The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 5, February 3, 2019, Article 23


While searching for other things I came across this March 25, 1973 New York Times  column by Herbert C. Barnes discussing plans for the Metropolitan New York Numismatic Convention and coins and banknotes commemorating the nation's upcoming bicentennial. -Editor


NYT 1973-03-25 Numismatics column The following are excerpts from the official announcement by Mrs. Mary Brooks, Director of the Mint, concerning the Government's long-awaited decision on coin design changes, as a special recognition of the 1978 Bicentennial of American Independence.

George P. Shultz, Secretary of the Treasury, has sent a draft bill to Congress providing for new designs on the reverse of the Eisenhower dollar and the Kennedy halfdollar (the obverse Presidential portraits will remain unchanged), to present appropriate Revolutionary War themes. These redesigned coins, bearing the dates 1776–1976, will be struck at all three Mint facilities (Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco), and will be initially released for circulation on July 4, 1975. This advance issuance will assure a more widespread distribution throughout the country and permit the Mint to strike a large number in anticipation of great public demand for the coins during the 1976 Bicentennial year.


The 40 per cent silver proof and uncirculated specimens of the dollar and the cupronickel proof and uncirculated versions of the dollar and half-dollar would be available during 1976 under the four special coin programs as presently conducted by the Mint.

Mrs. Brooks added that the reverse designs of the dollar and half-dollar were especially selected for change to prevent disrupting the Mint's regular production capacity and to avoid causing a shortage of circulating coins due to coin collecting or other reasons. The dollar and half-dollar are, of course, circulating coins but neither enjoys as wide circulation and use as the cent, nickel, dime and quarter. The lack of wide circulation, therefore, will not be disruptive to the daily commerce of the country and the design changes will not strain the Mint's production capacity.

The National Sculpture Society, 250 East 51st Street, New York 10022, has agreed to conduct a design contest among its nationwide membership, empanel a jury of experts to judge the entries and submit several designs for the reverse of each coin to the Secretary of the Treasury. The Society will formally announce the design contest at a later date.

Criteria for selection of the designs, according to Mrs. Brooks, will include the beauty and historical significance of the designs and take into account the Mint's special technical and mechanical operations in reproducing the designs onto coinage dies that allow for maximum production on high speed presses. The final selection of the designs will be made by the Secretary of the Treasury on recommendation from a committee composed of the Director of the Mint; the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; the Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency; the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Coins and Medals of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and the Fine Arts Commission.


No announcement has been made by the Treasury Department (on behalf of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing) concerning possible Bicentennial changes in paper money designs. Few collectors really expect any significant changes. Their reasoning is based on realism. Since the Government has limited its "Bicentennial Coinage Salute" to changing only the reverse designs on the two least popular coins – with the clearly stated purpose of not disrupting the Mint's production schedules–is it not logical to assume that proposals for special commemorative issues of paper currency will get equally short shrift?

I was aware of Ed Reiter's long tenure as writer of the numismatics column for the Times. Can anyone tell us about reporter Herbert Barnes? Did he regularly cover the numismatic beat? A collection of NYT coin columns would be an interesting read. -Editor

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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