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2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar Coin

CoinTrapTM Commentary: With readable braille on the reverse side, the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar coin is at once historic and unique.  For millions of people with sight-related challenges such as, of course, blindness, Louis Braille provided a path toward independence, both in terms of education and day-to-day living.  When I received my Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar coin, I opened it with almost childlike excitement. I looked into Mr. Braille’s eyes and could not help but feel the monumental contribution that he has made to our society. May the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar coin live on as a reminder and example of determined outreach to improve the lives of all humans irrespective of the challenges we face.

Coin Value: What is the value of your Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar coin?  It depends. (Don’t you hate it when someone gives you this answer.)  The Louis Braille Silver Dollar coin worth or value depends on these main factors: (1) your coin’s grade, (2) whether it is a proof coin (Deep Cameo or DCAM) having a mirror-like polished finish, and (3) scarcity/demand. Regarding your coin’s grade, it has become a standard in the field of numismatics (coin collecting) to grade coins on a point-scale from 1 (poor) to 70 (perfect). This is also referred to as the “Mint State” or just “MS” for short. Click here to find the up-to-date estimated value of your Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar coin from the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS®), which takes all three factors mentioned above into account*. If you do not know the grade of your Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar coin, you can take it to your local coin dealer and ask that they have it graded at one of the three major coin grading services.

Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar - Obverse

Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar - Reverse

Obverse - Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar Coin

Designer: Joel Iskowitz
Engraver: Phebe Hemphill

Reverse - Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar Coin

Designer: Susan Gamble
Engraver: Joseph Menna

* United States Mint images. is not affiliated with the United States Government in any way. Click here for terms and conditions.


      [[Page 120 STAT. 582]]

      Public Law 109-247
      109th Congress

                                       An Act

      To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration
             of Louis Braille. <<NOTE: July 27, 2006 -  [H.R. 2872]>>

         Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
      United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Louis Braille
      Bicentennial--Braille Literacy Commemorative Coin Act.>>

      SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 31 USC 5112 note.>> SHORT TITLE.

         This Act may be cited as the ``Louis Braille Bicentennial--Braille
      Literacy Commemorative Coin Act''.

      SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

         The Congress finds as follows:
                 (1) Louis Braille, who invented the Braille method for
             reading and writing by the blind that has allowed millions of
             blind people to be literate participants in their societies, was
             born in Coupvray, a small village near Paris, on January 4,
                 (2) Braille lost his sight at the age of three after
             injuring himself with an awl in the shop of his father Rene, a
             maker of harnesses and other objects of leather.
                 (3) A youth who was both intelligent and creative and was
             blessed with dedicated parents, a thoughtful local priest and an
             energetic local schoolteacher, Braille adapted to the situation
             and attended local school with other youths of his age, an
             unheard-of practice for a blind child of the period.
                 (4) At the age of 10, when his schooling otherwise would
             have stopped, Braille--with the aid of the priest and
             schoolteacher--was given a scholarship by a local nobleman and
             went to Paris to attend the Royal Institute for Blind Children
             where he became the youngest pupil.
                 (5) At the school, most instruction was oral but Braille
             found there were books for the blind--large, expensive-to-
             produce books in which the text was of large letters embossed
             upon the page.
                 (6) Soon Braille had read all 14 books in the school, but
             thirsted for more.
                 (7) A captain in Napoleon's army, Charles Barbier de la
             Serre, had invented ``night writing'', a method for
             communicating on the battlefield amidst the thick smoke of
             combat or at night without lighting a match--which would aid
             enemy gunners--that used dots and dashes that were felt and
             interpreted with the fingers, and later adapted the method for
             use by the blind, calling it Sonography because it represented
             words by sounds, rather than spelling.

      [[Page 120 STAT. 583]]

                 (8) Braille adopted the Sonography method instantly but soon
             recognized that the basis in sound and the large number of
             dots--as many as 12--used to represent words was too cumbersome.
                 (9) By the age of 15, and using a blunt awl, the same sort
             of tool that had blinded him, Braille had developed what is
             essentially modern Braille, a code that uses no more than 6 dots
             in a ``cell'' of 2 columns of 3 dots each to represent each
             letter and contains a system of punctuation and of
             ``contractions'' to speed writing and reading.
                 (10) In contrast to the bulky books consisting of large
             embossed letters, Braille books can contain as many as 1000
             characters or contractions on a standard 11-by-12-inch page of
             heavy paper, and to this day Braille can be punched with an awl-
             like ``stylus'' into paper held in a metal ``slate'' that is
             very similar to the ones that Louis Braille adapted from
             Barbier's original ``night writing'' devices.
                 (11) Also a talented organist who supported himself by
             giving concerts, Braille went on to develop the Braille
             representation of music and in 1829 published the first-ever
             Braille book, a manual about how to read and write music.
                 (12) 8 years later, in 1837, Braille followed that
             publication with another book detailing a system of
             representation of mathematics.
                 (13) Braille's talents were quickly recognized, and at 17 he
             was made the first blind apprentice teacher at the school, where
             he taught algebra, grammar, music, and geography.
                 (14) He and two blind classmates, his friends who probably
             were the first people to learn to read and write Braille, later
             became the first three blind full professors at the school.
                 (15) However, despite the fact that many blind people
             enthusiastically adopted the system of writing and reading,
             there was great skepticism among sighted people about the real
             usefulness of Braille's code, and even at the Royal Institute,
             it was not taught until after his death on January 6, 1852.
                 (16) Braille did not start to spread widely until 1868 when
             a group of British men--later to become known as the Royal
             National Institute for the Blind--began publicizing and teaching
             the system.
                 (17) Braille did not become the official and sole method of
             reading and writing for blind United States citizens until the
             20th Century.
                 (18) Helen Keller, a Braille reader of another generation,
             said: ``Braille has been a most precious aid to me in many ways.
             It made my going to college possible--it was the only method by
             which I could take notes on lectures. All my examination papers
             were copied for me in this system. I use Braille as a spider
             uses its web--to catch thoughts that flit across my mind for
             speeches, messages and manuscripts.''.
                 (19) While rapid technological advances in the 20th Century
             have greatly aided the blind in many ways by speeding access to
             information, each advance has seen a commensurate drop in the
             teaching of Braille, to the point that only about 10 percent of
             blind students today are taught the system.
                 (20) However, for the blind not to know Braille is in itself
             a handicap, because literacy is the ability to read and the
             ability to write and the ability to do the two interactively.

      [[Page 120 STAT. 584]]

                 (21) The National Federation of the Blind, the Nation's
             oldest membership organization consisting of blind members, has
             been a champion of the Braille code, of Braille literacy for all
             blind people and of the memory of Louis Braille, and continues
             its Braille literacy efforts today through its divisions
             emphasizing Braille literacy, emphasizing education of blind
             children and emphasizing employment of the blind.
                 (22) Braille literacy aids the blind in taking responsible
             and self-sufficient roles in society, such as employment: while
             70 percent of the blind are unemployed, 85 percent of the
             employed blind are Braille-literate.


         (a) In General.--The Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this
      Act referred to as the ``Secretary'') shall mint and issue not more than
      400,000 $1 coins bearing the designs specified in section 4(a), each of
      which shall--
                 (1) weigh 26.73 grams;
                 (2) have a diameter of 1.500 inches; and
                 (3) contain 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.

         (b) Legal Tender.--The coins minted under this Act shall be legal
      tender, as provided in section 5103 of title 31, United States Code.
         (c) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 of title 31,
      United States Code, all coins minted under this Act shall be considered
      to be numismatic items.


         (a) Design Requirements.--
                 (1) In general.--The design of the coins minted under this
             Act shall be emblematic of the life and legacy of Louis Braille.
                 (2) Obverse.--The design on the obverse shall bear a
             representation of the image of Louis Braille.
                 (3) Reverse.--The design on the reverse shall emphasize
             Braille literacy and shall specifically include the word for
             Braille in Braille code (the Braille capital sign and the
             letters Brl) represented in a way that substantially complies
             with section 3 of Specification 800 of the National Library
             Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library
             of Congress specifications for Braille, and is tactilely
             indiscernible from printed or written Braille.
                 (4) Designation and inscriptions.--On each coin minted under
             this Act there shall be--
                         (A) a designation of the value of the coin;
                         (B) an inscription of the year ``2009''; and
                         (C) inscriptions of the words ``Liberty'', ``In God
                     We Trust'', ``United States of America'', and ``E
                     Pluribus Unum''.

         (b) Selection.--The design for the coins minted under this Act shall
                 (1) selected by the Secretary after consultation with the
             Commission of Fine Arts and the National Federation of the
             Blind; and
                 (2) reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

      [[Page 120 STAT. 585]]


         (a) Quality of Coins.--Coins minted under this Act shall be issued
      in uncirculated and proof qualities.
         (b) Mint Facility.--Only 1 facility of the United States Mint may be
      used to strike any particular quality of the coins minted under this
         (c) Period for Issuance.--The Secretary may issue coins minted under
      this Act only during the 1-year period beginning on January 1, 2009.

      SEC. 6. SALE OF COINS.

         (a) Sale Price.--The coins issued under this Act shall be sold by
      the Secretary at a price equal to the sum of--
                 (1) the face value of the coins;
                 (2) the surcharge provided in section 7(a) with respect to
             such coins; and
                 (3) the cost of designing and issuing the coins (including
             labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses,
             marketing, and shipping).

         (b) Bulk Sales.--The Secretary shall make bulk sales of the coins
      issued under this Act at a reasonable discount.
         (c) Prepaid Orders.--
                 (1) In general.--The Secretary shall accept prepaid orders
             for the coins minted under this Act before the issuance of such
                 (2) Discount.--Sale prices with respect to prepaid orders
             under paragraph (1) shall be at a reasonable discount.


         (a) Surcharge Required.--All sales of coins under this Act shall
      include a surcharge of $10 per coin.
         (b) Distribution.--Subject to section 5134(f) of title 31, United
      States Code, all surcharges which are received by the Secretary from the
      sale of coins issued under this Act shall be promptly paid by the
      Secretary to the National Federation of the Blind to further its
      programs to promote Braille literacy.
         (c) Audits.--The National Federation of the Blind shall be subject
      to the audit requirements of section 5134(f)(2) of title 31, United
      States Code, with regard to the amounts received by the National
      Federation under subsection (b).
         (d) Limitation.--Notwithstanding subsection (a), no surcharge may be
      included with respect to the issuance under this Act of any coin during
      a calendar year if, as of the time of such issuance, the issuance of
      such coin would result in the number of commemorative coin programs
      issued during such year to exceed the annual 2 commemorative coin
      program issuance limitation under section 5112(m)(1) of title 31, United
      States Code (as in effect on the

      [[Page 120 STAT. 586]]

      date of the enactment of this Act). The Secretary of the Treasury may
      issue guidance to carry out this subsection.

         Approved July 27, 2006.

      LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 2872 (S. 2321):

      CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 152 (2006):
                 Feb. 28, considered and passed House.
                 July 12, considered and passed Senate.

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