Monday Morning Brief for Sept. 7, 2020: Joint programs great, but ...
- Published: Sep 7, 2020, 7 AM
The announcement by the Royal Mint and the United States Mint that they would team up to issue Mayflower 400th Anniversary coins should not surprise anyone. The theme is important to the history of both the United States and Great Britain.
Regular readers of this column may recall that I am not a fan of the U.S. Mint’s decision to issue coins commemorating the Mayflower anniversary. My objections are not to the theme of the anniversary — the Mayflower’s arrival is a key point in American history — but to how the coins were authorized.
Congress considered legislation seeking Mayflower commemorative coins for 2020 but the measure failed to gain traction legislatively. Instead, Congress authorized programs for the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in the United States (and Congress limits commemorative coin programs to no more than two a year).
U.S. Mint officials got around this slight by using the broad authority it has to issue gold coins of virtually any kind without approval from Congress. The Mayflower coins are what I have been calling “noncommemorative commemoratives.” They are commemorative in nature, but because they were not authorized by Congress, they lack the usual commemorative surcharges. While the Mint has the authority to go this route, exercising that authority could lead the Mint to issue ever-increasing numbers of gold coins that many of its customers cannot afford.
The Mint’s World War II 75th anniversary coin is another of these noncommemorative commemorative coins. Traditional legislative efforts seeking coins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the war also failed to gain support in Congress. Nonetheless, the Mint plans to issue a coin celebrating the event.
Back to the joint project with the Royal Mint. Such projects can be a good thing for both participating entities. They expose customers of one mint to the products of the other mint.
I just wish that the U.S. Mint had not gone the route that it has, issuing coins that Congress essentially rejected.
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