Have you ever held a piece of history in your hands? A commemorative coin is exactly thatA shining piece of history struck to mark an event or to honor a notable person.Almost all minting countries have released commemorative coins. This year, the U.S. mint has commissioned a commemorative coin to honor Samuel Langhome Clemens, better known as Mark Twain; the iconic American author and humorist.

Why Mark Twain?

Samuel Langhome Clemens, with the pen name Mark Twain is considered the greatest American author of the 19th century. His famous books Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are among a few that are still in print after their first publication nearly hundred years before. Brought up in Hannibal, Missouri a port town on the Mississippi river, Clemens started his professional life at the age of 16 as a typesetter and a contributor of articles and humorous sketches for Hannibal Journal. But Clemens was always drawn to the river and wanted to become a steamboat pilot, an ambition probably shared by most boys then! By the age of 20, he was a steamboat pilot and knew the Mississippi river like the back of his hand. This is where he got the inspiration for his pen name Mark Twain later, as it was the leadsmans cry for safe water for a steamboat.[1] After a brief stint in the confederate army and as a miner, Clemens took up journalism at a Virginia City newspaper. He became a nationally acclaimed writer when his "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", was published in a New York weekly, The Saturday Press. This success provided the funds necessary for an international tour that produced great travel literature, The Innocents abroad a critique on European countries and later Roughing It on the American society. His work on Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn drew inspiration from his childhood days in Hannibal. While Tom Sawyer was decidedly light-hearted, Huckleberry Finn had a more serious undercurrent and made the literary world stand up and take note of the author. Some Americans have even hailed Huckleberry Finn as the Great American Novel. Ernest Hemingway, a great American author in his own right, commented on the book, All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain brought alive 19th century America, the tribulations and its aspirations on paper vividly. He wrote eloquently about numerous subjects like anti-imperialism, slavery, womens rights, revolutionaries and almost everything else under the sun. Some of the manuscripts which didn't see the light of day in his time, were published for the first time much later, some as recent as 2010.

Mark Twain Commemorative coin - Design

To commemorate Mark Twains literary and educational contributions to the American society, the U.S. mint decided to release two coins in his honor this year; the Mark Twain Silver Dollar and the $5 Mark Twain Gold coin. Both the coins are released in Proof and Uncirculated versions.

Mark Twain Silver Dollar

Minted from the Philadelphia mint, this Silver dollar has an obverse of Mark Twain holding a pipe. The smoke from the pipe forms a silhouette of Huck Finn and Jim on a raft. The reverse depicts a motley bunch of characters from Mark Twains works like the knight and horse from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs court, the frog from his first nationally acclaimed The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Jim and Huck from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The surcharges of $10 from each coin are to be paid to the Mark Twain house and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut; the University of California, Berkeley; Elmira College, New York; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. [2]

Mark Twain $5 Gold coin

Minted from the West Point mint, this $5 coin has an obverse that depicts a portrait of Mark Twain. The reverse depicts a steamboat in the Mississippi River, recognizing his timeas a steamboat pilot and his fascination for the river. Surcharges of $35 for each gold coin sold are authorized to be paid to the same institutions as for the Silver dollar.

Mark Twain breathed heart and soul into his fictional works and the other causes he stood for. His literary works captured a period of American history in all its imperfections and glory and made it exciting for students all over the world. Through the Mark Twain commemorative coins released recently, the U.S. mintcelebrates him and reminds us of the good ol' days when life was simpler! So,have you ever held apiece of history in your hands? Clickto look at the US coins in our collection   References
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain#Tom_Sawyer_and_Huckleberry_Finn
  2. http://catalog.usmint.gov/coins/commemoratives/

This entry was posted in Commemorative coins and tagged us commemorative coins, tom sawyer, steamboat pilot, mark twain commemorative coin, mark twain, huckleberry finn on February 24, 2016 by lavanya kannan