Editor's note: this is the third part of a story by Jeff Starck
on world coins. The story first appeared in the November
monthly issue of Coin World.
A strong crossover appeal exists among American collectors for coins
of the Philippines issued under U.S. administration — buoyed no doubt
by their inclusion in the compact tome that has become the bible for
collectors of American coins, A Guide Book of United States
Coins (known as the “Red Book,” authored by R.S. Yeoman and
published by Whitman Publishing).
In 1935, the U.S. Congress designated the Philippines as a commonwealth.
The birth of the Philippine Commonwealth was commemorated by three
silver coins designed by Professor Ambrosio Morales of the National
University, one of which shows the bust of Franklin Roosevelt behind
the bust of Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon y Molina (both busts
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Roosevelt’s tenure as president was historic, in part because he was
the only president elected to four terms. The coin is also notable
relative to other coins. The 1936 peso marks only the second
appearance of an incumbent U.S. president on a U.S. coin.
The first instance occurred in 1926, when, as sitting president,
Calvin Coolidge joined George Washington on a commemorative half
dollar noting the Sesquicentennial of Independence. Coolidge’s honor
seems to be widely known, but Roosevelt’s appearance is oft-overlooked.
Possibly no American president is honored on more world coins than
Besides being elected twice as America’s 16th president, Abraham
Lincoln received an honorific that is little known today.
That is, until San Marino chose in 2015 to issue a Proof .925 fine
silver €10 coin celebrating the event.
In a letter of thanks dated May 7, 1861, President Lincoln
acknowledged that San Marino had bestowed upon him honorary citizenship. The first four words of
that letter, “Great and good friends,” appear on the reverse of the
San Marino coin.
In Lincoln’s letter to the regent captains of the Republic of San
Marino, he continues: “Although your Dominion is small, your State is
nevertheless one of the most honored in all history. It has by its
experience demonstrated the truth, so full of encouragement to the
friends of Humanity, that Government founded on Republican principles
is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring.”
The coin marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death at the hands
of assassin John Wilkes Booth.
Two other presidents vie with Lincoln for the unofficial title of
most honored American president on world coins, with one “contestant,”
John F. Kennedy, also making an appearance on a recent coin of San Marino.
In 2013, San Marino planned to honor Kennedy with a circulating
commemorative €2 but, because of European Union pushback, had to
settle for issuing a noncirculating Proof .925 fine silver €5 coin.
The coin shows on the reverse the smiling president with an American
flag in the background, the year dates 1963 and 2013, and the German
phrase Kennedy voiced in 1963 in support of West Germany, along with
its English translation, I AM A BERLINER.
On its 10th anniversary of independence, Chad issued in 1970 a
300-franc coin depicting Kennedy with a space shuttle and part of the
Earth on the reverse, a nod to his efforts to launch an American to
the moon before the end of the 1960s.
Another seminal president of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan, may
just be the most celebrated on modern coins. (But that is covered in
Read more of our series about Americans on world coins:
Americans abroad: Honoring Tecumseh beyond the border
: In rare instances, world coins depicting Americans makes total
sense. There could be no more suitably “American” subject for a
Canadian coin than the Shawnee war chief.
An American general in
the Philippines, and on its coinage, too
: A pair of popular world coins are the 1947-S coins from the
Philippines honoring Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Popular President Ronald Reagan
oft-honored on non-U.S. coins
: Though he is not without critics, President Reagan remains one of
the most popular presidents of the 20th century.
World coins showing
America’s ‘The Greatest’ and ‘The King’ abound
:The only American honorees on world coins more popular than
presidents are entertainers.