At the beginning of the month I usually summarize the numismatic-related legislation from the previous month. In March, congress spent two weeks on spring break and before that they were more concerned over what to do when the president nominated someone to the Supreme Court. Interestingly, the nomination came just as congress went on spring break.

I visited one of my senators shortly after Merrick Garland’s nomination and the halls were empty. Although there was an attempt to have him speak with members of the senate, the building I was in was a virtual ghost town. Many of the staffers went on break to escape the general lunacy.

That does not mean there was no business. Some bills were introduced including the nited States Semiquincentennial [sic] Commission Act of 2016 (H.R. 4875). If passed, the bill will create a commission similar to the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

As a young numismatist in 1976, there was ample opportunity to collect many tokens and medals celebrating the nation’s bicentennial. If you want proof of that, just search eBay for the number of bicentennial numismatic-related items for sale.

According to the bill, it encourages “Federal agencies to integrate the celebration of the Semiquincentennial [sic] into the regular activities and execution of the purpose of the agencies through such activities as the issuance of coins, medals, certificates of recognition, stamps, and the naming of vessels.”

Interestingly, “Semiquincentennial” does not appear to be a proper word. A “ quincentennial” would be used to celebrate the 500th anniversary of an event. I do not believe this is a proper use of the prefix “semi.” According to Wikipedia, a proper term would be “sestercentennial.”

To express 2½ in Latin it would be expressed as “half-three”. The term relates to being halfway [from the second] to the third integer. In Latin this is “Sestertius” which is a contraction of semis (halfway) tertius (third)—hence Sestercentennial.

Wikipedia notes that Semiquincentennial has been used as recently as 2015 by Brown University. Bicenquinquagenary was used by Princeton University; Reading, Pennsylvania; and Washington and Lee University.

If these places cannot decide, then maybe let congress do so. They could do worse things!


1976-S Silver Proof Bicentennial Autograph Set

1976-S Silver Proof Bicentennial Autograph Set

Image from the author’s personal collection.

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