US Coins

Top Stories of 2015: 2016 centennial coins cause stir

A major story of 2015 for coin collectors was the United States Mint’s decision to honor the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Winged Liberty Head dime, Standing Liberty quarter dollar and Walking Liberty half dollar by issuing special 2016 editions struck in .9999 fine gold.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint

Though it’s a top story of 2015, the story of the United States Mint’s 2016 gold centennial coins actually started in 2014. 

In September of that year, the Mint announced that some new, special versions of the 1916 Winged Liberty Head dime, Standing Liberty quarter dollar and Walking Liberty half dollar would be struck in .9999 fine gold to mark the centennial of each coin in 2016.  

The dime and half dollar designed by sculptor Adolph A. Weinman and the quarter dollar by sculptor Hermon A. MacNeil were struck in .900 fine silver when issued in 1916, with the designs selected from a competition among some of the nation’s top artists. 

This time around, the Mint reached out to the public for insight. Collectors were surveyed in 2014 about a number of commemorative options to mark the 2016 centennial.

Then, in June 2015, mock-ups of 24-karat gold 2016 coins were released to much fanfare. 

The 2016 Winged Liberty Head dime is slated to be released as a tenth-ounce gold coin, the 2016 Standing Liberty quarter dollar as a quarter-ounce gold coin, and the 2016 Walking Liberty half dollar as a half-ounce gold coin. 

The designs are supposed to adhere closely to the originals, although they will bear inscriptions identifying their gold content.

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Despite all the attention the story got over the summer, the U.S. Treasury did not sign off officially on the products until late 2015. The Mint announced Nov. 14 that it would officially move forward with production of centennial editions in 2016.  

Soon after that announcement, the Mint projected how many of the coins it expects to sell. Projections of the three-coin series that were released pegged expected sales to reach between 145,000 and 225,000 units combined. At the time they were projected, those sales represented potential sales revenue of between $54 million and $119 million at prevailing gold prices.

Excitement is sure to ensue when renditions of these coins return after 100 years, albeit in gold. 

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