Oddly numismatic

What were they thinking?
Published : 10/22/12
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While putting together this month’s issue one article stuck in my head: Rita Laws’ Going Topical column, “What were they thinking?”

It deals not with errors or varieties of the sort that collectors are fond of (think doubled dies and off-center coins). Rather, it addresses coins and medals that are just plain weird.

Perhaps my favorite oddity inspiring a “what were they thinking” moment was the mid-century United Nations medal celebrating “Life, Liberty and Security of Person.” It shows a terrified nude man in the grip of a giant, gnarled hand. That he’s situated in the midst what “initially resembles a science-fiction-sized spider web” makes it even more odd.

I couldn’t have described the medal’s visual and conceptual failure better than Rita, who wrote, “By depicting a positive entitlement with an illustration of the utter lack of it, the design doesn’t teach as much as it unsettles.”

Something else that inspires “what were they thinking” moments happens every four years in the United States. Election season is particularly head-scratching in a swing state like Ohio, where Coin World is produced each and every week.

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gilkes takes a look at the contentious campaign that was the 1912 Presidential race.

Imagine having not two, but four competing presidential candidates. That happened in 1912.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t deterred by losing the Republican nomination to incumbent William Howard Taft. Instead Roosevelt formed his own Progressive Party. Also on the ballot was Eugene V. Debs, of the Socialist Party, and the victor, Democrat Thomas Woodrow Wilson.

For today’s collectors the 1912 campaign provided a rich array of items — badges, buttons, ribbons and medals — all of which are under the big umbrella that is numismatics.

In this season characterized by falling leaves and politician promises, all of us at Coin World hope that our publication allows you to enjoy all that’s oddly numismatic.


Steve Roach


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