Browsing Tag

exonumia

George Washington Colonial Coins (UPDATED)

This won’t be one of my normal Coin Blog posts. I wanted to show off these coins but didn’t have too much to add that hasn’t already been written by others.

Anyway, I really like these George Washington colonial coins and I’m glad I made the investment in them. Understandably, Washington was a rock star after the successful conclusion of the Revolutionary War, and there was a huge demand for merchandise bearing his image — think Notorious RBG (R.I.P.) but for the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Bush v. Gore: The Coin

In general, I try to avoid coins issued by private mints. They tend to have very little numismatic value and can even be of dubious legality. In fact, they aren’t legally “coins” since they aren’t issued by a government. Instead, they are often marketed as “rounds.”

But when the private Washington Mint released this silver round in 2000 amidst the uncertainty over who won that year’s Presidential election, I jumped at the chance to buy it. For one thing, I’ve always been a sucker for political-themed exonumia – especially Hard Times Tokens.

For another, this unique two-headed coin with a bust of Al Gore on one side and George W. Bush on the other with each man named as the 43rd President of the United States really captures just how bizarre that entire period was. Between the retracted concessions, hanging chads, organized “riots,” court battles and hand recounts, it seemed like every day provided a new twist and turn as we tried to determine just who had actually won Florida – and therefore the election.

Apparently, the Washington Mint had already been working on an inauguration medallion and had prepared busts of both Gore and Bush. Not knowing which one they would get to use, and inspired by a Tonight Show sketch shortly after Election Day about ways to determine the winner, the Mint got the idea to make the two-headed coin. They even sent two coins on Nov. 13 to Jay Leno to use for a possible skit. Ultimately, after another month, Gore conceded following the Supreme Court’s decision stopping Florida’s recount.

I figured the coin was relevant now since this is the first time since 2000 where one major-party candidate challenged the outcome of a Presidential race. This time, however, enough states have certified their returns to give one candidate a clear majority in the Electoral College, and there have been multiple lawsuits filed in several states instead of just Florida. Those lawsuits aren’t going well, though, which probably explains why there haven’t been any two-headed Joe Biden/Donald Trump coins.

The Great Compromiser: Henry Clay Tokens (UPDATED)

It may not be in vogue anymore, but there have been several well-respected figures in American history who have lost a Presidential election as a major party nominee, only to come back and win the White House. Thomas Jefferson lost a razor-thin contest in 1796 and won four years later. Andrew Jackson prevailed in 1828, four years after he lost in a contingent election before the House of Representatives. Grover Cleveland attained his status as a trivia question by serving his two nonconsecutive terms between a losing effort in 1888. Heck, I wrote an entire book about how Richard Nixon survived losing the 1960 race to JFK only to prevail in 1968.

Of course, not everyone managed to pull off successful comebacks. Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan in 1896, 1900, and 1908 and he lost all three times. Democrats also trotted out Adlai Stevenson twice, losing two lopsided contests to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. Republican Thomas Dewey looked set to win in 1948, four years after he lost to FDR, only to famously not defeat Harry Truman. And, during the days when Presidential elections were more regional in nature, men like Charles Pinckney, George Clinton, John Jay, Rufus King and others found themselves on the short end of multiple general election ballots, although their level of interest or involvement varied.

Then there’s Henry Clay.

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My Trip to the 2019 ANA World’s Fair of Money – Part I

My first trip to a coin conference did nothing to prepare me for the 2019 World’s Fair of Money. Sponsored by the American Numismatic Association, this year’s event, held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., boasted auctions, seminars, exhibits of historic rare coins and currency, and a bourse so large that it made the one from the show I went to in Schaumburg back in April look like a garage sale. Indeed, if the Schaumburg show was like Comic-Con, then this show was like being in the Battle of Wakanda scene in Avengers: Infinity War.

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The Napoleonic Coins – Part II

Click here for Part I.

As mentioned in the previous post, Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t shy about putting his bust on coins that would circulate throughout his empire. Of course those weren’t the only coins he found himself on. Like Andrew Jackson later in the decade, Napoleon’s image was used on a variety of unofficial tokens and coins. Some were positive and served to glorify and underscore his dominance. In other cases, they were negative and even celebrated his downfall.

Here are three tokens I recently added to my collection:

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The Napoleonic Coins – Part I

Napoleon Bonaparte sure is on a lot of coins and tokens. 

That might seem like an obvious statement. After all, if you conquer or subjugate most of Europe, then it’s likely that your face will be on all sorts of things – both in favor and opposition to you. For a figure as dominating and polarizing as Napoleon, collecting coins, tokens and currency with his likeness on them can be a full-time hobby.

Recently, I acquired a few Napoleonic coins and tokens. I’ll talk about the coins in this post and then the tokens in a future post. 

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Not So Brotherly Love: A French Coin Minted in Philadelphia.

No, this coin isn’t much to look at. Looking like something that could have passed for a final project in high school metal shop, this coin has less detail than a Chuck E. Cheese token. Indeed, it wasn’t very popular when it came out and it’s safe to say that it’s minimalistic design hasn’t won many fans in the years since.

Perhaps no one hated this coin more than Charles De Gaulle.

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My First Trip to Coin-Con

This weekend is a pivotal one for nerds and geeks like me. “Avengers: Endgame” officially premiered on Friday (and became the fastest movie to reach $100 million). “Game of Thrones” airs a pivotal and highly-anticipated episode on Sunday featuring the White Walker invasion of Winterfell (my wife cleared out her calendar months ago).

As such, I figured it was only natural that I go to a convention where die-hards gather to talk about their favorites, shop for new additions to their collection, and meet important and well-known people.

That’s right. I went to the Central States Numismatic Society Annual Convention in Schaumburg, Ill. Call it Comic-Con but for coin enthusiasts – Coin-Con, if you will (Susan B. Anthony costumes optional).

This was my first such coin show, and to say it was overwhelming would be an understatement.

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“Am I Not a Woman & a Sister”: A Hard Times Token That Foreshadowed Even Harder Times Ahead. (UPDATED)

Andrew Jackson has been in the news a lot over these last few years.

First it was the Obama Administration’s decision in 2016 to replace Old Hickory on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman.

Then came the 2016 election, when Donald Trump openly and repeatedly praised Jackson and expressed admiration for the controversial ex-President in a way that hasn’t been in vogue in decades. Trump has also gone out of his way to associate himself with Jackson, drawing parallels with his predecessor’s populism, combative nature, political inexperience and anti-establishment attitude. Trump has Jackson’s portrait in the Oval Office, has made a pilgrimage to the Hermitage and has even given Jackson credit for things that happened well after his death. Trump’s admiration for Jackson is such that his administration has refused to commit to replacing Jackson on the $20 with Tubman. 

And, like Jackson, Trump has had his problems with the country’s central bank.

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