BREAKING: Mint reveals details of 2016 gold coins to mark 1916 silver issues

Coins will have to bear added inscriptions of gold content; quarter to be Bare Breast version
By , Coin World Washington Correspondent
Published : 01/28/15
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Three of the famous U.S. silver coins issued in 1916 will come back next year in the form of pure gold coins under a plan being considered by the U.S. Mint.

Details of the plans to reissue the famed Winged Liberty Head dime, the Standing Liberty quarter dollar and Walking Liberty half dollar were disclosed at the Jan. 28 meeting of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

Members of the panel reacted with great joy to the proposal and urged the Mint to consider issuing copies of the new coins in either silver or platinum as well as gold.

A Mint lawyer advised them, however, that while the Treasury secretary has authority to issue gold coins on his own he cannot issue silver coins without congressional authority.

Added inscriptions necessary?

The Mint’s initial plans call for reissuing the coins as fractional gold coins to mark the coins’ centennial.

They would carry the date 2016, but the panel was taken aback when told the gold coins would have to carry the phrase “.999 fine gold,” which appears on U.S. bullion coins.

“You’re going ruin ‘em,” groused Michael Moran who pleaded with the Mint officials to “stay true to the designs.” 

CCAC Chair Gary Marks pleaded with Mint officials to consider some other way to designate the coins as gold. “A minimal way,” he urged.

A privy mark with “AU” markings would be fine or perhaps edge lettering, the panel suggested.

“Would we have a gold dime?” asked Marks when the plans were revealed.

Yes, Mint officials told him, saying their plans were to issue the coins as they were first released, other than the change in date and the added inscription.

Controversy ahead?

In the case of the Standing Liberty quarter dollar that means the gold coin would have Liberty appear with one breast exposed. The artist added a coat of chain mail to the design later in 1917, apparently to signify America’s preparation for entry in World War I. Both Bare Breast and Mailed Breast versions were issued in 1917.

“Just for the record,” said April Stafford, a Mint marketing official, she felt obligated to remind the CCAC that some members of the Commission of Fine Arts had objected to several recent Liberty images as being offensive. 

None of the CCAC members voiced any objection to the plans, although one cautioned that there would likely be someone who objected to the image.

The CCAC members were ecstatic over the proposal.

“A brilliant proposal,” historian Herman Viola said.

“A wonderful idea,” numismatic curator Robert Hoge said.

“Stick to the original finish,” urged Erick Jansen, who added: “This would be a knockout product.”

Duplicating original sizes

The Mint’s plans, described as still in a formative stage, call for gold coins that would duplicate the size of the actual coins. 

“It would be a shame to put them out in another size,” Marks said. 

They would be offered in Proof versions as well as in Uncirculated form. 

That prompted some concern by CCAC members who said they doubted the Mint offered coins in Proof versions when the three coins were introduced.

(While a few numismatists have claimed to have seen Proof versions of one or more of the 1916 silver coins, no examples have been verified under modern standards.)

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