The Marine Dollar

Posted by Jay Turner, NGC Grader and Attributor on 8/24/2007

The global community may have a low opinion of our activities right now, but they still love our commemorative coins. The U.S. Commemorative Marine dollar has recently been declared the Coin of the Year!

This month, the announcement of the Coin of The Year was made. The winner of the contest was, surprisingly, a United States commemorative and, more surprisingly, the Marine dollar. Since it was chosen as Coin of The Year, it is appropriate that the Marine dollar should also be the modern coin of the month.

The Coin of The Year contest is a contest held every two years, in which coins from all over the world are considered for awards over a wide range of categories. The judging is done by an international panel of judges who review eligible coinage (coins minted within the last two years) for “artisanship, practicality, and general appeal.” In this judging session, the Marine dollar also won the award for Best Crown, a coin that “weighs 20-30grams and 33 to 43 mm in diameter.”

The Marine dollar commemorates the 230th Anniversary of the Marines. The coin was to have a maximum mintage of 500,000, but that was increased to 600,000 to meet demand. The sales began on July 20th 2005, and sold out in September. It raised $6,000,000 and the proceeds were to help pay for the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

The coin design concept came from Joe Rosenthal’s photograph of the raising of the American Flag after the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. This iconic image has been used for everything from monuments to movies. It was the perfect coin for American people to relate to the Marines and their colorful history. More important than the design was the concept. Armed Service commemorative coins are very popular with patriotic collectors and the 600,000 coins would be easily absorbed by the American population. Timing was also a factor for sales. At the time of their release, the United States military was occupying both Iraq and Afghanistan, and support for their presence there was still high. Also, the coins were released after an election in which the War on Terror had been a major issue with the voting public.

The popularity of the Marine dollar with the American public is not necessarily surprising. However, the fact that it was chosen as a winner in an international competition is initially a surprise when you consider current international opinion regarding US war efforts and also given the sheer number of world coins in the last two years that would be eligible for competition. Though upon further thought, it becomes clear why the Marine dollar is so popular with collectors and the general public and why it would clearly win for its appeal.

The Marine dollar commemorates an institution that protects not only the American people, but democracy and freedom worldwide. While this institution may not be popular with some foreign bodies, it speaks volumes that an international organization would find the Marine dollar as important and popular as the American people and its choice as Coin of the Year is truly deserved.