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Commems Collection: Prohibiting Certain US Commemorative Coins

 
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 Posted 01/27/2022  09:03 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Many moons ago (back in 2012!), I wrote about Congress' 1939 efforts to regulate US commemorative coins and end the exploitation of the collectors of such pieces. (See link below.) Fast forward to today, I've decided to go back and complete the 1939 story by providing the "origin story" steps Congress took in 1937...

On July 12, 1937 Representative John Joseph Cochran (D-MO) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that was designed to prohibit/stop the issuing of US commemorative coins approved prior to January 1, 1937. It allowed for such coins to be struck through July 12, 1937 but none after. (The Roanoke Colony Memorial half dollar and its July 1, 1937 expiration date, would not have been impacted.) The bill was referred to the House Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures but was never reported out of Committee. So, the bill died for lack of action.

Had this bill become law, it would have put an end to the Oregon Trail Memorial, Daniel Boone Bicentennial, Texas Independence Centennial and Arkansas Statehood Centennial half dollar multi-year programs - its intended targets.

Within a month, on August 3, 1937, Representative Cochran (D-MO) was back with a follow-up bill that cut off the production and issue of coins for commemorative coin programs that had been approved prior to the date of the bill's enactment into law. The bill, however, included language that specifically allowed for the striking and issuing of the half dollars already approved to commemorate the Battle of Antietam 75th Anniversary, the Norfolk, VA Bicentennial/Tricentennial and the Texas Independence Centennial - as long as it was done prior to January 1, 1939.

This version of Cochran's bill did gain some traction, and was favorably reported out of the House Committee on Coinage Weights, and Measures. I really enjoy this line from the Committee's Report: "The purpose of the bill is to stop a racket in the issuance of commemorative coins that has developed in recent years." (Emphasis added.) It's clear Congress was finally acknowledging the monster it had created.

The House passed the bill on its Committee's recommendation and sent it to the Senate for its consideration. In the Senate, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency. The Committee proved to be the bill's final resting place as it was never reported out for full Senate consideration.

So, Cochran's second effort to bring some order to the US commemorative coin series and put a stop to collector abuse, made it one-third of the way on the path to becoming a law - definite progress over his first bill! He would not stop there, however, and in January 1939, in the First Session of the new Congress (the 76th), Cochran introduced another bill designed to put an end to ongoing commemorative coin programs - this one, with its simple language, made it all the way through to Public Law. You can read more about it, and competing legislation of the time, in my previous post:

- Regulating US Commemorative Coins (1939 Act)



Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 01/27/2022  09:15 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bump111 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The wheels of Congress grind slowly sometimes. And, sometimes they grind things to pulp. I'm glad that they saw the error of their ways with the multi-year programs, but sad that some issues were never to be.
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 Posted 01/27/2022  09:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good stuff, thanks.
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 Posted 01/27/2022  3:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It was a racket indeed for many of the multi-year, multi-mint programs.

Thanks for sharing this backstory commems.
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 Posted 01/27/2022  3:58 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hokiefan_82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, commems, this is an interesting read. I remember when I first started collecting classic commemoratives about 10 years ago being somewhat surprised how long some of the programs had been dragged out. Before that time I'd paid basically zero attention to the commemorative series (both classic and modern) and really didn't know anything about them. After 10 years, I still have a lot to learn!
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 Posted 01/28/2022  07:38 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dearborn to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting read, thanks commems. Funny you should post this at this particular time, as I'm currently looking to buy a few half dollar commemoratives and I was surprised to see the Oregon Trail commem was issued from '29 to '39 and from multiple mints to boot.
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 Posted 01/29/2022  2:52 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Funny you should post this at this particular time, as I'm currently looking to buy a few half dollar commemoratives and I was surprised to see the Oregon Trail commem was issued from '29 to '39 and from multiple mints to boot.

The Oregon Trail Memorial coin program was one of the central players that led to cries of "Collector abuse and exploitation!" in the mid-1930s, and was one of the multi-year programs that drove Congress to put commemorative coin restrictions in place in 1939.

A beautiful coin, but an ugly program!


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
01/29/2022 2:57 pm
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 Posted 01/29/2022  3:44 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hokiefan_82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I'm currently looking to buy a few half dollar commemoratives


@Dearborn - you're starting down a slippery slope . I said the same thing in February 2014. I picked up an Oregon Trail, a Texas and an Arkansas commemorative at a small show in Bellaire, TX. I thought the Oregon Trail was beautiful, and being from Arkansas and living in Texas at the time was the reason for the other two.

Then the more I learned about commemoratives, the more I started buying and it wasn't long before I was assembling the 50-coin type set. Fast forward to a few years ago and I was well on my way to building a complete 144-coin set plus the two Norse medals, which I've only recently completed.

No regrets, and I've had a lot of fun in the process!
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