I was going through a box of my fathers old coins– held in a black leather box I used take out of his dresser drawer and look at when I was a little girl in Garden Grove. I don’t know how I came to have it after he passed on, my mother must have given it to me when going through his things but she doesn’t remember either.
Anyway I thought I’d take a closer look while sitting at the computer to maybe research them and see if there was anything interesting.
There were a lot of American Silver Dollars, one in particular caught my attention when I looked closely; it had an eagle landing on the moon- the earth a small sphere up and behind in the distance- commemorating of course the obvious.
And early Canadian Silver Dollars too, with the canoe, made of silver up until 1965 then they used nickel.
The size changed too. Deflated money.
A surprise was a very small, extremely thin almost black coin that I needed the magnifying glass to try to identify. I strained, and squinted and turned it under the lamp then-
-Ah! Is that a Swastika? Yes a 1941- 1 Reichspfenning. Wow. Cool in a sinister way.
The Barber 25 cent Coin is kinda neat with its 13 stars that represent the 13 States
and from what I researched apparently it could be valuable, but more than that I was attracted to the date- 1916.
What I found in that year was an incredible litany of occurrences of great impact (a few not so great) on our lives. Many that set the groundwork for events and motions that we benefit from even today like the light switch, and the first successful blood transfusion, the National Park Service, BMW’s and The Boy Scouts. It doesn’t stop there-
The 40 hour work week was implemented- thank goodness- and Margaret Sanger opened the first Birth Control Clinic- (thank goodness!). There was the Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916- THE inspiration for Jaws. Norman Rockwell made his debut on the Saturday Evening Post’s first cover. Does the Post still circulate? Not sure.
The first woman was elected to the house Representatives -high five Jeanette Rankin of Montana!
The Parliament buildings in Ottawa burned down. Not a good day there.
1916 saw the last Emperor of China step down and Woodrow Wilson embroiled in the Mexican Revolution with Poncho Villa.
The U.S government was in court with Coca Cola in an effort to make the company withdraw the use of caffeine in its products-citing it was to addictive- (what?)
And an anomaly It seems the day began in Browning Montana at a balmy +6.7 c and within a 24 hour period dropped to -48.8c. Yup that’s climate change right there.
And the peculiar, only in ‘merica, well Tennessee so it stands to reason, an elephant was…hanged for killing its handler. (apologies in slighting anyone from there, but c’mon!)
All the while the world was at war- Whoa that’s a lot of W’s.
So back to the coins.
There’s a British penny from 1896
and a couple of Canadian pennies from 1899 and 1907 .
Then there’s the 1943 Steel Lincoln Penny.
The U.S stopped using copper in 1942 to ration for war material so millions of these steel pennies went into circulation thus, for coin collection purposes, they have little value.
Now if this 1943 penny should have been of copper– there are only 12 in existence- it would auction around $200,00.
If it was a 1944 Steel Penny, even fewer are in existence, and ok , well in 2008 one auctioned out at $373,750.
Honestly I had to laugh.
Okay evil twist of irony aside, what enchants me about these coins are the hands. They bring with them the traces of once warm palms maybe soft, maybe calloused; of fingers bored or nervous turning them over and over in a pocket. It’s a connection to another time, another’s life, another’s story. And I love that.
The swell of humanity delivered in a small metal disk.
Then I think of the word Currency. Can I equate it with the electrical term Current? It’s the same isn’t it? It’s a type of energy the monetary system, passing from one to another, a connection , an exchange.
That’s what I’ve received from these coins, and maybe that’s what most people perhaps get from collecting them.
Although $373,000 would’ve come in handy.