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Russian medal stirs controversy

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Donald Trump is honored on a recently issued Russian medal. The reverse legend reads, “In Trump We Trust.”

“From Russia with Love” is a popular movie title that reminds us all of the Cold War, but “In Trump we trust” – also originating from Russia?

That is the spin the Art-Grani metal working company in Zlatoust in the Chelyabinsk region in south central Russia has put on a new medal that the company is now promoting. The James Bond movie may have used Russia as its subject (actually the Soviet Union), but this Russian foundry is out to make a political statement of its own in this post-Soviet period.

“In Trump We Trust” appears boldly on the reverse of the sterling silver commemorative issued just two days prior to the Jan. 20 inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th president of the United States. Most of the non-numismatic press has called the issue a coin, but in fact it has nothing to do with the Russian government, the mints in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and is actually a medal.

The medals have a 5-inch diameter and weight of 2 pounds. The issue is limited to 40 medals composed of 0.999 fine silver, with another five produced in gold. No details were immediately available regarding the purity or weight of the gold medals. All are cast rather than struck.

The obverse of each medal depicts a right-facing profile bust of Trump with a stern look on his face. The reverse depicts the Statue of Liberty along with the controversial legend. The depiction of Trump was based on five sketches. The Statue of Liberty was copied from the image appearing on the U.S. Presidential dollar coins.

Art-Grani company manager Vladimir Vasyukhin told the Associated Press Television News he has “hopes associated with Trump,” adding, “there are more hopes associated with Trump with regards to the lifting of sanctions; maybe the environment [between the U.S. and Russia] will change.”

Vasyukhin has reached out to Russian diplomats and well-connected businessmen in hopes of presenting one of the medals to Trump. The price of the other medals was not announced at the time this article was being written.

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Vladimir Putin and a map of Crimea appear on a controversial medal issued by the same foundry that recently issued a Donald Trump medal.

This isn’t the first time Art-Grani has issued a controversial medal. In 2014 the company offered medals on which Russian President Vladimir Putin appears on the obverse, with a map of the Crimean Peninsula just seized from Ukraine on the reverse.

Vasyukhin said of the Art-Grani 2014 medal, “Crimea’s reunification with Russia was a historic event which we decided to embody in a souvenir collection of coins. And just like that the peninsula has come back home to Russia.”

He added, “[Putin] demonstrated the qualities of a wise strategist and politician.”

The legend “In God we trust” originated from a response by U.S. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase to a Nov. 13, 1861, letter he received from Reverend M.R. Watkinson of Pennsylvania during the Civil War. Although the legend appeared on the 2-cent coin that commenced in 1864, “In God we trust” was not mandated by the Coinage Act of 1864. In fact, it wasn’t until July 11, 1955, that Congress passed a law requiring the legend to appear on all U.S. currency. By that date, the legend was appearing on all coins; however, it wasn’t until the Series 1957 $1 Silver Certificate that it appeared on our bank notes.

A reference to God has appeared on coins of many countries since the time of the Hand of God appeared on an ancient Roman bronze coin following the death of Emperor Constantine I “the Great” after his death in 337 C.E.

A reference to God has never appeared on Russian coins.

 

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

 

More Collecting Resources

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you’ll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.

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