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Dear Matthew Alice:

I work in retail and occasionally a customer will give us an Eisenhower or Susan B. Anthony dollar. Other customers usually don't like them given back as change, so we put them in with out bank deposit. Since these coins are no longer minted and are not in circulation, what happens to them? Do they get destroyed?

-- Curious Ken, Cardiff by the Sea

Man, Sue and Ike take so much guff. Dissed left and right. Not in circulation? Destroyed? Nobody wants them in change? Well, that's true. Nobody does want them in change. But your shop accepts them, Ken, so they're still out there and still legal tender and deserve as much respect as any funky paper dollar. In Ike's case, maybe more. The Eisenhower dollar was minted from 1971 to 1978 in various forms. It's still worth a dollar if you're paying for a taco or a transmission; and it could be worth from $3.00 to $15.00 or so to a collector. Susans were minted from 1979 to 1999 and don't have much collectible value, but she'll still buy gum and pantyhose. By federal law (the Coinage Act of 1965), any coins or bills issued by the U.S. government, no matter when, are legal tender forever. You can pay for $10 worth of Frappucinos with a $10 gold piece, a penny candy with an Indian-head penny. They're not minted any more, they have greater value as collectibles so they're not seen in circulation, but they're still legal tender.

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