Fifty years ago, the Bicentennial Commission began promoting the then upcoming 200th Anniversary of the United States. The subject of this weeks blog. Enjoy!
1971 saw the first release of medals in honor of the event, with new additions in each of the years leading up to and including 1976. Your's truly began the journey into numismatics squarely in the middle of this historic event in 1974 or 1975 ( you'll have to excuse my forgetful mind). What I recall are the many collectibles, tokens and medals being offered for sale or at times simply passed out as a promotional device for local business. America's Bicentennial, as everyone referred to it, was a matter of true pride no matter where you were. From the big city to the small rural town. As I write and reflect on these days long gone, I can not help but ponder on the upcoming 250th Anniversary in five short years. And I think about we as a country, the manner in which we as a people see ourselves. To be certain the celebration will be enjoyed, yet the anticipation thus far is without doubt lacking. While there has been initial discussion within the U.S. Mint and the Treasury Department pertaining to coinage, nothing remotely conclusive has yet to be released. As coin collectors we know it's coming, yet at present a mere idea. Fifty years ago, the general public was getting their first glimpse of such a grand and historic event five full years in advance. So one can only wonder the when and how.
While in possession of nearly the full set of offered medals from 1971 to 1976, the decision was made to save them for a future blog when the official announcement to the public is made on the 250th Anniversary. Instead, the three Bicentennial issues of 1975-76. The three example acquired currently trade at a premium above the grade of 69 despite being graded Gem, or no grade. According to PCGS, this simply means the coin is guaranteed to grade a minimum of 65, none of which are registry eligible. The coins shown are one of three label encapsulations offered. Designer Autographed (shown), Artist Edition and Reunion Edition. Designer series are actual hand signed, not photocopied, as evident by the ink bleed and color variations of each signature. The Artist Edition are similar, yet printed signatures, and number to a maximum of 10,000 examples. The Reunion Edition is the key to the series for those looking to collect these, hand signed with a total of 500. At the moment, in my opinion only, the numbered series are extremely under valued, about half again what the Autographed series cost. This becomes baffling because I've only seen a handful over the years come up for sale, while the autographed are rather common. Something to keep me active in the hunt!
The three artists, ordinary citizens, selected by the Bicentennial Commission in conjunction with the United States Mint from the national contest.
Quarter- Jack L. Ahr, Arlington Heights, Illinois
Half Dollar- Seth G. Huntington, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Dollar- Dennis R. Williams, Columbus, Ohio
Each were awarded a $5,000 check by Treasury Department Representative, William E. Simon at a Washington D.C. ceremony held on April 24, 1974.
Two days later the trio were doing a photo-op tour of the Philadelphia Mint as the die designs were being transferred. Will we see another similar contest for the 250th?