A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives which seeks to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue coins in commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which officially marked the abolishment of slavery in the United States. The program would include some intriguing aspects, including a bimetallic platinum and gold coin, a possible high relief gold coin, and specifications for the gold and silver coins which are not typical for modern commemoratives.
H.R. 2633: Thirteenth Amendment Commemorative Coin Act was introduced on July 9, 2013 by Rep. Danny K. Davis of Illinois and cosponsored by John Shimkus of Illinois. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.
If approved, the bill would authorize three different denominations for the program. The first would be a bi-metallic platinum and gold coin carrying a face value of $50. The coin would contain platinum and .9167 pure gold, with the weight, diameter, and thickness to be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury. The United States Mint has issued a bimetallic gold and platinum coin on only one occasion in the past to mark the bicentennial of the Library of Congress in 2000.
The second coin included in the program would be struck in .900 pure gold with a weight of 33.931 grams, diameter of 32.7 mm, and face value of $20. This would represent an unusual size for a modern commemorative coin. All other issues since 1984 have been struck in .900 gold with a weight of weight of 16.718 grams for $10 face value coins, or with a weight of 8.359 grams for $5 face value coins.
Finally, the third coin of the program would be struck in .999 fine silver with a weight of 31.103 grams, diameter of 40.6 mm, and face value of $1. These are the same specifications as the one ounce American Silver Eagle. All previous modern commemorative silver dollars have been struck in .900 fine silver with a weight of 26.73 grams and diameter of 38.10 mm.
With regards to the design of the coins, the bill states that they “shall be emblematic of the Thirteenth Amendment and the abolishment of slavery in America” and “shall be based on the economic contributions of slavery, and include images of the pathway from slavery to freedom.” More specifically, the design for the bimetallic $50 coin shall feature an image of Columbia or similar figure representing Liberty on the obverse, a single eagle on the reverse, and a set of stars on one or both sides. It is stated that the design elements of the $20 gold coin may be in high relief. All three coins are required to include a designation of the face value and the inscriptions “1865-2015”, “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, “United States of America”, and “E Pluribus Unum”.
The final designs would be selected by the Secretary of the Treasury following consultation with the Commission of Fine Arts and review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
The coins included in the program may be issued during the calendar year beginning January 1, 2016. The sales price of all coins will include a surcharge of $10 distributable to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to carry out the purposes of the museum.
Lastly, the bill requires that the Secretary of the Treasury shall take such actions necessary to ensure that the minting and issuance of the coins under this program does not result in any net cost to the United States Government.