U.S. Mint depends on collectors for commem sales: Coin World

Congress continues to fund special projects not through direct appropriations, but by authorizing commemorative coins, forcing collectors to fund individual organizations through the surcharges attached to the price of every coin. Read the full transcipt below:

This is the Monday Morning Brief for February 5, 2018. I’m Coin World Senior Editor Paul Gilkes.

Congress has depended on the numismatic collecting community to buy the U.S. commemorative coins legislators have mandated in order to raise funds to benefit the organizations specified in the respective enabling legislation.

Since the U.S. Mint began collecting surcharges placed on commemorative coins beginning in 1983 with Los Angeles Olympic Games coins through the end of 2016 with the National Park Service Centennial Coins, from 66 programs the U.S. Mint has collected $519.66 million in surcharges and distributed more than 99 percent of the net surcharges.

Prior to the passage of the Omnibus Appropriations legislation in 1996, commemorative coin legislation only required that a program be produced at no net loss to the federal government in order to receive the surcharges raised.

With the 1996 legislation, surcharges would not be distributed until the Mint had first recouped all production and related costs.

The surcharge recipients were also required to raise matching funds equal to the maximum amount of surcharges that could be raised through coin sales.

The recipient organizations are also subject to federal audit of the surcharges distributed. Moneys would not be distributed until all of the criteria was met.

At least one program, the Girl Scouts of America program in 2013, received no surcharges because production and related costs were higher than the amount of surcharges collected.

1996 Mint reform legislation restricts the maximum number of annual commemorative coin programs to two, although it took Congress a few years to remember their own legislation passed before heeding the restrictions.

Congress needs to address the need for coin programs that collectors and the general public will embrace, with creative designs.

Many of the programs being offered lately do not have wide appeal based on the sales recorded.

The surcharge beneficiaries also need to take a more active role in the development process for such programs and not just expect hobbyists to pay all of the freight on programs the majority may not want.


For Coin World. I’m Paul Gilkes.

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