Albert Einstein counterstamped on Barber half dollar

Mel Wacks uses 1915 coin to celebrate Theory of Relativity centennial
By , Coin World
Published : 01/01/16
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Theorist Albert Einstein is soon appearing on a U.S. coin, but it’s not being issued by the United States Mint. 

Mel Wacks, founder of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame and prolific coin counterstamper, has issued a counterstamped 1915 Barber silver half dollar bearing Einstein’s image.

The coin marks the centennial of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which changed the course of science 100 years ago.

Einstein was named Time magazine’s Person of the Century but has never been commemorated on a U.S. coin. 

“We want to correct that oversight,” Wacks said in a press release.

Einstein was a citizen of three countries — Germany (his birthplace), Switzerland and the United States. Germany and Switzerland have issued coins to commemorate him, as have countries whose connections with Einstein have ranged from close (Israel) to tenuous (China, France, Paraguay, San Marino, and Thailand have commemorated him). 

While the United States issued stamps in honor of Einstein in 1966 and again in 1979, his adopted country has never honored the scientist with a coin, Wacks said.

Though Wacks hopes that some day the United States will issue a commemorative coin to honor Einstein, he decided not to wait and obtained 100 of the 1915 half dollars “in undamaged circulated condition, and in turn these have been counterstamped on the obverse with the likeness of Einstein and an appropriate inscription.” 

Because each coin is circulated and features slightly different wear and toning, the resulting examples are all slightly different, Wacks said.

Einstein published his Theory of General Relativity in 1915. In it, he determined that massive objects cause a distortion in space-time, which is felt as gravity. 

Imagine setting a large body in the center of a trampoline. The body would press down into the fabric, causing it to dimple. A marble rolled around the edge would spiral inward toward the body, pulled in much the same way that the gravity of a planet pulls at rocks in space.

Each coin is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and a free bonus — a trial strike on a new brass planchet of the counterstamp design (again, with a mintage limited to 100 pieces). 

The counterstamped coin (and trial strike) are available from the nonprofit Jewish-American Hall of Fame, together, for $65 plus $5 shipping and handling. Coin World readers can take a discount to $50. 

To order, write to the JAHF at 5189 Jeffdale Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91364, or pay with credit card by calling  818-225-1348. 

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