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Commemorative Coins      
 
 
Commemorative coins are special, limited edition coins usually made for
collectors.  Most United States commemorative coins do not circulate but are
sold directly by the U.S. Mint to collectors and dealers.  Commemorative coins
celebrate significant people and events in American history, and most coins are
issued in conjunction with anniversary dates.  All commemoratives have
limited mintages and are made available for a short time only.
 
 
The first U.S. commemorative coin was the Columbian Exposition Half Dollar
issued in 1892 and 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher
Columbus’ discovery of the New World.  Between 1918 and 1954, the U.S. Mint
released a series of commemorative Half Dollars, some with mintages of
just a few thousand coins.  In addition to commemorative Half Dollars, the
U.S. Mint also struck a commemorative Quarter in 1893, a commemorative
Dollar in 1900, and a limited number of commemorative gold coins between
1903 and 1917. 
 
 
In 1976, the U.S. Mint introduced a revolutionary new type of commemorative. 
To help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence,
it struck one-time-only commemorative Quarter, Half Dollar, and Dollar coins
that were released into circulation.  The 1999-2008 State Quarters, 2004-2005
Westward Journey Nickels, 2007 and later Presidential Dollars, 2009 Lincoln
Bicentennial Pennies, and 2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Territories
Quarters were also issued as circulating commemoratives.
 
 
Starting in 1982, the U.S. Mint resumed the series of non-circulating
commemorative coins.  In most years since 1982, the Mint has issued at least
one set of commemorative coins.  Topics included the Statue of Liberty
centennial in 1986, the 50th anniversary of World War II in 1993, the 1996
Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1995 and 1996, the First Flight Centennial in 2003,
and the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth in 2006.  Non-circulating commemorative coins are often issued as a single Silver Dollar or in sets
(for example, Half Dollar, Silver Dollar, and $5 gold coin) honoring the same person or event.