First Spouse Medals
When the Presidential Dollars series started in 2007 with the coin for George Washington, the U.S. Mint also produced a First Spouse bronze medal to accompany each coin. The medals feature First Ladies, starting with Martha Washington and issued in the same respective order as the Presidential Dollars.
Not every President was married at the time of his Presidency, however. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren were widowers, while James Buchanan never married. Because there was no First Lady, the First Spouse medals for these Presidents depicted Liberty from a U.S. coin that was in circulation at the time they were in office.
A further twist occurred in the Presidencies of John Tyler and Woodrow Wilson. In these cases, the First Lady died and the President remarried while in office – so both First Ladies were featured on separate medals.
Each First Spouse medal was struck in bronze and is 1-5/16 inch in diameter, or a little larger than a half dollar coin. Since 2012, the medals have been available only in a complete year set instead of individually.
2016 First Spouse Three-Medals Set
Since only deceased Presidents were included on Presidential Dollars, the series came to an end in 2016 with the coins for Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. Likewise, the First Spouse medals series ended in 2016 with the medals for First Ladies Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, and Nancy Reagan.
The obverse of each medal features a portrait of the First Lady from her time in the White House, along with the dates she was the First Lady. The reverse is emblematic of her life and work, especially while serving as First Lady.
The reverse designs for the three 2016 First Spouse medals are:
- Pat Nixon – stylized figures surrounding the globe to symbolize her commitment to volunteerism around the world.
- Betty Ford – a young woman climbing a spiral staircase, representing her campaigns for help with drug and alcohol addiction, breast cancer awareness, and the rights of women.
- Nancy Reagan – the First Lady with two children wearing “Just Say No” shirts to denote her anti-drugs campaign.
In addition to the medals, the 2016 First Spouse designs were also struck by the U.S. Mint as half-ounce gold coins with $10 face values.