The 2009 “Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar" commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of the remarkable Louis Braille. Braille, a Frenchman who became blind as a young child refined a French military system of tactile codes used for communicating silently in the dark, into a compact tactile alphabet that could be used to encode words. The system based on the position of raised dots on a two by three grid became know as the “Braille System”, and is still used today to allow the visually impaired to read.
The coin was made in both Proof and uncirculated finishes at the Philadelpia mint and bear the “P” mint mark on the Obverse under the 2009 date. The obverse (heads) features a portrait of Louis Braille that fills most of the field. The inscriptions LIBERTY arcs along the outside rim from 8 o’clock to 4 o’clock, the motto IN GOD WE TRUST is to the Right of the portrait and the name , LOUIS BRAILLE arc under the portrait. The date 1809 is to the left of the bust and 2009 is to the right with the mint mark directly below. The Obverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor/Engraver Phebe Hemphill. The designer initial “JI” are on Braille’s Left Coat Lapel, while the engravers “PH” are on the right
The reverse (tails), showing a child sitting at a table reading a book presumably in Braille. Above the picture are three Braille Letters “B”, “R” & ”L” an abbreviation for the word "Braille". Behind the table is a bookshelf with the word INDEPENDENCE in block letters across the top face. Arcing along the top rim from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock is the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is to the right of the boy, and ONE DOLLAR arcs across the bottom. The reverse was designed by United States Mint AIP Master Designer Susan Gamble and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor/Engraver Joseph Menna. The initials “SG” and “JM” are just behind the boys chair along the right rim of the coin at about 4 o’clock.
General Market Notes
The Mint was authorized to produce 400,000 coins across all options. The coin was eventually sold in four different packaging options, 1) the single proof coin, 2&3 ) the single unciruclated coins in two different packages, the standard coin capsule and box and a custom made "Easy Open" capsule to allow the braille inscription to be read, and late in the program 4) a Braille Education Set option which include a single uncirculated dollar in a tri-fold book that included history of the Braille system and embosed images of the two sides of the coins to allow the visually impared to feel the image. A special Surcharges from sales of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar are authorized to be paid to the National Federation of the Blind to further its programs to promote Braille literacy.
By the end of sales in December 2009 a total of 217,874 Louis Braille Silver Dollars had been sold across all options. This represents 54.5% of the maximum authorized mintage of 400,000.
The breakdown by product option was:
Uncirculated Easy Open 23,078
Braille Education Set 10,698