By Coinweek ….
Hello, and welcome back to CoinWeek’s weekly roundup of the strange and off-center in coin and currency news. Today’s roundup happens to fall on April 1 – once known as New Year’s but now better known as April Fool’s. We leave it to you, gentle reader, to decide whether one (or more?) of the following news items are a completely unfunny social expe… er, we mean prank… or not.
1.) Eugenicists on Banknotes?
March was Women’s History Month in the United States, and March 8 was International Women’s Day. This year on March 8, the prime minister of Canada Justin Trudeau announced that the Bank of Canada would feature a woman on a banknote in 2018 – not incidentally a full two years ahead of the United States and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s rather milquetoast proposal for a woman to share space on the $10 bill with Alexander Hamilton in 2020.
The Canadian public was invited to nominate deserving women on the Bank of Canada’s website. Near the top of the page is a link where you can see the names of women who have already been nominated.
One of those names is Nellie McClung.
Nellie McClung was a progressive-era feminist, most famous for being one of the “Famous Five” who pursued the 1927 “Persons Case” to the highest judicial authorities in Canada at the time (namely Britain). Undoubtedly achievements worthy of commemoration.
But over at the University of Alberta’s school newspaper The Gateway, writer Shaylee Foord takes exception to the nomination of someone like McClung, a noted eugenicist and supporter of forced sterilization laws that were still grievously wounding Canadian citizens until the early 1970s.
Foord’s piece reminds her fellow Canadians, male and female, to do their research before simply typing a name into an html form on the bank’s website.
2.) Punch-Marks on Indian Coins
The Times of India recently published an article regarding some of the earliest coins ever produced in India. According to P V Radhakrishnan, curator at the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Museum in Mumbai, the silver coins minted during the Magadha and Maurya empires came to feature punch-marks as a way of vouching for purity when the skills necessary for assaying the metal was far from common enough to allow for the practical use of coins as money.
An interesting read, especially since India is one of the oft-neglected contenders for home of the world’s first coins.
Still, one can’t help but sigh at the rehashing of the barter myth of the birth of money. Adam Smith made it up, folks. Check out David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011) for an explanation.
3.) Trevi Fountain Revisited
One of the fountains it singled out was the iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome, scenic star of several classic movies from the golden age of world cinema.
This week, The Italian Tribune featured its own article about coins in fountains but focusing on the Trevi Fountain alone.
We’re glad about one thing, though: at least you don’t have to drink the water anymore.
The Future Is Now
4.) The Patron Saint of Cryptocurrency
Since being elected Pope in 2013, the Argentine-born Francis I has strove to polish the brand of the Roman Catholic Church to make it more attractive to a younger, more international audience. He has implemented relatively liberal policy changes and made many pronouncements that some in the church find controversial.
Now, Vatican City has become the first state in history to adopt a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin as legal tender money.
But before you can say “DeepWebRedRoom” five times fast, make no mistake – the Holy See is looking to create a “less sinful” version of the evil, evil Bitcoin to ensure the safety of the souls of a billion Catholics the world over.
On a side note, if the City of Venice adopted an official altcoin e-currency, would it be Dogecoin?
Much clever. So laughs.
Last week we noted that March has been a good month for the discovery of only-known and second-known coins.
On March 14, an Israeli hiker discovered the second-known example of an ancient gold commemorative from the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan.
Then the next day, the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (IJNA) published an article about the scientific investigation of the site of the wreck of one of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s ships, Esmeralda. Among the other treasures and coins recovered from the wreckage is a second-known specimen of an Indio, a silver coin minted in 1499 by Portugal explicitly for trade with India.
This week, we have another two finds – with yet another extremely rare coin uncovered in Israel.
5.) Coin Returned to Israel after 25 Years
In 1991, German doctor Tonio Sebastian Richter picked up a dull, dingy coin-shaped object while visiting Jerusalem and took it back with him to Berlin. Once there, he cleaned it and then realized it was an ancient coin, minted during the reign of the Roman emperor Commodus.
Now, with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Israel Museum, Herr Richter has decided to return the coin to the proper authorities.
Turns out it’s a one-of-a-kind variant.
6.) UK Detectorist Finds Unique Coin
Meanwhile in Britain, a metal detectorist has found a rare Roman silver coin while helping the writer and director of the BBC’s television show Detectorists get a better feel for the hobby.
The coin, a silver denarius of Carausius, was minted between 286 and 293 CE, and is a unique example of this particular reverse and legend.
Worthy Additions to Your Library
7.) Patterns and Material Varieties of Swiss Coins
Numismatist Jürg Richter has written two hefty, well-illustrated volumes on the “patterns” and “material varieties” of Swiss coins. CoinsWeekly gives us a brief review of what exactly the books aim to do and why they matter.
Crime & Punishment
8.) NCIC Crime Bulletin
From the Numismatic Crime Information Center (NCIC):
New York State Police have arrested Michael Adcock of Pacific City, Oregon on charges of fraud involving a coin scam. A second suspect Donald Scott Rainey is wanted out of New York and Colorado. The subjects were doing business under the names of Vintage World Coin and Pacific Coin Company.
Investigators believe there are additional victims in the New York area. A third suspect identified as Christopher Wayne Roberts was taken into custody last week.
Authorities believe Rainey is making his way back to Texas.
Anyone with information can contact the NCIC’s Doug Davis at (817) 723-7231 or [email protected]
The Numismatic Crime Information Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation. P.O. Box 14080 Arlington, Texas 76094.
9.) For the Person Who Has Everything
In 2007, the Royal Canadian Mint produced the world’s first “million dollar coin” – a massive, 100 kg, .99999 fine gold coin with a face value of $1 million CAD. Only five were ever made.
Now, irish bullion brokerage GoldCore is going to auction one of the numismatic monsters.
10.) Atlas Numismatics Fixed Price List
Atlas Numismatics released a new fixed price list, adding over 1,000 new coins, medals, and tokens to their website.
11.) Upcoming Auctions
- Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio’s Hong Kong Auction of Chinese and Asian Coins and Currency: April 5-8
- Classical Numismatic Group’s Electronic Auction 372: closes April 6
World of the Weird
12.) Police Seizure Tea Party Coin
We happened to find this on PropertyRoom.com, a police auction website:
And not un-relatedly…
13.) April Fool’s!
Convicted Counterfeiter Bernard von NotHaus has concocted the perfect bullion round for this election year.
From the folks who brought you NORFED and the Liberty Dollar, it’s the dollar with the Donald… the coin with the combover… the Trump Dollar is here!
It’s gonna be YUGE.
Or will it?
We asked our friend Robert Galiette, a noted numismatist and attorney, about the legal ramifications of the Trump dollar. We wondered whether the use of Trump’s likeness on coins like this without his expressed permission or involvement would be permissible, given that Trump is a public figure running for high office. As is the case with virtually everything von NotHaus has done in the past few years, the answer to this legal question is rather complicated:
Regarding the Trump dollar and the Trump gold coin, it presents a number of interesting and relevant issues. When a person becomes a public figure there’s a lower expectation of and right to privacy, but not an absence of it. When a person is running for public office, there’s a long history of political satire, campaign buttons, and material produced privately for and against a candidate. You could do a large written segment on political buttons, for example, going back to the 1860 election campaign of Abraham Lincoln, and for many Presidents before him, with material of all types created by persons who supported or who opposed one respective candidate or another.
The question here, as with multiple intellectual property issues, would seem to involve the concept of what constitutes “fair use”. For example, are these coins a form of protected free speech associated with a person running for high public office during the time of a campaign, or does someone intend to produce great quantities of these coins, for objectives not really related to the campaign, and perhaps after the campaign has ended? Is the primary objective to make a political commentary, or to sell a lot of coins with little or only peripheral connection to a campaign for election to high office? If the use of someone’s image is intended to represent and warrant the quality or source of origin of a specific product, so as to function as a trademark, then the objective would seem to reach beyond protected speech associated with a political campaign. – Rob
Bernard von NotHaus Liberty Dollars Currently Available on eBay