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)