To mark the sesquicentennial of the abolition of slavery in
America, platinum and gold ringed-bimetallic $50, gold $20 and silver
dollar commemorative coins would be struck in 2016 if legislation is
approved by Congress and signed into law.
The measure would authorize the first commemorative gold $20 coin
and the first commemorative silver dollar with the specifications of
the American Eagle silver dollar.
Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., introduced H.R. 2633 on July 9 to
mark the 2015 sesquicentennial of the adoption of the 13th Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery.
The legislation calls for production of a maximum 250,000 of the
platinum and gold bimetallic $50 coins. According to the bill, the
weight, diameter and thickness of the ringed-bimetallic coins would be
determined by the Treasury secretary. The bill states the
ringed-bimetallic coins would contain “platinum and .9167 pure gold.”
The U.S. Mint has struck ringed-bimetallic commemorative coins
before — the 2000 Library of Congress platinum and gold $10 coins.
The measure would also authorize the first gold $20 commemorative
coins for the U.S. Mint (the Mint has previously struck gold $1,
$2.50, $5, $10 and $50 commemorative coins). Maximum mintage would be
limited to 250,000 pieces, each to be struck in .900 pure gold with a
weight of 33.931 grams and a diameter of 32.7 millimeters.
The weight and diameter specific in the legislation is a change
from the specifications for the standard gold double eagle: a weight
of 33.47 grams and a diameter of 34.29 millimeters.
The silver dollars sought for this program would be unique as a
commemorative coin. They would have a fineness of .999 rather than
.900 as found for all other commemorative dollars. The fineness,
weight of 31.03 grams and diameter of 40.6 millimeters specified in
the legislation are the same as for the American Eagle 1-ounce silver
bullion coins. Mintage would be limited to 500,000 coins.
A surcharge of $10 per coin for all denominations produced under
this legislation would be given to the Smithsonian National Museum of
African American History and Culture. Typical commemorative coin
legislation assigns different surcharges per coin denomination.
The legislation states the surcharges would be used to “carry out
the purposes of the museum, which goes beyond simply telling the
history of African Americans, creating an opportunity for anyone who
cares about African American Culture, a place to explore, learn, and
revel in the rich history of African American Culture.”
Designs are to be emblematic of the 13th Amendment and the
abolishment of slavery in America. Each coin would feature the
inscription 1865-2015 along with the standard inscriptions mandated by law.
In addition, the legislation would require the designs to be
“based on the economic contributions of slavery, and include images of
the pathway from slavery to freedom.”
The bill also states that design elements on the $20 coin may be
in high relief. Also, the $50 coin may include on the obverse “an
illustration of Columbia or similar figure representing Liberty, the
female representation of America.” On the reverse “a single eagle, and
a set of stars on one or both sides ...” may be depicted.
Designs would be selected by the Treasury secretary after
consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage
The legislation, if approved by Congress and signed into law by
the president, calls for coins to be struck during the calendar year
beginning Jan. 1, 2016, “except that the secretary may initiate sales
of such coins, without issuance, before such date.”
The legislation was sent to the House Financial Services