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Take a 'Polk' at First Spouse Series
September 24, 2009

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts have reviewed designs for next year's America the Beautiful quarter series and the First Spouse gold coin series.

There are five different quarter designs to be issued in 2010 and four First Spouse designs.

What strikes me about the designs is not their quality or lack thereof. I will let you take a look at the story that gets posted a little later and the designs that go with it so you can make your judgments.

What hits me is simply a matter of timing. Next year we finally reach Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the President historians often rank as the greatest.

The arrival of a famous name following a sequence of lesser known Presidents' wives should help the series sell. Some rank the Presidents of the 1850s prior to Lincoln as the worst and almost the worst holders of the office. It is no wonder Americans know little or nothing about them. Average people know hardly more about the Presidents of the 1840s.

Put another way, if the series is to have any chance at all of reviving from the current low level of sales, it will be up to Lincoln to start the process of heavy lifting.

The wife of Ulysses S. Grant, Julia, will probably give a boost to sales in 2011.

Once we get to the 20th century, sales could also jump for the wives of Teddy Rooevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

There are no guarantees, but familiarity is something present issues are lacking.

Sarah Polk, anyone?

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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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