World Coins

U.S. entertainers and athletes found on world coins

Editor's note: this is the final part of a story by Jeff Starck about Americans on world coins. The story first appeared in the November monthly issue of Coin World.

In 2004, the Cook Islands crowned Elvis Presley as king with an aluminum-bronze dollar. 

Issued in conjunction with the Perth Mint, the coin celebrates the 50th anniversary of Presley’s first recording.

Presley, dubbed the king of rock and roll, recorded “That’s All Right” July 5, 1954, at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn., just one of many moments highly debated as rock and roll’s birth. For his career, Presley had 18 No. 1 hits among his 149 Billboard pop chart songs, and he acted in 31 movies.

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The reverse of the aluminum-bronze coin depicts a licensed image of Presley. 

Naturally, a queen appears with the King — the obverse bears the Raphael Maklouf effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

Coins starring American athletes could create a whole coin constellation.

From Babe Ruth and Nolan Ryan to an image purported to be Lance Armstrong on France’s 2003 Tour de France commemoratives, the choices are wide-ranging.

Among the options are stars of oft-overlooked sports, boxing and golf.

For years, inside the boxing ring Muhammad Ali was “money,” earning three World Heavyweight Championships. 

In 2012, he was featured on money. 

The private New Zealand Mint issued a Proof 1-ounce .999 fine silver $2 coin for Fiji celebrating the boxer. 

The coin depicts the man whose “trash talk” outside the ring was matched by skilled boxing inside it, earning Ali (formerly Cassius Clay) the nickname “The Greatest.” 

Golfer Jack Nicklaus, known as the “Golden Bear,” in 2007 was honored with a Proof .99999 fine gold $500 coin from Cook Islands. 

Nicklaus is considered to be one of the greatest golfers of any era, winning a total 113 tournaments in his 40-year golfing career. So, naturally, the coin had the ultra-low mintage limit of 113 pieces.

Read more of our series about Americans on world coins:

Tecumseh Canada coinAmericans 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.

General MacArthur Phillippines coinsAn 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.

General MacArthur Phillippines coinsPresident Franklin Roosevelt makes history on coins of the Philippines: The birth of the Philippine Commonwealth was commemorated by three silver coins designed by Professor Ambrosio Morales of the National University.

Liberian Ronald Reagan coinsPopular 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.

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