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    Modern Numismatics

    Louis Golino has been a collector of American and world coins since childhood and has written about coins since 2009. He writes about modern coins and other numismatic issues for Coin World. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum.

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  • Roswell Incident 70th anniversary commemorated with coins

    Paris-based private mint Art Mint, which has previously issued some artistically impressive high-end collector pieces like the Mandala Art series, has launched an intriguing new coin under the authority of Niue that commemorates the so-called Roswell Incident that occurred 70 years ago.

    In July of 1947 a rancher whose pasture was near Roswell, New Mexico, discovered the debris of an unidentifiable object that dropped from the sky. On July 8, the Roswell Daily Record ran a front-page story, “RAAF [Roswell Army Air Field] Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region,” including a photo of the object described as a “flying disk.” According to Art Mint’s description of the incident, “The next day, RAAF changed its statement to say that the object was a weather balloon, not a flying disk as they previously reported. However, to anyone who had seen the debris (or the newspaper photographs of it), it was clear that whatever this thing was, it was no weather balloon.”

    Interest in the Roswell incident waned until the 1970’s when people who believe in UFO’s — unidentified flying objects — started promoting a range of conspiracy theories, such as that the object was an alien spacecraft, or that the military covered up the incident because aliens were found on the site.

    Then in the 1990’s the federal government published two reports about the incident discussing how the object found was a secret nuclear testing balloon that was part of Project Mogul.

    As the page about this in Wikipedia notes, “Roswell has been described as ‘the world’s most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim.’ ”

    Given all the popular culture interest in space travel and UFO’s, not to mention movies and TV specials about the incident, and the lasting questions about what really happened in Roswell 70 years ago, the topic is certainly an interesting one for a coin. And Art Mint has produced a fitting, dome-shaped numismatic tribute to this mysterious affair that is shaped just like a flying spacecraft of the kind popularized in countless movies.

    The coin is made of two ounces of .925 silver and has a mintage of 700 pieces. It is convex on the reverse side and struck in ultra-high relief with various details to fit the topic, such as made-up alien text on the reverse, while the obverse has a reduced-size effigy of Queen Elizabeth and small circles arranged in a circular pattern. What’s more, the coin glows if placed in a dark area after being placed near a light source for 30 to 60 seconds. And it comes housed in a case that resembles a wooden crate, stamped “Top Secret” like those used for the Endangered Wildlife coin series from the New Zealand Mint.

    The coin is already sold out at Art Mint, but can be purchased from U.S. dealer First Coin Company for $199.90 and Italian coin dealer Powercoin for 179.95 euros.

    A second coin commemorating the same event has been issued as legal tender for Cameroon, a three-ounce silver piece that also glows in the dark but features more detailed art work, with a close-up profile of an alien on what apparently is the reverse side, while the obverse depicts the object skidded into the ground, based on the photo that ran with the newspaper story published July 8, 1949. This coin is also available from Powercoin but costs 400 euros, or about $460.

    U.S. coin dealer First Coin Company also offers both Roswell coins, the Niue one here, and the Cameroon one here.