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Mint unveils designs for coins memorializing President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara

A resolution signed by President Donald Trump in January authorized the Treasury Department to mint and issue the coins.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Mint unveiled the design for coins honoring President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, on Tuesday.

The presidential $1 coin for President Bush will bear his portrait with the inscriptions “George H.W. Bush,” “In God we trust,” “41st president,” and “1989-1993” on the obverse, or “heads,” side of the coin. The reverse, or “tails,” side will feature the Statue of Liberty, as with other presidential coins.

The first spouse gold coin bears the former first lady’s portrait with the inscriptions “Barbara Bush,” “In God we trust,” “Liberty,” “2020,” “41st,” and “1989-1993” on the obverse side. The reverse side depicts a person reading, with an open road before them, in homage to Barbara Bush’s advocacy for family literacy.

The coins will be available for purchase on Aug. 20, according to a release from the mint.

President Donald Trump signed a bill by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, in January that authorized creating the commemorative coins.

Under the resolution, the Treasury Department must mint and issue presidential dollar coins with the image of President Bush for one year and bullion coins with the image of his wife during the same period. The former president and first lady died seven months apart in 2018.

“The lives of President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush were characterized by love of country and service for others,” Cornyn said in a January statement. “Each coin will preserve their legacy and inspire us all to serve others in their memories.”

George H.W. Bush was born in Massachusetts but moved his family to Texas after serving in World War II. He represented an area of Houston in Congress early in his political career, going on to serve as ambassador to the United Nations, Republican National Committee chair, CIA director and vice president before being elected president in 1988. He and his wife retired to Houston following his failed reelection campaign in 1992.

“President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush epitomized the very best of America — and like their country, they were tough, strong, and kind. I am grateful for their friendship and their lasting legacy. Our world is better because of them,” Williams said in a January statement. “I’m very pleased that President Trump signed this bill into law to honor two of America’s most remarkable servants.”

The legislation creating the gold coins program to honor former presidents and their spouses requires a president to be dead for at least two years before coins can be issued. The resolution passed this week bypasses that provision, as the two-year anniversary of President Bush’s death isn’t until Nov. 1.

The resolution received widespread support, with 66 Senate cosponsors. In the House, 27 members of the 36-member Texas delegation cosponsored the bill.

President Bush’s coin was designed by Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Elana Hagler, which mint chief engraver Joseph Menna sculpted.

The first lady’s coin was designed by Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Benjamin Sowards and sculpted by mint medallic artist Phebe Hemphill, according to the mint’s release.

Paul Cobler, Politics Reporting Fellow. Paul Cobler covers politics for The Dallas Morning News in Washington, DC. Paul is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked at the school's student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and interned for newspapers across the state.

paul.cobler@dallasnews.com @PaulCobler
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