Coin in the shape of the U.S. Capitol has connection to British Virgin Islands

Pobjoy Mint issues 2-D coin shaped like iconic American building
By , Coin World
Published : 03/20/17
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America’s Capitol building now appears on a coin from the British Virgin Islands.

Unlike many modern noncirculating legal tender coins, the subject actually has a connection to the issuer; the designer of the Capitol, William Thornton, was born in the British Virgin Islands.

The Pobjoy Mint has issued the copper-nickel dollar to celebrate the building and its designer, and the coin continues Pobjoy’s periodic series of coins shaped like buildings and objects. This latest edition is shaped like the building it commemorates.

Building an American icon

The United States Capitol is located on Capitol Hill; it is the headquarters of the U.S. Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government in Washington, D.C. 

“Capitol” as a word has a Latin origin that is associated architecturally with the temple to Jupiter Optimus Maximus on Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome.

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A competition was held in the spring of 1792 with a prize of $500 to see which architect could propose the best design for the United States’ legislative structure. A late entry from amateur architect William Thornton was the source of the iconic shape that we see today. Thornton, born in the British Virgin Islands, was well traveled and had gained inspiration for the frontage of the building from the east front of the Louvre and the Paris Pantheon.

The first cornerstone of the Capitol was laid by George Washington in 1793 and construction of the 16-acre building continued until 1800. Upon completion, the dome wasn’t as grand as we see it today; it was rebuilt in the 1850s to stand three times as tall as the original, and it weighs 4,041 metric tons.

The interior of the Capitol is as impressive as the exterior and has strong ties with the art world. The hallways are lined with lavish murals, paintings and a massive frieze that combine to tell the history of the United States. It also houses the National Statuary Hall collection, which comprises 100 statues, one of which is a bronze statue of King Kamehameha that weighs 6,804 kilograms. A private subway from the Capitol transports senators to the neighboring congressional office buildings.


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The obverse of the Capitol dollar features the Pobjoy Mint’s exclusive effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Capitol Building coin is protected by a faux leather pouch in red, white and blue representing the American flag.

The copper-nickel dollar measures 41 millimeters wide and 55 millimeters tall, and weighs 35.4 grams. It has a mintage limit of 5,000 pieces and retails for $24.95.  

To order, visit the Pobjoy Mint website

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