Law’s mandate vague, U.S. Mint yet to work out details
By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for Coinweek …….
Previously, the United States Mint had announced the production of a commemorative coin to raise awareness (and funds) for the fight against breast cancer. Like many recent commemorative issues, the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Program will include three coins: a clad half dollar, a silver dollar and a $5 gold coin. Where the program will differ is with the the $5 gold coin, which the Mint says will be manufactured with a “pink gold” composition.
What this means in terms of actual metallic composition is presently unclear, even to Mint officials.
“[Pursuant Public Law 114-148] stipulates that the gold coin be made of ‘pink gold’ which contains not less than 75 percent gold,” explains Mint spokesperson Carolyn Fields. “We plan to test several alloys containing various amounts of copper and gold to provide the best balance between manufacturability and color.”
Traditionally, pink gold is made with a 75 percent gold, 20 percent copper, five percent silver composition. Meanwhile, rose gold, which is commonly used in the jewelry industry, is manufactured using a 75 percent gold, 22.25 percent copper, 2.75 percent silver alloy.
Details about how the $5 gold coin will be marketed in terms of its metallic content are yet to be determined.
The same public law authorizing the production of the pink gold breast cancer awareness coins in 2018 specifically calls for the mintage of 50,000 gold coins, 400,000 silver coins, and 750,000 copper-nickel clad half dollars.
Prices have not yet been announced, nor have most other specifics about the coins.
A design contest will open to the public later this summer, with more information about the commemorative coins to precede that announcement.
The 2018 United States Breast Cancer Awareness Coin Program will provide surcharges solely to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. These include $35 from the sale of each $5 gold coin, $10 per silver dollar and $5 for every half-dollar coin.
The surcharges are meant to help fight a disease that the American Cancer Society (source: PDF) estimates nearly 250,000 women and 2,600 men will be diagnosed with in 2016 alone.
Yet while the well-intentioned commemorative coin initiative will certainly be popular among breast cancer advocates, patients, and others affected by the disease, the coin program has not been without controversy.
Surcharges were to initially benefit the nonprofit Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, which stood to receive up to $4.75 million from sales of the coin, but anti-abortion activists in the House of Representatives objected to the Foundation’s ties to Planned Parenthood, and consequently stymied the bill last summer.
To gain traction on the program, a compromise was reached wherein the House unanimously accepted a revision of the bill that redirects surcharges from the Susan G. Komen Foundation to the less controversial Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, like Susan G. Komen, employs a ribbon in its logo, albeit a fuchsia-colored, stylized one. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is the registered trademark holder of the more widely-recognized and lighter-colored pink ribbon commonly associated with the fight against breast cancer.
Perhaps surprisingly, Susan G. Komen for the Cure does not freely allow the logo’s use, and has filed suit multiple times for alleged trademark abuse against unlicensed merchandise.
Undoubtedly, the change in beneficiary will impact the coin’s ultimate design.
But while this is the first series of United States coins to honor breast cancer patients and support research into its causes and prevention, the United States 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness commemorative coin isn’t the first coin program in the world devoted to the subject.
In 2006, the Royal Canadian Mint issued the colorized 25-Cent Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Coin featuring the iconic pink ribbon associated with breast cancer initiatives. Canada’s Pink Ribbon quarter was designed by Cosme Saffioti and Susanna Blunt (View Designer’s Profile) and is made from a three-ply nickel-plated steel composition.
And, in 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint used pink gold plating on its Farewell to the Penny Silver Coin in a similar nod to the fight against breast cancer.
Canadian Pink Ribbon Coins Currently Available on eBay