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US Commemorative Coin Series: Quick Bits #71 - House Committee On Banking And Currency

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 Posted 06/22/2022  10:02 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've written before about the 1935-36 actions of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency and its role in helping to protect collectors from abuse by commemorative coin sponsors. Read more here: Quick Bits #44 - Senate Committee on Banking and Currency.

In 1947, with the number of post-WWII coinage proposals trending up, the House Committee on Banking and Currency (the Committee that took over the responsibilities of the former House Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures in 1946 when Congress reorganized its committees) tasked itself with closely reviewing US commemorative coin data reported by the Treasury Department. It was in an effort to develop a standard policy for considering and approving/denying new commemorative coinage proposals put before it.

At the time of its review, the Committee found that 51 commemorative coin programs had been authorized (if this number seems low when compared to the number of individual coins issued, remember that some programs included multiple denominations (e.g., 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition program - five coins), some were three-coin P/D/S sets (e.g., 1936 Columbia, SC Sesquicentennial) and five others that resulted in multi-mint, multi-year programs that had (to that point) produced six or more coins each (e.g., Arkansas Statehood Centennial program).

The Committee noted that among the 51 programs, just seven were for a Statehood Centennial milestone celebration:

1. 1918 Illinois Statehood
2. 1920 Maine Statehood
3. 1921 Alabama Statehood
4. 1921 Missouri Statehood
5. 1935-39 Arkansas Statehood
6. 1936 Arkansas Statehood-Robinson
7. 1946 Iowa Statehood

It also found that among the seven State Centennial coin programs, just two of the issues sent coins back to the Mint to be melted and only 34,600 coins were involved in the melting; the two issues were the 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial - 5,000 coins returned, and the 1921 Missouri Statehood Centennial - 29,600 coins returned. (The Committee appears to have not included the 1925 California Statehood 75th Anniversary coin as it was not for a centennial celebration; the California had returns totaling 63,606.)

The other 44 (non-Statehood Centennial) programs returned over 5.5 million coins - an average in excess of 125,000 coins per program vs. the 4,943 average for the seven Statehood Centennial program. It also noted that between 1934 and 1937 (a period of just four years), 27 different commemorative coin bills were approved - nearly seven per year! The Committee concluded that limitations on commemorative coins were clearly needed and believed that the best policy would be to limit such coins to those celebrating statehood centennials (or multiples of same) and others of "widespread and important historical interest...[and] an event of national interest." The Committee wanted to avoid a repeat of the 1934-37 period.

The new policy by the House Committee prevented a number of "local" issues from moving forward in Congress (see my What If? posts for the time frame), and limited new approvals to just one subsequent commemorative coin program - the George Washington Carver - Booker T. Washington half dollar (which was an amendment to the original legislation approving the Booker T. Washington coin).

It's too bad the new policy didn't happen in 1933 or 1934 - quite a few issues would likely never have made the commemorative coin roster - I'm looking at you Albany, Bridgeport, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia, Elgin, Hudson, Lynchburg, New Rochelle, Norfolk and York County!

For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including other Quick Bits posts, see: Commems Collection.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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