Q. David Bowers
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial Coin Act (Public Law 101-332, July 16,1990) provided the authority to produce three types of 1991-dated commemorative coins in observation of the 50th anniversary of the monumental sculpture in stone, featuring the portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, as designed by Gutzon Borglum.
The legislation stipulated that no more than 500,000 $5 gold coins, 2.5 million silver dollars, and 2.5 million copper-nickel clad alloy half dollars be struck. 50% of the income from surcharges applied to the coin prices ($35 per half eagle, $7 per silver dollar, and $1 per half dollar, as part of the price charged for each coin) was slated to go to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society of Black Hills for the improvement, enlargement, and renovation of the Memorial, with the balance to go to the U.S. Treasury.
The Mount Rushmore Memorial, the world's largest stone sculpture, measuring 60 feet high, features the busts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The project had its inception in 1923 and was completed in 1941, after two decades of arguments, hardships, and other difficulties. The typical dimension of a face was 60 or more feet from his chin to the crown of his head. The sculpture group occupied a space on the mountain measuring nearly 300 by 500 feet.
Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady, in consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts, made the final selections for the design of the silver dollar, to be struck in .900 fine silver. The work of Marika H. Somogyi, a California sculptress, was chosen for the obverse, with the finished model prepared at the Mint by Chester Y. Martin. Depicted was a front view of the sculptures of Mount Rushmore with an olive wreath prominently below.
The winning reverse motif was the work of Frank Gasparro of Philadelphia, former chief engraver of the Mint. Featured was the Great Seal of the United States, surrounded by a sunburst, above an outline map of the continental part of the United States inscribed SHRINE OF / DEMOCRACY.
Options given here are those which specifically included silver dollars:
(3) Single Uncirculated 1991-P Mount Rushmore silver dollar: $23 pre-issue discount price (through March 28, 1991); regular price $26.
(4) Single Proof 1991-S Mount Rushmore silver dollar: $28 pre-issue price; regular price $31.
(7) Two-coin Uncirculated set containing the 1991-D Mount Rushmore half dollar and 1991-P Mount Rushmore silver dollar: $27 pre-issue price; regular price $30.
(8) Three-coin Uncirculated set containing the 1991-D Mount Rushmore half dollar, 1991-P Mount Rushmore silver dollar, and the 1991-W $5 gold coin: $210 pre-issue price; regular price $235.
(9) Two-coin Proof set containing the 1991-S Mount Rushmore half dollar and silver dollar; $35 pre-issue price; regular price $38.
(10) Three-coin Proof set containing the 1991-S Mount Rushmore half dollar and 1991-P Mount Rushmore silver dollar and 1991-W Mount Rushmore $5 gold coin: $225 preissue price; regular price $255.
(11) Six-coin set containing the Uncirculated 1991-D Mount Rushmore half dollar, 1991-P Mount Rushmore silver dollar, and the 1991-W Mount Rushmore $5 gold coin, the Proof 1991-S Mount Rushmore half dollar and silver dollar and the 1991-W Mount Rushmore $5 gold coin: $445 pre-issue price; regular price $490.
(12) 1991 Prestige Proof set consisting of a regular 1991-S Proof set plus Proof examples of the 1991-S Mount Rushmore half dollar and silver dollar: $49 pre-issue price; regular price $55.
Minting and Sales
Silver dollars were minted in Philadelphia and San Francisco and were first distributed in spring 1991. A ceremony presenting the Mount Rushmore coins was held at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C., on February 15, 1991, with many dignitaries in attendance.
Salesof the three coin denominations raised a total of $12,065,167 in surcharges. Half of the surcharges were paid to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society for its efforts to improve, enlarge and renovate the Mount Rushmore Memorial. The other half went to reduce the national debt.
The Mint began accepting orders for the coins on February 15, 1991, and the program ended on December 31, 1991, as stipulated by Public Law 101-332. Of the silver dollar denomination, 133,139 1991-P coins were sold, and 738,419 1991-S Proofs.
Commemorating: 50th anniversary of the Mount Rushmore sculpture.
Obverse motif: Mount Rushmore Memorial. Reverse motif: Great Seal and map of the United States.
Authorization date: July 16, 1990.
Date on coins: 1991.
Date when coins were actually minted: 1991.
Mints used: Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Maximum quantity authorized: 2,500,000.
Total quantity minted: Information not released by Mint.
Quantity melted: Information not released by Mint.
Net number distributed: Uncirculated Philadelphia Mint coins: 133;139;:Proof San Francisco Mint coins: 738,419.
Issued by: US. Mint (mail addressed to the United States Mint, Mount Rushmore Anniversary Coins, P.O. Box 41587, Philadelphia, PA 19162-0058 was processed by the Customer Service Center, United States Mint, 10001 Aerospace Road, Lanham, MD 20706).
Standard original packaging: Various options.
Official sale prices: Uncirculated Philadelphia Mint coins $23 in advance (later, $26; also sold as part of other options-see text); Proof San Francisco Mint coins $28 in advance (later, $31; also sold as part of other options-see text).
Designer of obverse: Marika H. Somogyi (inspired by Gutzon Borglum's Mount Rushmore sculptures in stone; finished model by Chester Y. Martin).
Interesting fact: During his earlier tenure at the Mint, Frank Gasparro designed the reverse of the 1959 Lincoln Memorial cent, the reverse of the 1964 Kennedy-half dollar, the 1971 Eisenhower dollar, and the 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar. The Mount Rushmore silver dollar reverse was his first commemorative.