Archive for the ‘coins’ Tag

On Our Current Coinage

I have started a petition on the White House petitions site; please consider signing it. It’s not anything earth-shattering, but it is something dear to my numismatist’s heart:

In 1904, President Roosevelt sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Leslie Shaw, in which he described the then-current coins in circulation as being of “atrocious hideousness”.

Our current coinage is again of atrocious hideousness: modern designs are flat and lifeless rather than sculpted, with all the character of an arcade token. The Native American and Statehood/America the Beautiful issues do not really combat this trend.

We ask the president to direct the Treasury to redesign all American coinage, both circulating and bullion/collectible issues. We also ask for a return to classic portrayals of Liberty rather than the commemoration of historical figures, or that persons so commemorated be deceased for at least 100 years, to avoid partisanship in choosing the new designs.

I’m a longtime believer that with very few exceptions, our coins should be celebrating who we are and what we stand for, rather than former leaders. I grant freely that Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln are in a different category; that’s why I put in the ‘one century dead’ provision, so they could be retained if there was a will to.

Even just in our own lifetimes, coin designs have degraded badly. Look for a quarter from the mid-1970s or earlier, and compare it with one from 1998 or later. Our coins used to be sculpted; now they’re flat and featureless. Compare the Kennedy half dollar to the Walking Liberty half dollar — or even the Franklin half. Now, I’m a Kennedy fan, but let’s be fair, he got put on the coin out of national grief, not for his record of accomplishment.

I would love to see a return to the classic (and non-partisan) Liberty designs — the Seated, Standing and above-reference Walking Liberties are some of our most beautiful coinage, to say nothing of the St. Gauden’s $20 gold piece which is for my money (no pun intended) the single most exquisite coin ever minted. The current nickel, which looks more like Miss Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies than it does Thomas Jefferson, simply isn’t in the running — although the preceding “peekaboo” design from 2005 would have made a lovely successor to the old Felix Schlag nickel.


That was odd. Pleasant, but odd.

Among my vices, I’m a coin collector, and I always go to the Ohio State Coin Show which is held the day before Labor Day every year. Now, it’s held up at the Crowne Plaza in Dublin, which is where OVFF used to be, and uses much of the same convention space.

So even though I know intellectually I’m going to turn a corner and bump into a coin dealer, I keep half expecting to turn a corner and bump into a musician. It’s a fun kind of weird. There is a fountain pen show up there two weeks after OVFF, and no doubt if I were to go to that, I would get confused by the lack of guitars and coins. :D

Huh. Is there any numismatic filk? Maybe written with a fountain pen?

That makes cents.

Couldn’t resist that title there. :D

So last November, the mint released the new reverse design for the Lincoln cent that will be permanently (or at least until 2059) replacing the Memorial back, as the Memorial replaced the Wheat back in 1959.

They chose a very retro Union Shield design that I hope is the opening salvo in a long-overdue rethinking of our coin designs. I actually preferred the next one, but the one they chose is nice, simple and historical. One also has to keep in mind that this design has to fit and be legible on the limited space available on the back of a penny, and has to wear well over time.

Actually, I’m of the opinion that we should rethink our pocket change from the ground up. And while we’re at it, get rid of the paper $1 and $5. A paper bill only lasts about 18 months. A coin … well, check your pocket change. I still frequently see nickels from the ’40s and ’50s. Once in a while, a Wheatie cent. You won’t find higher denoms before 1965 since they were silver before then, though.

A few years ago on a numismatics forum I used to hang out on (and should get active on again), I proposed a ground-up redesign as follows:

Continue reading

Chock full of dollar-y goodness!

Got my hands on some of the new Presidential Dollar coins today–so far, the only one out is Washington, and around here, the only ones we’ll see for a while are the Phillies. A few discoveries, though…

  1. The edge lettering is not registered–it has no particular rotation around the rim.
  2. It also has no particular ‘side’–it can be upright relative to either the obverse or the reverse. It remains to be see whether it’s a close 50-50 mix, or if one will prove to be more uncommon.
  3. Unlike the Sacagawea dollars, the layers of the metals on the edge are subtler, and on some coin invisible entirely. The effect is quite nice, true “golden” dollars. Fresh from the bank, they have incredible lustre.

Can’t wait to get the proofs. :)

Ho ho hooo, boy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, trdsf sent to me…

Twelve mathematics drumming
Eleven cosmos piping
Ten astrophysics a-leaping
Nine numismatics dancing
Eight tornadoes a-milking
Seven cartoons a-writing
Six physics a-knitting
Five b mo-o-o-ovies
Four z movies
Three best brains
Two particle physics
…and an anti-bush in a special relativity.

Get your own Twelve Days:

C is for cookie, that’s good enough for meme…

gave me the letter “C“, and my job is to present ten things starting with C that I love, and thenyou all can request a letter too.

  1. Cousins… and siblings and parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and especially my nieces… the whole famn damily.
  2. Cats, of which I have two: Random and Mavis.
  3. Chords, of the musical kind, whether listening or playing–insert all the bands I love here, otherwise I’ll go way over ten, but particular mention to the Grateful Dead… :)
  4. Cambot and Crow T. Robot and Bill Corbett and Frank Coniff, to say nothing of Tom Servo, Gypsy, Magic Voice, Mike, Joel, Trace, Kevin, Jim, Mary Jo, Patrick, and Paul (and juliewa and barbbb). MST3K is still the best comedy ever put on TV.
  5. Chris Eccleston and Colin Baker and all the other Doctors and Companions (Compania?)
  6. Computer. Duh. :)
  7. Columbus, as I love the hell out of my adopted home town.
  8. Cosmology and Cosmos, as I love the astrosciences.
  9. Coins, which I collect, and
  10. Courses, specifically of the golf and minigolf variety.

    Next? No bizarre letters, I promise!

    EDIT: Augh! I ran out of room for Cameras (specifically my Minolta XG1–film still beats binary), Cooking, the Caves of Steel and damn near everything else Asimov ever wrote, Roger Corman and the other masters of the B- (and Z-) movie, cable stitch and knitting in general… augh!

Coming next year to coin collectors: a herniated mailman.

We’re winding down the 50 States Quarter Program over the next two years.

We’re ramping up the Presidential Dollar series starting next year.

So next year’s proof sets will have, in addition to the penny, nickel, dime, half dollar and Sacagawea dollar, five statehood quarters (Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah) and four Presidential dollars (Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison). Barring the unexpected admission of another state between now and the end of 2008, that ends the state quarter program. In ’09, there will be one quarter, but at least four pennies, perhaps five or six, to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth and the centennial of the Lincoln cent… er, well, the Cent-ennial, then (yeah, like I could resist that).

I’m ready for a half-dollar program now! And a two-dollar coin with Teddy Roosevelt on it.

Collage? No, I graduated.

Yeah, everyone else is doing it.

My world, and welcome to it.

Hey, look, a post without politics!

The Central States Numismatic Society show started today, at the convention center downtown. The Gallery Mint was hand-cranking and hand-hammering some verrah cool commemoratives. The hand-hammered one looks very Grecian, with Alexander Magnos (or someone very like him) on the obverse and Pegasus on the reverse. The milled one is very mid-19th century in style and (unsurprisingly for a coin minted that day) has lustre that just won’t quit.

Saw a couple “excuse me while I go change my underwear” coins. One was an early 19th century George III proof farthing whose provenance goes back to James Watt Jr (son of the great Scottish engineer, not the doofus Reagan put in Interior) and which happened to be stored perfectly. It looks like it came off a modern press, deep mirror like field and thick frost. Oh, lordy, and I got to hold it. Not the coin itself, but the case it was in, but still. Whurf. Also a MS65 (read: f’n near perfect) MCMVII wire-rim high relief St. Gaudens double eagle. If you don’t know what it is, it’s this: the single most beautiful coin this country has ever minted. An example is here.

Goin’ back tomorrow. Got some neat goodies today, the highlights of which are probably the Polish 10 złotych coins with Mikolai Kopernik and Marie Skłodowska-Curie. Images are in the process of going up on my OmniCoin page, for the curious.

Goin’ back tomorrow. Woo!

And a letter meme

The way this works is that if you comment, you’re given a letter of the (English) alphabet and asked to produce 10 words beginning with that letter, and an explanation about them (why you chose them, what they mean to you, etc.). So anyway, because I commented, nsingman gave me “C” for “comment”.

o/` C is for comment, that’s good enough for me…o/`