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Boy Scout medal features swastika

 (Image courtesy

(Image courtesy

What can you tell me about a medal on which a Boy Scout appears mounted on a horse on one side, with a reverse swastika on the other side?

These medals were issued between 1910 and 1914 by the Excelsior Shoe Company to mark the company’s association with the then-new Boy Scout movement. There are five major varieties of this medal to be collected. The hole appearing at 12 o’clock on most examples was meant to allow the medal to be fastened to the shoe.

I get it that until the use of the swastika by the German Third Reich, the swastika was a symbol of good luck. The symbol last appears on German coins of 1945. When did the symbol first appear on coins?

The symbol appears on coins almost as soon as coinage was invented. It appears as a raised pattern on a gold 1/24th stater of Ionia from about 625 to 600 B.C. The symbol appears on several coins of city-states on ancient Sicily, on coins of early India, Jewish tokens, and others prior to becoming a symbol of evil courtesy of 20th century Germany.

I’ve read there was a problem with stacking the Ultra High Relief 1907 $20 double eagle Saint-Gaudens coins. Has there been any other U.S. coin with the same problem?

The 1936 Cincinnati Music Center half dollar was criticized by the U.S. Mint for the same problem. Thomas Melish, who was partially responsible for the coin, is said to have responded: “Who cares! No one will have enough to stack anyway.”

Branch mint proofs prior to 1968 are rare. I am aware of silver coins, but were any of these branch proofs ever struck in other metals?

I am unaware of any copper composition branch mint proofs. However, gold $5, $10 and $20 coins were struck in proof at Denver, New Orleans, and at San Francisco.

Has Congress always had control over what designs appear on our coins?

Design changes were at the whim of Mint officials prior to a Sept. 26, 1890, law prohibiting design changes unless the designs had been in use for at least 25 years. Congress gave itself the authority to change coin designs if the 25-year requirement had not yet been met. Nowadays, the Treasury secretary’s hands are tied without Congressional action.

Did a public outcry cause Miss Liberty’s breast to be covered on the 1917 Standing Liberty quarter?

Contemporary newspapers don’t indicate there was an outcry It is possible the design change was made to reflect our military posture at the beginning of World War I in 1917.

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This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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