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Viewpoint: Small and cartoonish not wanted

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By Jack Nugent

Our coins are a mockery of the world’s only superpower. Much to my chagrin, America has become a two-bit country.

Why does Canada have polymer currency and $2 coins? The Swiss have 5-franc coins and 1,000-franc notes. Europe has 2-euro coins with 500-euro notes. Even Mexico has a nice bi-metallic 20-peso coin. That our largest coin is the quarter is just short of appalling.

Not only that, but our quarter has not a millemeter of space wasted on it. It’s just too small to be that busy. Also, George Washington’s hair is over amplified and looks cartoonish.


The dime on the other hand remains beautiful and unchanged.

The dime on the other hand remains beautiful and unchanged. Not one hair on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s head has moved in 69 years. Even after the composition change and coin shortage, the relief and design elements remain untouched.

Unfortunately, the dime’s diginity can’t make up for what has been done to the nickel. The three-quarter portrait style caricature of our third President in bangs is in horrible taste. The Beatles looked good in bangs, not President Thomas Jefferson.

Equally appalling are the numerous changes to Abraham Lincoln’s portrait on the cent. The haircut and beard trim the Mint has given the President makes him look smaller than in past decades. The reduction in relief is also unnecessary and makes the coin look unimportant, which it is.

The size of the coin makes all the difference in its impression with the viewer. All this torture would end if we just changed our coinage base from a cent to a dime. Our business coins would then be the dime, half dollar, dollar, $2.50 and $5 pieces.

Coins being more commercially meaningful would gain respect. The same goes with our Federal Reserve Notes. Stop printing $1 and $5 notes and start printing $500 polymer currency.

As a country, I think we can do better.

This “Viewpoint” was written by Jack Nugent of Bisbee, Ariz.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects.

To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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