President Obama has signed a law authorizing the U.S. mint to produce gold and silver coins commemorating the life and legacy of the famed American author Mark Twain.
The Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2453), signed by President Obama on December 4, directs the Treasury Department to mint and issue $5 gold coins and $1 silver coins honoring Twain, the author of works of classic American literature, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Still in demand and in print today, neither book has ever gone out of print since first being published over a century ago.
The bill directs the mint to produce no more than 100,000 $5 gold coins containing 90% pure gold and no more than 350,000 $1 silver coins containing 90% pure silver.
The $5 gold coins will have a diameter of 0.85 inches and weigh 8.359 grams (about 0.29 ounces). The $1 silver coins will have a diameter of 1.500 inches and weigh 26.73 grams (0.94 ounces).
The act calls for the design of the coins to be "emblematic of the life and legacy of Mark Twain," and developed in consultation with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the Board of the Mark Twain House and Museum.
While the coins will be considered legal tender, they will be minted and sold under the rules for numismatic (collectable) items.
Under the Act, the coins are to be made available to the public for period of one year starting on January 1, 2016, and will be issued in both uncirculated and proof qualities.
Funds generated from the sale of the Mark Twain commemorative coins will be shared by the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, the University of California, Berkeley, California, Elmira College, New York, and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri.
"Mark Twain's work is remembered today for addressing the complex social issues facing America at the turn of the century, including the legacy of the Civil War, race relations, and the economic inequalities of the 'Gilded Age,'" stated Congress in the bill.