Sunday, November 20, 2016

Canadian Coins Captivate

I think American coins are ugly.  American currency is, too.

It wasn't always this way.  It wasn't until 1909 that we first started putting dead presidents on our coins, for example.  Until then, any humans on our coins were either representations of Lady Liberty or were Native Americans. I want to remove all dead presidents from our coins.

Washington and Lincoln made appearances on our paper money in the 1800s, and later even non-presidents did:  Hamilton, Lincoln, and Chase, for example.  But our paper money wasn't always so ugly.  Even though it's long been green and black, we used to have beautiful images on our currency.  This "educational series" note is one of the most famous and most beautiful.  And though that note has Martha and George on the reverse, I'd still be all for removing George, Abe, et al., from our currency.

Even our commemorative coins today are uninspiring, which is unfortunate given their themes.

There are plenty of countries around the world that produce beautiful coins.  If you want to see some genuine outside-the-box thinking on coins, though, you need look no further than to our friend to the north, Canada.

Just browsing the Royal Canadian Mint's web site turned up these three commemorative coin subjects:  Star Trek, DC Comics, and Star Wars.  Note that these are actual commemorative legal tender coins, not coin-like medals made by a private mint.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that our coins should be about pop culture.  But travel the world and you'll see all sorts of representations on even circulating coins, from animals, to sports (really!), to plants, to national crests and symbols, to historical representations, to landmarks, etc.  And foreign currency gets even more creative.  Have you ever seen, or felt, Australia's polymer, not paper, notes?  Imagine trying to counterfeit a note with a see-through spot on it!

Money is a tangible ambassador for its country of origin.  Ours is less than satisfactory.  Perhaps I should run a series of posts with pictures of very cool coins and currency that I have collected over the decades....


Ellen K said...

I do think other coins from other nations are beautiful. I have some coins from pre-EU Ireland that I love. I think the Krugerand, with it's image of the Springbok is lovely. I also have some very old silver dollars featuring "Walking Liberties". All this costs money. (No pun intended) and I feel about it like I do stamps and license plates. I often wonder how much money is spent producing specialty or commemorative stamps for the USPS. I also think the lack of uniformity in state car tags make it hard to identify suspects on the run because there is no longer a distinct appearance to each state's license. I'm an artist and an art teacher-I appreciate and revel in beauty in all its forms, but I'm willing to have ugly money, ugly stamps and boring license tags if I can pay less for their production.

Darren said...

I'll disagree somewhat. While I'm not for wasteful extravagance, I don't want my government buildings to be Soviet-looking concrete monstrosities. A little public beauty is a good thing.

I don't know that it costs more to design ugly money, stamps, and license plates than it does to produce nice ones.

Ellen K said...

I have no problem with beauty-my problem is with constant change (no pun intended). Change is costly. Unfortunately we have people who contract out for creativity from a group that largely doesn't care about presenting a beautiful image.