Over the last few years, congress has had this habit of waiting to the last minute to vote on legislation. When they do, they load up this legislation with seemingly unrelated stuff that it is no wonder their ratings are in the single digits.

2010 Somalia Sports Cars

2010 Somalia Sports Cars — Not the type of numismatic transportation we are talking about.

Let’s take the recent so-called transportation bill. In a stunning 490 pages, which only two-thirds are devoted to transportation issues, congress passed The “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” or the “FAST Act” (H.R. 22). While a transportation bill may not be that interesting to most collectors, buried down in Title LXXIII is the “Bullion and Collectible Coin Production Efficiency and Cost Savings” section.

Title LXXIII of what is now Public Law 114-94 is short but has a big impact on the future for collectors. Rather than try to digest it all here, I will spend the next few days discussing the impacts. Starting with the technical corrections as part of Section 73001.

Technical corrections to a law is the process where congress votes on the wording changes that either clarifies or changes the limits of a law. It is written in a way that tells theOffice of the Law Revision Counsel, the editor of the United States Code (federal law), how to correct the law. In the case of the these corrections, it is instructing the Law Revision Counsel to edit the law (31 U.S.C. § 5112) that defines all the specification for U.S. coinage.

Today we begin with:

Title 31, United States Code, is amended —

(1) in section 5112 —
(A) in subsection (q) —
(i) by striking paragraphs (3) and (8); and
(ii) by redesignating paragraphs (4), (5), (6), and (7) as paragraphs (3), (4), (5), and (6), respectively;

2013-W American Buffalo gold reverse proof obverse

2013-W American Buffalo gold reverse proof obverse

The effects of these edits change the law that allows the U.S. Mint to do just about anything with 24-karat gold coins. Originally added for the $50 Gold Buffalo coin, the law has been used for coins like the 50th Anniversary gold Kennedy Half Dollar. By removing paragraph (3) that requires the U.S. Mint to submit designs for gold coins to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, the U.S. Mint does not have to involve these people in the design for these gold coins. The immediate impact will be that the CFA and CCAC will not be required to review the designs for the gold coins that they plan to issue to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Mercury dime, Standing Liberty quarter, and Walking Liberty half dollar.

Removing the CFA and CCAC from design decisions may be a good idea when producing coins based on classic design. However, if the U.S. Mint abuses this provision, there is no doubt that congress will yell, scream, call the U.S. Mint bad names, and put the provision back in the law.

2014 Kennedy Half Dollar Gold ProofThe change also removes any limits on mintages of 24-karat gold bullion coins allowing the U.S. Mint to produce as many to meet market demands. It will also allow the U.S. Mint to limit mintages on 24-karat gold bullion coins without asking for permission. This change just codifies current practice.

This first correction also removes paragraph (8) that requires protective covering, such as capsules for the coins. This will allow the U.S. Mint to package these coins for bulk sale as bullion coins adding to the potential for higher sales of gold coins. Although there has been no comment from the U.S. Mint, it is doubtful that they would sell collector versions of these coins in substandard packaging. That has not been their policy.

All that from just a few lines. Stay tuned because tomorrow we learn that congress actually did something right, for a change!

Image of the 50th Anniversary Gold Kennedy Half Dollar courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

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