Many moons ago, back in September of 2012, I posted about efforts in Congress to better regulate the approval of commemorative coin bills. (You can read the post here: Regulating US Commemorative Coins
In an attempt to keep the story streamlined, I focused my attention on two 1939 bills: one to prohibit and one to regulate commemorative coins. However, there were several parallel "Regulate" bills introduced over the course of three Congresses between 1937 and 1941. Here's a more complete version of the story...
In February of 1937, during the First Session of the 75th Congress, Senator Francis Thomas Maloney (D-CT) introduced a bill in the Senate with the simple title of "To regulate the issuance of commemorative coins." Upon its introduction, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency.Side Note: By 1937, Congress had heard enough about the commemorative coin "problem" and was beginning to take steps to address the issue. Of course, there were different solutions proposed, including:
- Prohibiting Certain US Commemorative Coins
- Medals vs. Coins - 1935 Attempt
- Medals vs. Coins - 1937 Attempt
- Medals vs. Coins - 1947 Attempt
and the 1939 bill that became Public Law that I referenced above.
The 1937 Maloney "Regulate" bill would have been groundbreaking in several ways.
First, it would have created the Commemorative Coin Commission ("Commission") to be comprised of five commissioners appointed by the President. The Commission was to be quite noteworthy and expert based on the required membership stated in the bill. The President was to use the following requirements in his appointments: "one from the American Historical Association, one from the Library of Congress, one from the Smithsonian Institution, one from the National Geographic Society, and one from the American Numismatic Association." The Commission certainly had the potential to be a very learned panel regarding US history!
Second, it would have given the Commission true control over US commemorative coinage. The bill stated, "All bills introduced in either House of Congress providing for the issuance of a commemorative coin shall be submitted to the Commission for its approval by the Senate or House committee to which it was referred. In determining whether any such bill shall be approved, the Commission shall take into consideration the national importance of the event to be commemorated. In the event the Commission disapproves any such bill pending before any such committee of the Senate or House because the event to be commemorated is not of sufficient national importance no further action shall be taken on it.
In no case shall more than ten such bills be approved by the Commission during any one session of the Congress." (Emphasis added by me - such language would truly have given the Commission "teeth.")
Third, no-nonsense parameters would have been put in place for all approved coin bills:
(a) coins were to be struck at just one mint of the United States, to be designated by the Director of the Mint (vs. one or more specific mints at a sponsor's request!);
(b) all commemorative coins were to be silver 50-cent pieces of standard size, weight, and composition and of a "special appropriate single design" selected by the Director of the Mint and approved by the Secretary of the Treasury;
(c) sponsors would be required to pay for expenses related to making the necessary coinage dies and for other necessary preparations for such coinage:
(d) coins were to bear the date of the year in which they were authorized and were to be issued within one year of the enactment date of the coin's authorizing Act:
(e) coins were to be "legal tender in any payment to the amount of their face value;"
(f) the mintage minimum for all coins would be 25,000 and follow-up orders for additional coins would have to be for at least 25,000 coins as well;
(g) coins could be sold at face value or above "by the association, committee, or other organization to whom they are issued and that the net proceeds be used by such association, committee, or other organization in defraying the expenses incidental and appropriate to the commemoration of such event;" and
(h) "all laws in force on the date of enactment of the authorizing Act relating to the subsidiary silver coins of the United States and the coining or striking of the same...shall, so far as applicable, apply to the coinage authorized in such Act."
The bill would also have cancelled all ongoing commemorative coin programs, though it would have allowed all coins that had already been struck by the Mint to be delivered to their sponsor.
The bill apparently concerned the Senators on the Committee to the extent that the bill was never reported out for further consideration and died for lack of action when the 75th Congress adjourned in June 1938.A discussion of parallel bills to this first one follows in Part II.