Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

May 5, 2021

Coin contest could help market Maine — and make money, literally

Courtesy / U.S. Mint Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are some of the states whose breakthroughs have already been recognized on American Innovation dollar coins.

The state’s science-related industries may get a boost from a federal program that gives Mainers a chance to make some serious coin.

The U.S. Mint is preparing to issue a Maine-themed $1 coin, and the state treasurer’s office is now accepting ideas from the public for the design.

The currency will be one of four “American Innovation” dollar coins released in 2024, according to a news release. The mint began producing the series in 2018 to honor “innovation and innovators” of every U.S. state, as well as the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories.

Over a 15-year schedule, the mint is issuing the coins in order of each state’s admission to the union. Maine’s turn comes up in three years, but the work is beginning now.

State Treasurer Henry Beck said Maine is looking to depict a “state-specific innovation and/or innovator in the field of science, its impact and connection to the state.” Mainers are invited to describe and submit their ideas to his office by June 1, by mail, email or via an online portal. Written summaries are required; visual renditions will not be accepted.

A selection committee will assist Gov. Janet Mills in picking the final concept, which will then be vetted by the U.S Treasury Department. Artists at the mint will sculpt the actual design for striking the specie, which is made from copper with a brass cladding. The front side ("heads") of each American Innovation coin shows a common image, of the Statue of Liberty.

Money market

Maine Deputy Treasurer Gregory Olson told Mainebiz that submissions are being accepted from all sources within the state, including nonprofits and companies. But the suggestions themselves cannot be for a specific brand.

Nevertheless, states have already found ways to highlight their technical and industrial innovation without promoting a particular product.

New Hampshire’s coin, which is scheduled to become available June 8, commemorates Ralph Baer, an electrical engineer who was widely known as “the father of video games.” In 1966, while working for Nashua, N.H.-based Sanders Associates, he conceived the idea of playing games on a television screen — ultimately leading to the first home video game console.

Baer’s inventions earned over 150 patents before his death in 2014. An image of a console appears on New Hampshire’s American Innovation dollar.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu commented on his state's coin in recent news release: “The New Hampshire series of the 2021 American Innovation Coin is a fitting tribute to both Ralph Baer, the Father of Video Games, and the pioneering, innovative spirit that each Granite Stater carries with them."

Beck said there are lots of potential subjects for Maine’s coin. “Maine is a diverse state with many innovators and innovations, all worthy of this type of recognition,” he said. “It will be tough to make a decision.”

Olson provided similar guidance on the concept of innovation: “While the selection committee members will have different perspectives on exactly what this means, I believe that innovations and innovators that project a positive image of our state, and of which all Mainers can be proud, will be the finalists.”

There’s no length limit on the submission descriptions. “However, for lesser known innovations or innovators, more context may be helpful in educating and swaying the selection committee,” he said.

Don’t look to see Maine’s American Innovation dollar in general circulation, however. While the coins are legal tender, the mint is only releasing them for sale at a price above face value.  

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF