The Nation's First Ladies are being honored on a series of one-half ounce 24 karat Gold Coins. Typically, four different designs are released per year featuring the spouses of the Presidents in the order served. The First Spouse Gold Coins represent the first time that the United States Mint has featured women on a consecutive series of coins.
The series began in 2007 with coins issued to honor Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson's Liberty, and Dolley Madison. These early issues were subject to intense interest and prompt sell outs. The series will continue in 2012 with coins honoring Suffragist Alice Paul, Frances Cleveland for two nonconsecutive terms, and Caroline Harrison. Although the release of the latest issues has been delayed, the US Mint has committed to minting and issuing each coin within the current year.
First Spouse Gold Coin Program
The program was authorized under Public Law 109-145 The Presidential $1 Coin Act. In addition to authorizing the Presidential Dollars series, which features the former Presidents in the order served, the law also provided for the issuance of gold coins featuring the President's spouses.
The order of release for the First Spouse coins will follow that of the circulating dollar series, with some modifications. For Presidents who served in office with a first and second wife, two gold coins are issued for the Presidency. For Presidents who served in office without a spouse, a depiction of Liberty is presented on the obverse of the coin for four instances, with Suffragist Alice Paul depicted for the final instance.
First Spouse Gold Coins each contain one half ounce of .9999 fine gold. The coins are considered numismatic items and have a nominal face value of $10. The gold used to mint the coins must be obtained from newly mined domestic sources.
First Spouse Coin Designs
The obverse of each First Spouse coin features a portrait of the spouse being honored. Inscriptions include the name of the spouse, the years served, the order of the Presidency, date and mint mark, the motto "In God We Trust", and "Liberty."
The reverse design of each coin contains images emblematic of the spouse being honored. Some of the reverse designs so far have included memorable scenes from the spouse's life, or images representative of their major contributions, themes, or accomplishments. The required inscriptions on the reverse include "United States of America," "E Pluribus Unum," the denomination, and the weight and purity of the gold content.
Release Dates and Mintages
The First Spouse Gold Coins have been issued following the circulation release date of the corresponding Presidential Dollar. The order of release for the entire series has been established, but specific release dates for each coin are usually not provided until the year of issue. The coins have been sold directly by the United States Mint to the public, available until the maximum mintage has been sold or for approximately one year.
For the first three years of the series, the United States Mint established maximum authorized mintages of 40,000 coins for each design. Although the first three releases attained the maximum mintage, subsequent releases did not, prompting the maximum mintage to be lowered starting in 2010. Several of the coins issued in 2009 have enticingly low mintages compared to other US Mint issued gold coins, which have contributed to a rise in secondary market prices. More recently, some of the 2011 issues have recorded even lower final mintages, contributing to some renewed interest to the series.