Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 1, 2022: You're kidding, right?

August 01, 2022 2 min read

Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 1, 2022: You're kidding, right?

By William T. Gibbs , Coin World, Published: Aug 1, 2022, 7 AM

Horrendous. That is the only way to describe the new House legislation seeking to honor 20 firefighters who fought a fire in Arizona in 2013, 19 of whom were killed. Horrendous not because of the proposed program’s theme but because passage of the bill in its existing form would require production of 120 different coins.

I write again: 120 coins.

The proposed program for 2013 seeks the usual three denominations — copper-nickel clad half dollar, silver dollar, and gold $5 half eagle — but departs from the usual, and from reality, in its approach.

It seeks 20 different designs, a portrait for each of the dead firefighters and their surviving comrade, in each denomination in both Proof and Uncirculated versions. Let’s do the math: 20 X 3 X 2 = 120.

That would be nuts.

Even the worst programs of the 1930s and the program associated with the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics did not result in that many coins.

For the United States Mint, designing the coins for this program would be an immense challenge, virtually insurmountable. Creating 20 worthwhile portraits would be challenging, even if they were coupled with a single reverse design used for all three denominations.

What is really nuts is the expectation that collectors would support the program. If the Mint released the coins at the prices charged for the 2022 commemorative coins, total outlay for all 120 of the 2023 commemorative coins would be $30,400, and rising gold and silver prices could make the final total higher. No collector wants that.

This legislation deserves no consideration by either chamber of Congress.

As it currently stands, Congress has authorized no commemorative coins for 2023. A year without commemorative coins would be much preferable to this monstrosity.

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