One of the most significant pieces of socioeconomic legislation ever passed in the United States was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This set of laws helped bring an end to de jure segregation in public places and public accommodations while legally ensuring that all Americans would be treated equally regardless of race, creed, color, sex, or national origin. It was a watershed moment in American history, marking another major milestone in the rapidly changing social landscape of the 1960s. It was also an occasion that, 50 years later in 2014, inspired the striking of a commemorative United States silver dollar.
The 2014 United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 Dollar was authorized under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Commemorative Coin Act, which was approved by Congress in 2008 as Public Law 110-451 and signed by President George W. Bush. Provisions for the coin called for a maximum of 350,000 silver dollars with a surcharge of $10 for each one sold to benefit the United Negro College Fund. These commemorative silver dollars, a legally authorized concept but little else for some five years, finally saw the public unveiling of their eventual designs in 2013.
On the obverse, designed by Justin Kunz and engraved by Phoebe Hemphill, is seen three people holding hands while demonstrating at an unidentified civil rights march. This motif is intended to symbolize the collective efforts of all such events from the Civil Rights Era; one of the individuals holds a sign reading “WE SHALL OVERCOME,” a rally call popularized during the late 1950s and early 1960s and one that still resonates with so many today.
The reverse of the coin, designed by Donna Weaver and engraved by Jim Licaretz, features a motif of three intertwined flames representing education, the freedom to vote, and the freedom to control one’s individual destiny. This device is paired with an anchoring inscription that reads “CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964, SIGNED INTO LAW JULY 2, 1964.”
The coins were initially offered for sale by the United States Mint on January 2, 2014 and sold for an introductory price of $44.95 for the uncirculated version and $49.95 for the proof. These prices were eventually increased to $49.95 and $54.95, respectively. While the topic matter honored on the coin hits close to home for countless millions of Americans, the coin ultimately didn’t approach the production limit of 350,000 pieces. All told, 24,720 uncirculated 61,992 proofs were distributed. The 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Dollar became one of the scarcest of all modern United States commemorative silver dollars.
Though one of the scarcer commemorative dollars around, there are plenty available to meet collector demand. A roughly equal number of uncirculated specimens graded by PCGS are MS69 and MS70 examples; meanwhile most PCGS-graded proofs are PR69DCAM with a smaller but still significant number coming in at PR70DCAM. Swaths of the reverse design include empty fields and broad surfaces, perhaps accounting for the difficulty some pieces have in achieving a “70” grade. Examples of the 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Dollar graded MS70 or PR70DCAM realize small but notable premiums over their MS69 or PR69DCAM counterparts.