Amongst all of the noise on Capitol Hill, the one area where no noise has been made is in the numismatic arena. For the last three months there has been no bill introduced, heard in committee, or acted on by either chamber of congress. Although there have been some hearings on a few issues, the last numismatic-related bill that had any congressional action was the introduction of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act, S. 1842, introduced by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) in December.
This type of inactivity is unusual for congress. Regardless of party, congress is always looking to curry favor with their constituents and groups associated with their constituents by introducing commemorative coin legislation. Over the last few congresses (a two-year term), there will be over 40 coin-related bills that die in committee where very few even get a cursory hearing.
This does not mean there will be no commemorative coins in the near future. Now, the U.S. Mint has issued the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Silver Dollar and National Baseball Hall of Fame commemoratives. In fact, the Baseball Hall of Fame coins are so popular that the gold option has sold out of its 50,000 statutory mintage limit.
As an aside, a friend pointed out that the U.S. Mint did not bring 50,000 gold coins to the Whitman Baltimore Expo and wondered how many of those coins were purchased by baseball’s owners and members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It would be interesting to see the effect of organized baseball on the sale of these coins.
In 2015, the U.S. Mint is scheduled to release a March of Dimes Commemorative Silver Dollar commemorative coin. Founded in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat polio, the March of Dimes changed its mission to combating birth defects after the discovery of the polio vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1954. Salk’s work was supported by the organization.
Also on the schedule for 2015 is the United States Marshals Service 225th Anniversary commemorative coin series. The Marshal Service commemoratives will include a gold $5, silver dollar, and clad half-dollar coins. I do not think this will be as popular as the 2005 Marine Corps 30th Anniversary commemorative coins.
Officially, the 2016 scheduled commemorative will be the Mark Twain Commemorative coin program that will only include gold $5 and silver dollar coins. However, considering Twain’s mindset about being famous, I think he would be amused by having a commemorative coin made in his honor. I might call it the “Mark Twain Amusement commemorative.”
The only other commemorative coin with legislation that has passed congress and signed by the president is the 2017 Lions Clubs International Century of Service Silver Dollar.
Given the law says that there will be no more than two commemorative coin series per year (31 U.S.C. §5112(m)); and given that the next time only one commemorative coin is scheduled to be issues is in 2016, there is plenty of time for congress to do “something” and pass one of the bills that is currently waiting for their action.