Within the modern US commemorative series, there are several coin programs that I have always been partial toward - the 1987 US Constitution Bicentennial program is one. It's not from love of the program's coin designs, though I do like the obverse of the gold coin, it reflects more my admiration and respect for the Constitution as a framework for Government. For me, the coins are exactly the type of commemorative pieces I like to see!
The program consists of two coins, a Silver Dollar and a Gold Half Eagle. When introduced, the Constitution Bicentennial bill also included provisions for the striking of gold, silver and bronze medals for the benefit of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. The bill was amended to remove the authorization for the medals and was passed without the medal program's provisions.
Unlike most US commemorative coins, the coins did not have a private sponsor - funds raised through the sale of the coins was to be directed toward reducing the national debt. Silver Dollar
Per the Public Law that authorized the two coins, the design of the Silver Dollar was to be "emblematic of the bicentennial of the United States Constitution." Such non-specific direction from Congress gave the coin's designer the freedom to explore a range of designs. The designer did, however, have to consult with the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution and the Commission of Fine Arts re: the design.
The obverse design of the Silver Dollar features a quill pen presented over pages of parchment paper (alluding to the US Constitution) with "We the People" (the famous opening phrase of the US Constitution) written below it. The coin's reverse design presents a large group of people of varied time periods and backgrounds that is meant to represent the wide diversity to be found among the peoples of the US. The designs were created by freelance artist and sculptor Patrica Lewis Verani of Londonberry, NH.
The 0.900 fine Silver Dollar had an issue price of $26.00 ($22.50 Pre-Issue) and a final mintage of 3,198,745 (2,747,116 Proof coins and 451,629 Uncirculated). With such large mintage totals, examples of either finish are easy to come by and at a price that is typically driven more by intrinsic value vs. numismatic premium. The coin's authorizing legislation allowed up to 10 million Silver Dollars to be struck. So, though sales of ~3.2 million coins are nothing to complain about, it did represent less than one-third of what could have been struck/sold.
Each coin carried a $7.00 surcharge; as noted above, all surcharge funds raised through the sale of the coins were to be paid to the Treasury to help reduce the national debt. Approximately $22.39 million in surcharge funds were collected from Silver Dollar sales.1987 US Constitution Bicentennial Silver Dollar Gold Half Eagle
On its obverse, the gold coin presents a stylized, left-facing bald eagle that is clutching a quill pen in its right talon; the quill extends in a northeast direction across the face of the coin. In the background are seen 13 rays of sun light - the "13" being representative of the original 13 states that ratified the US Constitution.
The reverse design also features a quill. The feather is presented at the design's center with "We the People" inscribed over/in front of it. The "Sept 17 1787" date to the left of the quill (viewer's perspective) refers to the date the delegates at the Constitutional Convention signed the document. Thirteen stars are symbolically included in the design (same symbolism as on obverse).
The coin's designs are the work of independent artist/sculptor Marcel Jovine.
The 0.900 fine Gold Half Eagle had an issue price of $225.00 ($200.00 Pre-Issue) and a final mintage of 865,884 (651,659 Proof and 214,225 Uncirculated). As with the Silver Dollar, the large mintage total means that coins in either finish are fairly easy to come by in the marketplace and at a price that is typically driven more by intrinsic value vs. numismatic premium. The coin's authorizing legislation allowed up to 1 million God Half Eagles to be struck. So, it sold ~86.5% of its authorized maximum - an excellent sales performance.
Each coin carried a $35.00 surcharge; as with the Silver Dollar, all surcharge funds collected via the sale of the coins were to be paid to the Treasury to help reduce the national debt. Approximately $30.3 million in surcharge funds were collected from sales of the Gold Half Eagles.1987 US Constitution Bicentennial Gold Half Eagle
To learn more about the coins of the US Constitution Bicentennial, check out:
- 1987 US Constitution Bicentennial PNC
- US Commemorative Coins Authorized to Reduce the National Debt
- 1987 US Constitution Bicentennial - Silver Dollar - Coins with Quill Pens Thread
- 1987 US Constitution Bicentennial - Gold Half Eagle - Coins with Quill Pens Thread