US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 5, 2019: Colorized U.S. coins?

U.S. Mint officials are considering adding color to two of the three 2020 commemorative coins celebrating the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Original images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

Officials of the U.S. Mint recently revealed that they are considering the use of color on two of the three 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative coins, a move that would take the Mint into unexplored territory.

Compared to other government and private mints, though, the U.S. Mint has been pretty conservative with its product offerings, or had been until this century. In recent years, Mint officials have expanded their collector offerings with coins in new and nontraditional finishes, like Reverse Proof and Enhanced Uncirculated. Such finishes are welcomed by many collectors and dealers, though not all, and embraced by the major grading services. The Mint, prodded by Congress, has also begun issuing coins with concave/convex surfaces, following the lead of other coin issuers. It has also issued a range of precious metals coins and medals that required no congressional authorization, all to mixed reviews from customers.

However, the U.S. Mint had not embraced other products and minting techniques that are commonplace with their competitors, including coins with color, embedments, and advanced technologies. But that could come to an end next year.

If the Mint uses color on the copper-nickel clad half dollar and silver dollar in the 2020 National Basketball Hall of Fame program, those coins would join the hundreds of world coins that feature color. 

The possibility that this could happen horrifies some collectors. One reader wrote at our Facebook page, “No colorizing of coins. No glow in the dark coins. No multi shaped coins. In fact do not copy The Royal Canadian Mint plan of turning out trinkets.” 

Others like the idea, with another reader writing, “I say go for it. Lets see what the US mint can do with color.”

Colorized U.S. coins, particularly ones with a sports theme, could attract individuals who do not ordinarily collect coins; that is a good thing. But the coins could also alienate the Mint’s traditional customers; that is bad. Mint officials should move cautiously in this direction. 

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