US Coins

Products limited on US Mint 200th anniversary

Making Moderns column from Feb. 8, 2016, issue of Coin World:

The United States Mint was created by passage of the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792. Circulating coins were issued in 1793. 

Two hundred years later, the anniversary of these events passed with but a numismatic whimper.

In 1992, the Mint did release the Silver Proof set. Similar in appearance to the regular 1992 Proof set, this version, in black case, included a dime, quarter dollar and half dollar in 90 percent silver. 

At time of issue, the 1992 Silver Proof set was widely marketed as a new offering to commemorate the Mint’s Bicentennial. The packaging, however, makes no mention of this anniversary. Also of note, the Silver Coin Proof Sets Act of 1990, which authorized the Mint to strike these coins, similarly doesn’t mention the Mint’s anniversary. 

Collectors nonetheless greeted the set with enthusiasm. Over 1 million were sold, and the Mint has continued to offer a Silver Proof set every year since.

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Rep. Jimmy Hayes of Louisiana in 1993 introduced legislation for a three-coin commemorative coin program to mark the Mint’s anniversary. The bill never made it out of committee.

The Mint did sell a bronze Bicentennial medal in 1992. Designs were chosen from entries from Mint employees. Dual dated, 1792–1992, it depicts John Ward Dunsmore’s painting Inspecting the First Coinage on obverse.

Former Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro sculptured the design based on the winning contest submission.

The reverse shows a collage of 15 different U.S. coins. Nine show obverses of coins in their first years of issue. Engraver Thomas Rogers modeled the design based on the winning entry. It was Rogers’ first assignment at the Mint. 

Upon release, there was an outcry from collectors who noted that the 1932-S Washington quarter dollar depicted on the coin showed its Mint mark on obverse  — the position used for coins struck in 1968 and later. While both 1.5-inch and 3-inch bronze versions of the medal show this error, the gaffe was corrected in 1993 when an undated silver version was made. 

In 1993, the U.S. Mint offered the Philadelphia set, consisting of Proof American Eagle gold tenth-ounce, quarter-ounce and half-ounce coins, a Proof American Eagle silver dollar and an undated silver version of the medal.

The only way to get the silver medal was in this set. Just 12,689 were sold, making the medal a relatively low mintage item.

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