The President has just signed a bill into law authorizing a commemorative coin program to mark the 225th anniversary of the United States Marshals Service. I thought this would be a good time to recap the approved programs for future years.
Commemorative coin programs are created by acts of Congress. Under current rules, only two programs may be approved for each year, although each program can include multiple coins. The programs generate surcharges for specified beneficiary organizations or projects. There are many bills introduced each year that propose commemorative coins, but it takes some effort to get them approved. In order to be considered for a vote, sponsors must sign on at least two thirds of their chamber, which represents a difficult hurdle for many proposed programs.
Here are the programs which have been approved and will be issued in the coming years:
2013 Commemorative Coins
The first program will mark the centennial of the establishment of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Only silver dollars will be issued with a maximum mintage of 350,000 coins.
Collectors will recall that the Boy Scouts of America had silver dollars issued to commemorate their centennial in 2010. This issue sold out of its 350,000 maximum mintage.
The second program of 2013 will honor the United States Army 5-Star Generals, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Henry Arnold, and Omar Bradley. The program will include $5 gold coins with a maximum mintage of 100,000, silver dollars limited to 500,000, and clad half dollars limited to 750,000.
The legislation requires that “the design of the coins shall include portraits of Generals George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry “Hap” Arnold and Omar N. Bradley.”
Eisenhower was previously featured on a commemorative coin issued in 1990 featuring a dual portrait. Will the 2013 coins incorporate five portraits?
2014 Commemorative Coins
So far, only one commemorative coin program has been authorized for 2014. Silver dollars issued with a maximum authorized mintage of 350,000 will mark the semicentennial of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The designs for the coins are required to be “emblematic of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its contribution to civil rights in America”.
The legislation authorizing the program was signed into law back in 2008.
2015 Commemorative Coins
The recently approved program to mark the 225th Anniversary of the United States Marshals Service will see the issuance of coins to the public in 2015. The program includes $5 gold coins with a maximum mintage of 100,000, silver dollars limited to 500,000, and clad half dollars limited to 750,000.
Design requirements included within the legislation are very specific, with themes provided for each coin.
The $5 gold coin will feature an image of the US Marshals Service Star on the obverse. On the reverse will be a design emblematic of the sacrifice and service of the men and women of the United States Marshals Service who lost their lives in the line of duty.
The silver dollar will once again feature the US Marshals Service Star on the obverse. The reverse shall bear an image emblematic of the United States Marshals legendary status in America’s cultural landscape. The image should depict Marshals as the lawmen of our frontiers, including their geographic, political, or cultural history
For the clad half dollar coins, the obverse will feature an image emblematic of the US Marshals Service and its history. The reverse shall bear an image consistent with the role that the United States Marshals played in a changing nation. The image should show the ties that the Marshals have to the United States Constitution, with themes including– the Whiskey Rebellion and the rule of law; slavery and the legacy of inequality; and the struggle between labor and capital.
The overly specific requirements might lead to some “storyboard designs”. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee has been critical of this type of coin design. An example would be the obverse of the 2011 U.S. Army Half Dollar, which was rejected by both the CFA and CCAC but used anyway.