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The term “liberty dollar” is used to refer to two very different things, and it is important to distinguish between the two. Some people use this term to refer to various Liberty-series coinage issued by the United States Mint, such as the Walking Liberty Half Dollar. However, a series of alternative coinage in the United States is also known as the “Liberty Dollar.” The United States Mint and other government agencies which are responsible for maintaining the integrity of American currency view these Liberty Dollars with concern, because they are afraid that they may be used to scam consumers.
Many series of legal tender in the United States have featured a female figure known as Liberty, representing the values and culture of the United States. She is typically depicted in a loose, flowing gown with long, waving hair and a determined expression, symbolizing the resolve of the United States. In the 1800s, a seated Liberty was a common feature on American coinage, and Liberty also appeared on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar, which was minted between 1916-1947. Liberty also appears on silver proof coins issued by the United States Mint. Many of these Liberty coins are quite valuable, either because they are old and rare or because they are minted from precious metals which have intrinsic value.
In the sense of alternative coinage, the Liberty Dollar is a series of currency minted by Liberty Services. The Liberty Dollar is also known as the ALD. The organization which promotes Liberty Dollars claims to back them with a gold and silver standard, arguing that this makes the currency inflation-proof. The United States Government is concerned about the Liberty Dollar because it fears that people may not understand that the Liberty Dollar is not legal tender.
Although Liberty Dollars are not legal tender, this does not mean that they are valueless. It is in theory possible to exchange Liberty Dollars with Liberty Services for gold and silver, which do have value. People who purchase Liberty Dollars must do so with the understanding that they are not legal tender, which means that people are not obligated to accept them, and they are not backed by the United States mint or banking system. However, they could potentially be used as a regional alternative currency, much like various alternative currency experiments which have been used in small communities around the United States.
Supporters of the Liberty Dollar believe that the currency has been unfairly targeted by the United States government, arguing that they depict it as an entirely voluntary form of barter currency. Representatives of the American government, however, suggest that Liberty Services sometimes uses misleading advertising and promotional campaigns, which may create confusion among consumers.
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