Like many collectors, the author of a new book about John F. Kennedy’s place in the numismatic hobby began collecting because of a different president — but it wasn’t Lincoln cents that got William R. Rice started.
Getting a hobby start
“I remember my maternal grandmother bringing home a coin folder with open spaces to put in dimes to help children who were paralyzed buy braces so they could walk and play like I did,” Rice said in an email interview. “I guess you might say it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the March of Dimes that ignited the spark within that has lasted throughout my life.”
Rice, 73, said the hobby he began during World War II, and continued as a youth helper on a Good Humor ice cream truck in 1954, was set aside for the usual teenage pursuits.
Though Rice was born in New England, his family moved to San Diego, where Rice received his first exposure to politics when Vice President Richard Nixon visited and Rice had a chance to photograph the candidate at a campaign rally.
Eventually, though, Rice leaned toward the fellow New Englander, Kennedy.
“Perhaps it was my age or the mostly quiet Eisenhower years of the 1950s that caused me to embrace the Boston accented voice from my roots of New England,” he said.
First Kennedy item
In the summer of 1963 Rice’s father was a U.S. Navy senior master chief at the California U.S. Naval Ordinance Test Station. Although invited, Rice was unable to attend President Kennedy’s visit there on June 7.
“My father, who was Chief Master At Arms and head of the Navy Guard at the time, later presented me with a goldine bronze medal commemorating the Presidential visit — this was the beginning of my interest in Kennedy medallic art,” Rice said.