Commemorative Coin History

Commemorative Coin History
Commemorative Coin History

History of Commemorative Coins
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Coins have played an important role in the economy and commerce of human societies. Other than their economic value, coins have been issued to mark certain important events in a country. Such coins are called commemorative coins. These coins have a distinct pattern or design that sets them apart from other coins in circulation. Whereas some are meant for general use, some are minted specifically as a remembrance of a landmark event, which at times are sold at high premiums to numismatists. Such coins hold special interest among collectors who pride themselves for having a souvenir of significant events in the history of mankind.

Commemorative Coin History

History of Commemorative Coins

Throughout history, specially in the early times, old coins have been used to tell stories of glory and achievements of various states. For example, Romans issued coins that had war scenes highlighting the victory of their forces against enemies, or some motif that depicted subjugation of foes. In medieval times, coins were largely issued to mark the coronation of a monarch. In Europe, and in India during the Mughal Period, coins were often scattered among the subjects of a kingdom to gain their patronage. These were referred to as 'largesse' coins. Issuance of such coins continued in Europe till the 19th and 20th century, although in more recent times, this practice has been stopped. Early commemorative coins were valuable because, more often than not, they were made from precious metals. However, after the World Wars and economic crisis that all nations faced, commemorative coins emerged into two distinct classes. While some of them continued to be minted on precious metals, some commemorative coins started being made from base metals that were meant to be used in circulation as other currencies. The non-circulating commemorative coins started to be treasured by numismatists, not only for the patterns and intricate designs that were engraved on them, but also for the fact that they were not available for general use. These coins, often made from precious metals like silver and gold, are often used by the state as a source of revenue. This is specially true with the third world countries that mint these coins for foreign markets. Commemorative coins have also been used by countries to fund special projects. A good example of this is the 2008 Bald Eagle Commemorative Coin Program of the US, the proceeds of which go to the American Eagle Foundation of Tennessee that works for the conservation of the Bald Eagle - the national emblem of the country.

Commemorative Coin History

History of Commemorative Coins in the US

The first commemorative coin to have been authorized by the Congress in US, was the 1892 Columbian Exposition Half Dollar. This coin was released to mark 400 years of Columbus' first exploration of the New World. Since then, under the commemorative coin program started by the US, 157 coins in gold and silver were issued till 1954. Perceiving misuse and objectionable practices of these special coins, the US Congress, in 1939, banned coinage of certain commemorative coins. However, legal exceptions were made for the Iowa Centennial Half Dollar minted in 1946, the Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar and the George Washington Carver-Booker T. Washington Half Dollar that were coined between 1946-51and 1951-54 respectively.

Commemorative Coin History

In 1982, the US Mint started its new commemorative coin program. The first coin to be issued under this program was the George Washington 250th Anniversary Half Dollar. Since then the US Mint has been issuing at least two coins almost every year.

Commemorative Coin History

Be it celebrating the Olympics or marking a tragedy - as was done by Ukraine releasing the 1996 Commemorative Coin on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster - these special coins are a mirror to the history of mankind. From simple circular coins to those with enamel finish or having stone inlays, commemorative coins are being increasingly used by man to give wings to his creativity and imagination.

Commemorative Coin History

Commemorative Coin History

Commemorative Coin History

Commemorative Coin History
Commemorative Coin History

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