US Coins

Colorization contract suggests possibility of additional colorful coins, medals

Terms of the contract the U.S. Mint awarded LulaRose, a division of The Clancy Group Corp., on Oct. 9, 2019, to colorize Proof 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame silver dollars and clad half dollars suggest the Mint is seeking to extend the colorization technology to multiple other series options, including gold coins, and silver and bronze medals.

“The United States Mint may have multiple coin programs per calendar year that could require colorization,” from one to five, according to the contract.

The contract also addresses the capability of colorizing coins struck on square planchets. The U.S. Mint has never produced a coin on a square planchet.

The base contract is for a one-year period, ending Sept. 30, 2020, with the possibility of the Mint exercising up to four one-year contract extensions, running through Sept. 30, 2024.

The total potential value of the contract, should it run five years, is $8,375,000.

Contract terms address the vendor’s capacity to colorize coins and/or medals in quantities from several thousands up to 500,000.

The vendor is required to be able to print on a curved coin, with the knowledge that the curvature on future coins may vary from previous issues. Capabilities address printing on .999 fine silver, .900 fine silver (alloyed with 10 percent copper), .999 gold, and commercial bronze (90 percent copper, 10 percent zinc).

The colorization is to be on pieces with Proof and Uncirculated finishes, with the Proof issues being the standard “brilliant/shiny” surfaces and the Uncirculated pieces bearing a “matte” finish.

The U.S. Mint strikes gold coins in .900 fineness for commemorative releases, and .9999 fine and .9167 fine gold for bullion coins and Proof numismatic issues.

Possibilities for colorization include $5 and $10 gold coins; commemorative and American Eagle silver dollars; 1-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and tenth-ounce gold issues, which currently covers American Eagles and American Buffaloes (1-ounce only); 5-ounce silver coins, currently only the American the Beautiful quarter dollars; clad quarter dollars, half dollars and dollars; bronze medals in 3-inch, 1.5-inch and 1.3125-inch diameters; and 2.5-inch silver medals.

Pad printing

The colorization of the elements on the reverses of 75,000 Proof 2020-P Basketball silver dollars and 75,000 2020-S copper-nickel clad Basketball half dollars is being executed through a process known as inkjet or pad printing.

Specific design elements are digitally mapped to directly receive the colorfast ink or inks.

Before the Mint approves colorization for a designated program, the vendor is required to submit 1,000 “first-article samples” colorized on the equipment dedicated for full production runs.

According to the contract, “the printed image shall adhere permanently on the surface of the coin for the life of the coin. The color shall not fade, nor contribute to tarnish or corrosion of the coins.”

The contractor is required to execute the colorization of a minimum of 25,000 coins to up to 60,000 per week, with typical production numbers of 50,000 to 100,000 coins per program and up to five programs per year.

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