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Viewpoint: Commems should benefit collectors, too

By Wayne Pearson

Back in the day, the non-circulating commemorative coin program was stopped due to abuse.

Today, I feel the program is being abused. It seems that any group who wants a coin to raise money can simply grease their congressman’s palm and, voilà, they have a coin.

These coins are not made with the coin collector in mind. We don’t exist except for our checkbook. They are made for special interest groups to raise money. Not to simply call attention to something of importance. Some of the non-circulating commemorative coins since 1982 have had merit. But honestly, does every person, place or thing need a non-circulating commemorative coin?

If the theme/idea for a commemorative coin is sincere and worthy, it should appear on a circulating coin à la the 1976 bicentennial coins. A non-circulating version with a different design and better materials could also be issued. However, these non-circulating coins will never get into the hands of young people who might be looking through their change. These coins, even if given and gifts, will not start people into collecting coins.


And for the actual circulating commemorative coins, 50 state quarters: good idea. Even the additional territorial quarters was okay. But 55 national park quarters. Why? Why? I ask again. What is the purpose for an 11-year program like this? Besides drawing in additional funds for the Mint. Good for the Mint, but the coins they produce (due to legislation), if intended to benefit the coin collector, should do just that. Nothing against national parks, but this program is a bad idea.

If you must issue circulating commemoratives coins, then issue one each for the five branches of the military. A limited series for endangered species. Maybe the planets could be used (like stamps do) if they could be distinguished from one another, that is. It isn’t too late.

Some of the past non-circulating programs like the 2006 United States Mints or the 2008 bald eagle designs could have been issued on the back of circulating coins and would have received a hero’s welcome.

After the National Park program is over (if any of us live that long), no more long term programs that never end. Members of Congress need to pay attention to the bills they are voting on.

This “Viewpoint” was written by Wayne Pearson, a hobbyist from Union City, Ind.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to

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More Collecting Resources

• Is that coin in your hand the real deal or a clever fake? Discover the difference with U.S. Coins Close Up, a one-of-a-kind visual guide to every U.S. coin type.

• Check out the newly-updated Standard Catalog of World Coins, 2001-Date that provides accurate identification, listing and pricing information for the latest coin releases.