Q. David Bowers
Not known at press time
The Civil War Battleground commemorative coins bill, H.R. 5126, was introduced May 7, 1992, in the House of Representatives, with a companion bill in the Senate, seeking authorization to have coins minted for the purpose of raising funds to preserve Civil War battlegrounds "under attack from development and degradation."!
Originally, H.R. 5126 had sought coins to be issued in 1993. However, there would not have been time to create effective designs and distribute the coins in an arena (commemorative coinage) already clogged with new coins and proposals. In order to
increase the possibility of passage, the sponsors of the legislation moved the date to 1995 and lowered their sights for the quantities to be made from 500,000 gold $5 coins, two million silver dollars, and 2.5 million clad half dollars, to "only" 300,000 gold $5, one million silver $1, and two million clad 50 pieces.
In addition to whatever price is determined for the coins, a proposed surcharge of $35 would be added to the price for the $5 gold coin, $7 to the silver dollar, and $1 to the half dollar. The surcharges would go to a non-profit organization of which few if any coin collectors had any knowledge earlier: the Civil War Battlefield Foundation.
Commemorating: Battlegrounds of the Civil War.
Obverse motif: Not known at press time.
Reverse motif: Not known at press time.
Authorization date: Not known at press time. Date on coins: 1995.
Date when coins were actually minted: Not known at press time.
Mints used: Not known at press time.
Maximum quantity authorized: 1,000,000.
Total quantity minted: Not known at press time.
Quantity melted: Not known at press time.
Net number distributed: Not known at press time.
Issued by: Anticipated to be by the U.S. Mint (Customer Service Center, United States Mint, 10001 Aerospace Road, Lanham, MD 20706).
Standard original packaging: Not known at press time.
Official sale prices: Not known at press time. Designer of obverse: Not known at press time.
Designer of reverse: Not known at press time. Interesting facts: That Civil War battlegrounds should be preserved from development and degradation was not a question as poignant as whether coin collectors should foot the bill.
Not known at press time.
Olympic Coins (Once Again)
Coin World, April 27, 1992, reported that Olympians and lawmakers teamed up on April 8 to cheer the 28-coin Olympic program proposed for 1995-1996. Members of the numismatic press, representing coin collectors, however, were concerned over high costs and waning support for Olympic coin programs and, apparently, were not in the cheering section.
A hearing was conducted by Coinage Subcommittee Chairman Esteban E. Torres (D-Calif.) to discuss H.R. 3654, the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games Commemorative Coin- Act. Congressional members, Olympic athletes and Eugene Essner, acting director of the U.S. Mint, testified in support of the Olympic coin bill, saying that since the United States was going to be the host country in 1996, that the program "would appeal to an audience much broader than the numismatic; community."
Clifford Mishler, president of Krause Publications (publisher of Numismatic News and Coins Magazine), testified against the bill as proposed, emphasizing that it is coin collectors, not sports fans, who buy the coins. Coin World editor Beth Deisher likewise criticized the bill, questioned the validity of sales projections, and said the following:
Most collectors strive for completeness, In order for a collector to obtain the complete 1996 U.S. Olympic coin set, he would be required to make an expenditure of approximately $2,500, based on current prices for commemorative coins. [Further.] we believe there is growing resistance to' surcharges Within the collecting community. We question any findings that report collector acceptance of increases in the surcharges.
Huge Program Planned
As usual, Congress did not heed the voice of the coin collecting community. Numismatic News, June 23, reported on what happened, here summarized:
On June 9, 1992, a congressional subcommittee approved a coin-authorization bill for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, for a 16-coin, two-year issue of almost 16 million commemorative coins. It was originally a 14-coin program. This program provides for two gold $5 coins in each of 1995 and 1996, four silver dollars in each of the' two years, and two clad half dollars in each year.
A second title of the long legislative bill would mandate the most sweeping reorganization of the U.S. Mint in its 200-year history and would place all numismatic activities of the Mint in a Public Enterprise Fund separate from its circulation coinage operations. One observer pointed out that including the Atlanta Games and Mint reform in a single bill might well lead to amendment in the Senate, perhaps to drop the reform section of the bill. In that case, it would have to go back to the House for concurrence.
Among those in favor of the bill was Rep. Frank Annunzio, who as a previous chairman of the subcommittee warned against a proliferation of commemorative coins, and insisted on a limitation of three coins .per program. He had sponsored legislation in the past prohibiting the use of ~ore than one mint to strike specimens' of any one coin. He also offered two amendments to the bill: One was the "buy American" provision applying to the Atlanta Olympic organization committee, and the other would prohibit import of foreign coins- from countries that do not permit the sale on equal terms of U.S. coins within their own borders.
Based on the prices of this year's Olympic coin issue, and adding the increases in surcharges of $50, $10 and $1 respectively, it would cost a collector more than $2,500 for a complete 32-piece set in Proof and Uncirculated qualities. All of the designs will be different, but will have the centennial of the Olympic Games' as the theme. Surcharges would he divided equally for the Olympic Games, Int. and the U.S. Olympics Committee.