge. This equates to a premium of $10.95 on each roll since they only contain 25 one dollar coins.
The latest production figures from the Mint shows that a total of 71,260,000 of these coins were struck for circulation. Of these, 33,880,000 were struck at the Mint’s facility in Denver while 37,380,000 were produced at the Mint’s facility in Philadelphia.
While these totals may seem large, they are in fact the smallest of any of the dollar coins struck this year. Four Presidential Dollars were also issued in 2009 and through November, the Zachary Taylor coins had the lowest mintage of the Presidential coins, and they already had 78,260,000 struck. They were also only released on November 19th.
Perhaps the Mint is trying to boost its Native American mintage by offering the Direct Ship Program again. By law, at least 20% of all dollars struck each year must feature the Native American design.
An interesting story involving the $1 coins and the Mint’s Direct Ship Program was featured on The Wall Street Journal just last week. Scott McCartney writes how individuals have ordered thousands of the coins as a means to build up frequent flyer miles or other credit card rewards. When the rolls came, they were immediately exchanged for cash at banks. The US Mint now states on direct ship product page:
"The immediate bank deposit of $1 Coins ordered through this Program does not result in their introduction into circulation and, therefore, does not comply with the intended purpose of the Program."
Additionally, in bolded red under the order button it has added: "By clicking ‘Add to Cart’ I agree that I understand, and will comply with, the intended purpose of the Program."
For more information this year’s coin and next year’s design, to include specifications, see: