The Susan B. Anthony dollar was one of the nation’s shortest-lived coin series, originally running only from 1979 through 1981. While the coin was picked up for a one-year-only finale in 1999 due to production logistics in fulfilling a large demand for dollar coins in the late ’90s, the Susie B. is a coin generally associated with President Carter (who in 1978 signed the bill authorizing the coin), economic malaise of the 1970s and early ’80s, and an Equal Rights Amendment-era push for more socially representative inclusion on United States coinage.
The Susie B., the nation’s first small-size dollar coin, was ill-regarded by the public and often confused with the similarly sized quarter dollar. Thus the coin became quite unpopular and hardly circulated. The United States Mint footed several expensive marketing campaigns to help educate the public on the advantage of using the small dollar coin, including the coin’s light weight (at 8.1 grams only a third as heavy as the preceding 22.68-gram Eisenhower dollar) and the fact that over a period of years it would cost less to produce dollar coins than dollar bills, saving taxpayers millions over time.
The public was unconvinced and hundreds of millions of SBA dollars headed to Federal vaults after the coin’s initial retirement in 1981. Yet, in a period of fewer than 30 months, the United States Mint and its various branch facilities produced a rather surprising array of Susan B. Anthony dollars, including a few notable varieties. Among them was the relatively scarce 1981-S Type II proof dollar. This coin, featuring a clear “S” mintmark with bulbous serifs, replaced the more common 1981-S Type I proof, which used a blobby 1979-vintage “S” mintmark.
There is no record known elucidating exactly how many 1981-S Type II proof dollars were made. However, estimates generally range from 350,000 to 450,000 pieces — a fraction of the 4,063,083 total Susan B. Anthony dollar proofs made that year. The 1981-S Type II proof dollar is a coin much sought-after by modern collectors and ranges in price from $100 to $200, depending on grade and overall eye appeal.