US Coins

House passes massive bill for future U.S. coin changes

The United States Mint issued three coins to celebrate the Bicentennial of the nation in 1976. New legislation passed in the House would authorize similar coins for the 250th anniversary in 2026.

Original images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The House of Representatives on Sept. 22 passed legislation authorizing massive changes to circulating coinage to be implemented from 2022 to 2030, as well as authorizing new medals programs.

The bill, H.R. 1923, would authorize:

➤ Circulating quarter dollars honoring women to be issue from 2022 through 2025.

➤ Circulating coins in multiple denominations in 2026 celebrating the U.S. semiquincentennial.

➤ Circulating quarter dollars from 2027 through 2030 celebrating youth sports.

➤ Redesigned half dollars from 2027 through 2030 with reverses celebrating sports performed by individuals with disabilities.

➤ Medals with the same designs as the coins celebrating youth sports and sports for the disabled.

➤ Award medals for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

➤ Silver bullion coins with the same designs as all of the quarter dollars and half dollars authorized from 2022 through 2030, in the now standard 5-ounce size and in “fractional sizes.”

If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, the legislation represents the most sweeping changes to U.S. coinage in years.

Coinage programs

The measure incorporates portions of other legislation also before Congress and programs proposed by U.S. Mint officials.

Separate legislation before Congress calls for a circulating quarter dollar program starting in 2021 with designs honoring the accomplishment of women, with designs selected to represent each state, territory and the District of Columbia. H.R. 1923 seeks up to five quarter dollars a year from 2022 through 2025, each honoring a prominent American woman, without the need to represent each state, territory and the District of Columbia. After 2025, the Mint could “continue to issue coins minted during the program but not yet issued,” according to the legislation.

The programs honoring youth sports, sports for the disabled and the semiquincentennial would accomplish the main goals revealed by Mint Director David Ryder in an exclusive interview with Coin World in August 2019, along with some additional elements.

The semiquincentennial provisions seek issuance of multiple denominations of coins celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence: up to five quarter dollars, including a provision that one “of the quarter dollar designs must be emblematic of a woman’s or women’s contribution to the birth of the Nation or the Declaration of Independence or any other monumental moments in American History”; dollar coins with semiquincentennial designs; and possibly other denominations. This program would be similar to the Mint’s Bicentennial coin program celebrating the 200th anniversary in 1976. Beginning in 2027, designs for all denominations except for the quarter dollar and half dollar would have to revert to their previous designs.

In 2027, additional changes would be made to the 25- and 50-cent denominations. For the quarter dollar, the Mint could issue up to five coins each year through 2030 with designs emblematic of sports played by youth, as proposed by Ryder in 2019. For the half dollar, one coin could be issued each year “emblematic of a sport tailored to athletes with a range of disabilities.”

For the 2022 to 2025 and 2027 to 2030 coins, obverse designs would continue to depict the individuals currently found on the coins, though possibly in new renditions.

Mint officials would be given authority to reposition statutory inscriptions, as they have with the quarter dollar programs issued since 1999.

Medal programs

The measure that just passed the House would also authorize sport medals that would be related to the sports coins, to be sold with a surcharge that would then support the provision to “design and manufacture medals for award at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California.”

Bullion coins

Also authorized would be silver bullion coins for all of the quarter dollars and half dollars issued from 2022 to 2030, including 5-ounce .999 fine silver versions and “fractional” versions “in sizes, weights, fineness, and denominations” determined to be appropriate.

The U.S. Mint already makes silver versions of the dime, quarter dollar, and half dollar for inclusion in the annual Silver Proof sets, so the “fractional” bullion coin versions of the quarter dollar and half dollar would presumably differ, possibly by weight, since the diameters of the current silver quarter dollars and half dollar are identical to the copper-nickel clad versions issued for circulation and numismatic sales.

Distribution of coinage

The legislation would require the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Treasury Department to ensure that the various coins would be issued in quantities for commerce and collectors.

Also authorized would be “a unifying inscription, privy mark, or other symbol for that particular coin program.” That provision would codify already existing Mint practice, as it has issued circulating 2020-W quarter dollars with a privy mark celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, as well as several numismatic coins with various privy marks.

Coin World will continue to explore the provisions of the legislation in future weeks as additional information becomes available.

The House vote was without objection, so no individual votes were taken. The legislation will be sent to the Senate for its consideration.

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