US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for May 27, 2019

Thousands throng Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., on March 3, 1913, during the march for women's suffrage.

Library of Congress image.

Next year, as Americans, we will celebrate the centennial of one of the most important civil rights measures in our history — ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave most women nationwide the right to vote in all elections. Numismatic celebration of the anniversary is uncertain, though initiatives are in play that could ensure that coin collectors can celebrate the event by adding new coins to their collections in 2020 or 2021.

As associate editor Chris Bulfinch reports this week, twin bills introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives seek a 2020 Women’s Suffrage Centennial commemorative silver dollar. The measures are already gaining bipartisan support from women in both houses.

Another bill, this one before the U.S. House, also seeks numismatic commemoration of the amendment — the Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act, H.R. 1923. The bill seeks a successor to the current America the Beautiful quarter dollar program, which comes to an end in 2021. If H.R. 1923 were to become law, a program beginning in 2021 would emulate the previous three circulating commemorative quarter dollar programs, requiring a coin that would celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of a particular woman in each state, territory and the District of Columbia. The number of co-sponsors for the bill has been growing slowly and the support is bipartisan in nature.

It remains to be seen whether the redesigned $10 Federal Reserve note will be issued in 2020 (the $20 note, which could depict Harriet Tubman, is delayed until at least 2028, as Arthur L. Friedberg reports this week). In 2016, Jacob Lew, President Obama’s last Treasury secretary, approved a plan that would change the back design of the $10 note to honor the women’s suffrage movement. The back of the $10 note, showing the Treasury Building, was to be revised to show an image of the historic March 3, 1913, march for suffrage that ended on the steps of the Treasury Department, and was to honor leaders of the suffrage movement — Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul. 

President Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has not publicly supported Lew’s plan, saying instead that the redesign of the $5, $10 and $20 notes should be focused on enhanced security. Still, it is not impossible that the $10 note’s designs could be revealed in 2020, maybe even with a design celebrating the suffrage movement. 

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