I want to wish Benjamin Franklin a belated 300th birthday! Aside from being a statesman and former ambassador to France, Franklin was a scientist, musician, philosopher, and inventor who continues to have great impact on our lives after inventing bifocals, the lightning rod, and the first odometer. He was truly a remarkable man.

Yesterday, Franklin’s birthday, the US Mint began taking pre-issue orders for the Franklin commemorative coins. The pre-issue prices will end at 5:00 PM (Eastern) on March 14, 2006. Authorized by Public Law 108-464, surcharges from the program will be forwarded to the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Commission of the Franklin Institute to commemorate Franklin’s tercentenary and to educate the public about his legacy.

Two commemoratives are being minted in this program. Both proof and uncirculated strikes will be 90-percent silver coins with the nominal value of $1. These coins are:

  1. “Franklin the Scientist” depicts his legendary kite experiment on the obverse. The reverse of this coin is a recreation of his political cartoon, “Join, or Die” that was published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754.
  2. “Franklin the Founding Father” features a portrait based on a bust by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1778. The reverse honors Franklin’s contribution to the development of our national currency by using a replica of the 1776 Continental Currency dollar.

In addition to the individual coins, the Benjamin Franklin Coin and Chronicles set includes an uncirculated “Franklin the Scientist” coin; a set of four newly released US postage stamps honoring Benjamin Franklin’s many accomplishments; a reproduction of the 1758 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac; and an intaglio print from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing created to honor Franklin’s role in the creation of the Declaration of Independence.

In all, this looks like a great tribute to a great American!

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