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Commems Collection Modern: 2004 Thomas Alva Edison Collector's Set

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 Posted 02/19/2016  11:36 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
In 2004, the US Mint launched a commemorative program recognizing Thomas Alva Edison and the 125th anniversary of his invention of the light bulb.* As part of the program, the US Mint continued its trend of offering collectors a "special edition" commemorative set in a specially-designed package that featured a coin from the program along with other related collectibles and/or educational content.

For the Edison program, the featured set was the "Edison Collector's Set." It included an uncirculated version of the Edison silver dollar along with a miniature light bulb that illuminated when the front cover of the set's coin box was opened. In a departure from previous sets produced by the Mint, the Edison Set did not contain additional collectible items such as stamps, currency notes or Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) vignettes. I would suggest, however, that the inclusion of a powered circuit board to control the set's light bulb likely created the Mint's most innovative and novel set of the modern commemorative era.

The Mint opened sales for the Edison silver dollars on February 11, 2004, offering individual proof and uncirculated versions of the coin in standard Mint packaging. During the pre-issue discount period, the proof coin was priced at $33 ($37 later) and the uncirculated version was offered at $31 ($33 later). A total of 500,000 coins were authorized across all options; overall sales totaled 303,205 coins (~60% of the limit) at the program's close on December 29, 2004.

The obverse of the coin features a portrait of Edison in his laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ; he is shown holding an early version of his light bulb. US Mint sculptor-engraver Donna Weaver is responsible for the design. The reverse, designed by then sculptor-engraver John Mercanti, depicts a circa 1879 Edison light bulb with rays of light emanating from it. The reverse also includes the anniversary dates "1879 - 2004." Note: On May 19, 2006, Mercanti was promoted to Chief Engraver of the US Mint.

The Collector's Set was placed on sale on September 16, 2004 with an issue price of $49. The late-in-the-year release did not significantly hinder sales of the set, however, as 24,370 of the 25,000 available were purchased.

In addition to helping boost overall sales of the coin, the Collector's Set provided a way for the Mint to increase its internal profit for the program. How? The Mint collected $10 in surcharges on each Edison silver dollar sold, whether it was packaged individually or in the set; the surcharge did not increase for the coins included in the higher-priced Collector's Set. So, as long as the cost of the set's special packaging cost less than $16 (the difference between the selling prices of the Collector's Set and the uncirculated coin in standard packaging), the Mint stood to make additional profit. Incidentally, the same is true for all of the Mint's special edition packaging options.

The overall packaging for the Collector's Set is fairly basic - a glossy, custom-printed cardboard coin box housed in a simple slip case. But the package's simple appearance belies the innovation within.

The outer cover of the coin box features an illustration of the west-facing side of Edison's laboratory building in West Orange, NJ; an "Edison Illuminating Light Corporation" sign is seen on the facade. The graphic choices made for the box cover are "interesting" (to say the least) for at least a couple of reasons: 1) Edison developed his light bulb at his Menlo Park, NJ complex in the 1878-80 period not the depicted West Orange facility which was not built until roughly a decade later; 2) the correct name of the company referred to on the sign is "The Edison Illuminating Company of New York" and it was involved with constructing generating stations to produce electrical power rather than making light bulbs.

I'm not sure if the use of the depicted elements was the result of incomplete research by the artist responsible or a decision driven by the fact that the buildings of Edison's Menlo Park complex were less impressive. In either case, I would offer that images more closely associated with Edison's original lab - and the production of Edison's light bulb - would have been far more apropos.

The inside front cover of the package features a picture of Edison at his Menlo Park lab along with the coin's COA. A quick comparison with the coin reveals that the photograph served as the primary reference for Donna Weaver's obverse design.

An Edison silver dollar is secured in an interior tray that features a background graphic of an early Edison bulb. When fitted with three fresh batteries, opening the box's cover activates the small light bulb at the center of the illustration.

To the underside of the coin tray is secured the printed circuit board that controls the bulb's illumination. It was manufactured by Hankscraft, an electronics design and manufacturing company based in Reedsburg, WI. (The company remains active to this day.) Though simple in design, the powered PC board was quite an innovation for a coin package at the time.

The back cover of the box features a couple of paragraphs about Edison that romanticizes his life, work and inventive genius. IMO, it's too bad that the space was not used to provide a factual listing/summary of some of Edison's many inventions and 1,093 patents. Such an approach would have gone much further in giving the reader a sense of what Edison accomplished and how his work has impacted many aspects of modern life.

So far, the Edison's Collector Set incorporation of technology has proven to be a "one time only" packaging approach for the US Mint, but who knows what the future might bring!

The sets can often be found for their issue price ($49) or less. It's very unlikely that an original set will still have a working light bulb, but a simple replacement of the PC board's batteries should get the set up and running!

Enjoy!


* It is acknowledged that Edison didn't work in a vacuum (no pun intended) while developing his light bulb and that his, and his team's, work built on that of other scientists/engineers/inventors who came before him. That said, Edison did create the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb design and, along with his other work in the field, is undeniably a key figure in the growth and development of electrical lighting and one worthy of commemoration on a US coin.


Thomas Alva Edison Silver Dollar - Obverse




Thomas Alva Edison Silver Dollar - Reverse




Outer Front Cover of Coin Box




Inside Front Cover of Coin Box




Interior Coin Tray




Underside of Coin Tray Reavealing Printed Circuit Board




Back Outer Cover of Coin Box



Read More: Commems Collection
Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 02/20/2016  01:21 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Excellent write-up.

For those interested in another example, here is where GR58 shared his set...

https://www.coincommunity.com/forum...IC_ID=253030
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11319 Posts
 Posted 02/20/2016  01:57 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CelticKnot to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
And GR58 was basically imploring commems to put this write-up together.... thanks and well done, commems! Excellent info & insight.


Quote:
I would suggest, however, that the inclusion of a powered circuit board to control the set's light bulb likely created the Mint's most innovative and novel set of the modern commemorative era.

I concur. I can't think of any US Mint offering remotely similar since the '04 set (or well before). Though I do have one possible correction... all circuit boards are intended to be powered, so the proper terminology is "printed circuit board".

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United States
11935 Posts
 Posted 02/20/2016  04:36 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add GR58 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I was really waiting for this post .. and commemns did not
let us down.

He has a way of giving us such interesting information.
Information I would really have to dig for, even then
I am not sure I could find all that he presents us.




This is a set I have been wanting to get, I am happy
I did get one this past week.

----------------------------------

So what next?

I don't think there is a special set offering for the
1993 WWII commemorative coins .. but I would like to
hear commems opinions on what happened to the money?



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 Posted 02/20/2016  06:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add bpoc1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for sharing.
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 Posted 02/23/2016  6:34 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
So what next?

I don't think there is a special set offering for the
1993 WWII commemorative coins .. but I would like to
hear commems opinions on what happened to the money?

Actually, there were! The US Mint released two, a "Young Collectors" set and a "Coin and Victory Medal" set.

The Battle of Normandy Foundation, one of the two organizations that received funds from the surcharges collected from sales of the WWII coins, also produced a special set - it's one of my favorites!

I did a brief post about them a few years ago, you can read it here: https://www.coincommunity.com/forum...IC_ID=121747

As far as "the money" you asked about, it's an interesting story and one about which I might just have to tap out a few sentences...




Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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11935 Posts
 Posted 02/23/2016  9:23 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add GR58 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I somehow missed that thread, thanks for posting the link.

Those are some interesting sets.

More sets I need to watch for.
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 Posted 02/24/2016  09:05 am  Show Profile   Check captainrich's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add captainrich to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I like how US Mint sculptor-engraver Donna Weaver was able to turn Edison's frown upside down, from the original photographic image to the engraving for the coin.

--->
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 Posted 02/24/2016  10:05 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
As far as "the money" you asked about, it's an interesting story and one about which I might just have to tap out a few sentences...
I am certain it will be a worthy read.

Thank you for linking the previous post. It was worth another read.
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 Posted 02/24/2016  9:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Njcoinman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This set is awesome! I like the functioning lightbulb.
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 Posted 02/27/2016  9:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I like how US Mint sculptor-engraver Donna Weaver was able to turn Edison's frown upside down, from the original photographic image to the engraving for the coin.

Edison does appear a bit more friendly and welcoming! Artistic "license" put to good use!


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 03/02/2016  11:09 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add BadToTheBone to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Now I wish I had gotten one because that is a pretty nice set for sure! Congratulations on a beautiful set.
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 Posted 07/26/2017  12:11 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jskala to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
In addition to helping boost overall sales of the coin, the Collector's Set provided a way for the Mint to increase its internal profit for the program. How? The Mint collected $10 in surcharges on each Edison silver dollar sold,
It should be noted that the surcharges raised from the sale of coins would go to various Edison museums and organizations throughout the United States.
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 Posted 07/26/2017  12:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
jskala

jskala quoted my original post:

Quote:
In addition to helping boost overall sales of the coin, the Collector's Set provided a way for the Mint to increase its internal profit for the program. How? The Mint collected $10 in surcharges on each Edison silver dollar sold,

then commented:

Quote:
It should be noted that the surcharges raised from the sale of coins would go to various Edison museums and organizations throughout the United States.

Absolutely correct, the surcharges collected were split between eight different Edison-related sites/organizations.

For accuracy's sake, I was not implying that the US Mint kept the surcharges collected. I was simply pointing out that the Collector's Set offered an additional profit opportunity for the Mint.

My full thought in the original post:


Quote:
In addition to helping boost overall sales of the coin, the Collector's Set provided a way for the Mint to increase its internal profit for the program. How? The Mint collected $10 in surcharges on each Edison silver dollar sold, whether it was packaged individually or in the set; the surcharge did not increase for the coins included in the higher-priced Collector's Set. So, as long as the cost of the set's special packaging cost less than $16 (the difference between the selling prices of the Collector's Set and the uncirculated coin in standard packaging), the Mint stood to make additional profit. Incidentally, the same is true for all of the Mint's special edition packaging options.


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
07/26/2017 12:54 am
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 Posted 10/21/2020  9:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you are curiouse about which organizations received money from the surcharges collected...

(1) Museum of Arts and History - Port Huron, Michigan (1#8260;8th of surcharges) for the endowment and construction of a special museum on the life of Thomas A. Edison in Port Huron.

(2) Edison Birthplace Association, Incorporated - Milan, Ohio (1#8260;8th) to assist in the efforts of the association to raise an endowment as a permanent source of support for the repair and maintenance of the Thomas A. Edison birthplace, a national historic landmark.

(3) National Park Service - (1#8260;8th) for use in protecting, restoring, and cataloguing historic documents and objects at the ''invention factory'' of Thomas A. Edison in West Orange, New Jersey.

(4) Edison Plaza Museum - Beaumont, Texas (1#8260;8th) for expanding educational programs on Thomas A. Edison and for the repair and maintenance of the museum.

(5) Edison Winter Home and Museum - Fort Myers, Florida (1#8260;8th) for historic preservation, restoration, and maintenance of the historic home and chemical laboratory of Thomas A. Edison.

(6) Edison Institute - Dearborn, Michigan (1#8260;8th) for use in maintaining and expanding displays and educational programs associated with Thomas A. Edison.

(7) Edison Memorial Tower - Edison, New Jersey (1#8260;8th) for the preservation, restoration, and expansion of the tower and museum.

(8) Hall of Electrical History - Schenectady, New York (1#8260;8th) for the historic preservation of materials of Thomas A. Edison and for the development of educational programs associated with Thomas A. Edison.


Per US Mint figures, total sales for the 2004 Thomas Edison silver dollar, including the Collector's Set, were 303,205 (211,055 Proof and 92,150 Uncirculated).

Doing the math: 303,205 coins sold @ a $10 surcharge per coin = $3,032,050 in total surcharge funds collected which means each organization received $379,006.25. (Note: these figures could be slightly off from the amounts actually collected/disbursed due to reasons not reported by the USM.)


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