The United States Mint unveiled its first “pink coin” in October of 2017. This coin, designed by Emily Damstra of the Artistic Infusion Program, is intended to raise awareness of breast cancer as well as funds for the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation’s research programs. This is an interesting case for how activism and coin collecting intersect. Sales of the coin began in mid-March, and so far seem successful.
The Breast Cancer Awareness 2018 Proof $5 Gold Coin is the first pink gold coin that the U.S. Mint has ever produced. It is 85% gold, 14.8% copper, and 0.2% zinc and features a design of two women, breast cancer patients past and present, and a butterfly on the obverse. In the upper background of the obverse is a ribbon which references the pink ribbon the public has come to associate with the battle against breast cancer. A tiger swallowtail butterfly flies above the women and under the word “LIBERTY.” The butterfly is also the focus of the reverse.
The Mint also produced a silver dollar and a clad half dollar with the same obverse and reverse. Sales of all three coins go to fund breast cancer research - $35 for each pink gold coin sold, $10 for every silver dollar and $5 for each half dollar. "This program creates a fresh and innovative way to raise funds for breast cancer research at no cost to taxpayers, and has the potential to raise millions of dollars," the Mint stated.
The Mint, of course, has a long history of experimenting with commemoratives, beginning with the 1892 Columbian half dollar which did not sell nearly as well as the Mint had hoped considering the popularity of the Columbian Exposition. The Mint struck five million Columbian half dollars, but half of them were melted because the public did not purchase them.
The Breast Cancer Awareness coins went on sale on March 15, 2018. In the first week of sales of the Breast Cancer Awareness coins, collectors purchased 8,354 of the $5 coins. Compared to the 2017 Boys Town commemorative, which sold 10,294 $5 gold coins during the entire year, this coin is doing well.
Is this because the pink coin is attractive, because it’s a unique color, or because it benefits a good cause - or all three? It can be hard to predict what will be popular with the public. Many coin collectors love commemoratives because they are often tied to something of historical interest, are attractive, may grow in value as an investment, and can make great gifts for the right collector. The Breast Cancer Awareness coin has generated publicity because of the duality of its usefulness. Do you have predictions on how enthusiastically coin collectors will embrace it?