UC Berkeley to receive about $400K for Mark Twain Project

Yukun Zhang/Staff

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UC Berkeley is one of four institutions set to receive more than $400,000 each in surcharge funds collected from the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Program.

The United States Mint has been disbursing surcharge funds collected under the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Program to institutions designated under the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act. 

The campus is still in the process of receiving their part of the surcharge, according to Robert Hirst, general editor for the campus’s Mark Twain Project.

“The library is in the process of completing various federal requirements to establish UC’s legal eligibility for its share of the commemorative coin surcharge funds,” Hirst said.  

Authorized by legislation, the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Program produced up to 100,000 $5 gold coins and 350,000 $1 silver coins. The coins were sold for much more than their nominal value $35 for each gold coin and $10 for each silver coin — and the surcharges were collected from the coin sales, according to the U.S. Mint website.

Surcharges generated from the sale of Mark Twain commemorative coins from 2016 were almost $2 million. This amount has been split evenly between the four organizations  UC Berkeley; the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut; Elmira College in New York; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. Each are receiving a share of $427,937.50 of surcharges, according to Hirst.

The campus is receiving a part of the surcharges toward the benefit of the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library, which is a program working to publish a complete collection  of writings related to Mark Twain, Hirst said. The project contains about 15,000 letters to Twain, notebooks, an autobiography, financial and business records and photographs.

“The project maintains and adds to the most comprehensive collection of original documents by and about Mark Twain anywhere in this world,” Hirst said. “These documents are made available to all comers, scholars and non-scholars alike, both by onsite access and by electronic access through our website.”

Steve Courtney, publicist and publications editor for The Mark Twain House & Museum in Connecticut said in an email that The Mark Twain Project’s work over the decades is “phenomenal” and that the project sets a standard for “scholarly good grace and public service.”

The money will primarily go towards the salaries of the workers of the Mark Twain Project, their biggest expense, Hirst said.

According to Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, the university librarian at UC Berkeley, the library is excited about the potential benefit to students, researchers and lifelong learners around the world.

“This will enhance the vast collection of materials by and about Mark Twain, accessible both in print and online, and further inquiry and discovery,” MacKie-Mason said in an email.

Contact Robin Hyun at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @robinnhyun.