The 1793 Liberty Cap, Left half cents were the first official U.S. coin to depict an allegorical portrait of Liberty.
Legislation to authorize the issuance of circulating commemorative coins beginning in 2015 to celebrate the concept of liberty in America would go forward only if a formal study by the Treasury secretary determines the deficit reduction would be “at least $100 million over 10 years.”
H.R. 2535, the American Liberty Coinage and Deficit Reduction Act of 2013, was introduced June 27 by Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky. According to the legislation, passage of the bill would “cause increased seigniorage for the United States Mint leading to enhanced revenue to the Treasury and increased offsets to annual budget deficits in perpetuity. …”
The obverses of the dime, quarter dollar and half dollar would be redesigned with Liberty designs if the legislation were enacted.
Circulating Liberty dimes, produced as a series of one-year types, would be issued in alternating years starting in 2015. Circulating Liberty quarter dollars would be issued as one-year types in alternating years starting in 2016.
A series of noncirculating Liberty-themed half dollars would be issued starting in 2015, with a new Liberty design selected every 10 years. The Liberty half dollars would be issued concurrently with Kennedy half dollars, all produced for collector sales.
The bill, if approved by Congress and signed into law by the president, would require the Treasury secretary to conduct a study on the estimated effect on the federal budget deficit over the 10-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2015, of the proposed design changes and circulation plan.
The bill mandates that, not later than the end of 90 days beginning on the date of the enactment of the provisions in the bill, should it become law, the Treasury secretary would be required to issue a report to Congress containing the estimated effect and an explanation of how the estimate was calculated.
A portion of a long list of findings in the bill explains some basic U.S. coinage design history: “From the early 1790s through the early to mid-20th century, allegorical depictions of ‘Liberty’ dominated the designs of circulating United States coins. Coinage from this time period served as a constant reminder to Americans and the world of a defining and distinctive value of American life and culture — Liberty. These coins also provide some of the most inspiring, uplifting, and beautiful coin designs ever created. In numismatics, ‘Liberty’ themed coins are among the most sought after collectibles.”
The legislation seeks the introduction of a “new series of circulating commemorative ‘Liberty’ themed coins that would alternate annually between the dime and quarter dollar as 1-year issues.”
Production of redesigned Liberty-themed 10-cent coins every other year would begin starting in 2015, each year’s issue to circulate concurrently with that year’s Roosevelt dime. Only the Roosevelt design would be struck for dimes in 2016, with production of both Liberty and Roosevelt dimes again in 2017, the cycle repeating into the future.
The legislation would require the Treasury secretary to ensure that total numbers of Liberty-themed dimes issued in 2015 and future alternating years would be “not less than 40 percent and not more than 50 percent” of the total number of dimes issued in a given year.
All new designs for the dimes, quarter dollars and half dollars would feature the standard inscriptions of LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, E PLURIBUS UNUM and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA along with the year of issuance.
In addition, the Liberty dimes would have obverse designs emblematic and allegorical of the concept of American Liberty, according to the legislation, and have reverse designs that depict an American bald eagle, depict a fasces as emblematic of civil governance, depict the torch of knowledge, are emblematic and allegorical of “The Union,” or depict “one or more of the American values and attributes of freedom, independence, peace, strength, equality, democracy and justice.”
2016 quarter dollars, 2015 half dollars
In 2016 a new Liberty-themed design on the quarter dollar would be minted for circulation for one year. It would be issued alongside the Washington quarter dollar design on that denomination. These coins would bear the same design themes as specified for the Liberty-themed dimes and have the same mintage parameters as the dime counterpart.
In 2017, quarter dollars of the standard Washington design would be minted. In 2018 the quarter dollar would bear a different Liberty-themed design and be minted along with Washington quarter dollars.
This process of introducing new designs for the dime and quarter dollar every other year would “continue on a perpetual basis into future years,” according to the bill. The idea behind introducing a new Liberty-themed design each year “is an important aspect of the program designed to continually renew collector interest and, therefore, promote demand for the coins in a manner to maximize seigniorage realized by the United States Mint.”
In addition to the redesigned 10-cent and quarter dollar denominations, Barr’s legislation seeks the introduction of a Liberty-themed half dollar design in 2015 to be struck for a 10-year period and “issued as an ongoing noncirculating numismatic collector’s series.” It would be issued along with “the noncirculating Kennedy half dollar,” according to the bill.
The proportion of redesigned half dollars to be issued is the same as for the dime and quarter dollar. The half dollar designs would bear the same requirements as the dime and quarter dollar. However, a provision in the bill states new designs for the half dollar should include consideration of “the 1977 Liberty mini dollar design prepared by former United States Chief Sculptor and Engraver Frank Gasparro.”
Gasparro produced a Liberty Cap design for the dollar coin to be released in 1979; however, the design was replaced by the portrait of Susan B. Anthony.
All designs would be chosen by the Treasury secretary after consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts and review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. At its April meeting the CCAC passed a resolution to create Liberty-themed coins.
The proposed legislation would also allow the striking and issuance of a number of Uncirculated and Proof coins of each design selected as the secretary “determines to be appropriate.”
Dimes, quarter dollars and half dollar coins of each selected design could be struck in .999 fine silver in amounts determined by the Treasury secretary. ■