US Coins

Domed basketball coins for 2019?

Legislation calling for gold, silver, and copper-nickel clad commemorative coins honoring the 60th anniversary of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 has been introduced in Congress.

Image by Rizha Ubal via Wikipedia.

Legislation proposing dome-shaped gold $5 half eagles, silver dollars and copper-nickel clad half dollars honoring the 60th Anniversary of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 has been introduced in Congress. 

The legislation, H.R. 4592, was introduced on Feb. 23 in the House of Representatives by Richard Neal, D-Mass. 

It calls for an open competition to determine the design of the obverse, which will be common to all three denominations, with designs being emblematic of the game of basketball. It suggests that the Treasury secretary encourage three-dimensional models to be submitted as part of the design proposals. The legislation adds that the design competition may include proposals from artists, engravers and other employees of the United States Mint, other government employees, and members of the general public. The bill provides that the Treasury secretary will determine compensation for the winning design of not less than $5,000 and that he may take into account this compensation when determining the coins’ sale price. 

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The reverse also calls for a common reverse design of a basketball, but does not provide for an open competition for this. 

The legislation takes a cue from the successful 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin program where the gold $5 half eagle, silver dollar and copper-nickel clad half dollar had a common obverse and reverse design and concave/convex surfaces, and had a public design competition. 

An ideal symbol

In a Feb. 24 statement on his Facebook page, Rep. Neal wrote, “These unique dome-shaped coins that would come at no expense to the taxpayer is the ideal symbol for the first and only museum that honors the sport on all levels around the world. What began as a simple game in a gym has transformed into a worldwide sensation that attracts millions of spectators every day.” He represents the First District of Massachusetts, which includes Springfield, site of the museum. 

Surcharges of $35 per gold $5 half eagle, $10 for each silver dollar and $5 for each copper-nickel clad half dollar are to be directed to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to fund an endowment that will enable the further operations of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 

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The legislation calls for not more than 50,000 half eagles, not more than 400,000 dollars and as many as 750,000 half dollars. 

The findings section of the legislation notes that the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was founded in 1959 and dedicated to the game’s creator Dr. James Naismith in Springfield. Naismith was a physical education instructor in Springfield and introduced a game called “basket ball” to his physical education class in Springfield on Dec. 21, 1891. Springfield is now considered “The Birthplace of Basketball.”

The legislation adds, “Since its opening in 1959, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is home to the largest collection of basketball memorabilia in the world, including more than 30,000 three-dimensional objects, 800,000 photographs, and 1.5 million documents.” Its educational programs have reached more than 7 million people, providing “customized educational programs [that] use basketball to teach young students around the world the important lessons on a variety of topics including financial literacy, mathematics, civil rights, leadership of character, women’s and men’s history, and geography.”

GovTrack predicts that the bill has just a 5 percent chance of being enacted. It was assigned to the House Financial Services committee where it has five co-sponsors. 

Under current law, there can be two commemorative coin programs per year; no commemorative programs for 2019-dated coins have been signed into law. 

Another program calling for 2019-dated commemorative coins, The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act, was introduced in the House on June 10, 2015, and currently sits in the Committee on Financial Services where it has 61 cosponsors. 


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