New legislation before the U.S. House of Representatives seeks 2015
coins commemorating the National Baseball Hall of Fame bearing a
design style that would emulate an innovative technique used on 2009
French coinage, with the obverse design to be selected through a competition.
The bill, H.R. 2527, was introduced July 14 and already has 293
co-sponsors, enough under House rules to permit the measure to move
forward for a vote.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Richard L. Hanna, R-N.Y. The
Baseball Hall of Fame resides in Cooperstown, N.Y., a location within
Hanna’s 24th District of New York. The hall of fame would receive the
surcharges raised through the sale of the coins.
The legislation seeks a gold $5 half eagle (maximum mintage of
500,000 coins), silver dollar (maximum mintage of 400,000) and
copper-nickel clad half dollar (maximum mintage of 750,000). The coins
may be struck in both Proof and Uncirculated versions. The surcharges
would be $35 per $5 coin, $10 for the dollar and $5 for the half dollar.
If the measure becomes law, the coins would be issued in 2015,
which is not an anniversary year either for the hall of fame, which
opened in 1939, or for baseball.
Two provisions in the measure are somewhat unusual, both related
to the designs of the coin: one provision would require a design
competition for the obverse of the three coins (the reverse of each
coin is to depict a baseball); the other is a “sense of Congress”
provision directing the U.S. Mint to emulate the French Mint.
“It is the sense of Congress that coins minted under this Act
should be produced in a fashion similar to the 2009 International Year
of Astronomy coins issued by the Monnaie de Paris, the French Mint, so
that the reverse of the coin is convex to more closely resemble a
baseball and the obverse concave, providing a more-dramatic display of
the obverse design chosen pursuant to section 4(c).”
The other unusual provision appears in referenced section 4(c); it
calls for the Treasury secretary to conduct a competition to select
the obverse design (the language of the bill refers to a solitary
obverse design for the three coins). In addition, each winning design
would have to be accompanied by a plaster model. The winner of the
competition would be compensated with at least $5,000, with the amount
determined by the Treasury secretary.
The Treasury secretary would make the final design selection after
consultation with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the
Commission of Fine Arts, and a review of the design by the Citizens
Coinage Advisory Committee. The competition would be judged by a
six-person jury consisting of three members each from the CFA and
CCAC, with the panels selecting their members.
The measure has been referred to the Committee on Financial
Services, in addition to the Committee on the Budget. ■