US Coins

Nancy Reagan would be first living person on a U.S. coin since '95

Nancy Reagan would be the first living person on a U.S. coin since Eunice Shriver in 1995.

Official White House portrait, 1981

It's possible Nancy Reagan will see herself on a U.S. commemorative coin in 2016, which is an occurrence that has not happened in 20 years.

Coin World's Paul Gilkes broke the story Thursday that the U.S. Mint is in the process of designing a Presidential dollar coin commemorating President Ronald Reagan and a First Spouse gold $10 coin featuring Nancy Reagan, and that the products are expected to be issued in 2016.

If that plan is executed, Nancy Reagan would be the first living person to be featured on a U.S. coin since 1995, when Eunice Shriver (née Kennedy) was put on the 1995 Special Olympics World Games silver dollar.

On that coin, Shriver's profile is displayed on the coin's obverse surrounded by the inscription SPECIAL OLYMPICS WORLD GAMES and 1995. On the reverse is the logo of the Special Olympics along with an inspirational quote from Shriver, who is credited with founding the games. 

"As we hope for the best in them, hope is reborn in us," reads the quote.

With rare exceptions in which a president had no wife while in office, the First Spouse coins have so far portrayed the coin's subject on the obverse, and then dedicated the reverse to an image symbolizing the spouse's legacy as first lady. For those exceptions, the First Spouse coins have exhibited a Liberty from coinage used during the president's time in office on the obverse and a design reflecting the president's accomplishments on the reverse.

Just like her husband, Nancy Reagan was a star of the screen in the 1940s and 1950s before becoming a political heavyweight. She became the first lady of California in 1967 and the first lady of the United States in 1981.

Nancy Reagan's major initiative as first lady was the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign.

She is quoted on the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library website as saying, "Drugs take away the dream from every child’s heart and replace it with a nightmare, and it’s time we in America stand up and replace those dreams."

Mint spokesman Michael White said that the act that authorized the Presidential dollar mandates that a president’s portrait cannot appear on a coin unless he’s been deceased at least two years. The same act also authorizes the First Spouse coins, but there is no such prohibition for that series.

What do you think about a living person being portrayed on a U.S. coin? Tell us in the comments below!

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