U.S. Coins Honoring Twain to Benefit Elmira College's Center for Twain Studies

Posted November 26, 2012

U.S. coins will honor Mark Twain's legacy
By Bob Jamieson, The Star-Gazette

Mark Twain could coin a phrase. Now, the government is going to coin his legacy.

The House of Representatives voted to create $5 gold coins and $1 silver coins that reflect the life and contributions of the writer and social commentator. The legislation now goes to President Barack Obama.

The U.S. Mint will issue the coins in 2016. There will be no cost to taxpayers.

The coins will be legal tender but are expected to be popular among collectors. A surcharge on their sale will go toward four sites tied to Twain, including Elmira College’s Center for Mark Twain Studies.

“The center is instrumental in providing educational opportunities to individuals, including research fellowships, conferences and tours. Proceeds from the commemorative coin directed toward the center at Elmira College will ensure these programs are able to continue,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning.

Reed voted for the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act, a measure sponsored in the House by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., and in the Senate by Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, lived from 1835 to 1910. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira.

“Like all good literature, (Twain’s) writings raise questions that invite meaningful discussion. His humor makes us laugh, and his insights and aphorisms ring true,” said Barb Snedecor, director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies. “The production and sale of the coins may bring Mark Twain’s writings and life to the forefront of American culture and conscience again.”

The Hartford (Conn.) Courant newspaper reported that 100,000 $5 gold coins and 350,000 $1 silver coins will be minted. It said a $35 surcharge on the gold coin and $10 surcharge on the silver coin will fund nonprofit sites associated with Twain. The bill said surcharge proceeds will go to the nonprofit groups after the government recovers the cost of designing and issuing the coins.

Funds will go to:

• The Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, for research and education. Twain married an Elmira woman, Olivia Langdon Clemens, who graduated from the college. He spent more than 20 summers in Elmira, writing some of his greatest works here.
• The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, to support the continued restoration of the house and grounds, and ensure continuing growth and innovation in museum programming.
• The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Mo., to preserve historical sites related to Twain and help support study and promotion programs.
• The Mark Twain Papers & Project at the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, to support programs to study and promote Twain’s legacy.

“I have been working with Hartford and Hannibal and the Bancroft Library over the past year to advance this bill. It is a credit to all four sites that the bill made its way through Congress this year. We are all delighted,” Snedecor said.
(For original story, please visit http://www.stargazette.com/article/20121116/NEWS01/311160082/U-S-coins-will-honor-Mark-Twain-s-legacy.)

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