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    Modern Numismatics

    Louis Golino has been a collector of American and world coins since childhood and has written about coins since 2009. He writes about modern coins and other numismatic issues for Coin World. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum.

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  • Mint 1916 Centennial Coins in Silver Too

    The U.S. Mint’s proposal to issue gold versions of three classic collector favorites originally minted in 1916 next year was met with strong enthusiasm by the members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission when they discussed the idea earlier this year.  During a meeting held at the U.S. Mint in June, the CCAC saw mock-ups prepared by the Mint of gold versions of the Liberty dime, Standing Liberty quarter, and Walking Liberty half dollar, all dated “2016”.

    Many details need to be worked out especially regarding inscriptions, mintmarks, and how the designs would be replicated.

    Most collectors are also very excited about this program, but many have expressed strong interest in seeing them in silver either instead of or in addition to gold versions. Several members of the CCAC have also expressed interest in silver versions, but so far only the gold coins are planned.

    Proof silver versions would probably be a big hit since the original coins were not issued in proof, and a silver set would probably only cost about $100 or less.  These coins would likely generate a lot of revenue for the Mint, and all of that money (after all production and related costs are recouped) would be sent to the Treasury to pay down the national debt.

    The hitch, though, is that the Mint does not currently have the legal authority to produce these coins in silver.

    A provision in the law creating the American Platinum Eagle program gives the Mint broad discretion when it comes to the minting and designs of gold and platinum coins, and that provision served as the legal foundation for coins like the 2009 Ultra High Relief gold double eagle.

    But to mint them in silver the U.S. Congress would need to enact legislation that allows the Mint to do that since the Mint does not have the authority to mint silver coins in the absence of legal statutes. 

    Another option that has support within the numismatic community and among some members of the CCAC, including outgoing chairman, Gary Marks, is platinum versions of the coins. These could be minted under the Mint’s existing statutory authority, and they would make for an attractive set.

    Platinum is also currently cheaper than gold, and with respective weights of one-tenth, one-quarter, and one-half ounce, platinum versions are an interesting option that would be more affordable than gold versions if platinum remains at its current spot price. The only drawback is that they would still be quite expensive and beyond the reach of many collectors.

    If you think the coins should be minted in silver, contact your Member of Congress and tell them about the proposed coins.

    At the moment most people who follow this issue appear to believe that Congress is unlikely to authorize the silver coins, especially in light of all the political disarray within that institution. 

    But if enough people in Congress become aware of the advantages of minting these coins in silver, it could still happen.