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Good Art? Bad Art? Process Better
August 01, 2008

Is it really Friday? Convention events make time just fly by. Since the ribbon was cut Wednesday morning, it has been just an incredibly hectic show for me.

The Mint came up with an unveiling of the ultra-high-relief double eagle Wednesday. This was the first opportunity for collectors to see the new coin. Next year they will be able to buy one. Back in 1907 Theodore Roosevelt wanted coins of this kind of be used again just as in ancient Greece. That proved to be impractical because the ancient Greeks didn't have banks with marble counter tops that required gold coins to stack neatly.

So, next year, 102 years after the first attempt at fulfilling Roosevelt's dream, will come a second act. The coins still won't circulate, but collectors will certainly appreciate the artistic qualities of a coin that has the depth of a medal rather than the nearly flat surfaces of a coin.

This is kind of a roundabout way of getting to the meeting of the Citizens Coin Advisory Committee at 9 a.m. today. This body helps the Mint sort good ideas from bad. It is part of the recognition that has been given in recent years to the artistic qualities of coinage.

We don't know what Roosevelt would make of today's coin art. Would he consider it something worthy of the ancient Greeks? I don't know. But I expect he would approve of the importance that is being attached by the government to the artistic factors that he considered so important for American coinage. As a politician, he also would have loved to know how many times his name has come up this week.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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