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Commemorative Coin Series - Commemorative State Quarters

July 18th, 2011 Coins

Add Precious Metals to Your Bullion Collection

A great addition to any commemorative coin collection is the American Eagle Bullion series. Launched in 1986, this commemorative coin series includes silver, platinum, and gold coins. For new collectors, a bullion coin is valued by its weight in a specific precious metal. These coins offer several denominations: for the gold and platinum coins: one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce. The Silver Bullion Coin is available only in the one ounce size.

Each coin depicts a different version of Our Lady Liberty. The commemorative silver coins, the only silver coins allowed in an Individual Retirement Account, features a Liberty design based on Adolph A. Weinman's 1916 "Walking Liberty" half dollar, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful American coins ever minted.

The Gold Bullion 22 karat coin highlights Augustus Saint-Gaudens' famous $20 gold piece, minted in 1907 until 1933. The gold coins contain some alloy, which creates coins that are harder and better able to resist scratching and marring, which, as a coin collector, you know can reduce resale value.

And finally, the Platinum Bullion coin, which has the highest face value, at $100, ever to appear on a U.S. coin, “is the only platinum bullion coin whose weight, content and .9995 purity are guaranteed by the United States Government.” (U.S. Mint website)

Collect Coin History in the Making!

Who says commemorative dollar coins have to be old to be worth collecting? Starting in 2007, the U.S. Mint will begin issuing a series of Presidential $1 Circulating Coins. The coins will feature presidents in the order they served their presidencies, so George Washington, of course, was the first coin issued, to be followed by Adams, Jefferson and Madison. Four coins will be issued each year.

The Presidential $1 Coin Act was initiated in 2005, with the mission of revitalizing the “design of United States coins and return circulating coinage to its position as an object of aesthetic beauty in its own right.” (The United States Mint).

Here’s an interesting fact: only deceased presidents can be honored by a coin! There are requirements stating a president must have been dead no less than two years to “qualify” for a coin.

Oops! They did it (again?): While minting the George Washington coin, the US Mint announced that it had released into circulation approximately 50,000 coins without their edge inscriptions ("In God we trust" and "E pluribus unum"). Since mint errors always bring a good price for collectors, it’s no surprise these “Godless dollars” have been sold at online auctions for $40 to $600! Counterfeit “Godless dollars” have also been on the rise, so be on the lookout for fake minting errors.

First Wives’ Club

Modern commemorative coins series collecting include the First Spouse Gold Coin series. These one-half ounce $10 gold coins feature the women behind the presidents who have served our nation. (Note how they refer to the collection as “First Spouse” coins, to make room for the husbands that stand behind the women presidents of the future).

The coins will be released in the order that the spouses served as first spouses, beginning with Martha Washington, whose coin was released May 13, 2007. These coins will coincide with the Presidential $1 coins release schedule.

In the rare instance of a President who served without a First Spouse (i.e. Thomas Jefferson), the coin will bear an image of Liberty as she was depicted on circulating coins of that era, with an image that portrays themes of the single President.

Additionally, the U.S. Mint will also create bronze medal duplicates of these First Spouse coins, which will be available to the public.

In case you need to brush up on the early First Wives, here are the ladies that will grace the coins issued in 2007:

  • Martha Washington 1789-1797
  • Abigail Adams 1797-1801
  • Thomas Jefferson's Liberty 1801-1809 (no wife)
  • Dolley Madison 1809-1817

Go West! (With Your Coin Collection)

The Westward Journey Nickel Series™, which debuted in 2004, celebrates the bicentennials of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition on an updated Jefferson nickel. "Peace Medal," one of the first two nickels released, shows peach and friendship symbols typically presented to Native American chiefs and other leaders as "tokens of goodwill at treaty signings" during Lewis and Clark’s era. (US Mint website). The other debut coin, "Keelboat," features the 55-foot keelboat that members of the Lewis and Clark expedition sailed through the rivers of the Louisiana Territory in search of a way to get to the Pacific Ocean.

These premier commemorative coins were followed in 2005 by an updated Jefferson (with “Liberty” in Jefferson’s handwriting) and two new designs on the flip side: "American Bison" and "Ocean in view! O! The joy!" This was the first time since 1938 the image of Jefferson has been updated (about time!).

In 2006, the front was updated with “Jefferson, 1800" (based on a portrait painted in 1800) and the back featured "Return to Monticello." Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia home, is a familiar image for the nickel, and first appeared on coins in 1938. This image, however, has been updated to include more of the original detail of the building.

Make Your Collection Golden!

As a coin collector, you’re probably on the lookout for new and exciting commemorative pieces. The American Buffalo $50 Gold coin is just such a coin. First issued by the U.S. Mint in 2006, these commemorative gold coins pay homage to the Indian Head, or Buffalo nickel, first introduced in 1913.

Here are some interesting facts about this coin:

  • The male image is believed to be inspired by three different American Indians.
  • American sculptor James Earle Fraser designed the image for the original nickel in 1913.
  • The bison on the coin, it is believed, is modeled after Black Diamond, a popular attraction at the New York Zoological Gardens.
  • The coins are the first .9999 fine 24-karat gold coins ever struck by the United States Mint.
  • All 24-karat American Buffalo Gold coins will be created at the U.S. Mint at West Point.
  • By law, the gold for these coins must be taken from newly mined sources in America.
You can purchase these commemorative coins at coin and precious metals dealers, brokerage firms and banks. The American Buffalo Gold Bullion coins sell at the prevailing market price of gold, in addition to a small premium for coining and distribution costs.

One Stop Shop for Commemorative Coins

The Franklin Mint, which was founded in 1964, created legal tender coins for other countries and has long been a source for valuable and beautiful commemorative coins. It now issues collectibles known the world around.

Franklin Mint commemorative coins have always been admired by coin enthusiasts. Some of the coin collectibles the Mint offers include El Cazador Reales, the 2007 Washington Error Coin, Sunken Treasure Coins, and the Changing Face of the Dollar set.

The El Cazador Shipwreck, discovered in 1993 between Vera Cruz, Mexico and New Orleans, contained 450,000 silver Reales. The Franklin Mint offers unique collectibles of these coins that date from 1772 to 1783. In 2007, a batch of the Washington Presidential dollar was issued without the customary marking on the edge. These are now collectors’ items, available on Franklin Mint’s website. The Mint also boasts coins found in sunken treasure issued by the Dutch East India Company. These “sunken treasure coins” are at least 195 years old. Additionally, the Mint offers the Changing Face of the Dollar – Four Coin Set. This set illustrates the changes the dollar coin has seen over the past 300 years. It features an authentic 8 Reales coin recovered from the El Cazador shipwreck, which date 1772-1783, a genuine Morgan Dollar from 1878-1921, a Peace Dollar from 1921-1935 and a Silver Eisenhower Dollar from 1971-1978.

Preserving History in a Coin

In 1982, the U.S. Mint began the Commemorative Coin Program, designed to celebrate and honor specific American figures and events. In 2007, the U.S. Mint introduced the Little Rock Central High School Desegregation Silver Dollar, which commemorates the desegregation which began in the 1957-58 school year. Up to 500,000 silver dollars will be issued in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the desegregation events at Little Rock Central High School, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The commemorative dollar coins’ design portrays the nine African-American students, accompanied by an armed soldier, on their way to school. The coin also features nine stars, symbolizing the “Little Rock Nine,” who stood in the face of violence to stand up for their beliefs in a unified world.

The reverse of the coin features an image of Central High School as it was in 1957. The school is still in operation today. As a part of the Commemorative Coin Program, a portion of the sales of these coins will go toward the “protection, preservation, and interpretation of resources and stories associated with Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.” (US Mint website). To date, the Commemorative Coin Program has raised $418,000,000 for building museums, maintaining historic monuments, and preserving historical sites since 1982.

The Few, the Proud, the Coin

If you are both a Marine and a coin lover, here’s the perfect coin for your collection.

The Marine Corp got its start on November 10, 1775, when the "Continental Congress authorized the raising of two battalions of American Marines." (US Mint website). Since then, the Marines have represented a “proud culture of service and contribution in defense of the values and freedoms at the heart of the American experience.” (US Mint site). To show their respect, in 2005 the U.S. Mint commemorated the 230th anniversary of the Marine Corps with a silver dollar.

Just 600,000 proof and un-circulated coins were minted in Philadelphia, and quickly sold out in just two months! This was the first U.S. coin issued that represented a branch of the U.S. military.

The Marine commemorative coin, designed by Norman E. Nemeth and Charles L. Vickers, contains two very familiar images associated with the Marine Corp: the Raising of the Flag at Iwo Jima and the Marine Corps emblem, complete with Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

Surcharges from the coin sales went towards the development of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, in partnership with the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and the United States Marine Corps.

Travel the Country Without Leaving Your Coin Collection

As a coin enthusiast, you likely remember the buzz when the 50 State Quarters Program began in 1999. This unusual 10-year program includes the changing of the United States quarter's design five times each year, with each state having its own quarter. The state commemorative quarters will be released with the states in the order that they joined the Union.

The last time the U.S. quarter saw such a design change was in 1975-76 when the Bicentennial Quarter was released. Once the program is over in 2008, the U.S. Mint will recommence producing the familiar “Eagle” quarter.

Each of the quarters has a unique design that represents the featured state. This design is recommended by the governor of each state. Montana’s quarter, for example, is known as “Big Sky Country,” and features a bison skull above the Montana landscape in the background. Florida’s coin, “Gateway to Discovery,” includes a 16th-century Spanish galleon, a space shuttle, and a patch of land with palm trees.

In 2008, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii will complete the 10-year program, as these were the final states admitted to the Union.

The U.S. Mint offers annual collector’s sets and commemorative coin displays of the entire 50 quarters, in case you haven’t been keeping your spare change for the past 10 years!

Women and Coins

Men have long been a fixture on coins and dollar bills. Even birds and buildings have had their time in the sun of coinage history. But what about women? When did they arrive on the coin scene?

The first woman ever found on commemorative coin pieces was Queen Isabella of Spain, on the Columbian Exposition Quarter Dollar, which debuted in 1893. This souvenir quarter was known as the “Isabella Quarter,” and honored the Spanish queen who sponsored Christopher Columbus' travels to America.

Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver, who helped nationalize the Special Olympics movement in 1968, is the only living female to be featured on a U.S. coin, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Silver Dollar, released in 1995.

Virginia Dare is another of the few women lucky enough to grace the front of a U.S. coin. She was the first child born in the USA of English parents, back in 1587. On the 1937 Roanoke Island, North Carolina Half Dollar, Virginia is in her mother’s arms on the back of the coin.

Although not on commemorative coins, Sacagawea has been featured on the dollar coin since 1999, and Susan B. Anthony had her own dollar coin from 1979-1981. There is plenty room for more women on coins!