Some coins should be off-limits to collectors

?When should a particular kind of coin be untouchable, off-limits to collectors?

Sometimes an answer to a question you haven’t thought about for a while can come when history, current events and coins all converge at the same time unexpectedly.

Freelance contributor Gerald Tebben provides always insightful articles for Coin World through his column “Coin Lore” and features like his cover article on patriotic printers in the November 2015 issue of our monthly magazine. He also blogs for us with his “Five Facts” blog, with his latest series focused on men who committed mass genocide in the past who happen to be depicted on coins that many people collect.

Two days after his last blog was published on Nov. 11 on Leopold II, Belgium’s king who killed millions in the Belgian Congo, came the horrors of the Islamic State’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed nearly 130 people and injured hundreds more.

In September, the Islamic State (also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL) released a movie (which I haven’t watched) announcing its new series of gold and silver coins. According to news accounts, Islamic State leaders want to ruin the economies of the world powers and especially that of the United States by encouraging the replacement of the U.S. dollar with gold. An article published by The Economist on Sept. 3 gives three reasons why the Islamic State’s financial plans are doomed to failure; you should read the article.

But what about the Islamic State’s coins? Are they something collectors should pursue as collectibles? While Coin World rarely takes a stand against collecting a particular series of coins, this is one time we’ll abandon that principle. Don’t do it, for one good reason (many others exist): providing financial support, even indirectly, to an organization whose sole purpose in life is to foment terror and murder and enslavement is morally wrong and probably illegal.

Men like Leopold II, who killed millions, are long gone; their coins are part of the historical record and thus are collectible if you have a desire to.

But not the coins of the Islamic State.