Currency Sets Carried Botanic Garden Sales
By Paul M. Green
The 1997 Botanic
Garden commemorative silver dollar was part of a
very interesting program. Anyone who actually
purchased all the options from the program
probably feels pretty good about what otherwise
might be an obscure commemorative coinage issue.
The Botanic Garden may seem like an unusual
theme choice for a commemorative, but the
Botanic Gardens have always been a Washington,
D.C., tourist favorite. Also, in case you
havenít noticed, Washington, D.C., institutions
get more than their share of commemoratives.
This might have something to do with the fact
that the members of Congress who authorize
commemorative programs live and work most of the
year in the Washington, D.C., area.
That said, the U.S. Botanic Garden is not simply
some rose exhibition. It is the oldest
continually operating botanic garden in the
United States, dating all the way back to 1820
when it was authorized by President James
Monroe. The coinís obverse was designed by Edgar
Steever, and the reverse was by William C.
It must be remembered that 1997 was a very tough
year for commemoratives. The market was at a low
point after being flooded with issues in 1995
and 1996. The biggest problem was the 32 Atlanta
Olympic Games issues. This large number of
issues had turned collectors against the modern
commemorative program as it had operated to that
point in time. Both orders and interest dropped.
What was needed were fewer issues, but already
in the pipeline for 1997 were coins for the
Botanic Garden, a gold $5 for Franklin D.
Roosevelt, a silver dollar and $5 for Jackie
Robinson, and a National Law Enforcement
Officers Memorial dollar. Four different issues
in one year with two involving $5 gold coins is
too many, and coming with a bad market only
makes a bad situation worse. It was the Botanic
Garden dollar that was more popular than the
The dollar was offered at $33 for a proof and
$30 for a BU in the pre-issue discount period.
Regular prices were $37 for the proof and $32
for the BU. There was also a Prestige set that
sold for $44 in the pre-issue period and $48 in
the regular period, and that set is currently up
Sales of the individual dollars were 58,505
business strikes and 189,671 proofs. In 1997
those were good sales, but over the span of
modern commemoratives the totals are modest. The
proof retails today at $42 while, the BU is $45.
The real prize in the Botanic Garden offering
was 25,000 coinage and currency sets that had a
BU Botanic Garden dollar packed with a $1
Federal Reserve Note and a 1997 matte-finish
Jefferson nickel. At $36 in the pre-issue
discount period, it was a set that could not
miss. All 25,000 sold quickly and today the set
is priced at $190.
This dollar and the sets that include it are
worth a look from collectors.