US Coins

Coin colorizing company finally confirmed

The reverse of the Proof 2020-S Basketball Hall of Fame copper-nickel clad half dollar has more elements colorized than the 2020-P Proof silver dollar has.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint.

After six months of being stonewalled by the U.S. Mint and the filing of a Freedom of Information Act inquiry, Coin World is finally able to identify the vendor contracted to colorize the reverses of a limited number of 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative half dollars and dollars, as well as some details of the colorization process itself.

The Mint contract, with a maximum potential value of $8,375,000 was awarded Oct. 9, 2019, to LulaRose, a division of The Clancy Group Corp. in Winchester, Massachusetts.

The contract covers the colorization of specific design elements on the common reverse of the Proof 2020-S copper-nickel-clad half dollar struck at the San Francisco Mint and the Proof 2020-P silver dollar struck at the Philadelphia Mint.

The colorization was contracted to be executed on 75,000 of the Proof half dollars and 75,000 of the Proof dollars, and includes secure, return delivery of the colorized coins.

According to Aimee Dean, LulaRose’s executive director of operations, the division “has been the primary producer of decoration, colorization, embellishment and consultation to most of the world’s major mints for over 15 years now. This has been done exclusively and non-publicly. We provide printing services as well as consultation to mints and central banks in Asia, Europe and North America. Our processes are used on both numismatic and circulation coins that go far beyond what you will see as a customer. LulaRose has developed quality standards, shipping techniques, [and] processes that include color management and registration, [and has] developed equipment and materials that we share with our partners to ensure their coins look their absolute best.”

The contract was awarded to LulaRose in 2019.

Coin World began asking questions about the colorization soon after the U.S. Mint announced in July 2019 its intentions to issue the first U.S. colorized coins. Coin World intensified its quest for information on the colorization, inquiring several times a week, and after no information was forthcoming despite repeated phone calls and emails, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on May 26 through the U.S. Mint’s online FOIA portal.

As of Aug. 11 the FOIA inquiry was still listed as active, with no resolution provided to Coin World. On Aug. 13, the status was listed as “closed” with the expectation the information requested was forthcoming.

At 9:17 a.m. Eastern Time Aug. 14, the Mint’s FOIA officer provided Coin World with the 38-page contract.

Details of the processes

Dean was able to provide some details Aug. 12 to Coin World on the colorization without revealing proprietary technology or violating terms of the U.S. Mint contract.

“LulaRose has worked extensively with the U.S. Mint to develop processes for their Basketball Hall of Fame coins,” Dean said. “This began with many iterations of designs, working with their marketing, operational and quality control staff to put in place operating procedures and controls to ensure the best possible outcome.

“Given the secure nature of what we do, we cannot share where we are in the process or what the delivery schedule is.

“LulaRose has developed a number of propriety processes; we can say that these coins have undergone both pre and post treatment, as well as a two-step wet and dry colorization.

“We have worked with the U.S. Mint to develop secondary process[es] to ensure the successful arrival of the coins at their facilities.

“The proprietary nature of what we do, combined with the security and safety of our employees and customer assets are of the utmost importance to us,” Dean added. “You will see from our website, www.lularose.com, that there is no mention of the services we offer to mints and central banks.”

Hold ups

The Basketball Hall of Fame coin program was intended to be launched April 4, but was delayed to June 4 because of COVID-19 safety measures that interrupted coin production.

The San Francisco Mint where the half dollars were being produced was closed March 18 and didn’t reopen until May 4 when commemorative coin output could be resumed.

The colorized coins are scheduled for an Aug. 28 release: the colorized Proof 2020-S half dollar is offered at $55 each, and the colorized Proof 2020-P dollar, at $95.

The order limit is two coins per household for each of the two colorized numismatic product options.

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