On January 16, during a teleconference between U.S. Mint officials and members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, Ann Bailey, the Mint’s program manager for numismatic and bullion programs, announced two new medal programs.
The first, which will begin this year with medals for George Washington and John Adams, is a series of silver medals of every U.S. president with four new issues a year starting in 2019 until all presidents have been represented.
These medals will be struck on 1 oz. silver planchets of .999 fineness that are the same size as those used for American Silver Eagles (40.6 millimeters) and will have a Proof finish.
The medals will be silver versions of the bronze presidential medals the Mint has issued for decades that feature profiles of each president. Like the bronze ones, the new medals will be on sale and produced indefinitely with no ordering limits, mintages or other restrictions.
The Mint’s presidential medal series, as Coin World editor William T. Gibbs explained recently, has its origins in the Jefferson Indian peace medals that “were produced as souvenirs for tribal leaders, following the tradition of similar pieces by European powers with colonies in the Western Hemisphere.” Those medals featured portraits of the sitting U.S. president of the time, William Jefferson, on their obverses while the reverses had images intended to promote peaceful relations between the government and native inhabitants.
During the meeting Mint officials said they believe they already have authority to strike these medals because it was already granted in order to produce the series of silver presidential medals issued from 2013 to 2015 for Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan that are part of the coin and chronicles sets that also include a bronze medal, presidential $1 coin and stamps bearing the image of the respective president.
Those sets were very popular with some selling out in minutes and were the first to include pure silver presidential medals but were struck with an uncirculated, not a Proof, finish.
According to CCAC member Dennis Tucker, who is president of Whitman Publishing, “The fact that they’ll be minted in pure silver, and in Proof format, practically guarantees the program’s success.”
From the Mint’s perspective, these silver medals, which should be popular with both collectors and non-collectors and given as gifts, are a great way to sell silver, especially given the sharp decline in demand for American Silver Eagles in 2017, which may or may not continue.
During the same meeting, Mint officials also announced a second new medal program that would debut in 2020 provided the Mint is able to obtain congressional approval for it. These medals, which are still in the planning and research phase, would be issued over the course of two to three years and would celebrate the five branches of the U.S. Armed Services, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and may also include the National Guard.
These medals would also be issued on 1 oz., .999 fine silver planchets and become part of the Mint’s permanent program. However, formats, finishes, designs, etc. have not been determined.
Unlike the medals that are currently being sold in connection with the 2018 World War I centennial silver dollar, the new military medals would feature designs that are emblematic of the particular service but would not be tied to specific wars, battles, or other anniversaries and would have no dates or mintmarks.
The program is being designed this way to avoid overlapping with possible commemorative coins honoring military services or issues that could be authorized in coming years, especially given the well-established interest of the Congress in issuing such coins.
In addition, smaller bronze versions (1.5 inch in diameter) would be issued of each military medal for those on a more limited budget such as young collectors.
The CCAC has for years recommended that the Mint expand its medal programs and issue silver medals, which was the genesis for the 2016 and 2017 American Liberty silver medals.
However, the committee’s recommendations were specifically to issue art medals and to pair medals for sale with American Silver Eagles.
A third, major announcement from the same January 16 meeting was the Mint’s plans for a five-year program of American Platinum Eagle $100 Proof coins that will follow the current three-year program that just debuted with the 2018 Life coin and continues with coins in 2019 and 2020 on the themes of Liberty and Happiness.
The program that starts in 2021 will celebrate the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom to Peaceably Assemble, and Freedom to Petition the Government for Redress of Grievances.
Like the current series, each of these five coins will be designed by the same artist. However, while the 2018-2020 series has a common reverse and different obverses, the 2021-2025 series will return to the previous approach of using a common obverse coupled with different reverses for each coin.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|