Although coin production increased in 2011, the dominant conversation was what to do with the overproduction of one-dollar coins.
Passionate arguments on both sides of this issue found that eight different bills were introduced in congress to try to fix the problem. As with a lot of bills in congress, none were acted upon. In December, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner ordered their production be limited to what was needed to supply the collector community.
In 2012, there will be no change in small change. The Lincoln Cent with the shield reverse, the Jefferson Nickel as redesigned in 2006, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Dime as designed in 1946, and the John F. Kennedy Half-Dollar as first issued in 1964 will all be struck with no changes in 2012. Minting of the Kennedy half-dollar will be limited to what is need for the collector community, as it has been since 2001.
The America the Beautiful Quarters® Program enters its third year to honor El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, Maine’s Acadia National Park, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii, and Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Along with the 2012 quarters, the U.S. Mint will also strike the five-ounce silver bullion coins for collectors. These coins will use the same design as their smaller counterparts including the denominations of "Quarter Dollar."
The Native American $1 Coin Program began in 2009 changing the reverse of the Sacagawea Dollar to celebrate the important contributions that Native Americans have made in the history and development of the United States. The 2012 Native American $1 Coin reverse features a Native American and horse in profile with horses running in the background to represent the historical spread of the horse.
Presidential $1 Coins will be available only to collectors and in shorter supply. At the time of this writing, the U.S. Mint has not announced how they will sell these dollars to the collecting community and their press office does not have any additional information. But the show must go on and 2012 opens honoring the 21st President Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885). The series continues to honor Grover Cleveland’s first term as the 22nd president (1885-1889), 23rd President Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) and Grover Cleveland’s second term as the 24th president (1893-1897). Although not required, a different, more aged image of Grover Cleveland will be used for the dollar coin honoring his second term.
Starting the 2012 First Spouse $10 Gold Coin Program will be a coin honoring suffragist Alice Paul. Since Chester A. Arthur was a widower at the time he served as president, the law authorizing the First Spouse Program (Public Law No.: 109-145, 119 STAT. 2664) was written mandating a gold coin honoring Alice Paul to be issued since she was born during Arthur’s term. Since Paul never served as a First Lady, the coin will not include service dates. First Ladies Frances Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897) and Caroline Harrison will be honored on the gold coins when the dollars honoring their president husbands are issued.
2012 Commemorative Coins
The Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Act commemorates the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the war that inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry" that was renamed The Star-Spangled Banner. This program will include 100,000 $5 gold coins and 500,000 $1 silver coins. Surcharges will be paid to the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission for celebrations and maintenance of the Fort McHenry historical site.
The gold coin obverse was designed by Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer Donna Weaver, and it depicts a naval battle scene from the War of 1812 with an American sailing ship in the foreground and a damaged and fleeing British ship in the background. The reverse was designed by AIP Master Designer Richard Masters and features the first words of the Star-Spangled Banner anthem, "O say can you see," in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting against a backdrop of 15 stars and 15 stripes, representing the flag that flew over Fort McHenry. U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna engraved both designs.
For the obverse of the silver dollar, the design features Lady Liberty waving the 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner flag with Fort McHenry in the background. It was designed by AIP Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and engraved by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill. The reverse, designed by AIP Associate Designer William C. Burgard III, shows a waving modern United States flag and was engraved by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.
In celebration of the history of the infantry soldier’s impact on U.S. history, the 2012 Infantry Soldier Silver Dollar obverse design features a modern Infantry soldier on rocky ground charging forward and beckoning the troops to follow, symbolizing the "Follow Me" motto of the Infantry. It was designed by (AIP) Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and engraved by U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Michael Gaudioso. The reverse features the crossed rifles insignia of the Infantry as designed by AIP Associate Designer Ron Sanders and engraved by U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Norman Nemeth.
The American Eagle Bullion Program remains one of the most popular bullion programs in the world. The bullion issues of 2012 will mark the 27th coins issued as part of the bullion program and the 26th issue of the proof coins for collectors (no proof coins were issued in 2009).
The American Eagle Platinum Program continues the six-year series to explore the core concepts of American democracy by highlighting the preamble of the U. S. Constitution. In 2012, the theme will be, "To Provide for the Common Defence." Although a design has not been formally adopted, the Commission of Fine Arts recommended one featuring the image of a shield with a ribbon across it saying, "The Common Defence," with an eagle on top clutching five arrows in its right talon.
A new addition to the American Eagle Bullion Program will be a one-ounce coin made of U.S. mined palladium. (American Palladium Eagles.) Authorized by American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 (Public Law No.: 110-303), the law requires the obverse use the "Winged Liberty" design on the obverse of the Mercury Dime, and the reverse will feature a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal. Adolph A. Weinman designed both coins. The U.S. Mint has not released images of this coin at the time this was written. (Its release is expected at some point in 2012, but it could appear down the road.)
American Buffalo 24-Karat Bullion Gold Coins, featuring the James Earle Fraser design originally used for the Buffalo Nickel, will continue for its sixth year. It is likely that the U.S. Mint will not issue fractional Buffalo Proof Coins in 2012 as it did in 2008.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
The last we heard, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has delayed issuing the redesigned $100 note with new anti-counterfeiting features because of production problems. In October 2010, the BEP and Federal Reserve announced that the BEP has identified a problem with sporadic creasing of the paper during printing of the new $100 note that did not appear during pre-production testing. No new issue date has been announced. In recent months, the BEP has stopped reporting monthly production numbers. BEP watchers assume that this is to hide the production numbers of this yet to be released note.
Here is to a successful and profitable 2012.
Scott Barman is a collector and author of the Coin Collector’s Blog. When Scott is not playing with his coins, he works as an information security analyst in the Washington, DC area. In between all of that, he can be found with his wife and two puggles while they check out his pocket change.