skip navigation
Print Friendly

CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER COMMEMORATIVE COINS FACT SHEET

Availability For Purchase
The Capitol Visitor Center coins were available from the U.S. Mint between February 28, 2001, and March 1, 2002.

What the Coins Commemorate
The coins were authorized to commemorate Congress convening in the Capitol Building in 1800.

The Capitol Visitor Center
Ever since George Washington laid its cornerstone, the U.S. Capitol building has been the definitive symbol of America's democracy. In keeping with the values of our democracy, the Capitol Building--the workplace of our legislature--is open to the public, receiving over 5 million visitors a year.

When Congress first gathered in this building on November 17, 1800, the sparse population and woodland surroundings of Washington, D.C. inspired some to call it a "palace in the wilderness." The members of this original gathering could hardly have envisioned the volume of visitors the building would host 200 years later.

To receive these visitors better, the Capitol building needed a secure place that offered guests comfort, information and assistance, and enough space to accommodate the crowds who come to see democracy in action.

Under the guidance of Congressional leaders in the Capitol Preservation Commission, plans were drawn up for a visitors' center (http://www.senate.gov/coins.html) on the East Front of the Capitol. On June 20, 2000, ground was broken for the Capitol Visitor Center, the first step toward its planned completion in 2005.

The 446,000-square-foot visitor center will contain space for interactive and multi-media exhibits in many languages, food service, security and storage, and will allow access to the Capitol building. Able to accommodate 5,000 visitors at a time, it will allow about 1,500 people per hour to tour the main Capitol Building. Another 700 people per hour will be able to visit the House and Senate galleries.

Story of the Design
Gold Five Dollar
The Gold Five Dollar was designed by Elizabeth Jones, who became the U.S. Mint's first female chief sculptor/engraver in 1981, a position she occupied until 1990. She also designed the 1982 George Washington Silver Half Dollar, the 1983 Olympic Silver Dollar, the 1986 Statue of Liberty Gold Five Dollar and the 1988 Olympic Gold Five Dollar obverse. She received the International "Coin of the Year" Award each year from 1984 to 1988 for each of the three commemorative coins she designed at the U.S. Mint.

Silver Dollar
The proof Silver Dollar obverse was designed by Marika Somogyi of the Beaux Arts College in Budapest. Somogyi's work has been seen in more than 14 art museums around the world, including the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the British Museum. She designed the U.S. Mint's Mount Rushmore Commemorative Silver Dollar obverse and has received the "Excellence in American Medallic Art" Award.

The Silver Dollar reverse was designed by John Mercanti. Mercanti designed the 2000 Library of Congress Bimetallic Ten Dollar obverse and Silver Dollar reverse, the reverse of the Leif Ericson Silver Dollar, and the obverse designs for the George H. W. Bush and the Hubert Humphrey medals. He also designed the Bicentennial of the Congress Gold Five Dollar; the Eisenhower Silver Dollar obverse; the Mount Rushmore Gold Five Dollar obverse; the Korean War Silver Dollar obverse; the 1991 USO Anniversary Silver Dollar obverse; and two of the 1995 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Silver Dollar obverses (track & field and cycling).

Clad Half Dollar Coin
The Clad Half Dollar obverse was designed by Dean McMullen, a semi-retired free-lance graphic designer and formerly a staff artist with an advertising agency. He also designed the 1993 Bill of Rights one dollar and half dollar reverses, the 1994 World Cup Soccer Silver Dollar obverse, as well as the World Cup Soccer Gold Five Dollar, Silver Dollar and Clad Half Dollar reverses.

The Clad Half Dollar reverse is a composite of designs by Alex Shagin and Marcel Jovine.

Born in Russia, Mr. Shagin designed commemorative coins and medals for the Leningrad Mint in the 1970s, including Peter the Great 300, Michelangelo 500, Apollo Soyuz, and the Moscow Olympics.

Marcel Jovine designed the official medal for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY; the 125th Anniversary Medal for the American Numismatic Society; and, for the U.S. Mint, the Mount Rushmore Clad Half Dollar obverse and the Bicentennial of the Constitution Gold Five Dollar obverse and reverse.

Design Theme on Reverse
Gold Five Dollar: The reverse of the coin shows the Capitol building as it appeared in 1800.
Silver Dollar: The reverse shows a contemporary interpretation of the U.S. bald eagle wrapped in a banner that says "U.S. Capitol Visitor Center"
Clad Half Dollar: The reverse features 16 stars-representing the 16 states that existed in 1800 - around the center, with inscriptions recognizing the 32 Senators and 106 House members of the 6th Congress.

Artists/Designers/Sculptors/Engravers
Gold Five Dollar: Elizabeth Jones
Silver Dollar: Marika Somogyi, obverse; John Mercanti, reverse
Clad Half Dollar: Dean McMullen, obverse; Alex Shagin and Marcel Jovine, reverse

Place Minted
Gold Five Dollar: West Point, NY ("W" Mint Mark)
Silver Dollar: Philadelphia, PA ("P" Mint Mark)
Clad Half Dollar: Philadelphia, PA ("P" Mint Mark)

Authorization Date
The coins were authorized on December 6, 1999, by Public Law 106-126.
Year(s) on Coins
Gold Five Dollar: 2001
Silver Dollar: 2001
Clad Half Dollar: 2001

Authorized Mintage Limits
Gold Five Dollar: 100,000
Silver Dollar: 500,000
Clad Half Dollar: 750,000

Group/Cause Benefited by Coin Sales
A portion of the proceeds from each coin--$35 from the Gold Five Dollar coin, $10 from the Silver Dollar coin, and $3 from the Clad Half Dollar--will go to benefit the construction of a visitor center under the U.S. Capitol's East Plaza.

st-4