By Richard Giedroyc
Having trouble deciding if you will vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate for President Nov. 8? You could flip a coin. Or to be task specific, why not flip the “Indecision 2016” campaign medal recently issued by the Long-Stanton Manufacturing Company in West Chester, Ohio.
The Long-Stanton “coin,” as the company calls it, shows a bust of Republican candidate Donald Trump facing right on one side, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton facing left on the other. For those people considering voting for a third-party candidate, you can always hope the coin lands on its side.
According to a statement released by the firm, “To us at Long-Stanton, the real similarity of the presidential race of 1860 [between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln] and 2016 lies not in the issues but in the name of our company’s founder, John Stanton.
“Records show that before Mr. Stanton started Long-Stanton Manufacturing in 1862, he owned a company in Cincinnati that provided the illustrations, made the stamping die and minted many of the campaign coins of the 1860 presidential candidates. The coins, similar to the one shown here, contained the etched, illustrated likeness of each candidate (notice Lincoln without a beard) that were handed out to voters asking for their support. We can only guess that the medals would be considered the social media ‘Like’ button of its day.”
The statement continues, “Like the 1860 presidential race, we can sense that the political barbs and accusations are once again confusing all but their most die-hard supporters. Hopefully, our ‘Indecision 2016’ coin will help you enjoy making your decision. Or indecision. Sometimes it really does feel like it comes down to just a flip of a coin.”
The Indecision 2016 medal is available on Amazon.com for $9.95 each. There were about 1,000 medals initially made, with a possibility of more being produced later.
Long-Stanton President Marvin Cunningham was quoted in the July 20 Cincinnati Business Courier as saying, “We make stuff for other businesses, not consumer products. It is one of the more contentious elections, and we wanted to take a nonpartisan approach. We really wanted to make a GoPro video showing the coin land on the edge, but I cannot figure out how to do it.”
The company has a website about the medal with a disclaimer reading: “Please, don’t take this coin into the voting booth. It could be distracting to those who have already made up their mind (or they may ask to borrow it). We like to think that John Stanton would smile at the irony or similarity of the campaigns and our candidates coin. History really does seem to find a way of repeating itself.”
Cincinnati has a long numismatic history that has involved political tokens before. The Z. Bisbee Company founded in 1835 is today known as the Osborne Coinage Company, a manufacturer of tokens. The company minted Abraham Lincoln presidential campaign medals in 1860. Since that time it has minted campaign medals for at least eight other presidential candidates.
Presidential campaign medals and tokens have roots even prior to that time. Hard Times tokens of the period of Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams are avidly collected today and often have political messages.
There are many other tokens and medals that also make political statements. Some are complimentary, while others are not.
A 1940 aluminum Democratic dollar satirical medal issued by Arthur D. Brunk declares, “In this God we trusted, now we’re nearly busted.”
A 2011 Military Industrial Complex Golden Jubilee medal similar to an Eisenhower dollar coin takes a jaundiced view of modern capitalism.
United States quarters on which the reverse has been counterstamped to display humorous views of former President Bill Clinton (suggesting something immoral), former President George W. Bush (lassoing terrorist Osama bin Laden), former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (described on the coin as ‘the governator’), and even disparaging Hillary Clinton were issued in 2003 through 2005. There may be others.
In 2006 someone issued a gold-plated 0.999 silver composition “dime” depicting former President Ronald Reagan.
The Long-Stanton “Indecision 2016” piece follows a long tradition of exonumia political statements and promotions. No matter who wins the upcoming election, its legacy is being recorded numismatically for posterity.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express.
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