About a month ago, I had written posts about the approved 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins and the proposed Panama Pacific Exposition Centennial Commemoratives. This was followed by a summary of all upcoming or proposed commemorative coin programs. I wanted to provide an update since two proposed programs are nearing approval and two new bills have been introduced which could have a significant impact on future programs.
2017 Lions Clubs International Commemorative Coins
The Lions Clubs International is a service organization which seeks to meet the needs of local communities around the world. Founded in 1917, the organization has 1.35 million members across 207 countries and geographic areas.
A bill to authorize the issuance of commemorative silver dollars for the centennial of the organization in 2017 has now been passed in both the House and Senate and will become law once it is signed by the President. Typically, once bills for commemorative coin programs have reached this stage, they are ultimately signed into law.
The 2017 Lions Clubs International Silver Dollars would have a maximum mintage of 400,000 pieces. The specifications would match the standards for modern commemoratives with a composition of 90% silver and 10% copper, diameter of 1.5 inches, and weight of 26.73 grams.
2016 Mark Twain Commemorative Coins
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known to the world as Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. His literary works are well known around the world and have had a long lasting effect on the history and culture of the United States. More than 6,500 editions of his books have been translated in 75 languages.
A bill to authorize the issuance of commemorative $5 gold coins and silver dollars has been passed in both the House and Senate. The House will need to approve amendments made by the Senate and then the bill will need to be signed into law by the President, but at this point passage seems likely.
The 2016 Mark Twain Silver dollars would have a maximum mintage of 350,000 with the standard specifications for a commemorative silver dollar. The $5 gold coins would have a maximum mintage of 100,000 pieces and carry the typical specifications of 90% gold composition, diameter of 0.85 inches, and weight of 8,359 grams.
There were two previous legislative attempts to authorize Mark Twain Commemorative Coins for 2010 and 2013, which would have coincided with the 175th anniversary of his birth and the 125th anniversary of the publication of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The year 2016 does not appear to fall on any particularly important anniversary.
Approved or Likely Programs
With the likely passage of the above, the line up of future commemorative coin programs now looks like the following:
- 2013 United States Army 5 Star Generals – $5 gold coins, silver dollars, clad half dollars
- 2013 Girl Scouts – silver dollars
- 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Semicentennial – silver dollars
- 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame – $5 gold coins, silver dollars, clad half dollars
- 2015 United States Marshals Service – $5 gold coins, silver dollars, clad half dollars
- 2016 Mark Twain (likely) – $5 gold coins, silver dollars
- 2017 Lions Clubs International (likely) – silver dollars
H.R. 6495 and S. 3612
On September 21, 2012, two bills were introduced in the House and Senate, which if passed would have a significant impact on future commemorative coin programs. The full text of each bill is not yet available, but the bills are identified as “A bill to prohibit the payment of surcharges for commemorative coin programs to private organizations or entities, and for other purposes.”
You can read an article with some comments from both sides here.
In the current situation, the issue price of all modern commemorative coins includes a surcharge which is collected by the United States Mint and later distributed to one of more beneficiary organizations indicated within the authorizing legislation. The surcharges are now typically $5 per clad half dollar, $10 per silver dollar, and $35 per gold coin. The 2011 commemorative coin programs generated an estimated $5.5 million in surcharges for the beneficiary organizations.
Commemorative coins are supposed to recognize or celebrate people, places, institutions, or the anniversaries of events of national significance. The surcharge aspect introduces an incentive for private organizations to pursue the approval of programs for subjects, which might not be the most nationally significant for a particular year. Certain organizations may also have more resources or connections to facilitate the approval of a program.
If either H.R. 6495 or S.3612 becomes law, the incentive for private organizations to pursue programs would diminish, perhaps leading to more even handed selection and a broader range of topics for future commemorative coin programs.
The Senate version of the bill currently has seven cosponsors, while the House bill has one. Both have been referred to committee.