A Commemorative That Benefits All U.S. Collectors

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.


The author traces the background of legislation passed by the U.S. Congress providing that two commemorative coins be struck to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Smithsonian Institution: a silver dollar which depicts the "Castle" on the obverse, and a gold five-dollar piece, the obverse showing a likeness of James Smithson. Bills regarding the commemoratives were first introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress in August 1994; Public Law 104-96 was signed in January 1996, and the coins were scheduled to be issued at the beginning of August 1996. Smithsonian Secretary I. Michael Heyman had pushed for the proposals, as the National Numismatic Collection would receive in trust 15 percent of the surcharges included in the coins' selling prices, the proceeds of which would greatly increase the collection's $20,000 annual acquisition budget.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Heyman, Ira Michael 5/30/1930-11/19/2011
  • National Numismatic Collection
  • National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)
  • National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)
  • National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.) Division of Postal History
  • United States Congress
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article is adapted from "Commemoratives for the Smithsonian," published in the March 1996 issue of COINage. Photographs of both sides of the two commemoratives are included. There are discrepancies regarding variances in Public Law Numbers quoted as well as some dates used in a "tracking table" versus dates stated within the article.

Contained within

The Numismatist Vol. 109, No. 8 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


August 1996


  • Anniversaries
  • Money
  • Commemorative coins
  • Law and legislation
  • Coins
  • Secretaries
  • National Collections
  • Commemorative coins--Law and legislation


United States

Physical description

p. 949-951 and 981

Full Record

View Full Record