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.
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The House Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Coinage held its final hearings session for the Los Angeles Olympic coinage on Wednesday, May 12, 1982.
As he had done in previous sessions, Chairman Frank Annunzio (D-IL11) used the session opening to bring the focus of attention on himself and his efforts on behalf of America’s Olympic athletes. He was eager to highlight the benefits of his coinage proposal and boast of its community support while taking jabs at the competing bills and their sponsors.
He summarized the previous hearing session by saying:
“We heard from coin dealers and coin collectors from around the country … [they] do not want the 33-coin program envisioned under the St. Germain bill. They do not want the coins to be sold by private marketers. They definitely want a coin program to help the Olympics, but they want a program that will turn the bulk of the proceeds over to the athletes.”
Representative Fernand St. Germain (D-RI) responded to Annunzio’s claims of immense public support by submitting for the official record over 200 letters and telegrams of support for his bill “from athletes, coaches, and others involved in preparing for the 1984 Olympics around the country.”
As would be expected, included among the letters were those from members of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Also presented were letters from a diverse mix of sports organizations, including the Special Olympics, the US International Speedskating Association, Pony Baseball, the National Archery Association of the United States, the Amateur Softball Association of America, the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and the United States Modern Pentathlon Association. Dozens of letters from coaches and athletes at US colleges and from individuals and corporations in the private sector were also presented. St. Germain was clearly ready to counter Annunzio’s attempts to suggest that his bill was more favored by the general public.
While continuing to prefer his own legislation, St. Germain did indicate that he would support Annunzio’s efforts to get his coinage bill (HR.6158) out of committee and into the whole House for consideration along with his. He also announced he would be offering a substitute for his HR.6058 that would include “the improvements, refinements and technical changes that have been discussed [during the hearings].”
Before calling the session’s first witness, Annunzio called upon subcommittee member Ron Paul (R-TX22) for a statement. In referring to the previous day’s testimony from the various coin dealers and collectors, Paul remarked:
“The point they made so clearly and so forcefully was that if the St. Germain bill passes and if we end up with the 33 coins, they flat-out said the coins wouldn’t sell and they, themselves, would not purchase them. So if the experts in the coin field, the coin savers and the coin dealers, literally would refuse to buy them, I don’t know what kind of additional testimony we need to make our determination on which bill we should support.”
The first witness was Robert Warrington, Vice President of Marketing for the Deak-Perera Group of New York. The firm was the US’ largest retailer of foreign currency exchange and precious metals products.
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