US Coins

On the hunt for William McKinley gold dollar

Treasure hunters in the Washington, D.C. Metro area have the opportunity to participate in Bonanza Coins' holiday treasure hunt by following clues leading to the location of a circulated 1916 William McKinley Memorial gold dollar.

Original images courtesy of Bonanza Coins.

The following news release was issued by Bonanza Coins in Silver Spring, Md. Professional numismatist Julian Leidman says the coin that is the subject of the hunt is circulated, with a jewelry mount on the edge, and is valued at approximately $300.:

Want to win a 1916 McKinley commemorative gold dollar coin? Bonanza Coins' Holiday Treasure Hunt is for you!

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the minting of the scarce 1916 McKinley commemorative gold dollar coin, the Bonanza Coins Treasure Hunt offers you a chance to win a McKinley gold dollar now hidden somewhere in the DC Metro area.

Julian Leidman, owner of Bonanza Coins reports: "McKinley appears on 3 different issues of U.S. commemorative gold coins. Quite fascinating."

Beginning Monday, December 12, 2016, through December 22, 2016, clues will be available at Bonanza Coins and posted on, along with clues tweeted by @fancaster.

The winner will be announced on New Years Day.

About the McKinley commemorative gold dollar

This issue of the McKinley gold dollars of 1916 and 1917 were coined at the request the National McKinley Birthplace Memorial Association nearly fifteen years after McKinley’s death at the hands of an assassin. Proceeds from the sale of the coins were to be used to construct a memorial in his home town of Niles, Ohio. While the original request from the association was for commemorative silver dollars, McKinley’s pro-gold stance in office led Congress to change the bill to call for gold dollar coins instead. A bill passed on February 23, 1916, authorized the mintage of up to 100,000 coins.

Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber was selected to design the obverse, and his assistant George T. Morgan was charged with designing the reverse. Barber was nearing the end of his life, and his obverse was not well received. The portrait of McKinley didn’t particularly look like the former president, which is obviously an issue. Around the top of the periphery are UNITED ? STATES ? OF ? AMERICA, and MCKINLEY ? DOLLAR is seen below.

Morgan’s reverse was even less well-received. It features a facing view of the McKinley Birthplace Memorial structure. Not only is it architecturally inaccurate, but it’s also crudely rendered. Around the periphery of the coin is MCKINLEY BIRTHPLACE MEMORIAL. NILES OHIO is above the memorial, divided by a flag pole, and the date, either 1916 or 1917, is below. When combined with the fact that these coins are often seen weakly struck, the whole makes for an aesthetically poor creation.

There were 20,000 McKinley gold dollars struck in 1916 and a further 10,000 dated 1917 struck in February of the following year. Some uncertainty exists respecting the number of each date that was actually sold as well as the number melted. However, according to B. Max Mehl, a famous dealer of the time who handled many thousands of the coins, 5,000 of both issues were melted, leaving a net mintage of 15,000 for the 1916 issue and only 5,000 for the 1917.

For more information and rules, contact: or by phone, 301-585-1480.

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