Recently, the topic of a US Mint coin being considered a "numismatic item" came up and its discussion might have seemed a bit confusing. So, I thought I'd take a minute to explain what this term means and how it applies to all current US Mint products (i.e., coins, medals, proof sets, etc.).
Back in October of 1992, as part of the law that authorized the 1996 Altanta Centennial commemorative coin program, the US Mint Public Enterprise Fund (PEF) was established. The PEF provides greater financial flexibility to the Treasury Department and, by extension, the US Mint, in terms of the availability of funds it needs for its operations. The Fund removes the need for annual appropriations to the Mint and removes fiscal year limitations on money needed by the Treasury/US Mint for its operations. Basically, it enables the Mint to self-fund its operations and use the money it generates as the need for it arises. The Mint does so by depositing all receipts (money) it receives through the sale of circulation coins to Federal Reserve Banks, commemorative coins, bullion coins, medals, numismatic accessories, etc. into the Fund and then drawing from the Fund to pay its expenses. Funds that are determined to be in excess of what is needed to run the Mint's operations/business are transferred to the General Fund of the US Treasury.
The language of the PEF law (which took effect beginning with the Mint's 1996 fiscal year), requires that all receipts from "the production and sale of numismatic items" be deposited into the PEF. It defines numismatic item
as "any medal, proof coin, uncirculated coin, bullion coin, numismatic collectible, other monetary issuances and products and accessories related to any such medal or coin."
This is why all legislation for new coins/medals to be struck by the Mint includes the stipulation that the coins/medals are to be considered "numismatic items" (even though such language seems a bit odd/obvious to a collector). You will find such language in commemorative coin bills, the legislation that authorized the State Quarters
, the America the Beautiful Quarters
, the Presidential $1 Coins, the American Innovation
$1 Coins, the Mint's bullion coins, Mint medals, etc. The language is needed in order for the PEF to receive money from their sale.
In short, the "numismatic item" language in current US coin/medal legislation is a needed constant to keep the Mint operating!
For those who are particularly curious, following is text from the Public Law creating the PEF: There shall be established in the Treasury of the United States, a United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund (the "Fund") for fiscal year 1996 and hereafter: Provided, That all receipts from Mint operations and programs, including the production and sale of numismatic items, the production and sale of circulating coinage, the protection of Government assets, and gifts and bequests of property, real or personal shall be deposited into the Fund and shall be available without fiscal year limitations: Provided further, That all expenses incurred by the Secretary of the Treasury for operations and programs of the United States Mint that the Secretary of the Treasury determines, in the Secretary's sole discretion, to be ordinary and reasonable incidents of Mint operations and programs, and any expense incurred pursuant to any obligation or other commitment of Mint operations and programs that was entered into before the establishment of the Fund, shall be paid out of the Fund.