Log in to post
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.

Visit one of our other blogs:

Archive for 'January 2016'

    Saint 5: A junk-box saint

    January 29, 2016 3:24 PM by

    You can pick up coins issued by this saint for a dime or so in just about any junk box in the world.

    Pope John XXIII issued millions of aluminum, aluminum bronze, steel, silver and gold coins between his election in 1958 and his death in 1963. The Vatican City coins typically show the pontiff on the obverse and a religious image on the reverse.

    The beloved pope was canonized April 27, 2014, by Pope Francis, a pope whose substance and style are informed by the life of St. John XXIII.

    The Vatican’s biography of Pope John XXIII begins, “When on Oct. 20, 1958 the cardinals, assembled in conclave, elected Angelo Roncalli as pope many regarded him, because of his age and ambiguous reputation, as a transitional pope, little realizing that the pontificate of this man of 76 years would mark a turning point in history and initiate a new age for the Church.”

    On Oct. 11, 1962, the aging pope opened the first session of the Second Vatican Council. The New York Times recounted in a 50th anniversary article, “Over three years, from 1962 to 1965, some 2,800 bishops from 116 countries produced 16 documents that set the Roman Catholic Church’s course for the future.”

    The council changed how the church interacted with the rest of the world and how the faithful interacted with the church.

    The most visible changes concerned the celebration of the Mass. Priests now faced the congregation and said the Mass in the language of the people  English in most of the United States, Spanish in heavily Hispanic areas.

    John XXIII died before the council ended. Successor Paul VI closed the event. He noted in the final address on Dec. 7, 1965, “You see, for example, how the countless different languages of peoples existing today were admitted for the liturgical expression of men's communication with God and God's communication with men: to man as such was recognized his fundamental claim to enjoy full possession of his rights and to his transcendental destiny. His supreme aspirations to life, to personal dignity, to his just liberty, to culture, to the renewal of the social order, to justice and peace were purified and promoted; and to all men was addressed the pastoral and missionary invitation to the light of the Gospel.”

    In 1962, John XXIII issued a set of commemorative coins celebrating the council. The 50-, 100- and 500-lire coins show the pope on the obverse and the bishops assembled beneath the Paraclete on the reverse. The steel 50- and 100-lire coins sell for just a few dollars each. The silver 500-lire coin catalogs for $30 in Uncirculated condition.



    Saint 4: Putting a halo on a crown

    January 22, 2016 4:11 PM by

    King Louis IX of France was a pious man who fed the poor, cared for the fallen, built grand churches and launched two crusades.

    Louis ascended to the throne in 1226 at the age of 12. His strong-willed, sternly moral mother, Blanche of Castile, served as regent during the early years of his reign, thwarting plots to unseat him.

    Louis, who loved sermons, attended two Masses every day, and was often accompanied by priests chanting the hours.

    In 1239 he bought the Crown of Thorns (the one Jesus wore) and pieces of the True Cross from Baldwin II, the perpetually impoverished last monarch of the Latin Empire, a Crusader state established in Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. Louis built the still-standing Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité to house them.

    In 1248 he joined the Seventh Crusade. He landed in Egypt during the summer of 1249 and was defeated at the Battle of Al Mansurah the following April. He was captured by the Egyptians and held for ransom.

    In 1267, Louis IX again “took the cloth,” sewing a cross on his clothing, and vowed to reach Jerusalem. He didn’t make it. The Eighth Crusade landed at Carthage on July 17, 1270. Dysentery swept through the troops and felled the king on Aug. 25.

    Louis received last rites Aug. 24 and weakly lingered the next day.

    The Lives of the Saints reports that at noon he lifted his eyes toward heaven and “repeated aloud the words of the psalmist: ‘Lord, I will enter into thine house; I will adore in thy holy temple, and will give glory to Thy name.’ He spoke again at three in the afternoon, but only said, ‘Into Thy hands I commend my soul.’ Immediately after which he breathed his last in his camp.”

    Pope Boniface VIII canonized Louis IX in 1297.

    During the saint’s long reign he issued a wide variety of silver and gold coins. His most common coin is the thin, dime-size billon denier tournois. These typically show the cross on the obverse surrounded by the king’s name — LVDOVICVS REX — and a crude representation of a castle on the reverse. Well-circulated examples can be found with a bit of searching for less than $50.

    Next: A junk box saint 

    Saint 3: Mom’s a saint, too

    January 15, 2016 12:00 PM by

    Like her son, St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, is revered as a saint, too, for her charity, devotion and discovery of the True Cross upon which Jesus of Nazareth was crucified.

    Helena was born about 248 and worked as a young woman in her father’s tavern in Naissus. It is unknown whether she was wife or concubine to Constantius I, but she bore him a child who would become ruler of the Roman world.

    About 312 she converted to Christianity.

    Roman historian Eusebius Pamphili wrote, "Especially abundant were the gifts she bestowed on the naked and unprotected poor. To some she gave money, to others an ample supply of clothing; she liberated some from imprisonment, or from the bitter servitude of the mines; others she delivered from unjust oppression, and others again, she restored from exile.

    “While, however, her character derived luster from such deeds as I have described, she was far from neglecting personal piety toward God. She might be seen continually frequenting His Church, while at the same time she adorned the houses of prayer with splendid offerings, not overlooking the churches of the smallest cities. In short, this admirable woman was to be seen, in simple and modest attire, mingling with the crowd of worshipers, and testifying her devotion to God by a uniform course of pious conduct.”

    In 324 she traveled to Palestine to search for places sacred to the memory of Jesus, building churches at the sites of Christ’s nativity and the ascension into Heaven and discovering, according to legend, the true cross.

    The Shrine of the True Cross, a Catholic shrine in Dickinson, Texas, relates, “Then, on Sept. 14, 326, Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, found in Jerusalem the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. The legend of the story of the discovery of the True Cross is that when visiting the holy places in Palestine, St. Helena was guided to the site of the Crucifixion by an aged Jew who had inherited traditional knowledge as to its location.

    "After the ground had been dug to a considerable depth, three crosses were found, as well as the superscription placed over the Savior’s head on the Cross, and the nails with which He had been crucified. The Cross of the Lord was distinguished from the other two by laying the crosses on a dead youth who was revived by the touch of the third Cross.”

    Lifetime coins of Helena are plentiful and cheap, too. They typically show her on the obverse and a star or Securitas on the reverse. They can often be found for as little as $5 to $10 each. 

    Next: Putting a halo on a crown