World & Nation

With House vote, Mark Twain commemorative coin is no bill of goods

WASHINGTON -- On Jan. 1, 2016, the Treasury Department will begin issuing commemorative coins to celebrate Mark Twain’s contribution to American literary history, thanks to a bill approved by the House on Thursday evening.

Mark Twain was the pen name used by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, most famous for writing “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and other American classics.


During 2016, as many as 100,000 gold $5 coins will be issued with a surcharge of $35, while as many as  350,000 silver $1 coins will be issued with a surcharge of $10.

Twain remains one of the best-known and widest-read authors in the world, with more than 6,500 editions of his books translated into 75 languages. Nearly every book Twain wrote remains in print. The Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer books have never been out of print since they were first published more than a century ago.


According to the bill, the $5 coins will have a diameter of 0.85 inches and contain 90% gold and 10% alloy. The $1 coins will have a diameter of 1.5 inches and contain 90% silver and 10% copper.

Displayed on each limited edition coin will be a designation of the value of the coin, along with an inscription of the year 2016.

The surcharges from the coins will be divided equally among: the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Conn.; the Mark Twain Project at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library; the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College in New York; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home in Hannibal, Mo. 

“We’d like to thank Congress for this wonderful bipartisan achievement,” said Greg Boyko, chairman of the board of trustees at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. “The passing of the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Bill will help reawaken America’s love of Mark Twain and drive people to visit his beautiful home in Hartford.”


Having also passed in the Senate, the bill will now go to the president for his signature.

In his time, Twain was a harsh critic of government and politicians, often expressing political opinions through his books. One could easily assume that were he here today, he might have had a word or two to say about the partisan deadlock in Congress. Indeed, he might have reiterated some of his earlier thoughts.

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often,” Twain is reputed to have said.



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