Black Coins And Medals Collection – Coins

Black Coins And Medals Collection – Coins

 

Money money money money, money
Some people got to have it
Some people really need it
Listen to me y’all, do things, do things, do bad things with it
You wanna do things, do things, do things, good things with it
Talk about cash money, money
Talk about cash money – dollar bills, yall
The O’Jays “For The Love of Money”


There are several United States commemorative coins, medals and medallions that celebrate the lives and accomplishments of Black activists, athletes, educators, entertainers, inventors, leaders and patriots as well as seminal events and institutions in Black History. These coins, medals and medallions are a part of The Museum Of UnCut Funk Collection and are currently traveling to museums and cultural centers across the country as a part of our For The Love Of Money: Blacks On U.S. Currency exhibition.

 

Commemorative Coins

Authorized by Congressional public law, signed by the sitting President of the United States and produced by the United States Mint, commemorative coins celebrate and honor American people, places, events, and institutions. Each coin is crafted to be rich in symbolic history. They represent not only an investment in maintaining our American Past, but also in ensuring our Future.

These coins help raise money for important causes as well as commemorating important aspects of American history.

Although these coins are legal tender, most are not minted for general circulation. The few exceptions are special coin programs like the State, Territories and America The Beautiful quarters which were specifically produced for circulation.

Fourteen commemorative coins and two concept coins featuring Black history icons, seminal historic events and institutions have been produced to date. Four Black history icons, one African Woman, two Black slaves, one Black patriot, nine courageous Black children, one Black jazz legend, one piece of groundbreaking Civil Rights legislation and one organization that includes Black girls have been honored on commemorative coins.

Notes:

  • Many of the coins in the Museum Of UnCut Funk collection are proofs, which are early samples of coin issues that are traditionally used to check that the dies are correct and for the archival preservation of each issue. Today, proofs are also struck in greater quantities to be purchased by coin collectors.
  • Some proof coins with silver mirror surfaces photograph as brown or black due to the way they reflect light.
  • Coins are presented in chronological order based on when they were first introduced to the public.
  • “Obverse” refers to the front of a coin, medal or medallion and “reverse” refers to the back.
 

1946 – Booker T. Washington Silver Half Dollar

Booker T Washington

Commemorates Booker T. Washington, a former slave who became a famous educator, author, orator, advisor to Presidents and founder of the Tuskegee Institute.

Washington was the  first free Black person featured on United States currency and on a commemorative silver half dollar coin.

Between 1946 and 1951, eighteen different coins were struck featuring Booker T. Washington.

The obverse design features the bust of Booker T. Washington in the center of the coin and the date on the left. The inscriptions read: “BOOKER T. WASHINGTON”, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, “HALF DOLLAR” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

The reverse design features the New York University Hall of Fame and a slave cabin. The inscriptions read: “BOOKER T. WASHINGTON BIRTHPLACE MEMORIAL,” “LIBERTY,” “FROM SLAVE CABIN TO HALL OF FAME,” “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “FRANKLIN COUNTY VA.”

The coin was designed by Isaac Scott Hathaway, the first Black person to have a design adopted by the United States Mint.

 

1951 – George Washington Carver / Booker T. Washington Silver Half Dollar

Booker T Washington Geroge Washinton Carver

Commemorates George Washington Carver, a former slave who became a famous botanist and inventor. Also commemorates Booker T. Washington.

Carver and Washington were the first free Black men featured on United States currency and only Black people featured on a commemorative silver half dollar coin.

From 1951 to 1954, a dozen coins were struck to honor George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington together.

The authorizing legislation passed in 1951 called for the melting of all unsold Booker T. Washington Half Dollars and the recoinage into coins bearing conjoined profile portraits of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington.

The obverse design features a three quarter profile portrait of Booker T. Washington behind the profile portrait of George Washington Carver. The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER,” “LIBERTY,” “BOOKER T. WASHINGTON,” “HALF DOLLAR” and “1952.”

The reverse design features a simple map of the United States of America. The inscriptions read: “FREEDOM AND OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL,” “USA” and “AMERICANISM.”

This coin was also designed by Isaac Scott Hathaway, the first Black person to have a design adopted by the United States Mint.

 

1997 – Jackie Robinson $5.00 Gold Coin

Jackie Robinson Gold Coin

Commemorates the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball.

Robinson was the first major league athlete and only Black person specifically honored on a United States gold commemorative coin.

One hundred thousand gold coins were produced at the West Point Mint. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the coins benefited the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which supports educational and leadership programs to encourage, train and motivate minority youth.

The obverse design features Robinson in his later years as a Civil Rights Leader and political activist. The inscriptions read: “JACKIE ROBINSON,” “1997,” “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “LIBERTY.”

The reverse design features  a baseball design. The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “1919-1972” – years of Robinson’s life,” “Legacy Of Courage,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “FIVE DOLLARS.”

 

1997 – Jackie Robinson $5.00 Gold Coin Legacy Set

The United States Mint produced a limited edition of 50,000 Jackie Robinson Legacy Sets, featuring the Proof $5.00 Gold Coin and a specially authorized reproduction of the 1952 Topps Jackie Robinson baseball card.

The Topps “Finest” card — the only baseball card to bear the United States Mint seal — is available only in the Legacy Set, with the Proof $5.00 Gold Coin and a full-color limited edition lapel pin made exclusively for the Mint, which duplicates the 50th Anniversary uniform patch worn by all Major League Baseball players for the 1997 season. And as a free bonus, purchasers of the Legacy Set also received the actual patch being worn by major leaguers.

 

1997 – Jackie Robinson Silver Dollar

Jackie Robinson Silver Coin

Commemorates the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.

Robinson was the first major league athlete and first Black person featured on a United States silver dollar commemorative coin.

Two hundred thousand silver dollars were produced at the San Francisco Mint. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the coins benefited the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which supports educational and leadership programs to encourage, train and motivate minority youth.

The obverse design features Robinson stealing home plate, as he did in 1955 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The inscriptions read: “LIBERTY” AND “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “1997.”

The reverse design features the 50th anniversary Jackie Robinson Foundation logo. The inscriptions read:  “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 1947,” “HALL OF FAME 1962,”“E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “ONE DOLLAR.”

 

1998 – Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Dollar

Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Coin

Commemorates Black Revolutionary Patriots and the 275th anniversary of the birth of Crispus Attucks, the first patriot killed in the infamous Boston Massacre in 1770. A portion of the proceeds from sales of these coins supports the construction of the Black Patriots Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The obverse design features a portrait of Crispus Attucks. The inscriptions read: “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” “CRISPUS ATTUCKS 1723-1770” and “1998.”

The reverse design features a Black patriot family. The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “ONE DOLLAR.”

The reverse was designed by Ed Dwight, the second Black person to have a design adopted by the United States Mint

 

1999 – New Jersey State Quarter

New Jersey State Quarter

Commemorates General George Washington and members of the Colonial Army crossing the Delaware River to fight the British in Trenton.

The New Jersey State Quarter is the first coin authorized for circulation depicting a Black person.

The New Jersey State Quarter was the third coin in the State Quarter series, introduced in the order of constitution ratification.

The obverse design features a portrait of George Washington. The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “QUARTER DOLLAR.”

The reverse design features General George Washington and members of the Colonial Army crossing the Delaware River, including a Black slave among the patriots helping to row the boat, symbolizing Black patriots who fought in the Revolutionary war. The design was based on 1851 “Washington Crossing the Delaware” painting by Emmanuel Leutze. The inscriptions read: “NEW JERSEY,” “1787,” “CROSSROADS OF THE REVOLUTION,” “1999” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

 

2003 – Missouri State Quarter

Missouri State Quarter

Commemorates Lewis and Clark return to St. Louis down the Missouri River.

The Missouri State Quarter is the second coin authorized for circulation depicting a Black person.

Missouri State Quarter was the twenty-fourth coin in the State Quarter series, introduced in the order of constitution ratification.

Missouri’s original Statehood date was August 10, 1821. The three men shown on the reverse side of the coin are Lewis, Clark and York…Clark’s Black Slave.

The obverse design features a portrait of George Washington. The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “QUARTER DOLLAR.”

The reverse design features Lewis, Clark and York, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch) in the background. The inscriptions read: “MISSOURI 1821,” “CORPS OF DISCOVERY,” “1804,” “2004,” “2003” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

 

2007 – Jamestown 400th Anniversary Silver Dollar

Jamestown Silver Coin

Commemorates the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, VA, the first permanent English settlement in America.

The obverse design features “Three Faces of Diversity” of Jamestown including an African woman, Captain John Smith and an American Indian. The inscriptions read: “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” “FOUNDING JAMESTOWN” and “1607-2007.”

The reverse design features three ships – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, which brought the first settlers to Jamestown. The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “ONE DOLLAR.”

 

2007 – Little Rock Central High School Desegregation Silver Dollar

Little Rock Nine Coin

Commemorates the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School, Arkansas in 1957. Recognizes strength, determination and courage displayed by nine Black high school students in the fall of 1957 who were the first to integrate public schools in Arkansas. In the landmark 1954 decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the United States Supreme Court declared racial segregation in the public schools of the United States of America was unconstitutional. The events in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, were an important step in the country’s quest for racial equality in public education.

The obverse design features nine Black students, accompanied by an armed soldier, walking to school. Nine stars are symbolic of those students who faced violence and the hatred of a segregated society. The inscriptions read: “LIBERTY,” “DESEGREGATION IN EDUCATION,” “2007” and “IN GOD WE TRUST.”

The reverse design features Little Rock Central High School. The inscriptions read: “ONE DOLLAR,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”

The United States Mint also issued a Little Rock Nine Commemorative Set that featured the Little Rock Central High School Desegregation commemorative silver dollar and Little Rock Nine bronze medal. See our Commemorative Medals Collection page for more information on the Little Rock Nine commemorative bronze medal.

Little Rock Nine Coin And Medal

 

2009 – District Of Columbia Quarter

DC Territory Quarter

Commemorates native son Duke Ellington, the internationally renowned jazz musician and composer. Throughout his life, he received numerous awards and honors. In 1969, Ellington was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in honor of his ability to carry the message of freedom to all the Nations of the world through his gift of music and understanding.

This was the first release of the 2009 DC & US Territories Quarter Program. This program was a follow up to the popular 50 State Quarters Program.

Duke Ellington is the first Black person and first Black musician to be prominently featured on a coin authorized for circulation.

The obverse design features a portrait of George Washington. The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “QUARTER DOLLAR.”

The reverse design features a depiction of famous jazz musician Duke Ellington, who was born and raised in Washington DC. The inscriptions read: “DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,” “DUKE ELLINGTON,” “JUSTICE FOR ALL,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “2009.”

 

2013 – Girl Scouts Silver Dollar

Girl Scouts Silver Dollar

Commemorates the centennial of Girl Scouts of the USA.

The obverse design features three girls who represent the different ages and diversity of Girl Scouts of the USA and includes a Black girl. The 100th anniversary Trefoil symbol signifies the centennial anniversary. The inscriptions read: “Courage, Confidence, Character” – key elements of the Girl Scouts mission statement, “2013,” “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “LIBERTY.”

The reverse design features iconic profiles of Girl Scouts of the USA. The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “$1” and “GIRL SCOUTS.”

 

2014 – Civil Rights Act Of 1964 Silver Dollar

1964 Civil Right Act Silver Coin

Commemorates the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act and its contribution to civil rights in America. This law greatly expanded civil rights protections, outlawed racial discrimination and segregation, and served as a model for subsequent anti-discrimination laws. As equality in education was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement, $10.00 from each coin sold was donated to the United Negro College Fund to provide scholarships and internships for minority students and operating fund and technology enhancement services for 37 member historically Black colleges and universities.

The obverse design features three people holding hands at a civil rights march. The man is holding a sign that reads “We Shall Overcome.” The design is symbolic of all marches that helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement. The inscriptions read: “LIBERTY,” and “2014,” “IN GOD WE TRUST.”

The reverse design features three flames intertwined to symbolize freedom of education, freedom to vote, and the freedom to control one’s own destiny. The design was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., who said: “They get the fire hose. They fail to realize that water can only put out physical fire. But water can never drown the fire of freedom.” The inscriptions read: “CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964,” “SIGNED INTO LAW JULY 2, 1964,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “ONE DOLLAR” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”

 

2016 – Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Quarter

Harpers Ferry Quarter

Commemorates Harpers Ferry National Park, located at junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, the site of many significant historic events. In 1859, abolitionist John Brown led a raid on the Harpers Ferry armory in an attempt to start an armed slave rebellion that would spread throughout the South and end slavery.

Harpers Ferry is also the site of Storer College, one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States. Storer College was an HBCU, in operation from 1865 through 1955, that educated former slaves.

In 1881, Frederick Douglass gave a speech on abolitionist John Brown at Storer Normal School.

In 1906, Storer Normal School hosted the second conference of the Niagara Movement, led by WEB DuBois, which he referred to as “one of the greatest meetings American Negroes ever held.”

The Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Quarter is the 33rd overall release in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, which “captures the breathtaking beauty of America’s natural landscapes that have inspired countless poets, adventurers, and artists.” Harpers Ferry was declared a National Historic Site in 1944.

The obverse design features a 1932 portrait of George Washington.

The reverse design features John Brown’s Fort, the site of John Brown’s last stand during his raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory. The inscriptions read: “HARPERS FERRY,” “WEST VIRGINIA,” “JOHN BROWN’S FORT,” “2016,” AND “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

 

2017 – Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Quarter

Frederick Douglass Quarter

Commemorates Frederick Douglass, former slave, abolitionist, suffragist, orator and author. Douglass became one of the most famous and photographed Black men in the country. He used his oratory gift and writing skills to speak out against slavery and agitate for equal rights for Black people. Douglass founded the North Star newspaper, a weekly publication that he wrote in Rochester, New York, with the motto “Right is of no sex, Truth is of no color, God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.” He met with Presidents Lincoln and Jackson to advocate for equal treatment for Black troops and Black voting rights.

Frederick Douglass was the first Black person nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate in the United States and the first Black person to hold a high U.S. government rank, appointed to several political positions.

The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Quarter is the 37th overall release in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, which “captures the breathtaking beauty of America’s natural landscapes that have inspired countless poets, adventurers, and artists.” Frederick Douglass’s home was declared a National Historic Site in 1962.

The obverse design features a 1932 portrait of George Washington.

The reverse design features Frederick Douglass seated at a writing desk with his home in Washington, DC, in the background. The inscriptions read: “FREDERICK DOUGLASS,” “DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,” “2017,” AND “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

 

Concept Coins

1998 – Bessie Coleman Brass And Silver Concept Coins

Bessie Coleman Brass Coin

Bessie Coleman Silver Coin

Bessie Coleman was a Black and part Cherokee aviation pioneer who was the first Black woman to earn her international pilot’s license, before Amalia Earhart, and was renowned for her stunt flying. She was the first Black woman to make a public flight in the U.S.

The Bessie Coleman Concept Coin was created in 1998 as a recommendation for the new dollar coin. At the time the concept coin was designed, nobody knew when the United States Mint small brass and silver dollars would first be issued. So the design was given a “2001” date. Also, for the first time ever, a woman had just been assigned the duty of Space Shuttle Mission Commander. The early aviation of Bessie Coleman, combined with the modern space shuttle show women’s progress in aviation.

If this coin design had been selected, Bessie Coleman would have been the first Black Woman to be featured solo on United States currency. The Bessie Coleman proposal came in second place behind Sacagawea, the Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee (DCDAC) choice.

Three different designs were created, both rendered in brass and silver. One design features “NON DOLLAR” on the reverse. Another design features an oval and “1” on the reverse. Another design features “PEACE” on the reverse.

The obverse design for both the brass and silver concept coins feature a portrait of Bessie Coleman, 13 stars above the horizon which symbolize the future colonization of space. The inscriptions read: “2001” and “LIBERTY.”

The reverse design for the brass concept coin features an eagle soaring across the sun with 50 rays (symbolizing the 50 states). The inscriptions read: “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, “PEACE” AND “NON DOLLAR.”

The reverse design for the silver concept coin features an eagle soaring across the sun with 50 rays (symbolizing the 50 states). The inscriptions read: “USA” and “01.”

 

To see the Commemorative Medals and Medallions in the Museum Of UnCut Funk Collection click here:
http://museumofuncutfunk.com/2011/10/04/black-coins-and-medals-collection-medals-and-medallions/

To see the Anti-Slavery Tokens in the Museum Of UnCut Funk Collection click here:
http://museumofuncutfunk.com/2011/10/04/slave-tokens-are-funky-too/

For more information on commemorative coins and medals you can read the three part series on African Americans On U.S. Coins written by Charles Morgan, Editor at CoinWeek.com and check out the podcast that the Museum Of UnCut Funk curators did with Charles Morgan on our website at the following links:

African Americans On U.S. Coins Part 1: Representation & Discovery

African Americans On U,S. Coins Part 2: Modern Commemoratives and Circulation Strikes

African Americans On U.S. Coins Part 3: Hidden in Plain Sight & Designs Considered

Podcast: UnCut Funk: African American Representation and Money

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