When it comes to its US commemorative silver dollar, the National Infantry Foundation can't be accused of "cutting it close." The bill proposing the Infantry Solider commemorative coin program was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 30, 2007. From Day 1, the coin was to be a 2012 issue. Being introduced in Congress nearly four and one-half years before the year of issue is extremely unusual for a commemorative coin bill - I'm not sure it ever happened before or since!
It took more than a year for the silver dollar bill to work its way through Congress, but it was finally authorized by Congress in September 2008 and signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 8, 2008.
When it was initially approved, the surcharges collected were earmarked for the National Infantry Foundation for it use in "establishing an endowment to support the maintenance of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center following its completion." In August 2012, the authorizing legislation was amended to allow the NIF to also use the surcharge funds received "for the retirement of debt associated with building the existing National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center."
When the coin rolled out in February 2012, the Mint offered three purchase options: 1) Standalone Proof, 2) Standalone Uncirculated and 3) the Defenders of Freedom Set. The Introductory/Regular price for the Proof dollar was $49.94/$54.95 and for the Uncirculated, $44.94/$49.95. The Defenders of Freedom (DoF) Set did not have an Introductory price, it was launched with a Regular price of $51.95. Across all product options, the Infantry Soldier dollar mintage was capped at 350,000.
Per its authorizing legislation, the coin's designs were to "be emblematic of the courage, pride, sacrifice, sense of duty, and history of the United States Infantry."
The obverse of the coin depicts a modern Army infantry soldier charging forward while calling for his fellow soldiers to follow - the depiction is meant to symbolize the "Follow Me" motto of the Infantry. (Note: The motto can be traced back to World War II and Army Maj. Gen. Aubrey S. Newman who issued the cry when leading a regiment as part of General Douglas MacArthur's return to the Philippines in October 1944.) The obverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz
and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso.2012 US Infantry Silver Dollar - Proof: Obverse and Reverse
The coin's reverse depicts features the crossed rifles insignia of Infantry branch of the Army; it is worn by all members of the Infantry branch. The roots of the current insignia reach back to 1875 when crossed muskets replaced the previous infantry horn insignia. The muskets were replaced by rifles in 1905; rifles continue to be used for the insignia. The reverse design was the work of Ronald D. Sanders, a member of the Mint's Artistic Infusion Program; Norman E. Nemeth handled the sculpting of the design.
The DoF Set included a Proof version of the silver dollar mounted in a custom folder that included background information about the coin and the museum it was issued to support, a quote from President John F. Kennedy and a replica dog tag on miniature chain. The DoF Set was limited to 50,000 units and was launched with a household limit of 100 - clearly, the Mint was not anticipating an ordering rush!
Total sales did not exhaust the authorized maximum mintage. A total of 111,216 of the standalone Proof coins were sold, along with 44,348 of the standalone Uncirculated coins. The DoF Set proved to be popular, however, and essentially sold out its allowable production run. After damaged units and returns were accounted for, the final sales total for the Set was 49,935 units.
The DoF Set folder is simpler than previous folders issued as part of Young Collector Sets and Coin and Stamp Sets. It is a four -panel folder vs. the six-panel folders seen with previous sets.
The left-side flap on the front cover of the DofF Set is dominated by a close-up photograph of a soldier holding a child's hand, with the words "THIS WE'LL DEFEND" superimposed upon it. The obverse of the coin, displayed inside a capsule, is presented at the right. Defenders of Freedom Set - Front Panel w/ Replica Dog Tag
Opening the flap reveals the JFK quote: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
The quote was part of JFK's Inaugural Address given on January 20, 1961. The address is also the source of "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."
Also visible with the front flap open is the replica dog tag included with the set. Its miniature chain is affixed to the folder above the JFK quote.
The folder's back panel showcases the coin's reverse, positioned at he bottom of an imaged ribbon, along with the coin's Certificate of Authenticity and Specifications table.Defenders of Freedom Set - Back Panel
In today's market, the Sets can often be found for issue price or below , though some dealers/online sellers look for $60 to $80 per set. If interested in purchasing a DoF Set, I would suggest waiting for a one under issue to become available.
Way back in 2012, I did a quick post about this set when I first received it from the Mint. I always meant to go back and dig into it a bit more, but best laid plans...
I guess late is better than never!
- 2012 Defenders of Freedom Set - Arrival
For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including various US Mint Collector Sets, check out: Read More: Commems Collection