President Barack Obama signed into law legislation authorizing production of commemorative coins honoring Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, in 2016.
The president was presented with H.R. 2453 on Nov. 28 and signed the legislation Dec. 4.
The United States Mint is authorized to produce up to 350,000 silver dollars and as many as 100,000 gold $5 coins, both in Proof and Uncirculated finishes, with designs emblematic of the life and legacy of Twain.
The surcharges of $35 per gold $5 coin and $10 per silver dollar raised from sales of the coins would be presented — after statutory requirements are met — in equal amounts to four different organizations: the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Conn.; the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley; Elmira College, N.Y.; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Mo.
Two of Twain’s books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, have never gone out of print since they were published more than a century ago, according to the legislation. Both are considered classics in American literature.
The House of Representatives on Nov. 15 agreed to a Senate amendment to direct a quarter of the surcharges specifically to the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.
The original language in H.R. 2453, introduced in the House on July 7, 2011, by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., directed 25 percent of the surcharges only to the University of California at Berkeley. The House passed the unamended version of the bill April 18, 2012.
S. 1929, introduced Nov. 30, 2011, by Rep. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., specified the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, as a surcharge recipient. While the Senate version of the bill did not progress in that body, the Senate approved an amended version of the House bill on Sept. 22.
Unsuccessful legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate in 2009 calling for 2013 coins honoring Twain, and a 2008 House bill calling for 2010 coins also died. ■