A few years back, I posted a "What if?" about the potential for a series of coins to honor US presidents. (You can find it here: 1936 Presidential Coins
Within the discussion of the House Hearing that was convened to discuss the long list of commemorative coin proposals for 1936, I included a quote from LW Hoffecker who spoke on behalf of the American Numismatic Association ( ANA
). He stated, "Our association [the ANA
] has brought the question up that it might be a good idea to get out a series of presidential coins, and to get out three or four annually until you bring the Presidents up to date."
This was not the first time such an idea had been floated in Congress, however. In 1922, during the Second Session of the 67th Congress, Representative Isaac Clinton Kline (R-PA) introduced a bill that proposed: "the metal coinage of the United States of America shall bear on the obverse side of all coins in relief the bust of the last deceased President of the United States, supported by a scroll bearing the name of such President, with the words "In God we trust" above, the year of coinage in Arabic figures below, and thirteen stars taking up the remainder of the space encircling the rim of the coin; the reverse side to bear the coat of arms and motto of the United States, surrounded by the words "United States of America," and in plain words the denomination of the coin:
Provided, That where two or more persons who have been President of the United States shall die within a year of each other, the memorial coinage here provided shall cover a period of at least one year for each:
Provided also, That to extend this memorial coinage back to the beginning of the Republic,there shall be a six months' coinage for each former President, beginning with Washington and coming down to the last deceased President."
If the bill had passed, the design changeover would have gone into effect on January 1, 1923.
The far-reaching scope of the bill would have defined the obverse and reverse of every circulating denomination for decades - until a new coinage bill was passed! To honor two past, deceased presidents per year from George Washington through Calvin Coolidge, who died in 1933, would have taken about 15 years; Coolidge was the 30th president. (It would likely have been 1938 when Coolidge first appeared on US coins
.) Then, the coins would have continued on with the Coolidge design until the next passing of a US president (FDR in 1945).
Think about the bill's impact: it would have meant no Peace dollar
beyond 1922 and no Washington quarter
at all (at least as we know it). If, after catching up, US coinage
continued depicting the most recently deceased president, there would not have been a Jefferson nickel
(at least as we know it), and the bill would have brought about the premature end to the Lincoln Cent, Indian Head/"Buffalo" Nickel, Winged Liberty Head/"Mercury" Dime, Standing Liberty quarter
and Walking Liberty half dollar
All of President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt's efforts to raise the artistic quality of US coinage
would have been wiped away in one fell swoop! One can only imagine the potential negative impact of the disappearance of all those coin designs on the popularity of collecting US coins
Upon introduction, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures. The bill was never reported out of Committee and so was never considered by the Whole House or Senate. It seems unlikely the bill would have passed even if it was favorably reported out of Committee, but you never know!
I, for one, am happy the bill went nowhere!
Of course, the US did eventually honor each of its past, deceased presidents on a coin - the President $1 Series that began in 2007. While I'm not one who rails against the designs on these coins, I know that I wouldn't want them on every denomination in my pocket!
Here are images of the first and last (as of now) of the 2007-present Presidential dollar
Coins:George Washington, 1st PresidentGeorge H.W. Bush, 41st PresidentPresidential Dollar Series, Common Reverse
Learn more about US commemorative coin history here: Read More: Commems Collection