Saturday, November 20, 2010

Captain Currency

This showed up in my handful of change.  Usually I don't pay any attention to pennies.  I literally leave them on the nearest flat surface as I walk away.  If you ever spot a little stack of pennies on a public counter, or a parking barrier, oddly crammed between bricks in a wall, that's me.  I'm not a penny hater; I'm a public hoarder.

Different post.

What is the US Mint's motivation to keep changing the currency designs?  Does it really prevent counterfeiting?  Because I never saw anything more fake looking than this shiny, nearly PINK, coin with Captain America's shield on it.

It's like a Mardi Gras souvenir.  I might have thought it was counterfeit if it weren't so easy to find in-depth propaganda  information without leaving my house.

The 2010 penny has its own website.  They really need to up the price on these domain names.  Once here, you will learn that this design is called the Union Shield.  You will learn how it defeated its competitor designs, including the Screamin' Eagle and the Capital Dome.  You will learn that it was selected by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.  And you may stop there -- only because you know that I won't.

The website that took you inside the cutthroat business of stamp selection is here to lead you through another door.  Could you all... crouch behind this tiny shield...please...

Is the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee new?  Yes, in fact.  Since 2003,  they have been advising the Treasury on design ideas.

Hasn't the Treasury been awfully busy lately?  Haven't they just.  Good thing we have this crew to keep the money we don't have interesting to look at.

Who are they?  to quote Coin Update News:
  • one specially qualified in numismatic collection curation;
  • one specially qualified in the medallic arts or sculpture;   (medallic, they said)
  • one specially qualified in American history; 
  • one specially qualified in numismatics;
  • three individuals representing the interests of the general public; and
  • four individuals recommended by the Leadership of both the House of Representatives and Senate (who seem to have no other contributing value)
 What happens when they stop being polite....and start being Real?

Can I be one?  You CAN!  They serve four year terms as "Special Government Employees."  I hope there is a lapel pin.

Do we really care about coins that much?  I can tell you I found a buffalo nickel in my own pocket the other day and got disproportionately excited about it.  I know I was initially excited about the state quarters, but for pity's sake -- there are just so many of them.  There are more coming, too, because Special Government Employees have cleared the way for an "America the Beautiful" series.  Apparently the state series was so "successful."

What makes a coin design successful?  We hoard a lot of them?  I guess the numismatic community gets jazzed about them?  Or is it that it wasn't booed out of the park the way Eisenhower and Anthony dollars were?  If consumers don't hand them back to the cashier and say "do you have the other kind?"

Every few years there is a story about getting rid of the penny, but it just keeps getting a face lift.  Lincoln was the first real person we put on our money and that wheat design does feel like a B-side.  But we lived with it until the New Frontier, when the Lincoln Memorial replaced it.  On a really new penny you can actually SEE Lincoln in his chair between the pillars; the detail of that die is remarkable.

In the past 5 years, the penny has come in for its close-up.  4 designs were added, depicting different stages of Lincoln's life -- none of the ones you immediately think of, because that would be too controversial: Lincoln inspecting Gettysburg's blood-soaked hillsides, Lincoln writing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln in the theatre box....  Lincoln stooping to fit on the same penny as Stephan Douglas....

And now, "the Union Shield,"  -- easier to hold in your hand than the Capitol Rotunda.  And you don't have to tilt your head so far back.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, ha! So that's were all the pennies I pick up come from - you. i think it's one of those "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" things. I pick up every penny (also nickles and dimes, but seldom see a quarter) that I can find. Some day I will be rich. I think it's an inherited trait. Found pennies in every drawer in my mother's home!! Added up to $32, so she was rich.

    Could you do me one favor tho? please leave them higher off the ground. Am having more trouble bending over to get them these days!


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