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Time to Think About Presidential Coins

May 15, 2017 0 Comments

Now that the Trump Presidency has passed its first one hundred days, this is a good time to reflect on the large number of inauguration medals and commemorative pieces that are on the market. This presidency seems to have provoked significantly more of these items that previous ones, and they are already being collected. Earlier this year the Professional Numismatists Guild took the unusual step of issuing a warning to buyers that none of these items are official US Mint issues, and that anyone collecting them should realize they are probably poor investments. At best, some may be available at close to their ‘melt’ value, and if the price of the metal, for example silver, rises substantially, they may give a return based solely on that.

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Right now, the US Mint has not announced any plans to release official Trump coins, so it is a good moment to look at what the official items associated generally with different American Presidents are, and perhaps focus on collecting those. The most recent relevant release was the two bronze medals commemorating Barack Obama’s two terms as President. Traditionally these are issued at the end of the term – or two terms – of the outgoing president, and true to that, the Mint only released its official medals on January 17, 2017. If that tradition continues, the first Trump medals will appear in January, 2021, or not till 2025, if he wins a second term. So there is a long wait ahead, and plenty of time to build a collection of previous presidents instead.

The Obama medals are both in bronze, and measure 3 inches across. The obverse side of the First Term Medal has a profile portrait, and the Second Term shows an almost full-face picture. On the reverse of the First Term Medal are the words, from his inaugural address, “Our Destiny Is Not Written For Us. It Is Written By Us.” Below is the inauguration date, “January 20, 2009.” Beneath that is the President’s signature, and 50 stars create a border around the inscription. The American Eagle is shown above the inscription.

For the Second Term, the inscription, again from his inaugural address, is, ‘The Single Most Powerful Word in Our Democracy Is the Word “We”.’ The inauguration date appears as well, along with his signature. An image of the White House stands above the inscription. In addition to the 50 stars around the border, there are the words, WE THE PEOPLE. WE SHALL OVERCOME. YES WE CAN.

Besides the 3-inch bronze medals, the Mint has also issued a 1-and-5/16th inch version of each medal, with identical markings. All the medals are designed by the designer/sculptor Don Everhart, and produced at the Philadelphia Mint.

If the past is anything to go by, it will be some time before the Mint decides to issue any circulation coins dedicated to President Obama. So far, for the 20th century, they have only reached Ronald Reagan in circulation $1 coins, with the previous presidents Carter and Ford still missing, and no sign of Clinton or the Bush family. Maybe in 20 years we will see an Obama $1 coin, but only time will tell.

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