ANAStaff's Blog

02 Aug 2013

Commemorative Coins of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition proposed

Coins-United States | ANAStaff

Written by: Brandon Ortega

Commemorative coins are created to honor a person, place or event. That is why a new bill was introduced by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi 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 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 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."


Dr Donald Kagin

(Dr. Donald 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. 

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