US Bill Seeks New Dime, Quarter and Half Dollar Designs

by Darrin Lee Unser on July 12, 2013 · 46 comments

Much to the pleasure of many coin collectors, an image of Lady Liberty could once again grace U.S. dimes, quarters and half dollars, but only if newly introduced legislation becomes law.

1977 Liberty Cap design created and signed by Frank Gasparro

The Smithsonian Institution website shows this image of the Flowing Hair Liberty with Phrygian cap (liberty cap) that is signed by Frank Gasparro. Gasparro created it in 1977 as a design proposal for the dollar coin. A provision in the American Liberty Coinage and Deficit Reduction Act of 2013 states this design should be used on half-dollars.

So as not to eliminate former Presidents on coinage and seal better support for the bill, numbered H.R. 2535, a threshold is outlined stating Liberty-themed designs would appear on at least 40% of new circulating commemorative coins but not more than 50%. Remaining dimes, quarters and half dollars would continue to feature the traditional Presidential portraits and designs.

New Liberty-Themed Obverse Designs and New Reverse Designs

This bill, entitled the American Liberty Coinage and Deficit Reduction Act of 2013, was introduced in the US House of Representatives by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) on June 27, 2013. Under the terms of the Act, obverse or head side designs emblematic and allegoric of the concept of ‘American Liberty’ would appear on coins as soon as 2015. They would also sport new reverses that:

  • depict an American bald eagle;
  • depict a fasces emblematic of civil governance;
  • depict the torch of knowledge;
  • are emblematic and allegoric of ‘The Union’; or
  • depicts one or more of the American values and attributes of freedom, independence, peace, strength, equality, democracy and justice

Each would bear the traditional obverse and reverse inscriptions, including ‘LIBERTY’, ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’, the year of minting, ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’, ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM’ and the face value.

As is standard with modern American coinage, all designs would be reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and selected by the Secretary of the Treasury after consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts.

Alternating Issuance of Liberty Dimes and Liberty Quarters

Liberty dimes and Liberty quarters would be issued by the United States Mint in alternating years, with the dime leading the change beginning in 2015.

Older US Coins Featuring Lady Liberty Designs

Older U.S. coins with Lady Liberty designs — Morgan dollar, Mercury dime and Peace dollar

Liberty half dollars would not alternate. 50-cent pieces would get struck annually with the designs changed every 10 years. For them, the bill includes specific language requiring the consideration of the 1977 Liberty mini dollar design that was prepared by former United States Chief Sculptor and Engraver Frank Gasparro. Gasparro created a Liberty Cap design for the 1979 dollar, but it was replaced by the portrait of Susan B. Anthony.

Versions for Coin Collectors

Bags and rolls of the dimes and quarters at face value plus issuance costs would be made available for numismatic purposes. Other numismatic versions would also be allowed, including proof and uncirculated Liberty coins, as well as some struck from 99.9% fine silver.

H.R. 2535 Requirements and Status

H.R. 2535 requires the Secretary of the Treasury to complete a study on the effects of Liberty coins on the Federal budget deficit over a ten-year period. This study would need to be reported to Congress within 90 days after the Act became law. The bill stipulates that new Liberty coins would only get struck if the study determines a reduction in the deficit of at least $100 million, or if the Secretary of the Treasury failed to submit the study to Congress within the 90-day window.

Along with making money from sales of collectible versions of coins, the government could garner revenue in increased seigniorage if Americans pulled Liberty coins from circulation and saved them in large quantities like they famously did with 50 State Quarters.

The American Liberty Coinage and Deficit Reduction Act started with some bipartisan support. Cosponsoring the bill are Rep David Loebsack (D-IA), Rep Mark Meadows (R-NC), Rep Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Rep Ted Yoho (R-FL).

H.R. 2535 has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. For the bill to become law, it must pass both chambers of Congress and be signed by the President of the United States.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Timxthy July 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Deliberately LIBERTY, undoubtedly the best Ideal and unanimously approved back when? 1792 ? Personally I liked the Pole to Cap Large Cents from 1794 to about 1799. Real silver currency, and cheap booze sometimes, lol. Good Beer is a must have, and G & D’s PIZZA from Cadillac, MI 49601 should also be on the menu. Oh, Let’s not forget Betsy Ross sewing the strips of cloth together making the Flag, our forefathers fought & protected, that gave us LIBERTY, to begin with. Lastly, the Soldiers “Proud of our SOLDIERS”, should really be the MOTTO.

Adeptus July 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Forget lady liberty, lets get Girl Freedom from the AOCS coins

David July 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm

This is the spark we all need. I for see great things from the United States Mint. The Lincoln Cent would become even more valuable. I would buy them now while they are still available in higher grades. This is the time to buy all Lincoln cents!!!

jim July 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Replace 40% to 50% of current designs? How does that cut the deficit? Do it anyway if they don’t get the report in 90 days? What foolishness. This bill should go straight to committee black hole. If they want to cut costs the first thing Congress needs to do is get rid of the penny and the dollar. Get Congress to cut the deficit that way first and then they can start thinking about messing with the designs on our money.

jimmy July 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm

those lady liberty coins are great and beautiful. i support it.

David July 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Yes, Jim the Dollar bill cost more to make than the dollar coin. That’s why Canada is using the dollar coin. The penny does not cost more to make. It is a great way to interact with your family and talk about the history of Lincoln.

David July 12, 2013 at 7:36 pm

I also support it. jimmy

jim July 13, 2013 at 12:42 am

Looks like she’s shocked at what she’s looking at and can’t keep her mouth shut. They can do a better design than that.
Also from all that I’ve seen and read it costs more to make a penny than what it’s worth. That’s why Canada got rid of their penny.

Vachon July 13, 2013 at 7:23 am

If they can’t vote away the Presidential designs, then I vote nay on this proposal. There are enough Presidential coins in circulation that they will NEVER go away. The “political necessity” of keeping Presidents on the coins, especially considering most of them also appear on the paper currency is ridiculous. Co-circulation is not a good idea. I’d rather have the status quo than a gimmick.

Every current design is well past its retirement age…let the Presidents go. They were a good idea and appropriate for the World War II generation but it’s time for the younger generations to get their ideals depicted in coin form.

And I thought the Seated Liberty and Coronet gold pieces went on for too long…

Tim July 13, 2013 at 7:29 am

Every penny cost the Mint two pennies last year.

paul July 13, 2013 at 8:02 am

I support it. Get rid of those Kennedys! Running out of pages for my dansco album and going to need a hoist to lift them real soon!

steve1942 July 13, 2013 at 11:10 am

I like the idea of “Lady Liberty”. It is time to modernize our coins. FDR, on the dime? I doubt if many citizens, not in my generation, really know who he is and why so famous. The Kennedy Half Dollar, it’s not a coin at all. Since it’s not meant for circulation and it isn’t bullion, it’s simply a gimmick to raise funds. It should never have been pulled from circulation, it’s a denomination that would be most useful. I’d rather carry one half, not 2 quarters. Problem is, too many anti-Kennedy people. So, it’s just waiting to accommodate the “Lady”. A decent dollar coin too. One that doesn’t look like the cheapest coin of the bunch. These fake gold coins that flake and change design ever few months are a joke. With the use of ATM cards, our pockets aren’t full or $1.00 bills. The same would be true of $1 coins. Every great design we’ve had, we’ve discarded. Would you rather have the Liberty (Mercury) dime, a Standing Liberty Quarter, a Walker, and a Morgan or the pile of designs we carry today? I didn’t mention the cent. The reason, it should be eliminated.

steve1942 July 13, 2013 at 11:16 am

Geez, forgot the greatest design of all. The Buffalo nickel ( I’m sorry Lady Liberty) or the new caricature of Jefferson? I think Thomas would be embarrassed.

David July 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I agree with steve on the rest of the coins. The Lincoln cent should not be eliminated. We do not want to round are change out. Either way it would still make it more valuable for collectors. It is already hard to find these coins in MS66 and up. Old banked wrapped rolls are very hard to find unsearched. Most of them have already been searched and are for sale as unsearched. If you find Lincoln cent rolls that have not been searched you should find some good coins. Graded Lincoln cents are a far better bet if your looking for a higher graded coin.

sean7k July 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Does it really matter what is on the coins when they are just made of crap metals? The whole point of money is that it has value. You trade value for value. Our coins, unless they are silver or gold are just fakes- counterfeits if you please. They are accepted because people no longer understand what money really is.

The mlnt could make them out of steel or zinc with numbers on them- if you ever had to depend on them having an equivalance of value, you are out of luck. They profit because they are selling coins that have metal values below their face values (except nickels and who puts those back into circulation?)

We trade our labor and property for paper dollars and zinc-copper coins. They have to be laughing their arses off. Even the dollars are redeemed as an option. As debt instruments, they can be devalued, debased or just refused. Then, what are YOU left with?
If they want to change our coins- change them to the real thing.

David July 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm

In the early 1960s the “roll boom” in U.S. coins was exacerbated by speculation in 1950-D nickels (in particular), by the debut of Coin World in April 1960, and the sensation created that same year by the appearance of Small and Large Date variants of the 1960 Philadelphia and Denver Lincoln cents. After Coin World published the story, bank-wrapped $50 bags of 1960 Philadelphia Small Date rolls soared to more than $12,000

Timxthy July 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I have declared the winner for the design of the United States of American Quarter Dollar. It’s my very pretty friends, and their approval was granted. But I See no methods of putting the design here in the public forum. What shall we do next? Oh, I’ll edit my website with the coin first, so the thumbnail catches your eyes… Thanks.

Timxthy July 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm
Munzen July 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Steve, half-dollars WERE meant for circulation. I was a kid in the early 1960s and remember that the coins circulated regularly until 1964. So many people held the Kennedy coins as keepsakes that they vanished almost as soon as they went into circulation. Then some genius at the mint decided to keep minting them out of (OK, debased) silver after dimes and quarters were changed to clad. Anyone who wasn’t hoarding halves for the image of JFK was keeping them for their silver content, so the denomination was basically gone by 1971.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the denomination. Half-dollars circulate widely in Australia; so do 50p coins in Britain and €0.50 coins in the EU. What’s wrong is that most of us Americans think life as we know it will end if anyone ever changes our change.

steve1942 July 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Maunzen: I didn’t make myself clear. I know the Kennedy was once a circulated coin, I lived through it. It was stopped in 2002. The Ike was also a circulated coin, I also know that, a far better (and much larger) dollar than we have today. The Kennedy died it’s death thanks to the mint. Releasing it as a 90% silver in ’64 and reducing that metals content until “71 helped make it a collectible. Once it became a clad, the era of collection slowed down. We did fine with the Franklins and could have managed with the Kennedy also, clad or not. The mint just had to just keep releasing them to the banks. I don’t know your history with the Kennedy but I spent many of them. If fact, we joked about the copper and how the American coinage had become useless. After 2002, the mint never made 5 million half dollars for circulation again. Very odd as prior to 2002 the mint produced 77 million in 1980, Many other years more than 50 million Kennedy coins hit the street. I doubt if there were many Kennedy collectors of non silver coins until the count went down. Now, many of us buy the yearly mint sets just for the Kennedy and scramble to get a graded older one. The mint not only helped itself, it put gave the graders more to do. It also ended the era of the half dollar.

jim July 13, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Maybe they should try that on the penny, then?

Timxthy July 14, 2013 at 6:12 am

If it were the penny, that’s to be upgraded, then things would definitely cost less. Unfortunately that’s not the case. I’ve heard rumor from uppers in the military as recently as a month ago, that the penny’s days are numbered. Everything I’ve described in my coin design is coming full tilt. you can check progress here. http://tinyurl.com/cpcxmo2

jim July 14, 2013 at 9:12 am

The military? What has the military got to do with this? Congress makes that decision, not the military.

steve1942 July 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Jim: I also feel the penny should be removed from production. It is a silly coin that does little in product cost except allow advertisers to use $29.99 gimmick. In fact most small stores now have a bowl at their cash register area full of them where both customers and owners keep them to allow change to be given down to the nickel level. If a penny more is needed, it comes from that bowl, if a penny is given in change, it goes into that bowl. As to production cost, though, I once agreed with you. I also believed it cost more to make a penny than it is worth. Because of manufacturing expense that still may be true. But, checking the weight of the cent (2.5 grams) and the cost of zinc, 9.75% of the weight and the copper, .25% of the weight, it appears that the base metals only value 1/2 a cent. I’m not sure if any of the metal costs have importance to the subject, just add to the conversation of the use of the coin. None of those costs are important to me, I still feel, as you, the cent has become outdated and useless. It is a great coin, though, when trying to get our young children excited about our hobby.

Tim July 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Per the US Mint, the penny cost is .0200 each per 2012 figures. The nickel was a dime plus. Both costs actually decreased in 2012 over 2011.

Legend July 14, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Be a nice retirement gift to see Gasparro’s design on the Halves for the rest of his life, with all the good work he did for us.
And the mint said these new designs are IN ADDITION to current designs. New designs on the Dimes first in 2015, 2017, 2019 and so on. And perhaps in three roll sets with P and D, as well as S. Or maybe two rolls as well, with the S roll available singularly as the ATB is now.
Be great to see a new Liberty quarter, with the astonishing S Quarters being minted now for we ATB collectors. We would get new quarters beginning in 2016, 2018, 2020 and so forth. With Bags and rolls like the ATB’s. Then to top it off the new additional Liberty half as well keeping the Kennedy, with the run lasting until 2025.
What is most exciting is the idea of Liberty and ATB proof clad and proof silver sets.
This is all great news, and apparently, the mint will be hiring. Lots of us been waiting for new designs as long as some of the engravers at the mint have.
Cannot wait to see the first Liberty coins, with current, (and not last century’s), dates!
Kudos to the ideas folks.

David July 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Well said

Munzen July 15, 2013 at 1:10 am

Steve: thanks for your elaboration. We’re actually coming from the same direction. I too used to go to the bank and get as many halves as I could and spent them everywhere possible. Around 1990 I finally gave up because (a) almost no local banks stocked halves anymore (“special orders only”) and (b) I got tired of clerks refusing to take them because they thought the denomination had been withdrawn / I was scamming them with a foreign coin / pick any other random piece of misinformation.

Brain Young July 16, 2013 at 3:08 am

I hope they do let this happen. Our change needs a change. I also hope this is the last year they make the 1 cent coin. I visited the Bahamas a couple of years ago, their 1 cent coin is smaller than the United States dime. If we insist on keeping the penny, we should make it really small, like they do in the Bahamas.

RonnieBGood July 16, 2013 at 10:38 am

Collectors and Investor’s: It is a time for a change in our change! The public / new potential collectors have lost interest. Pocket change is what people see and if it is interesting enough they will look further and find other coins offered by the US mint.

When the first sets of 5 state quarters were released it caused a stir. Parents and Grandparents bought kids coin books to fill and an estimated 140 million people were again collecting coins. It started out great but then faltered.

Why? One of the problems was the 10 year length of the program. Can you really expect to hold the public’s interest for 10 years? The American Silver Eagle program has succeeded longer for two main reasons:
#1) Direct marketing to collectors and investors.
#2) a 90% Silver content!

A change in our coin designs is a start but place a bit of precious metal in our coins (even 5 to 10% will do) and you will again get the public’s attention. Coins are not produced to make a profit (or a loss) but to represent a place holder for the value that the world places on our fiat currency. Collectors will ultimately lose the battle to electronic monies transfers if coins have no value other than the worthless metals they are struck from.

Sean – Keep the waters of knowledge flowing.

sean7k July 16, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Thanks RBG. 5-10% could be the start of something bigger. I couldn’t agree more.

jim July 17, 2013 at 9:05 am

The day after that happens hoarding will begin in earnest. Each coin will see the light of day only once before disappearing forever.

sean7k July 17, 2013 at 6:25 pm

It might make the dollar bill superfluous. No one would want them any more. Might create a dual price structure for goods- that might make the central banks panic…

David July 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Great things are about to happen.

Vachon July 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I work as a cashier and give out half dollars in change. People take them and accept them readily (the rejection rate is about 2%). What they do with them afterward I have no idea. Despite having put literally thousands of them over the years “back into circulation” I don’t see evidence of them getting spent again.

They’ve got to figure out what to do about banks that don’t keep adequate supplies of half-dollars, dollar coins, and $2 bills on hand. Since the public cannot do business with the Federal Reserve, we have no choice but to do business with local banks. So long as these coins and bills remain authorized coinage, why is it permissible for our (pretty much) only source of these denominations to deny them to the demanding public?

jim July 19, 2013 at 11:40 pm

I think that’s the problem – the public isn’t demanding half dollars, dollar coins, and $2 bills. The banks won’t have half dollars since they’re only minted and sold to collectors at a premium. $ coins are probably more readily available but it’s been a while since I went to the bank to get any. I think you’ll find $2 bills at race tracks where they are used – don’t know for sure since I haven’t been.

Vachon July 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm

But there’s still hundreds of millions of half dollars sitting around. The bank I use still carries them and offers them in the quantities I want be it just a roll or several hundred dollars. It’s why I closed my accounts elsewhere. I would be told when I asked for halves or $2 bills that “Nobody wants them” and would stand there unamused as someone who’s clearly contradicting this assertion of the teller’s. If my bank will not serve my needs, why should they have the privilege of lending out my savings?

Even if demand is relatively light, I don’t see why this should preclude all banks from having a least a box of halves (and $1 coins) and a few packs of $2 bills lying around. I hardly see how that would be a burden on them and yet, here we are…

I’m not sure where $2 bills are being used either but given that production seems to have increased in recent years, they’re clearly getting used somewhere.

David July 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Try to get penny rolls from your bank, They are tight with all rolls when it comes to the public.

Bil Munsil August 10, 2013 at 10:20 am

Lady Liberty on the front and the torch on the back? Sounds like Bernard von NotHaus and his (NORFED) American Liberty Dollars – which are made of REAL silver, by the way – was right all along.

Bil Munsil August 10, 2013 at 10:24 am

I used to sell two-dollar bills at face value.

I once had a woman ask me three questions:

Are they real?
How come I never see them?
How much do they cost.

Two-dollar Bil is my nickname.

Derek October 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm

The mint needs to make the penny out of copper again because zinc does not stand up well to water. Then the price of copper will rise to what silver is then my copper penny hoard will make me very rich.

Terry December 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm

What a great idea. Modern coin minting and collecting in the United States is boring compared to Canadian and Australian coins (just to name several countries that understand that people want to collect coins as well as spend them. I hope this bill passes through congress.

Brendan March 12, 2014 at 7:01 am

I love the idea of returning Lady Liberty to our coinage, but I think feminists will end up killing the bill on the grounds of “objectification of women” and insisting that Lady Liberty be replaced by dead feminist women. This is the reason we were saddled with the Susan B. Anthony dollar in 1979, and it will be the reason we’re saddled with, say, Andrea Dworkin quarters and Carrie Nation dimes. *shudder* I’d rather stick with the Presidents, thank you very much.

Derek March 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm

The dime has been the same for too long. I think they should make it bigger and with a picture of the flag on one side and Clinton on the other or Al Gore. I don’t know why living presidents or vice presidents can not be on coins. Also it should be made like a nickel 75 copper and 25 nickel to give it actual value. No switching to some tuna fish can metal like they want.

Derek March 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Speaking of half dollars I use only cash to buy stuff and I might get a half dollar in my change once every 5 years. Its like a purple elephant occasion. Where are all these great coins? I would gladly take $20 worth of them right now. Just copper clad. Something is wrong with the money supply.

Ernesto April 14, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I think all the Presidents should be removed from our coinage. As great as these Presidents were it’s way past time for change. Coin designs based on the conceps of Liberty, Justice, and other “American” themes would be a welcome change!!! I doubt this will happen as I see politics will get in the way again!! 🙁

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