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Gerald Tebben

Five Facts

Gerald Tebben

Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.

Coin World’s bloggers are not edited by Coin World’s editorial staff and blog posts reflect the views of the individual author.

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Archive for 'October 2015'

    Law and order or anarchy: Diocletian

    October 23, 2015 1:14 PM by

    The forces of good and evil collided cataclysmically during the reign of Roman emperor Diocletian (285-304). Which was which, though depended on your perspective. 

    The relationship between Christians and the Roman government was inconsistent. Sometimes the church was persecuted.  Other times it was tolerated. The seesaw teetered for three centuries. Peter and Paul were martyred during the reign of Nero. Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan in 313, setting the empire’s official position as toleration forevermore.
    Conservative Romans viewed Christianity as seditious superstition that threatened the state’s true religion and an orderly society in general. Christians, of course, thought otherwise.
    At any rate, the emperor Diocletian attacked Christians with a fervor in 303 A.D., in an event known to history as the Great Persecution. The emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued edicts ordering Christians to comply with traditional Roman religious practices. A Christian named Eutius was the first to fall after tearing down Diocletian’s edict in Nicomedia. He was charged with treason, tortured and burned alive. Countless others followed, refusing to sacrifice to Roman gods and paying the ultimate price.
    Diocletian’s coins are common and cheap, especially the bronze antoninianus. The coins tend to show the emperor on the obverse and a Roman god on the reverse. 
    Common, worn coins of the last emperor to persecute Christians can frequently be bought for less than $10.
    Next: A dynasty of mad men

    The people’s paradise: Which coins did Joseph Stalin appear on?

    October 19, 2015 10:07 AM by
    This is the third in a five-post series about Evil People on Coins.
    Read the rest of the series: Adolf Hitler | Pol Pot
    Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who made common cause with Hitler until the untrustworthy German attacked him, never appeared on a Soviet coin. But that didn’t stop sycophants from placing his likeness on the coins of another country.
    Soviet Union coins of the era were about as uninspired as possible. They typically showed the denomination on one side and the hammer and sickle superimposed on a globe on the other. 
    Stalin, who ordered or caused the deaths of countless millions of his countrymen, did appear, curiously, on a 1949 Czech coin celebrating the evil one’s 70th birthday. The coins were issued a year after communists took over the nation in a coup.
    The .500 silver 50- and 100-korun pieces are plentiful and inexpensive. Czechoslovakia produced 1 million of each coin. They catalog today for less than $10 each in circulated condition and not much more in Uncirculated.
    They show a lion on one side and Stalin on the other. The legend J V STALIN 21 XII 1949 – Stalin’s birthday – surrounds the bust.
    Next: Law and order or anarchy

    'Heil Hitler'

    October 12, 2015 10:14 AM by

    This is the second in a five-post series about Evil People on Coins.

    Read the rest of the series: Pol Pot | Joseph Stalin

    Adolf Hitler’s face was all over the place in Nazi Germany, but not on coins. The central design element of Nazi coins, by and large, was an eagle holding a swastika. The only person to appear on coins – and only on pre-war coins at that – was Paul von Hindenburg, the German president who appointed Hitler chancellor and signed the Enabling Act of 1933 giving Hitler’s decrees the force of law.

    The only wartime coins to show Hitler’s face were patterns produced as part of a 1941 design competition. Hitler, by many accounts, rejected the pieces, saying he didn’t want his portrait to appear on coins until after Germany had won the war.

    Hitler’s face also appears on a pair of gold 20- and 100-mark pieces cataloged in Colin R. Bruce II’s Unusual World Coins. These pieces show the Brandenburg Gate surreally topped by a swastika on the reverse.

    Bruce notes the pieces were possibly produced in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1959 as souvenirs for Nazis who escaped to South America after World War II.


    Next: The people’s paradise

    Evil people on coins

    October 2, 2015 4:05 PM by

    The evil that men do lives after them;

    The good is oft interred with their bones.

    Antony famously observed is his “Friends, Romans, countrymen” speech in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that good disappears with the passing of the second hand, but evil remains long after the clock has stopped working.

    For coin collectors, the visages of evil people often live on, too, for decades, centuries and even millennia.

    For the next few weeks, Five Facts will look at coins depicting five truly evil people who were responsible for endless human misery and millions upon millions of deaths.

    Some will be obvious. What list of mass murderers wouldn’t have Adolf Hitler on it? Some didn’t make the list — think Pol Pot — because no coins were issued with their portraits. 

    Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge decimated Cambodia, forcing millions to work on collective farms and killing a quarter of the nation’s population in what became known as killing fields. Neighboring Vietnam invaded in 1979, ending the slaughter.

    One of the numismatically important 20th century evildoers is a real surprise. 

    This is the first in a five-post series about Evil People on Coins.

    Read the rest of the series: Adolf Hitler | Joseph Stalin