It’s been clear for years that U.S. consumers and businesses have little interest in dollar coins. Banks returned so many of them to the Federal Reserve that the Treasury suspended production in 2011, except to meet the demands of coin collectors. The aversion is partly due to their appearance. “Cheap and unrecognizable, like Monopoly money,” says Ute Wartenberg, executive director of the American Numismatic Society in New York City. Not to mention the coin’s weight–eight times that of a dollar bill–and its propensity to fall between seat cushions. Despite public resistance, dollar coins are here for the foreseeable future. With so many in reserve, the Mint won’t need to fire up a new batch for three or four decades. “If we get rid of the banknote, then maybe people will start to love them,” says Wartenberg. Some lobby groups are in favor of eliminating $1 bills, but that’s unlikely to happen. The Fed estimates that such a shift would cost the government $1.2 billion over 30 years. And because the U.S. can’t authenticate coins the way it can authenticate greenbacks, the country could see a spike in counterfeit currency. Here’s a closer look:
This appears in the March 03, 2014 issue of TIME.