The Error Collector's Blog

25 Jan 2023

Illegal Designs On Coins

Young Numismatists Exchange | The Error Collector

Recently I was talking with a friend about United States coins with living people depicted on them, the conversation inspired me to write this blog.

There are not many U.S. coins with living people on them because it is illegal for a living person to be depicted on a U.S. coin

1921 Alabama Centennial Half-Dollar (Thomas Kilby 1865-1943)

Laura Gardin Fraser designed the 1921 Alabama centennial half dollar. It was made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Alabama's admission into the Union. The obverse depicts Portraits of William Bibb and Thomas Kilby (Their portraits are both facing left). William Bibb was Alabama's first governor and Thomas Kilby was the governor at the time the coin was minted. Thomas Kilby was the first living person to be on a US commemorative coin. 22 stars are in the field because Alabama was the 22nd state to enter the Union. A variety with 30,000 minted showing "2X2" behind the portraits were also produced. Thereverse depicts the Alabama State Seal which portrays an eagle with raised wings, holding arrows in its talons and a scroll in its beak the scroll has the state motto. The state seal was changed in 1939.The total mintage number was 100,000 pieces. 70,000 were minted and 5,000 were returned to the mint to be melted leaving a total of mintage of 65,000. The sale price was $1.00 each.

1926 Sesquicentennial of American Independence Half-Dollar (Calvin Coolidge 1872-1933)

1926 marked the Sesquicentennial of American Independence so the United States Mint minted a commemorative coin to commemorate the sesquicentennial. The coin was designed by John R Sinnock. The obverse depicts portraits of the first president, George Washington and current (at the time the coin was minted) president Calvin Coolidge. The reverse depicts the Liberty Bell. The United States Mint minted 1,000,000 coins to sell, 140,592 coins were sold leaving a total of 859,408 coins to be melted.

1936 Robinson/Arkansas Half-Dollar (Joseph T Robinson 1872-1937)

In 1936 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Arkansas admission to the union the United States mint minted a commemorative coin. The obverse was designed by Everett Burr and depicts an eagle with outstretched wings. The reverse was designed by Henry Kreis and depicts a bust of Senator Joseph T Robinson from Arkansas. 50,000 coins were authorized 25,250 coins were minted and all were sold to the public.

1995 Special Olympics Dollar (Eunice Kennedy Shriver 1921-2009)

In 1995 to commemorate "Special Olympics" the United States Mint minted a commemorative coin. The obverse was designed by Jamie Wyeth and depicts a bust of Eunice K Shriver. The reverse was designed by Thomas D Rogers and depicts Special Olympics Medal, Flowers, and a Quote from Eunice K Shriver that says "As we hope for the best in them, hope is reborn in us." Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the sister to President John F Kennedy and the founder of the Special Olympics.

2016 Nancy Reagan First Spouse $10 (Nancy Reagan 1921-2016)

In 2016 the United States Mint minted a first spouse $10 gold coin for the first spouse coin series. The obverse was designed by Benjamin Sowards and depicts a portrait of Nancy Reagan, the reverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz and depicts Nancy Reagan with her arms around two children. The coin was approved early before she died even though it was minted after she died.



Level 5

I wrote a blog with that same topic and same coins.

I will have to see your blog!


Level 4

Thanks for the good blog - it was very fascinating. I knew about the Sesquicentennial coin and the Nancy Reagan one (despite it being minted after her passing), but it was very interesting to learn about the others. It is definitely curious how people manage to circumvent the coinage laws when they want to, although there is something to be said for these coins being commems. Either way, this was a good read and I enjoyed it, so thank you!


Level 6

Interesting subject! Enjoyed your blog! ; )

AC coin$

Level 6

Great essay on this subject. The term ilegal could be overtaken by artistic. Great blog. Thanks !!!

Long Beard

Level 5

An appropriate blog subject for discussion. This one is a bit confusing, not to mention misunderstood. Yes, it is illegal based on the coinage laws for a living person to be portrayed on a United States coin. There in is the confusion and misunderstanding. To be a coin, it must first be struck for commerce then monetized before leaving the mint. Commemoratives, including those you've listed do not apply to this even though they are monetized as currency, and could be used at face value. Many of those early half dollars did in fact circulated. So this is what confuses collectors. As for a James "Jimmy" Carter Presidential dollar, none exist as he is still living. It went from Gerald Ford to Ronald Reagan. Again, enjoyed this blog very much.

same for the Jimmy Carter presidential dollar. the government seems as if they make rules, but don't obey them.


Level 3

Awesome blog; very informative! Looking forward to more of your work in the near future.


Level 6

Interesting subject. Congress seems to do what it wants too.


Level 7

I enjoyed the read very much. Nancy died two months before the coin was released. There were some commens. I know that Congress has to take part of the blame. They get a bill it passes and then there is a two year wait before the the coins are made. . Some say the mint relaxed some of the rules. But even if there illegal people buy them.. I don't think we will be seeing anymore of this . Its wrong no matter what way you look at it. You are right Thanks for the excellent read.


Level 6

Very informative blog. Lots of good info. Creative subject. Well done.

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