Q. David Bowers
The secretary of the Treasury is to select the designs, after consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts, the American Numismatic Association, and a joint group of the Atlanta Olympic Games Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The silver dollars provided for by the bill are as follows: 1995: Not more than 750,000 each of four coins of different designs. 1996: Not more than one million each of four coins of different designs. All coins are to be made of traditional. 900 fine silver.
"Just Say No"
Almost unanimously, the reaction of collectors, dealers, and numismatic writers was negative. The 1995-1996 commemoratives were just another way to exploit the collector. In an editorial in Numismatic News, July 28, 1992, Jeffrey Prewitt expressed opin-ions shared by many (here excerpted):
The Olympics are a worthy cause for government support, and, as a coin collector, I have been willing to purchase both Uncirculated and Proof Olympic coins in the past. However, the time has come to 'Just say no" to exorbitant commemorative programs .... The 1995-1996 Olympic coin legislation is an undisguised attempt by certain members of Congress to legally rob the coin-collecting community. I will have no part of it.
A 32-coin commemorative-coin program is outrageous. If approved, this program would more than equal all types of commemorative coins issued from 1892 into the mid 1930s.
If past commemorative programs are an indication, within a few years of the end of this program the value of these coins will be below the purchase price. Some estimates place the purchase price as high as $2,500. Thus the purchaser is left with 32 coins worth only a fraction of the original cost.
It is increasingly ridiculous to pay the high charges, especially those made on an ounce or less of silver. Current commemorative-coin programs normally placed a minimum price of $25 for a one-ounce silver coin with a metal value of $4.
I am tired of the continuous reference to the McKinsey & Co. study, which has been used to support this Olympic pro-gram but has not been released in its entirety to the general public. In some ways this is reminiscent of McCarthyism, when unpublished reports were used to manipulate public opinion.
Congress does not appear to be paying attention to expert testimony from the numismatic community regarding the importance of limiting commemorative-coin programs.
I urge coin collectors to act. Write your senators in opposition of H.R. 3654. Promise not to buy Olympic coins directly from the U.S. Mint in 1995-1996 but from a coin dealer, where the coins can most probably be purchased at a lower price in the following years. Next, promise your senators that should your representatives in Congress pass this legislation that at election time those who voted for the legislation will not receive your support.
Often one reads of poor designs and overpriced coins. Now is the time for the numismatic community to 'Just say no" to H.R. 3654 before we are struck with another poorly conceived program.
Commemorating: The 1996 Olympic Games to be held in Atlanta, Georgia.
Obverse motifs: Not known at press time.
Reverse motifs: Not known at press time.
Authorization date: June 9, 1992.
Date(s) on coins: Anticipated to be 1995 and 1996.
Date when coins were actually minted: Not known at press time.
Mints used: Not known at press time.
Maximum quantity authorized: 1995: 3,000,000; 1996: 4,000,000.
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 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.