- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 16, 2006

Not to be outdone by their husbands, the first ladies are getting their chance to shine on the nation’s coins. Starting next year, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and all the rest will begin appearing on a new series of gold coins.

It will be the first time in history that the U.S. Mint has produced a series featuring women.

While a new presidential series will be $1 circulating coins, the wives will be on half-ounce gold coins with each likely to sell for more than $300.

Both coins were authorized by Congress in 2005 with lawmakers modeling the $1 coin series after the Mint’s extremely popular 50-state quarters.

The legislation directs that all presidents be honored on the $1 coin and all spouses be honored on the gold coins. But they must have been dead for two years before they can be depicted on a coin.

The hope is that changing the images on the presidential coins every three months will spur greater interest and help the maligned dollar coin finally achieve acceptance with Americans. Both the Susan B. Anthony dollar, introduced in 1979, and the Sacagawea, introduced in 2000, have been flops.

The half-ounce gold coins for the spouses have been designed to appeal primarily to collectors, although the U.S. Mint will be offering bronze medal duplicates that will sell for a more affordable $3 to $4.

The first four coins are scheduled to go on sale around Mother’s Day next May, but the public will get a first look at the designs at a ceremony on Tuesday at the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio.

As with the presidential coins, there were be four new coins honoring the spouses introduced each year, and the U.S. Mint is hoping to teach a little history with the spouse series.

“I think Americans are going to take a look at these coins, which are very original, and be drawn to finding out more about the first ladies,” said U.S. Mint Director Edward Moy.

The first coin in the series features a stern-looking Martha Washington wearing a bonnet on one side with a depiction of her mending a soldier’s jacket on the other side and the phrase, “First Lady of the Continental Army.”

The drawing of Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison, the fourth president, shows her in front of the famous George Washington portrait that she saved before the British burned the White House in the War of 1812.

Thomas Jefferson’s wife died before he became president so the gold coin for his administration will feature a symbolic representation of Lady Liberty that appeared on a half-cent coin during the time he was president.

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