U.S. & World Coin News and Articles

Make Your Own Coins

One of our local drugstores in Glen Rock, New Jersey, has a machine that allows creative shoppers to customize their own greeting cards. They can choose from a menu of standard messages ("Happy Birthday," "Get Well," "I Love You," etc.) or start from scratch with something entirely original.

It occurred to me one day, while examining this "CreataCard" machine, that something similar might prove just as popular in our local coin shop -- and, for that matter, in coin shops around the country. We could call it a "CreataCoin" machine and use it to design a line of new coins.

Judging from the "designs" on some of our recent commemoratives, the U.S. Mint is already using greeting-card companies to help create its coins. The reverse of the 1991 Mount Rushmore $5 gold piece looks like a wedding invitation, for example, and the obverse of the 1991 USO silver dollar looks like a birth announcement. I would assume that Hallmark had nothing to do with either of them, though, for it's evident that the Mint did NOT care enough to send us the very best.

The range of potential subjects for CreataCoin designers is almost limitless. Here are just a few possibilities:

  • A coin to commemorate the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis memorabilia auction of 1996, where bidders paid fantastic sums to get a piece of "Camelot." The obverse could feature a portrait of Jackie O, while the reverse could depict Caroline Kennedy's rocking horse along with the huge purchase price and the simple, direct inscription "Off Their Rockers." Alternatively, it could show a hammer coming down on a large stack of money as the auctioneer bellows: "Going, Going, Gone."
  • A Whitewater commemorative coin honoring Bill and Hillary Clinton for their many contributions to private enterprise in the state of Arkansas. The obverse could carry conjoined mug shots of the Clintons, while the reverse could display an outline map of Arkansas with a large dollar sign superimposed upon it. Alternatively, it could have a question mark superimposed instead, since no one seems to understand what this Whitewater business is all about. The inscription? "We Feel Your Pain."
  • A coin honoring Bob Dole for his long career in politics -- presumably a gold coin, since he's now in his golden years. The obverse could bear side-by-side portraits of Dole and Father Time (or perhaps the age-old Sen. Strom Thurmond), while the reverse could feature an hourglass with the sands running low. The inscription might be "Not Much Time for a Change."
  • A coin paying tribute to TV and radio talk-show hosts for their efforts to lift the level of national discourse. Base-metal coinage would be appropriate here -- the baser, the better. And possibly it could have a composite portrait -- including, say, Rush Limbaugh's ample jowls, Carnie Wilson's hyperactive mouth, Geraldo Rivera's over-inquisitive nose and Sally Jessie Raphael's large, darting eyes and designer glasses. The motto would be obvious: "Talk Is Cheap."
  • A coin marking the role of sleazy telemarketers in broadening the base of the rare coin market over the years. The obverse could display a telephone with a diagonal slash running through it -- much like a traffic sign that probibits left turns or a sign that bans smoking in a building. The reverse could show a chart reflecting the price performance of telemarketer specials -- also a diagonal slash running from upper left to lower right.
  • Last but not least, a coin paying tribute to the U.S. Mint for its great artistic achievements in recent years. This would be a throwback to the Mint's own pattern coinage of the early 1850s, when it struck experimental coins with holes punched in the center. Of course, in creating this particular coin, we'd have to make just one slight modification: We'd have to make the hole a lot bigger.
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