Honoring the 15th President of the United States, the U.S. Mint today released the 1-ounce, .999 fine James Buchanan Presidential Silver Medal. The price for the new collectible is $75, representing a $10 increase from medals in the series issued last year.
Prior to becoming President, James Buchanan created an impressive resume as a soldier, lawyer, diplomat and politician. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, was a U.S. minister to Russia, James K. Polk’s Secretary of State as well as minister to the United Kingdom. As President, however, his performance has often been touted as less than stellar. He only served one term (as he had promised).
U.S. Mint Presidential Medal Programs
Presidential medals have a long history dating back to the earliest days of the nation. The medals were originally struck from bronze and known as Peace Medals, with each carrying a portrait of the latest President and given as a sign of peace to Native American tribes, during treaty ceremonies, and for other purposes.
The current silver medal program honoring that historic series debuted in 2018. It honors the Presidents in the order in which they served and has seen the following releases and sales:
- George Washington – 33,441
- John Adams – 23,066
- Thomas Jefferson – 23,231
- James Madison – 16,359
- James Monroe – 14,908
- John Quincy Adams – 14,394
- Andrew Jackson – 16,064
- Martin Van Buren – 13,414
- William Henry Harrison – 13,232
- John Tyler – 13,310
- James K Polk – 12,836
- Zachary Taylor – 12,655
- Millard Fillmore – 12,199
- Franklin Piece – 11,913
A medal honoring Abraham Lincoln is scheduled for a release this spring, with an Andrew Johnson Medal this summer, and an Ulysses S. Grant Medal this fall.
No mintage limits apply to this series. Past medals are still available for purchase directly from the U.S. Mint.
James Buchanan Silver Medal Designs
Obverses (heads side) of the new medal show a portrait of the former President as designed by Salathiel Ellis. Inscriptions around the likeness read: "James Buchanan," "PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES," and "1857."
Designed by J. Willson, the medal’s reverse (tails) depicts a farmer, leaning on a plow and conversing with an Indian Chief, with an American flag in the background.
Inscriptions above the flag read: "LABOR," "VIRTUE," and "HONOR."
Presidential Silver Medal Specifications
These medals have a matte finish, giving them an appearance like that of uncirculated coin. Additional medal specifications follow.
|Silver Weight:||1.000 troy oz.|
|Mint and Mint Mark:||N/A|
|Design:||Obverse Designer: Salathiel Ellis
Reverse Designer: J. Willson
|Struck Under Authority of:||31 U.S.C. § 5111(a)(2)|
Price and Ordering
The James Buchanan Presidential Silver Medal (along with others in the series) may be purchased from the U.S. Mint’s webpage for silver medals.
Usually ranked dead last in rankings of US presidents, I wonder if Buchanan’s medal will have the worst sales in the series.
Not William Howard Taft or Warren Harding? Maybe even Chester Arthur?
This very much reminds me of the never ending attempts at ranking the best rock lead guitarists of all time, which is to say it all depends on whom you ask.
You’re right about that.
Which brings to mind, Antonio, the guitarist that Clapton said something to the effect of that he was the musical brother Eric always wished he had, to wit, the incredible talent that was Duane Allman. To this day I still believe that “Live At The Fillmore East” is one of the by far most amazing blues rock albums ever made.
Is it my imagination or does the portrait of Millard Fillmore on his presidential medal give him the distinct appearance of a classical Roman emperor?
veni vidi vici
In canis corpere transmuto…
Well the Buchanan one could be an Umpa Loompa in disguise.
Good call, and I must say you just never know when and where one of those funny little fellas is going to turn up. By the way, Deep Roy is the greatest!
The US Mint IMO, underestimated and does not seemingly understand the importance of mintages? Another anomaly I continue to be baffled by? There isn’t much at the Mint that doesn’t battle me??? Anyhow, these Presidential Silver Medals should have been issued with Mintage limits and it’s not too late to implement them. Moving forward, they should be issued in a range of mintages based on predicted sales of 15,000-21,000 maximum. If they at some point need more money on their wares, slap a privy on them and do a Series 2 Silver Presidential Medals? This Medal series is and will… Read more »
It’s a lot of money to spend on something that is basically a silver bullion round. It’s not a coin, and hardly even a medal. These medals contain no mint marks and no dates to indicate when they were made. In essence, they can never sell out, because the Mint can make more of them at any time, in any year (I don’t trust the Mint not to do this)- there’s no mintage limit and no product limit. That’s why I’ve steered clear of them. With regards to those presidential Coin & Chronicles sets, the medal is those sets are… Read more »
I may be about as far as it gets from being a numismatic wunderkind, Major D, but I somehow can’t help but suspect the term “silver bullion round” is redundant.
I must disagree- you could have a gold bullion round or a silver bullion bar…..
Now I get it, Major D; bullion comes in a variety of shapes and forms.
A couple of corrections: should have put the Lincoln C+C set “medal” in quotes bc it was in fact a silver dollar. And in the other sets they were copies of inaugural medals, not coins…..
I have no interest in collecting medals/commemoratives other than a few specimens in a type set. The modern Morgan/Peace dollars would be the only exception if they are considered commemoratives.
Just don’t get the point in paying that much of a premium for what to me is just silver bullion.
Roger, I’m not sure I understand why you’re equating both medals and commemoratives with bullion. I realize the products sold through the Authorized Purchasers in a variety of precious metals are all bullion, but I’m not entirely certain that includes medals and I even more skeptical regarding the likelihood of commemorative coins falling into that category.
I’ve been a collector of circulating coins for decades. As I’ve completed most of the sets I had an interest in I’ve started collecting ASE, AGE, Buffalos and of course mint sets to extend my collection. Medals/Commemoratives just never peaked my interest since they are not “coins” or “bullion”. I just fail to ken the attraction of these products as they seem to me to be just products created by the mint to make a profit by creating collectables. They remind me of the products advertised on TV by private mints. Perhaps you can explain to me the attraction of… Read more »
Perhaps we are talking about two different things here, Roger. When I say “Commemoratives” I’m referring to the coins the Mint ordinarily produces two of every year – this year for whatever reason apparently excepted – in gold, silver and base metal form, to feature entities that the Congress has chosen to be so honored.
Such as these, for example…
I understand. I just have zero interest in adding them to my collection of “coins”.
I know many folks on here have an interest in these products as well as rolls of coins but I just can’t get excited about them.
I guess I’m just have more of a narrow view of the hobby. When I started collecting buffalo nickels could still be found in circulation and indoor plumbing and TP were a luxury.
Roger, the US Mint commemoratives are in fact coins. They have a face value ($5 for the gold, $1 for the silver, and 50-cents for the clad) and can be spent just like any other currency if one were as foolish to do so- just like you can spend your 1-oz ASE at a face value of $1. Medals on the other hand do not have a face value and are not currency. Commemoratives have been around a while- early US Mint commemorative coins were issued between 1892-1954; the modern commemorative coin program began in 1982.
I very rarely pick up any Mint Commemoratives myself, Roger, unless the subject being featured is of special interest to me. As for rolls of coins, I ordered them from the Mint for a couple of years until I realized the sheer weight alone was making them an impractical collectable. Decisions come in many ways. At the risk of sounding like one of those old timers who claim they walked to school up hill both ways every day in a snowstorm, I did spend the first years of my life with six other family members residing in a fifth floor… Read more »
I’m taking advantage of a minor technicality and submitting my two cents anyway.
Wow! Bring back the two cents! And that’s MY two cents.
And although you’ve already preceded me in renewing its memory, Antonio, I too am a rather ardent fan, which is to say long-time admirer of, that gloriously unique coin otherwise known as the three cent “nickel”.
I don’t understand the Mints interest in producing so many of these medals/commemoratives other than being able to over charge for silver bullion.
If I’m going to pay that much premium I’d rather have a proof ASE.
Technically the Mint’s commemoratives and medals are numismatic products, which are why they’re priced much higher than bullion. I don’t mind silver commemorative dollars and often get really good deals on auction sites for the older ones, paying a very low premium over spot even though they’re proof numismatic coins. You can get the benefit of a numismatic while paying a bullion price. And the likelihood of a counterfeit is very low unlike with ASEs.
That’s a good point, Major D, about how the Mint’s Commemorative Silver Coins are unlikely to ever be counterfeited since that would lack bang for the buck.
Alright, here’s my 2 cents and I’ll raise you a 3 cent piece for an “even” nickel! Th US Mints interest in producing commemoratives is fruited or bound by Legislation that has been written and produced by Congress. So no one to blame for commemoratives besides the Lame Ducks in Congress! Regarding comments about commemoratives, medals and bullion, I don’t want to speak for Roger, however I believe he equates all of these as bullion, due to when you go to sell, you would or will be lucky to be tendered an offer greater than going spot price? For an… Read more »
I’m a long time collector of circulating type coins and more recently bullion as my list of desired coins has been depleted. I never buy more than one coin of each variety (unless by accident) and have never sold a coin I’ve collected.
Based on my collecting history, these modern collectibles have no value to me.
To each his/her own I guess.
Or a nickel three cent.
That’s it in a nutshell, Caliskier. The Mint has no say when it comes to what topic or quantity will apply to the annual allotment of two Commemoratives so there’s no point in laying the blame regarding their subjects or numbers on the Mint.
Not necessarily KaiserWilhelm and know this is not a deflection attempt. Although, Congress legislates, regulates, mandates, I can, have and still place, plenty of blame on the US Mint, regularly. It’s not as though those operating and executing the mandates from within the US Mint are, deaf, unintelligent, blind, muted, children? Assuredly none are named “Tommy” nor are they familiar with Pinball, Wizardry, or “Who” is??? They have voices and could have and should have been doing more to interact with Congress, gain a platform, build alliances, rub shoulders, etc, etc to lend a voice to what’s working and what’s… Read more »
I’m certainly not trying to indicate a shortage of attention to anything you’ve said above, but clearly you have to be careful as to which meme you choose; this one serves to whisk me away powerlessly to the days of Pinball Wizard and the “windmill” playing style of Pete Townsend.
Caliskier, no organization is perfect and every one of them has room for improvement. I find it ironic that, if not for what the Mint produces, none of us would have a hobby and be chatting here. We can choose to buy or not buy whatever we want. So, what’s the real harm done to any of us collectors? The Mint’s numismatic and bullion programs are self-sustaining with no taxpayer money spent on them. The circulating coins are legislated and ordered by Congress, and if it costs more to make those coins than is the face value- that’s the fault… Read more »
As we can see, Major D, from the latest Circulating Coin Report the day of reckoning for the Mint and its continuing ability to adhere to its mandate to pay its own way is approaching ever so surely and ever more rapidly. At some point in the not too distant future it will become incumbent on the Congress to take some of the pressure of excess expenses that are now increasingly required to produce circulating coinage off the Mint by eliminating those specific circulating coin denominations whose production costs for the Mint far exceed the face value prices it can… Read more »
Kaiser, it’s only the numismatic program and bullion program that are self-sustaining and it’s a good thing, because without these programs making a profit there would be no Mint website or sales to collectors. The Mint’s original and primary mission is to produce circulating coins as mandated by Congress- and this is not self-sustaining.
Got it, Major D, and super big thanks for that important clarification! Clearly, I had been operating with a rather serious misconception.
Caliskier, I’d like to add that the Mint is often bound by legislation for the circulating coins as well (it’s not just the commemoratives). Take quarters for example- the States quarter program, America the Beautiful, and now American Women’s Quarters were all legislated by Congress. Likewise, the Presidential (“golden”) dollar program and the current American Innovation dollar program also were legislated. And going back to the Bicentennial coins in 1975-76, and the upcoming Semiquincentennial coins coming in 2026– all legislated as well. There are examples in the paper currency, too. I’d call all of this circulating currency “commemorative”, and even… Read more »
I would say they’re compensating for last year’s missed proof S Morgan and Peace dollars.
I’m not sure, Antonio, that the Mint loses any sleep over its inconsistent policies.
Which is kind of a funny situation, Roger, considering the the Mint rather grossly undercharges it’s Authorized Purchasers when it sells them its silver bullion ASE’s.
Kaiser, the enabling legislation for the program set it up that way. Perhaps at the time the Mint didn’t have the ability or wherewithal to reach the public like the dealers could? It was before the internet began after all. The Mint only sells bullion ASEs to dealers. So, of course, the numismatic ASEs are going to have a higher “premium” if that’s what you want to call it- I have a hard time calling it a premium above spot for numismatic ASEs because that is not the purpose of these coins as these are higher quality collector grade. The… Read more »
I live and die by the free market as I have experienced life in other countries where the free market does not hold sway and have seen the assortment of negative results that result from that major miscalculation. That being said, it’s also obvious that there are many operators within the free market framework who bend the rules to their own advantage and convenience, so while I firmly believe in free market capitalism I simultaneously abhor manipulated capitalism. A simple example of those two varieties of capitalism as it exists in America would be exactly the situation with the Mint’s… Read more »