100 Greatest Women On Coins Series: Susan B. Anthony

While some of the women featured in Whitman Publishing’s 100 Greatest Women on Coins book may not sound familiar, this next entry in the series should be the complete opposite. Whether you are a member of the numismatic community or not, her name resonates throughout American history. Along with author Ron Guth, let us take a look at a top five pick that never got to see the fruits of her labor but is recognized all the more for her tremendous tenacity and strong will during one of the most historic times in this nation’s history.

#5 - Susan B. Anthony

Born in Adams, Massachusetts, in 1820, Susan was a teacher early in her career when she noticed the pay discrepancy between men and women. She worked for the anti-slavery movement early in her reform career until she shifted her attention to the temperance movement that focused on drinking as an immoral act and that alcohol was a threat to the success of the nation. However, her real passion would come later on as she became a part of the women’s movement that focused not only on voting rights but legal rights. The biggest hang up of the women’s movement was money and the lack of it. At the time, women had little to no control over family finances and they did not have any of their own. Susan would fight for the woman’s right to divorce, to inherit and to keep property.

Susan’s resistance eventually led to her arrest in 1872 when she was tried for voting. A judge would find her guilty and fine her $100. However, she made it clear that she would never pay the fine and she kept her word. By 1878, the first attempt to pass legislation guaranteeing women the right to vote was presented and it failed. The amendment would not become law until 1920, but Susan was not alive to see it. She would pass in 1906.

The United States Mint would honor her lifelong work in 1979 with a special $1 coin. The portrait featured on the coin “captured her distinctive angular nose, jutting chin, and bun hairdo.” The coins would be struck from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999. The $1 dollar coin would never catch on with the public due to its odd size.

Collecting level difficulty of the Susan B. Anthony dollar is easy, according to Guth. They are among some of the most common U.S. coins and are available for a small premium over their $1 face value.