The United States Mint recently released the designs for the long-awaited $5 pink gold, silver dollar, and clad half dollar 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness commemorative coins. The 2018 Breast Cancer coins could become some of the most popular commemorative coins released by the United States Mint in many years, and that's a good thing for many reasons, including the fact that surcharges from the sales of these 2018 coins benefit breast cancer research.
The unveiling ceremony for the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness coins transpired on October 23, 2017 at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation headquarters in New York. The coins are authorized under Public Law 114-148, which was signed into law on April 29, 2016. The law also provides proceeds from the sale of each coin to benefit the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation's research programs. The non-profit organization will receive $35 for every pink gold coin sold, $10 from each silver dollar, and $5 from the sale of each half dollar.
The $5 breast cancer coin represents at least one numismatic first: it is the first pink gold coin ever officially minted in the United States. According to conversations about the Breast Cancer Awareness coins at the United States Mint Forum in Washington, D.C., in October 2017, officials said they extensively experimented with several types of metallic compositions before determining the pink gold coin's specific formula. The pink gold coin will be made from a composition of 85% gold, 14.8% copper, and 0.2% zinc. The other two coins in the breast cancer commemorative series, which include the silver dollar and half dollar, will be made from their traditional 90% silver and copper-nickel clad compositions, respectively.
While the three commemorative coins have distinct metallic compositions they not only share a common theme, but they also feature common obverse and reverse designs. They were chosen from among dozens submitted in an open contest the United States Mint opened in mid 2016. The winning designer, Emily Damstra, belongs to the U.S. Mint's Artistic Infusion Program and incorporates various elements in the design.
On the obverse are seen two women and a butterfly. An older woman, who appears closer to the viewer, has closed eyes and here hands crossed upon her chest, signifying relief and recovery from a challenge fought against breast cancer presumably years earlier. Appearing in the mid-ground is a younger woman with a scarf on her head and a fist in the air, symbolizing her determination in an ongoing battle against breast cancer that she will fight to overcome. In the upper background of the obverse, near the younger woman's head, is a ribbon – a nod to the pink ribbon that serves as an internationally recognized symbol of hope in the breast cancer community. A tiger swallowtail butterfly soars above both women under the word "LIBERTY." The obverse design was sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.
The tiger swallowtail butterfly that is seen on the obverse of the coin dominates the coin's reverse. The reverse design was sculpted by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon.
According to the rules of the design contest, the artwork submitted by Damstra was reviewed by an expert jury consisting of three members from the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and led by the Treasury Secretary. The U.S. Mint will officially begin selling the Breast Cancer Awareness coins on March 15, 2018, with maximum mintages of 50,000 pink gold coins, 400,000 silver dollars, and 750,000 half dollars. Prices for the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness coins are unavailable at this time but will be released at a time closer to the release date.