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Teddy Roosevelt at last?

I had a bit of a mental flashback to my youth when I saw that the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential dollar will become available from the U.S. Mint on April 11.

At long last a coin that many collectors have yearned for over many years will now be available.

I will be watching the sales totals very closely.

I became a fan of letters to the editor when I was a kid. One of the ongoing threads of thought that seemed to prevail in the minds of the collectors who wrote letter in the late 1960s was that Theodore Roosevelt deserved a coin.

Usually those letters went further and suggested that he be placed on one of the circulating denominations.

What stays in my mind is that 45 years ago it was the nickel that seemed to be the most popular denomination chosen for Teddy to appear on. A dollar never entered anyone’s head because there were no dollars at the time.

Commemoratives, too, were out of the question. There weren’t any.

That left the five circulating denominations, cent through half dollar. In collector minds of the time, Lincoln and Washington were sacrosanct. They belonged untouchable in the American political pantheon.

Another Roosevelt, Franklin, was on the dime. He, too was virtually untouchable, as many revered the man who led the country through the Depression and then World War II.

The half dollar design featured John F. Kennedy. Since it had just changed in 1964, there was no chance it would change again because designs were supposed to run a minimum of 25 years under normal circumstances. Besides, even a kid like me remembered Nov. 22, 1963, and where I was and what I was doing when the young President was assassinated in Dallas. This common bond assured an emotional support for continuation of the Kennedy design, which will reach 50 years of age in 2014.

That left the nickel. Jefferson began appearing on it in 1938, so it had passed the 25-year test. Jefferson, too, was a President revered by many, but by the logic of collectors of the time, this design was the easiest one to give up.

It might have been easier to jettison than the other four, but even so, the design was not changed, much to the frustration of Theodore Roosevelt fans.

So now going on nearly five decades later, the fans of Theodore Roosevelt will have their coin.

On Thursday, perhaps we will begin to learn how many of these fans are still around.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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