2016 Mark Twain Silver Dollars Launch

by Darrin Lee Unser on February 1, 2016 · 14 comments

Earlier today, Feb. 1, the United States Mint started taking orders for 2016 Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollars. Available in proof and uncirculated qualities, these collector coins feature imagery emblematic of Samuel Clemens, the famous American author who wrote under the pen name of Mark Twain.

2016-P $5 Proof Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollar, Obverse and Reverse

The Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Program was authorized under Public Law 112-201, enacted on Dec. 4, 2012, to honor the life and legacy of the famed author and humorist

Of particular interest; the proof silver dollar features extra frosting intensities to enhance the coin’s designs.

Ordering went smooth in the early going. Congress authorized a combined 350,000 coins so there was no need to storm the Mint’s online store to make a purchase out of fear of them selling out quickly. However, it is a good idea to buy them within 30 days to take advantage of cheaper prices. Introductory pricing is $44.95 for the uncirculated coin and $45.95 for the proof. Their introductory pricing period ends on March 2, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. when both coins switch $5 higher to their regular prices.

These silver dollars were originally scheduled to launch about two weeks back alongside the $5 Mark Twain Gold Coins but a printing error on certificates of authenticities caused a delay in their release.

Twain Silver Dollar Designs

U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Artist Chris Costello created the obverse (heads side) portrait of Mark Twain with engraving by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso. Smoke rising from Twain’s pipe leads to a silhouette of two of Twain’s most famous literary characters, Huckleberry Finn and Jim, on a raft. LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST and 2016 complete the obverse design.

2016-P Proof Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollar, Obverse in Spotlight

2016-P Proof Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollar – Obverse (Heads Side)

The reverse depicts characters from Twain’s works leaping from the pages of a book. Inscriptions include UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, $1 and E PLURIBUS UNUM. AIP artist Patricia-Lucas Morris designed the reverse image with engraving by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon.

2016-P Proof Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollar, Reverse in Spotlight

2016-P Proof Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollar – Reverse (Tails Side)

Each coin is composed of 90% silver and 10% copper with a diameter of 1.5 inches and a weight of 26.73 grams. Both are produced at the U.S. Mint facility in Philadelphia and bear its "P" mintmark.

Unique Laser Frostings for Proof Silver Dollar

Different frosting techniques appear on the proof Mark Twain Silver Dollar. Imagery released by the U.S. Mint lists the four treatments as proof polish and the three laser frosting intensities of light-plus, standard and heavy. Proof polish and standard frosting are common to traditional proof coins. The light-plus and heavy frosting treatments offer unique combinations to the silver dollar.

2016 Proof Mark Twain Silver Dollar, Polish and Laser Frostings

Treatments for the 2016-P Proof Mark Twain Silver Dollar: YELLOW = PROOF POLISH FINISH; PURPLE = LIGHT-PLUS LASER FROST FINISH; ORANGE = STANDARD LASER FROST FINISH; and BLUE = HEAVY LASER FROST FINISH

As shown above, the yellow is mirror-like proof polish, purple is light-plus laser frosting, orange is standard laser frosting and blue is heavy laser frosting. The $5 Mark Twain Gold Proof Coin has similar treatments.

2016 Proof Mark Twain Commemorative Gold Coin - Reverse, Polishing and Laser Frosting

The reverse or tails side of the proof Mark Twain Gold Coin has areas that stand apart from regular proof coins, and are very noticeable with the coin in hand. Treatments shown in the illustration include: Yellow = Mirror-like Proof Polish; Purple = Light-Plus Laser Frosting; Orange = Standard Laser Frosting; and Blue = Heavy Laser Frosting.

Ordering and Surcharges

Those interested in ordering Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollars (and gold editions) may do so directly from the U.S. Mint’s website via its commemorative coin page or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).

Surcharges of $35 per gold coin and $10 for each silver dollar have been added to coin prices with proceeds to be split evenly between the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Conn.; the University of California, Berkeley; Elmira College in New York; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Mo.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Whistler February 1, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Hmmmm…..nice little item, but @ this price I will pass..sorry kind of a Zzzzzzzzzzz’er when it will come to resell….

Seth Riesling February 1, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Darrin Lee Unser –

Thanks for the update on the MT silver $1 coins & color-coded images of the different frosting areas. The third photo in your article tagline is incorrect as it states it is a “2016-W $5 Proof Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollar” instead of 2016-P $1 Proof Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollar.
Also, to be complete, the added surcharges listed in the article are only paid out (if they ever are) once the U.S. Mint recovers all associated costs of the program. A number of recent commemorative coin programs, due to low sales, have not paid for all costs associated with their production & the charities named in the legislation as recipients of the surcharges received no payout from the Mint even though the Mint’s customers paid surcharges! Many collectors are unaware of this provision in the commemorative coin programs of recent years. And the Mint has been remiss in not putting that disclaimer on all its publications.

-NumisDudeTX

Frankovich February 1, 2016 at 5:33 pm

They will be considerably less expensive in the after market, I’ll wait.

RonnieBGood February 1, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Sorry to hear the negative responses on a coin with a “special proof finish”. Especially on a unique finish (well, the gold issue too). The design is not bad. Perhaps the pessimism comes from the number of Reverse Proof finish coins that have now been issued. Collectors have become afraid to invest in a new finish issue. Is it now to be assumed that this will be done again, and again, in the future?

Jp February 1, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Somebody wake me up here. It’s a sleeper alright. I was not aware of the “surcharge scam” if the Mint does not reach their production costs. That’s too bad for the groups that do not receive any cash, and also us poor suckers who are paying what amounts to a double whammy. Seems the Mint is the only real winner here.

Legend February 1, 2016 at 8:05 pm

Keep in perspective that the group of special finishes is a very small list. And it is very beautiful in finished products. If you keep updating these small issues, one day there will be a pop coin, and the rest will get a second look. Moreover, the Code talker issues, where the different techniques are being tested and proven, is all by itself in beauty. The Native Americans, long neglected and ignored, now have a source of pride in the issues, because it is so encompassing. The Mark Twain gold coins are just sparkling, and the silver dollars, if you ever read any story by Mr Clemens, are a must have!!! Thanks US mint for honoring a true character, and a premier speaker. Sometimes out both sides of his mouth, for sure.

unai February 2, 2016 at 2:32 pm

the silver coin designs are just horrible

Tinto February 2, 2016 at 3:03 pm

@Jp
“I was not aware of the “surcharge scam” if the Mint does not reach their production costs. ”

I remember reading that the Girl Scouts did not get any, And I wonder what the sales need to be in order for the organizations to get the surcharge benefit. How is it computed? Too many sneaky stuff by the Mint and unfortunately they can keep doing if because they are a monopoly when it comes to US coins and they don’t care squat about small fry collector folks likes me. Only a full fledged look-see from the Treasury and/or other gov’t agency will get the Mint’s attention, IMO..

Whistler February 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Ronnie, I am burned out from overpriced Mint ‘offers” and when ther is a good item, the site crashes & HSN has like 40% of the mintage. About time the mint woke up, true collectors are a small group that is not being refreshed, who would buy this coin, for other than bullion value, in say 20 years>? Todays youth don’t even read books, and ebooks of Clemens seem to be absent from any bestseller list @ this time. He is GREAT, our kids are locked into electronics & instant gratification, not coins & books…..

Joe February 2, 2016 at 6:59 pm

My son did a report in the 8th grade (he’s 26 now) on Mark Twain. Now, the school district no longer allows this book to be read in school because of one word. I don’t know how it is through out the country.

Tinto February 2, 2016 at 10:18 pm

I just read on Coin World that the first day of sale for the MT are less than stellar …

According to them the Mint said proof sales were 8,000 and unc 3,500 dunno if I can provide a link …

Seth Riesling February 2, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Tinto –

Coin World newspaper called the first day of sales of the Mark Twain commemorative silver $1 coins in Proof (8,000) & Uncirculated ( 3,500) “paltry” in comparison to the last 4 commemorative coin programs! Only 3.3 percent of the 350,000 total mintage across all options allowed by legislation were sold on the much-anticipated & twice delayed on-sale date. Where were all the buyers who said they liked the design when it was chosen? This design is beautiful, balanced & historic IMHO. I think the fact that the silver MT $1 coin was not available to order on the first day of sales of the $5 gold MT coin on January 14 & the fact that the Mint didn’t send out order forms for the first time since 1982 had a lot to do with very low, dismal first day sales figures. It will be interesting to see the first week total sales numbers for sure. I hope the Mint has plans for some type of special set for this series such as a Young Collectors set like they have done sometimes in the past. My four nephews would like such a set for their collection & I would definitely buy 5 sets if offered as an option.

Happy collecting everyone!

-NumisDudeTX

Tinto February 2, 2016 at 11:47 pm

@Seth Riesling

Maybe there is also some sticker shock since the Mint has basically kept the prices of the silver coins the same. Last year the proof US Marshal $1 was $46.95 and the unc was $43.95, This year they reduced the price of the proof MT by $1 and increased the price of the unc by $1 … go figure … when silver prices had gone down about $3 from last year.

Cincinnatus February 5, 2016 at 8:00 am

I am a huge fan of Mark Twain and normally do not like any of the recent PC mint designs. I stopped buying all modern mint products because they are ugly and EXTREMELY OVERPRICED!

Spot price of silver is $14.86 when I just checked. That means the mint is selling these at $30 over spot including the $10 surcharge. So the mint is making $20 per coin on the silver version – almost a 50% profit.

They have become too costly to collect – considering the resale on them are non-existant. I would rather see the surcharges go away to drop the cost and cap the mint profit at cost to produce – that would likely get the coins down to below $30. Random year Silver Eagles are running around $20 so I don’t see why they can’t drop the commemerative coin prices.

Like other here – I will wait and if I see one around spot cost in the future I may get it – otherwise I will skip this coin and use the $100 that it would cost for the Uncir and Proof versions and buy an old classic.

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