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Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee 1998 Annual Report

It is our privilege to present the fifth annual report to Congress of the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee (CCCAC). Public Law 102-390 established the CCCAC, and its first members were appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury on November 15, 1993. The law mandates that the CCCAC shall:

    "(A) designate annually the events, persons, or places that the Advisory Committee recommends be commemorated by the issuance of commemorative coins in each of the 5 calendar years succeeding the year in which such designation is made;

    (B) make recommendations with respect to the mintage level for any commemorative coin recommended under subparagraph (A); and

    (C) submit a report to the Congress containing a description of the events, persons, or places which the Committee recommends be commemorated by a coin, the mintage level recommended for any such commemorative coin, and the Committee's reasons for such recommendation."

The Advisory Committee continues to meet these mandates, committed to its mission of assisting Congress to ensure that American coinage reflects the diversity and greatness of our nation.

During 1998, the CCCAC met six times, both in person and through teleconferencing, to evaluate design elements for upcoming programs, including the first five designs of the 50 States Commemorative Quarters Program. The Committee also debated the merits of and provided feedback to organizations seeking legislation for commemorative programs, and provided information about Committee activities to the public through attendance at the annual American National Numismatic Association convention and through media outlets.

Concerns

Viability of the commemorative coin program was threatened by the near passage of the Capitol Visitor Center Commemorative Coin for the year 2000. It was only by strenuous objections and concerted efforts by the Chairman of the House Banking Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, the Chairman of the Citizen Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee, and the numismatic press that the program was not inserted into the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

The Capitol Visitor Center program raised strong objection from collectors for several reasons:

  1. The proposed program violated the requirements of the 1996 Commemorative Coin Reform Act that no more than two programs per year be authorized by Congress.

  2. It also violated the 1996 Reform Act by authorizing mintages far in excess of limits set by the Act.

  3. The proposed program imposed excessive surcharges on the sales price of the coins, as much as two and one half times standard surcharge levels. Collectors consider these surcharges to be a tax on their hobby.

  4. The Capitol has been the subject of two prior commemorative coin programs in recent years which already had raised funds for the construction of a visitor's center. Moreover, two other authorized coin programs have benefited institutions associated with the Congress: the U.S. Botanic Gardens and the Library of Congress. Yet another commemoration of the Capitol was considered excessive.

  5. Congressional passage of the Capitol Visitor Center Commemorative Coin Act would have violated House committee rules designed to ensure restraint and deliberation in considering commemorative programs. It would also have circumvented the Congressionally-mandated role of the CCCAC in weighing the merits of proposed coin programs.

Also troubling to the Committee is a provision included in the Appropriations Bill that authorizes the extension of the sales period for the Jackie Robinson program through December 31, 1999. We believe this provision sets an unfortunate precedent. Such action is a serious breach of trust by the Congress. Collectors purchase commemorative coins based on numerous factors, including expectations related to program mintages that are set by law before collectors decide to buy. In the history of modern U.S. commemoratives, Congress has never before threatened those expectations.

Recommendations

  1. We strongly urge against extension of sales periods for any commemorative coin programs. This is critical to repairing relationships between Congress and the coin collecting community who purchase 90% of all commemorative coins authorized by Congress.

  2. We urge Congress to move legislation for copyright protection for U.S. Mint products. This previous recommendation was not acted upon this past year, and we believe that such protection is crucial to protecting the interests of coin collectors, the general public and American taxpayers.

  3. We recommend adoption of the following new programs:

      2000 Leif Erickson - We endorse a joint U.S. Mint and Iceland commemorative program honoring both Leif Erickson's voyage and a millenium of discovery. We recommend that the United States Mint coin be a $1 silver coin bearing a design emblematic of discovery with a mintage not greater than 250,000 coins and a surcharge of $10 per coin. We recommend that the designs of the U.S. and Iceland coins be complementary and that the mintage of the Iceland coin likewise be limited to 250,000.

      2001 Buffalo Silver Half-Dollar - The Committee recommends issuance of up to 500,000 silver half-dollars bearing the obverse and reverse design of the "Buffalo Nickel" and bearing a $3 surcharge. The surcharges should be dedicated to the National Museum of the American Indian to further the remembrance of Native American history.

      2002 Salt Lake City Olympics - The Committee recommends issuance of a commemorative coin honoring the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, with the authorization to produce and commence sales beginning October 1, 2001. The Committee recommends issuance of up to 500,000 $1 silver coins with a $10 surcharge given to the United States Olympic Committee.

      2003 Lewis and Clark Expedition - The Committee finds the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to be worthy of commemoration. The Committee recommends issuance of up to 500,000 $1 silver coins emblematic of the expedition with a $10 surcharge given to the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council. The Committee recommends that the design be left to the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the Director of the Mint, the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee, the Commission on Fine Arts, and the Bicentennial Council.

Philip N. Diehl, Chairman
Kenneth Bressett
Reed Hawn
Thomas V. Shockley, III
Elvira Clain-Stefanelli
Elsie Sterling Howard
Jules Reiver
Charles H. Atherton

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Next Section: Commemorative Coin Advisory Commitee (CCCAC) 1999 Annual Report

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