On April 18, 2012, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2453: Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act. This bill would require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint gold and silver coins in commemoration of Samuel Clemens, better known to the world as Mark Twain.
The bill had been introduced on July 7, 2011 by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri. A similar bill was subsequently introduced in the Senate on November 30, 2011.
Each bill would require the production of up to 100,000 $5 gold coins and up to 350,000 silver dollars bearing designs emblematic of the life and legacy of Mark Twain. The coins may be issued to the public only during the one year period beginning on January 1, 2016.
The prices of the coins would include surcharges of $35 per gold coin and $10 per silver coin distributable to four beneficiaries:
- the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut
- the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library of the University of California
- the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College in New York
- the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri
Previous bills had been introduced in the 110th and 111th Congress, which would have required the issuance of commemorative coins in 2010 and 2013. Neither of the bills became law, and therefore the commemorative coins were not issued. If the coins had been issued in 2010, this would have coincided with the 175th anniversary of his birth and the 125th anniversary of the publication of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. There have been no anniversaries associated with the subsequent attempts to authorize commemorative coins.
Mark Twain has been depicted previously on a one ounce gold medallion produced by the United States Mint in 1981 (pictured above). This release was part of the American Arts Gold Medallion series, which were not legal tender but contained a stated amount of gold.
In order for the current bill to become law and make the new commemorative coin series a reality, the bill must be passed by the Senate and then signed into law by the President.