US Coins

Monday Morning Brief: It is a new era in Washington, but will a new Congress change its policies?

Many Coin World readers express fatigue with the years of ongoing design change in the Washington quarter dollar subseries, and were relieved at the thought that this redesign might be the last, but it's not. Congress did not ask our readers.

Original images courtesy of U.S. Mint

A new president and a new Congress have been sworn into office in Washington, D.C., with all of the changes those events typically bring.

For the collecting community, the question remains: Will Congress reform how it handles numismatically themed legislation?

In the distant past, Congress would hold hearings on legislation seeking changes to U.S. coinage and paper money. Legislators would invite experts to testify on the merits and pitfalls of each new bill, experts including leaders from the numismatic community — collectors, dealers, club officers and journal editors.

Congress often listened to what we had to say. That is how the Los Angeles Olympic Games commemorative coins of 1983 to 1984 were changed from a huge program that would have sent profits into the coffers of several major corporations to a smaller program with sales administered by the U.S. Mint, setting a standard for sales for all following program. The State quarter dollars program of 1999 to 2008 was born with the remarks of numismatists testifying on the worrisome growth of commemorative coin programs.

In recent years, though, Congress has ignored the views of the numismatic community. We got a one-year Territorial quarters program in 2009 and the America the Beautiful program of 2010 to 2021, all with little to no input from the numismatic community. The new multi-year quarter dollars program to begin in  2022 honoring the contributions and accomplishments of American women is going ahead with no congressional consultation with hobby leaders, and based on collector comments, is not welcomed due to collector fatigue over so many new designs.

Commemorative coin programs are mostly driven by the urge to raise money for charities. Authorization of congressional gold medals has soared. All of this has been done without the advice of the collector community.

It may be too much to ask that Congress return to the former way of considering the merits of numismatic legislation, but we can hope.

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