Q. David Bowers
In 1991, the author received a telephone call from a representative of the Madison Foundation, who inquired as to the best way to "get in on the commemorative bonanza" by selling coins to collectors.
I asked what he had in mind, and he said that one way or another the Madison Foundation wanted to tap the collectors' market as a source of funds. Numismatists represented buying power and ready cash, and some type of commemorative could be created to fill the "demand." I referred him to the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, Coin World, and Numismatic News, but before hanging up the receiver, I could not resist spending 10 to 20 minutes telling the caller that collectors preferred commemoratives that had some basis in history, and that if a commemorative were to be issued in 1992 or 1993, it should represent the 100th or 200th anniversary of something that happened earlier. All of this fell on a deaf ear. The rest is history-another exploitative issue is in the works. For the record, the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights was celebrated in 1991; the 1993 coins represent the 202nd anniversary.
The 1993 James Madison/Bill of Rights silver dollar was authorized by Public Law 101-281, part of the White House Commemorative Coin Act, on May 13, 1992. It was to be made of .900 fine silver (90% silver, 10% copper), with a maximum mintage of 900,000. Each silver dollar was to carry a surcharge of $6, a figure which was lower than the typical surcharge of other commemorative dollars from the preceding several years.
On June 1, 1992, it was announced by Treasurer of the United States Catalina Vasquez Villalpando that a nationwide competition would be staged to create designs for the James Madison/Bill of Rights Commemorative Coin Program. The designs had to be received by the U.S. Mint by August 31, 1992. The news release stated that the Act authorized the following coins: a gold coin with a face value of $5; a silver coin with a face value of $1, and a silver half-dollar coin.
The design requirements for the silver dollar were that the obverse had to be emblematic of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States (generally known as the "Father of the Constitution"); and the reverse design was to be emblematic of James Madison's old Virginia home between the years 1751 and 1836, Montpellier (on the final version, the modern, and historically incorrect Montpellier was used; in Madison's time it was Montpellier). Exactly what all of this had to do with issuing a coin in 1993 was not stated-perhaps because there was no logical connection.
An award of $2,500 was be presented for each design selected. Photographs of James Madison and his home were sent to each entrant, but they were also authorized to use local resources for research. Designs were to be in the form of a pencil, pen and ink or charcoal drawing, within an 8-inch circle and mounted on illustration board 10 x 10 inches, and were to have been the original creation of the artist. Artists had to pay all expenses incurred in the design process. No initials or identifying marks could be included in the design. The artists could submit from two to six designs. It was noted to the artists that the best designs were designs best enhancing the coin's marketability to the public (italics mine). At least, the motive was obvious!
Required inscriptions for the silver dollar coin were, on the obverse: LIBERTY, 1993, IN GOD WE TRUST; reverse, E PLURIBUS UNUM, ONE DOLLAR(in letters or numerals), and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. (For some reason, the key word GREED was omitted.)
The Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the designs for the 1993 James Madison/Bill of Rights commemorative coins on October 29, 1992, and recom mended a different set of designs for the half dollar than had been picked by the design panel. They agreed with. the designs selected for the silver dollar and half eagle.
A news release from the Treasury Department, postmarked January 12, 1993, noted, that for the obverse of the dollar, the design of William J. Krawczewicz, of Crofton, Maryland, was selected by Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady. For the reverse, the motif submitted by Dean McMullen, of Portland, Oregon, was chosen. Further:
As mandated bylaw, an open coin design competition was conducted by the Mint. Eight hundred fifteen designs were received and reviewed by the Design Review Panel consisting of representatives from the Commission of Fine. Arts, the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Numismatic Association, the National Sculpture Society, and the U.S. Mint. The six winning designs [for the three different denominations] were selected by Secretary Brady in consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts and the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.