I was updating the Bloglinks (see Numismatic Links in the sidebar) when I clicked on the link for H.R.1953, San Francisco Old Mint Commemorative Coin Act, and found that it has been enrolled after being passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate. Once a bill has been enrolled, it is sent to the President for action. This bill is likely to be signed by President Bush.

The Act “require[s] the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the Old Mint at San Francisco, otherwise known as the ‘Granite Lady’.” The bill specifies that the design will represent the San Francisco Old Mint Building and its role in rebuilding San Francisco after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. The bill calls for 100,000 $5 coins be minted using a 90-percent gold alloy along with 500,000 $1 coins be made from a 90-percent silver alloy. Coins will be offered in proof and uncirculated qualities and requests that the coins be struck “at the San Francisco Mint to the greatest extent possible.”

Sales of the commemoratives will include a $35 surcharge for the gold coin and $10 for each silver coin. Proceeds will be distributed to the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society to rehabilitate “the Historic Old Mint in San Francisco as a city museum and an American Coin and Gold Rush Museum.” It has a potential to raise $8.5 million for the project.

This bill is going to put the system to a real test. Unless the US Mint has been preparing for this bill’s passage, the bill says that the coins can be issued “only during the 1-year period beginning on January 1, 2006.” Not only does the Mint have to make at least one design, but the design must be approved by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). It appears that both groups meet during the third week of the month. It may take as little as three months for the design to be approved before die making and production begins.

With such a short time period to move the bureaucracy, the numismatic community should be prepared for the varieties and errors as the Mint rushes to have these coins minted and sold by the end of this year.

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