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Presidential dollars that never will be

This week the Numismatic News poll question asked whether the Presidential coin series should include all Presidents, not just those who are deceased.

Respondents have been active in emailing me their opinions elaborating on their online votes. There are strong feelings.

I am looking forward to assembling them all on the Best of Buzz pages in the paper that goes to press on Thursday.

As you can see, the idea was voted down by a 2-1 margin.


Imagine what the response would be like if a set was offered not of Presidents but of the defeated candidates.

Of course, Presidents who were defeated for re-election would be part of this theoretical set. Herbert Hoover, say, already has a coin as President deriving from his successful election in 1928. His 1932 failure would qualify him for the defeated candidates set also.

Perhaps, oddly, Theodore Roosevelt would figure in a defeated candidates set. He is remembered most often for his successful two-terms ending in 1909, but his Bull Moose Party run of 1912 put him in second place to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

Would that mean incumbent President William Howard Taft, who sank to third place be excluded from a defeated candidate set, or would the set be expanded to contain more than one defeated candidate for each Presidential election?

The also-rans are often not particularly noteworthy, but at certain moments of history, they are extremely important. Perhaps in remembering the four candidates of 1860 it would be important to have the three defeated candidates in the set rather than picking just one.

In addition to years where there are multiple candidates, there are other years where there would be no defeated candidates at all.

Everybody knew George Washington would be President of the United States. No one challenged him. There were no defeated candidates in 1789 or 1792.

After the collapse of the Federalist Party, there was no one to oppose James Monroe in the election of 1820. It was called the Era of Good Feelings.

Such a name cannot be applied to our current political environment.

In fact, with so many candidates for the nomination of the two major parties in 2016, the very idea of any kind of coin set with a Presidential winner or loser would achieve as close to unanimity – in opposition – as could be possible.

While coin sets are out of the question, perhaps something like the oil company pieces of 50 years ago could be privately produced.

British coin collectors like the privately made King Edward VIII pieces that never were, perhaps American collectors would warm up to a series of Presidents who never were.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."