June 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

There are people who love front row seats. They go out of their way to find tickets in the front row. Whether it is a concert, the latest play, or the movies the front row gets you up close and personal.

The front row is also louder. Because it is a desirable seat, the front row is crowded. You can get pushed around, cramped and you’re not going to tell the show to turn down the volume a bit. Many times, there are those who think they deserve the special perks of the front row even if they are the ordinary shlub off the street.

This is what it is like living around the nation’s capital. For a political junkie, this is the front row of politics. Even though more work is happening in state capitols, everyone crowds the front row. With the lure of the show, this front row is crowded, loud, and there are a lot of people who are inconsiderate and crowding the theater making it no longer fun.

When I started writing about numismatic legislation, it was interesting. It was fun going through the bills to find interesting stories and speculate whether it will pass. Now with all the garbage eliminating from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, I am finding it difficult to stay interested. The rhetoric and level of nonsense have turned the show from being tuneful to sound worse than the sound of two chalkboards mating.

I hope that something changes soon because there have been some interesting numismatic-related bills introduced that would be nice to see passed.

S. 1326: American Innovation $1 Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
• Introduced: June 8, 2017
• Referred to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S1326.

S. 1503: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Sponsor: Sen. Elizabeth A. Warren (D-MA)
• Introduced: June 29, 2017
• Referred to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S1503.

May 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

Just because congress is dysfunctional does not mean they cannot curry favor with various constituencies. This month we see bills introduced for a Coast Guard and American Legion 100th Anniversary commemorative coins programs. Both are worthy organizations but given the toxic nature of Congress, who knows if these commemorative programs will be passed.

To pair with the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings (COINS) Act (S. 759) introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), there is now a version introduced in the house (H.R. 2299). Even though it is a good idea, it will not be supported in the current environment.

I wish some of these bills had a chance….

H.R. 2299: Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY)
• Summary: To save taxpayers money by improving the manufacturing and distribution of coins and notes.
• Introduced: May 2, 2017
• Last Action: May 2, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-hr2299.

H.R. 2317: United States Coast Guard Commemorative Coin Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
• Introduced: May 3, 2017
• Last Action: May 3, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR2317.

S. 1021: United States Coast Guard Commemorative Coin Act of 2017
Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
• Introduced: May 3, 2017
• Last Action: May 3, 2017: Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S1021.

S. 1182: The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)
• Introduced: May 18, 2017
• Last Action: May 18, 2017: Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S1182.

H.R. 2519: The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Timothy Walz (D-MN)
• Introduced: May 18, 2017
• Last Action: May 18, 2017: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR2519.

JFK 100

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the second son of Joe and Rose Kennedy. Born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, Jack, as he was known to family and friends, was born of privilege and lead that life being able to travel the world in his younger days. It also helped that his father was named Ambassador to the Court of St. James (London).

The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.

He used his experience to better understand the plight of people and majored in government at Harvard College. For his honors thesis, Kennedy toured the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East to research different political philosophies. He later was in Germany when the German Army invaded Poland marking the beginning of World War II. With his father still in London, they attended the House of Commons supporting the declaration of war on Germany.

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

On his return to the United States, Kennedy tried to enter the Army’s Officer Candidate School but was medically ineligible because of chronic lower back problems. He used his family’s connections to join the U.S. Naval Reserves. During World War II, he famously commanded PT-109.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

Following the death of his elder brother in 1944, Kennedy was tapped by his father to run for office. Kennedy won his first election in 1946 to serve two terms in the House. In 1952, Kennedy ran for the Senate against three-term incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. The popularity of Dwight Eisenhower running for the president did not help Lodge as Kennedy was able to win by 70,000 votes.

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

2014-W Reverse proof in the 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Silver Set

On January 2, 1960, Kennedy announced that he was seeking the Democrat’s nomination for President of the United States. Although very young by presidential standards at 43 years old, Kennedy’s greatest obstacle was his religion. This was the first time a Roman Catholic politician was running for president. He was able to win the nomination by using a well-organized campaign that also took advantage of his good looks and the popularity of his wife, Jacqueline.

I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me.

While trying to overcome the “Catholic question,” Kennedy his opponent, Richard Nixon, held three debates. Although not much is said about the last two debates, the first one was historic. Kennedy used makeup and appeared cool and presidential. Nixon looked nervous, sweaty, and his five o’clock shadow did not help. When the debate was over, those watching on television thought Kennedy won while those listening on radio thought Nixon won. It was a fascinating use of new media and set the tone for presidential races to come.

If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.

Kennedy won the 1960 election by two-tenths of the popular vote and exceeded the Electoral College by a 303-219 margin even though 14 electors from Alabama and Mississippi refused to support him because of his stance on civil rights. Kennedy became the youngest person ever elected president.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

There were a lot of accomplishments and difficulties during the term of the 35th president that there are too many to highlight here. But one that is significant in the current numismatic world was the speech he made at Rice University in support of the space program. At the time Kennedy was pushing for the funding to enter the space race, Congress was skeptical over spending the money. His impassioned speech to the students at Rice as well as several others around the nation helped gain public support. Congress eventually funded the space program.

In 2019, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of making it to the moon by the end of that decade with the Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin program. Phase One of the competition ends on June 29, 2017, or until 1,000 entries are received. Visit the U.S. Mint’s competition page for more information.

Would the United States have made it to the moon by the end of the 1960s and beaten the Russians there without Kennedy? We may not be able to answer that question but we do know he set the policies that will allow for the celebration in two years.

Happy 100th Birthday to President John F. Kennedy.

Credits

  • 2017 Kennedy Half Dollar and 2015 Kennedy Dollar images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.
  • All other images are property of the author.

Memorial Day 2017


The last surviving member of Doolittle’s Raiders is Lt. Col. Richard Cole, Doolittle’s co-pilot. Cole is now 101 years old. Click here to read about Cole and Doolittle’s Raid on Japan that helped the U.S. launch the War in the Pacific.

The first recorded organized public recognition of the war dead occurred on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. On that day, Freedmen (freed southern slaves) celebrated the service of the 257 Union soldiers buried at the Washington Race Course (now Hampton Park). They labeled the gravesite “Martyrs of the Race Course.” African Americans continued that tradition and named the celebration Decoration Day.

Southern states began their own commemoration to honor their soldiers who died during the war. No specific date was used but occurred in late April through June. By 1880, there was a more organized Confederate Memorial Day. These celebrations honored specific soldiers to commemorate the Confederate “Lost Cause.” By 1913, a sense of nationalism saw a commemoration of all soldiers that have died in battle.

1995-S Civil War Battlefields Commemorative Silver Dollar

Memorial Day took on national significance following World War I when the nation began to recognize all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during all conflicts. By the end of World War II, most of the celebrations were renamed to Memorial Day. Memorial Day did not become an official holiday until 1967 with the passage of the Uniform Holidays Act in 1968. Under the law, Memorial Day was set to the last Monday in May, changing it from the traditional May 30th.

Memorial Day is the national remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Please take a moment and honor the memories of those who have died for without them who knows where we would be today.
 

Visitors are reflected in the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, May 27, 2016. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo via ABC News)

Credits

  • Medal image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.
  • Vietnam Memorial Image by Susan Walsh/AP Photo via ABC News.

A Glenn Family Short Snorter

John Herschel Glenn, Jr. is a true American Hero.

I feel so comfortable saying this that I will not qualify that statement with, “few will argue that ….” When you are the first American to strap yourself into a tiny capsule that is forced into space on top of the Atlas LV-3B rocket, essentially a huge Roman candle, there is no argument on his status in history.

Glenn was not only the first American in space but is also the oldest person ever to go to space. In 1998, at the age of 77, Glenn rode on Discovery on STS-95 as part of a study by the National Institute of Aging. Although the study was not criticized, the selection of Glenn was. While there will be an asterisk in history about the criticism, it will not diminish Glenn’s place in history.

While out looking for collectible inventory, I came across an auction of memorabilia from the widow of a crewman that was aboard the ship that picked up Glenn after he splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.

On February 20, 1962, Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Friendship 7 for what ended up being a 4-hour 55-minute flight into history. During the flight, a sensor noted that a heat shield had loosened and could endanger his re-entry. Glenn was ordered to leave a solid-fueled retrorocket pack in place to protect the shield.

Although Glenn’s re-entry was calculated, he carried a note that read, “I am a stranger. I come in peace. Take me to your leader and there will be a massive reward for you in eternity” in several languages, in case he splashed down in an area where the Navy was not positioned.

According to the auction house, two ships were in position based on the projections as to where Friendship 7 was supposed to splash down in the Atlantic. A third was positioned further south and then moved when calculations suggested that the retrorocket pack would change the trajectory of the capsule. When Friendship 7 splashed down further south than expected there was a race amongst the three ships to see who could pick up Glenn and etch their names into history.

The third and most southern positioned ship, the U.S.S. Randolph (CV-15), was in the best position to recover Glenn and the capsule. In the race to the area of the capsule, the Randolph arrived first and pulled Glenn out of the Atlantic. Glenn remained aboard the Randolph where he was medically examined before the aircraft carrier docked in Florida on Friday, February 23, 1962.

Saturday was shore leave for the crew of the Randolph in Key West, Florida. To celebrate, Captain Claude C. (Buddy) Inskeep and select members of his crew were invited for a pleasure cruise aboard The Big Wheel fishing boat where a number of pictures and autographs were offered.

In the auction lot of memorabilia were pictures of John Glenn and his family, a memento picture of some of the people on board The Big Wheel along with a medal featuring John Glenn, and an autographed $1 silver certificate.

It is the silver certificate that makes this lot a very cool find. Technically, we could call this a short snorter since it is a signed piece of paper currency of members together on a trip. But these are not ordinary autographs. From top to bottom the autographs include John Glenn’s wife Annie Glenn; John H. Glenn, Jr.; (John David) Dave Glenn (son, then 17 years old); and (Carolyn Ann) Lyn Glen (daughter, then 15 years old). Below the printed signature of Treasurer Ivy Baker Priest is written “2-24-62.”

I have no doubt that the autographs and the memorabilia are authentic. It is something that you just cannot find every day! Even though I am a dealer and should sell what I purchase, I know that this is a memento from history and of a hero who passed last year. I know I can make a hefty profit from this purchase since I know I vastly underpaid what it is worth, but I am having a hard time considering letting them go.

Glenn family autographed “Short Snorter” dated February 24, 1962, four days after Glenn orbited the earth in Friendship 7

For now, I own them but might entertain offers. But the offers must knock my socks off because this is just too cool to consider anything else!

Note: On the reverse of the picture of Glenn and Gen. McElroy, it does not identify the general by his first name. Based on some reasearch, I believe this is Major General Ivan Wilson McElroy. If someone has different information, please let me know!

March 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

If you think congress is dysfunctional based on what you see on the television news, try working behind the scenes. Recently, I met someone who started working for the government in 1972, before the explosion of the Watergate scandal. With the environment being so toxic, he decided to join the march of government employees into retirement. Very senior government employees with significant institutional knowledge are leaving the government in droves. This is not going to turn out well for the people these agencies are supposed to serve.

In the mean time, here is the legislative review for bills that will probably languish in committee for the forseeable future.

H.R. 1582: Duty First Act
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK)
• Introduced: March 16, 2017
• Summary: To require the Secretary of Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the 1st Infantry Division.
• Last Action: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services: March 16, 2017

Track this bill at http://bit.ly/115-HR1582

H.R. 1683: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY)
• Introduced: March 22, 2017
• Summary: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
• Last Action: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services: March 22, 2017

Tack this bill at http://bit.ly/115-HR1683

S. 759: Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act of 2017
• Sponsor: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
• Introduced: March 29, 2017
• Summary: To save taxpayers money by improving the manufacturing and distribution of coins and notes.
• Last action: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs March 29, 2017

Track this bill at http://bit.ly/115-S759

February 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

Although the first two bills do not have numismatic content, given the stature of Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the numismatic community, I am including them in the numismatic legislation watch.

S. 312: Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park Redesignation Act
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
• To redesignate the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site as the “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park”
• Introduced: February 6, 2017
• Referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S312.

H.R. 965: Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park Redesignation Act
Sponsor: Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH)
• To redesignate the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site as the “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park”
• Introduced: February 7, 2017
• Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR1235.

H.R. 1235: Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)
• Introduced: February 27, 2017
• Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

Track this bill at http://bit.ly/115-HR1235.

Image courtesy of the National Parks Service.

January 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

New congress means a new round of legislation. We begin the new congress with a new historical celebration commission, a commemorative bill, and what looks like a future quarter design bill.

H.R. 66: Route 66 Centennial Commission Act
Sponsor: Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
• Introduced: January 3, 2017
• Bill to create to create a celebratory commission whose job will include suggesting commemorative coins
• Referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR66.

S. 579: Muhammad Ali Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
• Introduced: January 13, 2017
• Referred to the House Financial Services Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR579.

S. 166: Muhammad Ali Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
• Introduced: January 17, 2017
• Referred to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S166.

H.R. 770: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of American innovation and significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or groups from each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, to promote the importance of innovation in the United States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
• Introduced: January 31, 2017
• Referred to the House Financial Services Committee

This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR770.

December 2016 Legislative Review and the end of the 114th Congress

While trying to find the right words to describe 2016 and the anticipation for 2017, I came across a quote from an 1898 speech by British statesman Joseph Chamberlain, father of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain:

I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. (Hear, hear.) I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety. (Hear, hear.)

Although working on numismatic-related legislation was not expected during this lame duck session, congress surprised everyone and passed a bill that I really wanted to see passed. Considering the country’s history of the time, there is nothing more iconic than Apollo 11’s trip to the moon. It is the single event that inspired my life in technology.

Public Law No. 114-282: Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)
• Introduced: June 10, 2015 as H.R. 2726
• Passed the House: December 5, 2016
• Passed the Senate: December 10, 2016
• Signed by the President: December 16, 2016

See the final text of the law at http://bit.ly/114-HR2726.

The 115th Congress of the United States will officially convene at noon on January 3, 2017. The 45th president will take office at noon on January 20, 2017. We are living in most interesting times with new objects for anxiety.

Happy 2017!

Happy New Year!
As we begin a new year, we should look forward to better times for our hobby, our nation, and our world. I wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy 2017 and hope that you find the key coin of your dreams!
Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

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