The U.S. Mint rolled out a new series of dollar coins last week. The metal money will feature portraits of all of the country's dead presidents. George Washington was the first to debut. Next to hit circulation is John Adams. The Mint will release four presidential coins each year through 2016 -- that's when you'll be able to get the Richard Nixon bucks.
The government says dollar coins last much longer than dollar bills and they save the treasury hundreds of millions in printing costs. Economically, the coins make good sense. But what about their artistic value?
When it comes to coins, the United States isn't exactly a great bastion of creativity.
Bermuda, on the other hand, seems to have a sense of humor when it comes to its legal tender. The island nation's biggest claim to fame is that it marks one point of the infamous Bermuda Triangle, an area believed to have swallowed up countless ships and planes and people. With that in mind, Bermuda printed up coins in the shape of triangles.
Bermuda's not the only country to circulate non-circular coins. Aruba and Bangladesh have issued four-sided coins. Uganda and Barbados tried out seven-sided ones. And many counties have selected scalloped edges, resulting in coins that resemble the heads of flowers.
While United States currency typically honors deceased politicians, other nations' coins pay tribute to everything from goats and gorillas to palm trees and desktop computers.
North Korea's coins boast everything from jets to high-speed trains. Djibouti's coins feature two fists clenching large knives. And Gabon, in an effort to commemorate its natural wealth, put a picture of a drop of oil on one of its coins. Interestingly, corruption and mismanagement of the county's oil wealth have pretty much ruined the nation's economy.
One of the more curious series of coins comes from the Isle of Man. Instead of presidential profiles, this nation's loose change showcases a succession of cats. Last year's offering displayed three shorthairs. Previous designs include a Himalayan, a Siamese, a long-haired smoke cat and an alley cat. The 2004 release showed a pair of Tonkinese kittens trying to catch a butterfly. Of course, when it comes to imaginative money, it's hard to top Somalia's contributions to the coin world. The African nation released a series of multi-colored dollar coins shaped to look like electric guitars. There's a yellow Klein, a Stars and Stripes Gibson Flying V and a pink star guitar modeled after one used by Gary Glitter.
So as we here in the United States are shelling out William Taft and James Polk, people in Somalia are paying with miniature Stratocasters.