Two bills authorizing new commemorative coinage for 2019 and 2010 made their way forward in Congress last week. The first, H.R. 1235, is the “Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act,” which passed the House on September 25. A companion bill of the same name, S. 1503, was introduced in the Senate in June but remains in committee.
If passed, the act would authorize domed-format coins honoring the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the usual quantities, denominations, and surcharges (listed for reference at the end of this post). They would be released in 2020, coinciding with the end of the Hall of Fame’s 60th-anniversary season (2019–2020). The common reverse design (with the reverse being the convex side) would be a Mint artist’s depiction of a basketball. The common obverse design would be selected from an open competition.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—a basketball hall-of-famer and currently a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee—offered the following in a statement prepared for Congress and read to the House by Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Tex.), a cosponsor of the bill:
After 20 years as a player in the National Basketball Association with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, which included winning six NBA Championships as well as an equal number of Most Valuable Player awards, I had the honor to be inducted in 1995 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Congressmen Richard E. Neal, Andy Barr, and Mike Kelly have sponsored legislation to authorize the U.S. Mint to issue limited-edition commemorative coins for sale to the public in 2019. Proceeds from the coins’ sale will go to help continue the impressive archival and educational efforts of the Basketball Hall of Fame for years to come, all at no cost to the taxpayer.
The Basketball Hall of Fame preserves the history of the game and celebrates the very best of the sport at all the levels it is played. The museum in Springfield, Massachusetts, honors women and men players who have achieved greatness, exemplary coaches, referees, and other major contributors to the sport. It attracts six million visitors a year, who see hundreds of thousands of historic artifacts and memorabilia spanning the past 125 years of basketball.
As a Hall of Famer, I am very passionate about the work they do to not only preserve and honor, but also grow the game of basketball. It is because of this I am respectfully requesting your support and cosponsorship of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act, H.R. 1235. ⤵️
The second piece of legislation, H.R. 2519, and its companion bill, S. 1182, both titled the “American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act,” made it a bit further along the path to becoming law. The act would authorize three coins commemorating the centennial of the American Legion, whose goals are:
- promoting the importance of and caring for those who have served in uniform, ensuring they receive proper health care and disability benefits earned through military service;
- promoting the importance of, and caring for, those who are still serving in the Armed Forces;
- promoting the importance of maintaining the patriotic values, morals, culture, and citizenship of the United States; and
- promoting the importance of maintaining strong families, assistance for at-risk children, and activities that promote their healthy and wholesome development.
The bills were introduced in the House and Senate, respectively, on May 18, 2017. The Senate version was approved on August 3 and sent to the House; the House version was approved September 25 and sent to the Senate, where it passed without amendment on September 28.
If signed into law, the act would authorize Proof and Uncirculated strikes in the usual quantities (enumerated below). The design of the coins is not prescribed by the legislation, other than to say it “shall be emblematic of the American Legion” and shall have the standard inscriptions Liberty, In God We Trust, United States of America, and E Pluribus Unum.
Typical Quantities and Surcharges of Modern U.S. Commemorative Coins
In general, when a commemorative program is authorized by law, the Mint has permission to strike Uncirculated and Proof coins in the following quantities:
- not more than 50,000 gold $5 coins (.900 fine),
- not more than 400,000 silver $1 coins (.900 fine), and
- not more than 750,000 clad half dollar coins.
Typical surcharges are as follows:
- $35 per coin for the gold $5,
- $10 per coin for the silver $1, and
- $5 per coin for the clad half dollar.
Commemorative programs operate at no expense to the taxpayer (surcharges are subtracted after all costs are recouped).