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We're constantly reminded that falsehoods continue to ricochet around the Web long after they've been discredited. The latest example comes from a chain e-mail claiming
that newly released dollar coins do not contain the words "In God We Trust".
The e-mail has the standard ingredients of an Internet falsehood -- sloppy punctuation, an abundance of exclamation points, a plausible story ("I received one from the Post Office as change and I asked for a dollar bill instead"), a request to spread the e-mail far and wide ("Please send to all on your mailing list!!!") and screaming capital letters ("'IN GOD WE TRUST' IS GONE!!!") .
The people forwarding the e-mail included some snarky comments such as "Don't know anything about this, but it does not surprise me. Typical of todays (sic) government."
A simple Google search reveals the e-mail was debunked long ago by our friends at FactCheck.org and Snopes, a Web site dedicated to investigating Internet rumors. Judging from the comments in the latest e-mail, it appears that the bogus claim has been rekindled since President Barack Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009. So we'll add our voice to the debunkers.
The "new" dollars actually aren't that new. The U.S. Mint says dollar coins have been minted intermittently since 1794, and there are three in production: the presidential series, the Sacagawea Golden Dollar, and the Native American dollar. The Sacagawea Golden Dollar was first issued in 2000; the presidential series began in 2007, and the Native American coin, which features Sacagawea on the front, was released in 2009. The chain e-mail includes a picture of a hand holding a dollar coin with a picture of President George Washington, so we'll begin with that series.
Each year the U.S. Mint releases new coins to honor four U.S. presidents in the order that they served. (For 2010, Presidents Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan and Lincoln are featured.) The law that authorized the coins called for the U.S. president to be on the front, the Statue of Liberty on the back, and, on the edge of the coin, the year of minting and the inscriptions "E Pluribus Unum" and "In God We Trust."
The law changed in 2007 and specified that "In God We Trust" appear on the front of the coin (the "heads" side) rather than the edge. That took effect with coins minted in 2009, starting with the release of the coin honoring President William Harrison. The U.S. Mint Web site says all of the subsequent coins will follow this design.
We should note, that it is possible -- though extremely rare -- to find one of the original 2007 coins without the "In God We Trust" side inscription. According to a 2007 Associated Press story, due to what the U.S. Mint called complications in the quality control process, "an unknown number" of new George Washington dollar coins were mistakenly produced without their edge inscriptions, including “In God We Trust." In a March 2007 press release, the U.S. Mint wrote that these coins were released inadvertently, and that it "understands the importance of the inscriptions 'In God We Trust' and 'E Pluribus Unum,' as well as the mint mark and year on U.S. coinage. An expert who follows coin collecting estimated more than 50,000 coins were mistakenly minted that way. But that is of 300 million of the coins produced by 2007.
"In God We Trust" also appears on the front of the Native American and Sacagawea dollars. Since 2009, all of the coins in the presidential series have had "In God We Trust" inscribed on the front.
The e-mail was as wrong in 2007 (except for those rare coins mistakenly minted with no inscriptions), and it is wrong in 2010. You can see "In God We Trust" on the presidential, Sacagawea and American Indian dollars. So we find the claim False.
The U.S. Mint, Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, Dec. 22, 2005.
The U.S. Mint, Press Statement, March 7, 2007.
MSNBC, Coins circulating without 'In God We Trust', March 8, 2007.
Snopes.com, New Dollar Coins and 'In God We Trust', March 17, 2009.
FactCheck.org, 'Godless Dollars', May 27, 2009.
The U.S. Mint, Circulating Coins - Dollar, Accessed Feb. 9, 2010.
The U.S. Mint, Presidential $1 Coins, Accessed Feb. 9, 2010.
The U.S. Mint, Native American $1 Coins, Accessed Feb. 9, 2010.
About.com: Coins, Presidential Dollar Edge Lettering Change Becomes Law, by Susan Headley, Dec. 27, 2007.
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