US Coins

New Kennedy book illustrates history in images

A former U.S. Air Force still photographer during the presidency of John F. Kennedy has penned a new reference detailing the medallic and coinage history of the president and his family.

William Rice’s 304-page hardcover book, The Kennedy World in Medallic Art: John F. Kennedy and His Family in Medals, Coins, Tokens, and Other Collectibles, will be released Sept. 25 by Whitman Publishing.

The book will be available from booksellers and hobby shops nationwide and online, including at Whitman, for $19.95. It can also be borrowed for free as a benefit of membership in the American Numismatic Association, through the Dwight N. Manley Numismatic Library. 

In 1975, Rice self-published John and Robert Kennedy Assassination Bibliography, one of the early references detailing works on the Nov. 22, 1963, and June 6, 1968, assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.

Rice’s research over the past 40 years expanded into the history of the Kennedy family, and the coins, medals and other memorabilia that provide a chronicle of the political dynasty.

Rice traverses the history of the Kennedy family; JFK’s boyhood; his military service and early political career; his inauguration and presidency; wife, Jacqueline, and children, Caroline and John Jr.; life in the White House; the November 1963 assassination; and the world’s mourning and remembrance.

The story is related by Rice through a collation of essays illustrated by more than 1,500 images, including of coins, medals, tokens, stamps, and other memorabilia. 

Rice examines the coinage history of the Kennedy half dollar, from its development and 1964 release through the Aug. 5, 2014, release of the 1964–2014-W Kennedy 50th Anniversary .9999 fine gold half dollars.

The new book illustrates other 50th anniversary memorabilia, international Kennedy memorabilia, military challenge coins, sets and collections, satirical and critical pieces, commemorative coin, medal and postal covers and related collectibles.

“William Rice builds on the foundation that Edward Rochette and Aubrey Mayhew started with their numismatic studies in the 1960s,” says Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. “Today’s collector benefits from full-color images and 50 years of ongoing research. John F. Kennedy is one of the most popular presidents in American history, and many of these coins, medals, and tokens can be found at local coin shows, flea markets, antique malls, and online.”

Rice discusses and illustrates Chinese Hell notes, carved hobo coins, Wedgwood pottery, silver bullion bars, elongated coins, and many of other categories of Kennedy collectibles.

Collectors will benefit from the catalog numbering system and the commentary on today’s buy-sell-trade market, according to Whitman. A 52-page appendix catalogs more than 2,670 individual items by date, size, composition, and description.

During his time in the Air Force, Rice was on temporary assignment in Florida and was present for a Polaris missile launch at Cape Canaveral that President Kennedy also attended. Little did Rice or anyone else know that just six days later, Kennedy would be assassinated.

Rice’s post-military career included work at the Technicolor Corp. in Southern California and as a medical illustration photographer at the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Rice’s early photographic career included working for renowned Hollywood photographer Charles Schneider of La Jolla, Calif.


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