By David Provost for CoinWeek …..
Author’s Note: My intention for this series of “stories” is to present lesser-known information about the US commemorative coins series derived from my original research in the records of Congress and/or the reports and correspondence of the individual coin sponsors. The information presented will not simply be a reworking of the information presented in the standard reference works on the series. I sincerely hope you enjoy the backstories presented in this series and I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Part I of this article on Los Angeles Olympics Coins can be found here. Part II can be found here. And Part III can be found here.
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The third session of the House hearings on the proposed commemorative coins for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games featured US Treasurer Angela “Bay” Buchanan as the primary witness. She dealt a blow to Representative Frank Annunzio’s (D-IL11) efforts to create a small program managed by the United States Mint by testifying that the Treasury Department supported Representative Fernand St. Germain’s (D-RI) HR.6058 rather than Annunzio’s bill (HR.6158). St. Germain’s bill outlined a program featuring 17 coin designs spread across a single copper-nickel dollar, 12 silver $10 coins, and two $50 and two $100 gold coins. It also called for the coins to be marketed by a private group rather than the Mint. For months, Annunzio had campaigned against such a large coinage program and against the turning over of US legal tender to private companies for their profit.
Though it called for a larger commemorative program than the Mint had ever produced, Buchanan believed the Mint was capable of successfully producing the coins and that HR.6058’s provision for the program to be managed and promoted by a private marketing group would generate the greatest sales and produce the largest revenue stream for its beneficiaries – the Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee (LAOOC) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Between the close of the third session on April 29, 1982, and the start of the fourth on May 11, Annunzio worked to blunt the impact of the Treasury’s position by taking to the floor of the House to continue lobbying his colleagues for support of his legislation. On May 3, he called attention to letters he had received from the public voicing support for his bill and disdain for the private marketers. The letters he presented encouraged him to continue his fight and expressed hope that he could stop the “give-away schemes” designed to benefit the private marketers. The author of one letter wrote, “How can the US Mint even consider such nonsense?”
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