US Coins

Bronze duplicates of Merchant Marine medal available

Bronze replicas of the congressional gold medal became available for purchase after the gold medal itself was presented May 18.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Bronze replicas of the congressional gold medal honoring Merchant Mariners of World War II went on sale on the U.S. Mint website, after the gold medal was presented May 18.

The medals are available, like other bronze replicas of the highest honor of Congress, in 1.5-inch and 3-inch sizes.

Authorized in 2020 by Public Law 116-125, the text of Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act quotes a number of World War II-era U.S. military and civilian leaders extolling the Merchant Marine’s centrality to the war effort. It further notes that the Merchant Marine “likely bore a higher per-capita casualty rate than any of the military branches during the war. The feats and accomplishments of the Merchant Marine are deserving of broader public recognition ... The Congressional Gold Medal would be an appropriate way to shed further light on the service of the merchant mariners in World War II and the instrumental role they played in winning that war.”

H.R. 5671, the bill that would become Public Law 116-125, was introduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 24, 2020, by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calf., and passed three days later. It passed the Senate March 2, 2020, and was signed into law by President Trump on March 13.

The medal’s obverse and reverse were both designed by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artists, the obverse by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Stephen Layne, and the reverse by Chris Costello and sculpted by U.S. Mint Medallic Artist John McGraw.

The obverse depicts a group of Merchant Mariners “representing an engineer, a helmsman, an officer, a steward, and a deckhand, with the bow of a Liberty ship [lightly armed cargo ships used to transport supplies during the war] in the background,” according to the U.S. Mint’s website, the reverse a convoy of Liberty ships.

The congressional gold medal itself was presented in a ceremony that included a group of surviving Merchant Mariners, senior military leaders, members of Congress and other elected officials on May 18.

A May 19 article on the Department of Defense’s website estimated that 12,000 Merchant Mariners from World War II are still alive.

The medal will be displayed at the Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point, New York.

Surviving Merchant Mariners will each receive a bronze replicas of the award.

Struck with a matte finish at the Philadelphia Mint, the medals are being offered without mintage, product, or household order limits. Their edges are plain. The 1.5-inch medal is priced at $20, the 3-inch version at $160.

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