Thanks to sharp-eyed Coins reader Matthew Joy for noticing Coins magazine in “The Infiltrator.” The movie, released in 2016, tells the true story of Robert Mazur, a U.S. Customs official who went undercover as Bob Musella in an effort to break up a money-laundering operation involving drug lord Pablo Escabar.
It’s based on Mazur’s book and the lead role is played by Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” fame. It was directed by Brad Furman and produced by Broad Green Pictures in association with Good Films and others.
The first of two appearances by Coins comes about 30 minutes in, when an informant/associate of Cranston opens a manila envelope and pulls out the magazine. He then removes some blank checks from its interior.
The movie is set in 1985-1986, but the magazine used was from 1988. I was on the staff then and Arlyn Sieber was the editor. It’s the February 1988 issue to be precise. The cover relates to the discovery of the Atocha treasure.
You also see some interior pages but these are from the February 1987 issue, not the 1988 issue. Both were “Special Annual” issues of the magazine. The 1988 focused on investing and the 1987 grading.
I thought at first that they used two magazines—one for the cover shot and the other for the interior. However, the magazine shows up later. This time it is removed from an envelope by Cranston, who retrieves some documents inside.
Again, you can see that its cover is the 1988 issue. But this time you see him open the magazine and can still make out the cover as he flips to an interior page. Again the interior pages are from the February 1987 issue.
Somebody went to a lot of work pasting or otherwise reproducing the 1987 pages inside the 1988 cover. This is especially true as the interior pages you see aren’t in sequential order. The advertisement under his left thumb (blurred in image) appears on p. 14 in the actual magazine and the one under his right thumb is on p. 13. As he flips deeper into in the magazine, he somehow comes to p. 7. Go figure.
This article was originally printed in Coins Magazine. >> 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.
• Is that coin in your hand the real deal or a clever fake? Discover the difference with U.S. Coins Close Up, a one-of-a-kind visual guide to every U.S. coin type.