Collectors have very few friends in congress. In most cases, members of congress usually do not care for collectors. While some will sponsor and promote a few commemorative issues, most of the time they are interested in promoting the cause that will receive the surcharges from the sales. But for 18 years, numismatist have had one friend in congress: Mike Castle (R-DE).
Michael Newbold Castle, 71, from Wilmington, has been the representative at-large from Delaware since 1993. As a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin, Castle has worked in public service in Delaware since serving as Deputy Attorney General in 1965-1966. Castle rose through the ranks by being elected to the Delaware State Legislature, State Senate, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, then U.S. Representative. His long service to Delaware is legendary. But that was not enough for Castle to win the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate last week.
Castle has made his first indelible mark on numismatics within a few years of his arrival in the House. In 1996, Castle consolidated several commemorative requests into the United States Commemorative Coin Act of 1996 which became Public Law Number 104-329 ([text] [pdf]). This act authorized the following commemorative coins:
- 1997 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
- 1997 Jackie Robinson
- 1997 National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
- 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots
- 1999 Dolley Madison
- 1999 George Washington Bicentennial of his Death
- 1999 Yellowstone National Park
The Commemorative Coin Act of 1996 also included a “study” that lead to the 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act, Public Law Number 105-124 ([text] [pdf]). Aside from creating the 50 State Quarters Program, the law also authorized the Sacagawea Dollar and the 2003 First Flight Commemorative. Castle worked with the American Numismatic Association and other numismatic organizations to craft a bill that lead to one of the biggest increase in numismatic interests ever. The 50 State Quarters program was one of the most successful programs ever.
Another idea of Mike Castle’s was a coin series to honor past presidents. Castle first introduced the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 in the house (as H.R. 902). Even those the version introduced in the senate was the one that eventually became Public Law 109-145 ([text] [pdf]), it was Castle’s idea.
Probably the last significant piece of coin legislation that Castle will sponsor is the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008, Public Law Number 110-456 ([text] [pdf]). As a follow-up to the 50 State Quarter program, the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program will feature reverse designs of national parks or other national sites from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S insular territories. The program started this year and will run through 2021.
Mike Castle will not appear on a ballot for the first time since 1966. His current term in the House of Representatives will end on January 3, 2011. He ends his career in the House being recognized as the numismatists’ friend after working on the passage of landmark coin-related legislation aimed at the collector. For his service to our hobby, I honor Castle’s accomplishment and wish him well in his (forced) retirement.