Every week, Heritage Auctions sends out an email newsletter from their various auctions. Saturdays, they send out a newsletter about their coin auctions. While the newsletter is mostly about their upcoming auction and tips for using their website, there are some interesting tidbits that make it worth reading. One of the interesting features is the interactive section toward the end of the note.

Up until recently, the interactive section was more of a numismatic trivia-type of section where they asked two questions. You selected your answers and clicked through to their site to see how you did compared to others. Recently, Heritage changed the section to be a poll. This week’s question (copied so you can participate):

Which is your favorite Modern Commemorative coin design?

A) 1999 Washington $5
B) 2001 Buffalo Dollar
C) 1992 Olympic (Baseball) Dollar
D) 1999 Dolley Madison dollar
E) 2000 Library of Congress $10

This got me thinking as to why were these coins chosen out of all of the possible modern commemoratives. Two are based on classic designs: 1999 George Washington Commemorative $5 gold coin was based on the design that Laura Gardin Fraser submitted for the design of the 1932 Washington Quarter that was turned down by then Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, a known misogynist; the 2001 American Buffalo Commemorative Silver Dollar was based on James Earle Fraser’s Type 1 Buffalo Nickel design. James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser were husband and wife.

The 1992 Olympic Silver Dollar features a baseball pitcher that is similar to the image of Nolan Ryan that appeared on the 1991 Fleer baseball card. Although designer John Deecken denied the connection, the coin is sometimes referred to as the “Nolan Ryan Commemorative.”

One of the significant attributes of the 1999 Dolley Madison Silver dollar is that the coin was designed by Tiffany & Co., the famous jewelry company, whose moniker “T&Co” appears on the coin as the designer. It marks the first time that a private company’s name appears on a United States coin.

Finally, the 2000 Library of Congress $10 Bimetallic Commemorative Coin is the only coin featuring this type of bimetallic composition. The coin features an outer ring made of gold surrounding a center made from platinum.

As I looked at the list, I knew that the 2001 Buffalo Dollar would be the most popular even though I think the 2000 Library of Congress Bimetallic commemorative is the most unique. But why these coins? The U.S. Mint has issued a lot of commemorative coins with great designs since restarting the commemorative coin program with the 1982 George Washington Half Dollar with the 2012 Star Spangled Banner coins being the most recent.

Since I am not a collector of commemorative coins, I was thinking that if I had to choose five coins what would I have chosen and why. Here is my list (in date order):

  1. 1982 George Washington Half Dollar because it is the first of what we consider the modern commemorative period.
  2. 2000 Library of Congress $10 Bimetallic Commemorative Coin because it is the only bimetallic coin of its type made by the U.S. Mint.
  3. 2001 American Buffalo Commemorative Silver Dollar because it is similar to the design of the Buffalo nickel, one of my favorite coins.
  4. 2008 Bald Eagle Half Dollar with the obverse showing two baby eaglets and an egg in an eagle’s nest with the reverse an image of the Bald Eagle “Challenger.” This coin shows the continuing of the Bald Eagle like the continuing of the nation. I love the symbolism.
  5. 2012 Star Spangled Banner Silver Dollar screams “United States of America!”
Scott's Silver Proof Coin

I do own a 2012 Star Spangled Banner Proof Silver Dollar.

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