BOSTON (April 19, 2012) – Though initial reports of Mark Twain's death might have been exaggerated, the legendary writer and humorist is certainly deceased now. Even still, the American luminary is en route to being immortalized on gold and silver coins, according to published reports.
The U.S. House of Representatives has granted approval for the Missouri native to be featured on limited edition coins struck by the U.S. Mint, The Associated Press reports. The bill was sponsored by U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Missouri Republican whose district includes Hannibal, the boyhood hometown of Twain.
The representative said honoring and preserving Twain's legacy is the driver of his efforts, which would result in commemorative coins of $1 and $5. The price of the coins would be connected to their face value as well as expenses to strike the coins.
An added surcharge to the coins would be earmarked for places such as the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, both of which are in Hannibal. Another recipient of proceeds from the surcharge would be the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. Twain lived there for 17 years from 1874 to 1891.
Coin News reports the U.S. Mint could strike the coins as soon as 2016 after the U.S. House strongly approved the bill on Wednesday. The vote tally of the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act was 408 to 4.
The Act delineates that the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury mint coins in gold and silver to honor Twain, which was the pen name of Samuel Clemens. The author's best-known works are the classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Despite similar attempts that did not succeed in 2008 and 2009, the bill won authorization earlier this week, for which the bill's sponsor was pleased.
"Mark Twain has been an important part of our country’s history, and I’m honored that this bipartisan legislation will help preserve Twain’s literary legacy and historic sites at no cost to hard-working taxpayers," Luetkemeyer said, according to Coin News. The legislation "honors Twain's contribution to American history and his connection to the area where he was born and raised. I am also pleased that this legislation will help grow opportunities for Hannibal and surrounding communities."
The legislation outlines as many as 100,000 proof and uncirculated $5 Mark Twain Commemorative Gold Coins would be struck. As many as 350,000 proof and uncirculated Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollars also would be minted.
Both the gold and silver coins would hold images and designs that describe Twain's life and legacy.
After the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee reviews the matter, the Treasury Secretary would tap the final designs. The secretary would merge efforts with and consult the United States Commission of Fine Arts and the Board of the Mark Twain House and Museum.
The gold coins would have a diameter measuring 0.85 inches and they would weigh 8.359 grams. They would consist of 90 percent gold and 10 percent alloy.
The diameter of the silver dollars would measure 1.5 inches while weighing 26.73 grams, consisting of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.
In addition to the sites in Hannibal and Hartford, two other locales with strong ties to the author also would benefit from the surcharges, which are $35 on gold coins and $10 per silver dollar.
The University of California at Berkeley hosts the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library and Elmira College in New York hosts the Center for Mark Twain Studies.
The total amount of surcharges would be evenly split among those four sites.
Final approval for the legislation rests with the U.S. Senate and one member, Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, introduced his own legislation to memorialize Twain.