Artwork designs for next year’s 2012 Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coins were published by the United States Mint this week. These collectibles — in gold and silver — will celebrate more than just the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the selected designs commemorate the events that led to the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the national anthem, by Francis Scott Key. (Read about the history.)
The War of 1812 was fought on U.S. soil and sea between Great Britain and the United States after Americans became outraged over their treatment. The Battle of Baltimore, a key engagement of the war, ensued in September of 1814. Key watched the 25-hour bombardment from a nearby ship and penned a poem describing Fort McHenry’s valiant defense after seeing the large American flag still waving the next morning.
Named The Defence of Fort McHenry, Key thought his poem should be sung to the tune of the British melody To Anacreon in Heaven. Later, it was renamed The Star-Spangled Banner, and eventually became the national anthem for the United States in 1931.
"From the perilous naval engagement in the harbor with the Stars and Stripes waving above Fort McHenry, to the opening line of our national anthem dramatically depicted in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting, these gold and silver coins capture iconic symbols of the Battle of Baltimore, a critical conflict in the war to preserve our liberty," United States Mint Deputy Director Richard A. Peterson described in announcing the chosen designs.
2012 Star-Spangled Banner Coin Specifications
On Wednesday, December 14, 2011, the United States Mint revealed the line art Star-Spangled Banner commemorative coin designs. They will be featured on a gold coin with a face value of five dollars and a silver coin with a face value of one dollar. With collector proof and uncirculated options minted, there will actually be four different coins in total.
The specifications are standard for modern American commemoratives. The gold coins will weigh 8.359 grams and have a diameter of 0.850 inches. Their composition will be 90 percent gold and 10 percent alloy. Produced at West Point, they will feature a "W" mint mark. The silver dollars will have a weight of 26.73 grams, a diameter of 1.500 inches and a composition of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. They will be struck at Philadelphia and bear a "P" mint mark.
Star-Spangled Banner Gold Commemorative Coin Designs
The obverse of the gold coin portrays the theme of "The Battles at Sea During the War of 1812."
Designed by Donna Weaver and engraved by Joseph Menna, it features two naval ships. An American ship is shown on the foreground with a smaller damaged and fleeing British ship in the background. Its inscriptions include IN GOD WE TRUST, LIBERTY and 1812 – 2012.
The first words of the Star-Spangled Banner, "O say can you see," are featured on the gold coin’s reverse. The words are written in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting. 15 stars and stripes, representing the Star-Spangled Banner flag, wave in the background. It was designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Mr. Menna. Inscriptions include UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM and FIVE DOLLARS.
Star-Spangled Banner Silver Commemorative Coin Designs
"The Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry" is the theme of the obverse on the silver commemorative dollar.
It shows Lady Liberty waving the 15-star, 15-stripe American flag with Fort McHenry is in the distant background. The scene was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. Inscriptions include LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST and 2012.
On the reverse is a waving American flag surrounded by inscriptions. ONE DOLLAR is arched across the top while E PLURIBUS UNUM and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA appear toward the bottom. The design was created by William C. Burgard III and sculpted by Don Everhart.
Mintages, Surcharges and Release Details
A standard mintage limit was given to both coins with 100,000 for the $5 gold pieces and 500,000 for the silver dollars. The ratio of proof and uncirculated finishes will depend on buyer activity.
The Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Act was signed into law (Public Law No: 111-232) by President Obama on August 16, 2010. The Act mandates surcharges raised by the coins’ sales — $35 for the gold piece and $10 for the silver dollar — paid to the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission to support the bicentennial activities.
The release date for the Star-Spangled Banner gold and silver coins has not been published at the time of this writing, but they will launch at some point after February. That is because they will be the second set of commemoratives offered by the United States Mint next year. They follow the 2012 Infantry Soldier Silver Dollars which are scheduled with a release date of February 16, 2012.
Once released, the issues will be available directly from the United States Mint website at www.usmint.gov/catalog or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).
Prices for each commemorative coin will be announced shortly before their launch and will be based on a formula involving the value of the precious metals they contain.