Commemorative coins are created to honor a person, place or
event. That is why a new bill was introduced by Democratic leader
that would require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in
commemoration of the centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and the
Panama Canal, and for other purposes.
From 1890 until 1914 the Panama Canal was constructed by nearly
40,000 workers. The canal runs 51 miles long and connects the
Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The canal is crucial to trade
as it eliminates ships from traveling an extra 8,000 miles by
having to sail around the tip of South America or through the Strait of Megellan. Construction of the canal
is widely considered the greatest engineering project of its time.
The United States, under the leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt, strongly
supported the construction of the canal and purchased $40 million
worth of equipment and concession to finalize the project.
On Aug. 15, 1914, the canal opened. The following year from Feb.
20-Dec. 4, 1915, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a
world's fair, was held in San Francisco and commemorated the
completion of the
Panama Canal and the 400-year anniversary of the Spanish explorer
Vasco Nunes de Balboa's discovery of the
Pacific Ocean when he became the first
explorer to cross Panama. In connection with the
Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Congress authorized the
United States Mint to issue five different coins dated 1915. These
commemorative coins were the first United States commemorative
coins to display the motto "In God We Trust." The five coins minted include $1, $2 ½ and $50
round coins as well as a unique 50-dollar octagonal coin.
The bill introduced by Pelosi on July 19 would
require minting of $5 octagonal gold coins, $5 round gold coins, $2
½ gold coins, $1 gold coins, and half-dollar silver coins. The
proceeds from the surcharge on the sale of the commemorative coins
would assist in supporting the educational programs of the San Francisco
Museum and Historical Society.
Dr. Donald Kagin, an ANA Life
Member and board member of the San Francisco Museum and
Historical Society, said, "This legislation offers numismatists an
exceptional opportunity to enhance a National Historic Landmark and
numismatic icon - The Old San Francisco Mint - while giving
collectors the opportunity to readily acquire the extremely popular
and uniquely designed Panama-Pacific coins."
Kagin is an ANA Life Member and strong supporter of the
Panama-Pacific commemorative coins)
The bill requires the coins to have a similar
look to the original five coins issued for the opening of the
Pan-Pacific Exposition. Only one U.S. Mint facility location would
be allowed to strike any particular quality of the coins, and the
coins would also only be issued for a 1-year period starting
January 1, 2017.