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U.S. Commemorative Coins

Since the United States government released its first official commemorative coin in 1892, the government has authorized the mint to release many commemorative coins to celebrate an important person, place, or event. Numismatists often choose to specialize in collecting this commemorative coinage. Here is some information about these coins.

Are there any gold commemorative coins?

The United States has issued many gold commemorative coins. One such example is the gold commemorative series issued between 1903 and 1926 that includes:

  • Louisiana Purchase coin: This series includes the first gold commemorative coin showing either the profile of Thomas Jefferson or the profile of William McKinley on the obverse. The words "Louisiana Purchase Expo Saint Louis" are along the rim on the reverse side, surrounding the words "One Dollar 1803-1903."
  • Panama Canal coin: This is a $50 gold piece commemorating the opening of the Panama Canal. It shows a Panama Canal worker on its obverse with the words "United States of America" in front of the worker. The reverse shows two dolphins playing, with the words "Panama–Pacific Exposition" and "San Francisco" surrounding the words "one dollar."
  • Panama Canal 2: This one showcases the goddess Minerva on the obverse. The reverse side shows an owl. This octagonal Minerva coin is the only piece that the government ever produced that is not round. These coins, along with the other Panama Canal coin series, were the highest-denomination gold coins released by the government until 1986.
What organizations benefited from the sale of commemorative coins?

The United States Mint has raised over $500 million through the sale of commemorative coins to help different organizations. Each group gets a piece designed especially for them. Some examples include:

  • Boys Town: The obverse of this modern commemorative created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Boys Town shows a portrait of founder Father Flanagan. The reverse shows his outstretched hand holding an acorn tree.
  • National Park Service: The obverse of these coins released to honor the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service shows John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt with Yosemite in the background. The reverse shows the National Park Service's logo.
  • March of Dimes: These are tree different commemorative coins with one featuring Jonas Salk, another showing a parent's hand holding a baby, and a third showing profiles of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt.
  • American Buffalo: This coin is based on the design of the Buffalo Nickel. Its sale helped fund the National Museum of the American Indian.
  • Lions Club International: The obverse shows the portrait of founder Melvin Jones with the club's logo. The reverse shows two lion cubs superimposed over a world globe.
  • Marine Corps: This piece celebrating the 230th birthday of the Marine Corps showcases the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.
  • Doris Miller: This $50 piece showcases the face of World War II hero Doris Miller, who saved many lives when his ship was attacked during World War II.
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