When President Gerald R. Ford died Dec. 26 at the age of 93, a living connection to the tumultuous numismatic times during his administration was severed.
At right, Ford holds the original portrait bas-relief of the Vice Presidential Inaugural medal created by Mico Kaufman, pictured to his left, while Mrs. Ford looks on.
He hoped the calm the nation after the trauma of Richard Nixon?s Watergate scandal and resignation. If we judge the result by the price of gold. He was successful. On the last day of 1974 when it became legal for Americans to own gold for the first time since 1933, a troy ounce was priced at $197.50. By Aug. 30, 1976, it was barely half price at $102.40.
And ownership of gold was not the only numismatic milestone of Ford?s short presidency.
From Aug. 9, 1974 to Jan. 20, 1977, there were other hobby highlights, including the Bicentennial coinage program, a first tiptoeing back to U.S. commemorative coin issuance, which had ended in 1954.
Why are there no 1975-dated quarters, halves or dollar coins? That is a beginner question that dates to a Ford Administration decision to put dual dates on the denominations, 1776-1976, to mark America?s 200th anniversary and to strike them for 18 months.
The special designs on the reverses, the Drummer Boy, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell with the moon, are reminders of that time that can still occasionally be found in circulation. The 40-percent silver uncirculated and proof coins are still easily obtainable by new buyers.
Paper money saw some happenings as well. The Series 1976 $2 Federal Reserve Note was created with Trumbull?s portrait of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the back. It was the first Federal Reserve Note of that denomination and anyone wondering whether the Red Seal $2 U.S. Notes might return gave up on that idea.
Ford?s presidency was not the greatest in terms of numismatic happenings, but considering its brevity, it packed a lot in a very short period of time.