I do remember a lot of people getting very excited about the 50-state quarter program (egads, the name of this program is trademarked!) when it first started. I thought it was a fine idea, but I can't say I really got excited about it. It was nice that quarters got less dirty.
One thing I did get somewhat excited about was the fact that my customers at the coffee shop where I was working at the time suddenly decided it was within the bounds of acceptable behavior for them to dig through my tip bowl looking for whatever state they were on the hunt for at the time, while they were waiting for me to make their drink. I did not agree with their assessment of the appropriateness of this, and often let them know.
I did not realize that the government actually made money off this program. Well, obviously they MADE MONEY, but they also profited, to the tune of $4 billion dollars.
So, I'm still trying to figure out how they are making money on this. "In fact, the U.S. Government is making money on the 50 State Quarters Program. The cost to manufacture a quarter is about 5 cents, providing a profit of approximately 20 cents per coin." Is this really all from collectors? This report about US Mint e-commerce seems to indicate so. It also taught me a new word, which is Numismatic. I'm ignorant about the way our currency system works.
I bring up the quarters because Congress is considering the possibility of minting a bunch of dollar coins. They expect to make money on this too. The Boston Globe chose a pretty poor headline for this story, "New coins will depict dead former presidents". Really? Dead presidents on coins? You don't say.
Dollar coins are a terrible idea. They are heavy. Unless they are made significantly larger, like the size of a wheel on a Flintstones vehicle, they will confuse people. I saw this happen plenty of times at the cafe. People are just not used to them. People gave me dollars when they meant to give me quarters, and my cashiers sometimes gave them out when they meant to give out quarters for change. It's a paper money society here in the US, and people just aren't used to worrying about whether this big coin is a dollar or not, unless they spend an unhealthy amount of time at USPS stamp vending machines.