At last we have reached the point in the Presidential dollar series where we can remember Presidents as contemporaries. What ever you might have thought of each one’s performance in office, the images of the men are much more personal now as we begin to review possible 2015 and 2016 dollar coin designs.
If I close my eyes, I can’t really conjure up an image of Zachary Taylor. But Harry Truman? No problem. I don’t remember him as President, but I do remember him after he had left the Oval Office. I even visited his presidential library when I was a kid and noted which coins were there and which ones were not. Truman was still alive then, though unfortunately not visiting his library office the day I was present.
Ditto for Dwight Eisenhower in my mind’s eye. I can’t remember him in office but he was a public figure while I was growing up, so I am completely familiar with his image.
Looking over the designs presented to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee of these two former Presidents I find I am partial to some and totally reject others as not being good likenesses.
Who am I to make such judgments? Just an average American collector. I invite you to do the same.
John F. Kennedy is the first person I remember being President. My sense of how he looked I am sure has been affected to a degree by seeing the obverse of the Kennedy half dollar for 50 years. There is no way I would want the new dollar design to be identical to it, but I have to say that there are a couple of proposed Kennedy designs that I might have trouble identifying the person were it not for his name on them.
Lyndon Johnson’s portraits bring back thoughts of Civil Rights and the Vietnam War. Richard Nixon, of course, reminds me of Watergate, but as a collector, Nixon’s shutting of the gold window and the devaluation of the dollar in 1971 and 1973 also come to mind.
Gerald R. Ford’s image might be the last one we see on a coin as the series requires the Presidents who are honored to be deceased. I think that was a foolish impediment to creating a complete set, but that’s the way it is.
Presidential coins will stand for the ages as permanent memorials to the individuals who have been President of the United States. As such, they have formal portraits on them. Presidents are not depicted riding bicycles, or eating pie at the state fair.
But collectors still will treat the images of the last few Presidents both more possessively and more informally than the earlier designs. These last several Presidential designs prompt the mind to recall the history of the times in which we have lived. The designs invite us to compare them to the memories we all carry within us.
So take a look at the designs. Recall your own personal memories about the Presidents and the times during which they served. Then share your opinions by sending them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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