Lions Club International experienced the value of planning ahead in the often competitive space of trying to secure authorization for a US commemorative coin when its proposed commemorative coin to mark its centennial was approved by Congress and the President five years before the organization was to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017! For the moment, let's ignore the fact that the Centennial coin theme was "Plan B."
The idea of having a US commemorative coin struck for the Lions Club originated in 2011 when Meredith Pattie and Alan Ballard of the Sandy Spring Lions Club (Maryland) considered a coin to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Lions Club Founder Melvin Jones. When they realized that they were already too late for such a coin to be produced (the 50th anniversary of Jones' death was 2011), they pivoted to a coin marking the organization's 100th anniversary in 2017.
This idea gained traction within the organization, and it soon lined up support in Congress via Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), who each introduced a coin bill on behalf of the organization. Companion bills proposing a commemorative Silver Dollar for the organization's centennial were introduced in the House and Senate in June 2011 (112th Congress, First Session).
The bills included a "Findings" section that highlighted some of the organization's many accomplishments:
(1) Lions Clubs International is the world's largest service club organization, founded in 1917 by Chicago business leader Melvin Jones. Lions Clubs International empowers volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.
(2) Today, Lions Clubs International has over 1.35 million members in more than 45,000 clubs globally, extending its mission of service throughout the world every day.
(3) In 1945, Lions Clubs International became one of the first nongovernmental organizations invited to assist in drafting the United Nations Charter and has enjoyed a special relationship with the United Nations ever since.
(4) In 1968, Lions Clubs International Foundation was established to assist with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects and has since then awarded more than $700 million to fund five unique areas of service: preserving sight, combating disability, promoting health, serving youth and providing disaster relief.
(5) In 1990, the Lions Clubs International Foundation launched the SightFirst program to build comprehensive eye care systems to fight the major causes of blindness and care for the blind or visually impaired. Thanks to the generosity of Lions worldwide, over $415 million has been raised, resulting in the prevention of serious vision loss in 30 million people and improved eye care for hundreds of millions of people.
(6) On June 7, 2017, Lions Clubs International will celebrate 100 years of community service to men, women, and children in need throughout the world.
Very impressive, IMO.
Lions Club International is one of the world's largest organizations of its kind, with active clubs in over 200 countries. Per its web site, the organization helped almost 500 million people around the world in the last year through its various charitable projects. Learn more at: Lions Club International
Neither coin bill was reported out of Committee during the First Session of the 112th Congress, but both bills moved forward in the Second Session. The Senate passed its bill on July 26, 2012 and the House passed its bill on September 10, 2012. The Senate version of the bill, though approved by its chamber first, was held when received in the House in deference to its own bill that was being considered by the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology (under the Committee on Financial Services).
Once the Subcommittee reported the House bill favorably, it was passed in the House and sent to the Senate for its consideration. As the bill included the same provisions as the Senate version already passed, the Senate quickly passed the House bill without amendment. This cleared the path for it to be presented to the President for final approval. On October 5, 2012, US President Barack Obama signed the Lions Club International coin bill into law. (Public Law 112-181)
The coin's obverse design presents a portrait of Melvin Jones, founder of the Lions Club, at right. Also presented is the Lions Clubs International logo behind and to the left (viewer's perspective) of the portrait. The reverse design depicts a lion "family" with adult male and female lions flanking a young cub.
The obverse was designed by US Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Joel Iskowitz
; it was sculpted by US Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna
. The reverse design was the work of AIP Designer Patricia Lucas-Morris; US Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart
was responsible for sculpting the design.
The Act for the coin authorized a maximum mintage of 400,000 silver dollars. Sales began on January 18, 2007 with initial prices of $47.95 for the Proof version and $46.95 for the Uncirculated coin. After a month, the Regular Issue prices of $52.95 and $51.95, respectively, kicked in. Sales did not approach the level of a sell-out, however, with the Proof version of the coin selling 68,330 units, with sales of the Uncirculated version reaching 17,224; total sales were 85,554 coins.
Each coin carried a $10 surcharge which was collected by the Mint for the benefit of the Lions Clubs International Foundation for "(1) furthering its programs for the blind and visually impaired in the United States and abroad; (2) investing in adaptive technologies for the disabled; and (3) investing in youth and those affected by a major disaster." (Public Law 112-181)
Coin sales produced total surcharge funds of ~$855,000, but it is unclear if the Lions Club International Foundation ever received such funds. The Mint has reported a loss on its 2017 commemorative coin programs. As the Mint is required, by law, to recoup its program costs for a coin before
distributing surcharge funds to its sponsor, it seems plausible that no surcharge funds were distributed to the Lions Club International Foundation. (If anyone has seen definitive info on surcharge distribution for the Lions Club coin, please post it below!)2017 Lions Club International Silver Dollar
For more of my topics on commemorative coins and medals, including more on Modern US Commemorative Coins, see: Commems Collection
For a "first take" discussion of the Lions Club Silver Dollar from 2017, check out:
- 2017 Lions Club International Silver Dollar