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White House Event Honors Dolley Madison
November 20, 2007

The first thing I did after I signed in on my computer was go to the U.S. Mint Web site to see if the First Spouse gold coins for Dolley Madison were still being offered for sale.

I had my answer as soon as the Mint's home page came into view. There was no immediate sellout as was the case for the first three First Spouse coins.

The Mint was actually advertising the Dolley Madison offering with images and a news crawl moving underneath to call attention to yesterday's ceremony at the White House with First Lady Laura Bush.

Mint Director Ed Moy was present as was a Dolley Madison re-enactor, who was also involved in a ceremony last year. She must be good at portraying Dolley Madison.

The fourth First Lady of the United States saved the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington from destruction when she took it just ahead of the advancing British army that burned the White House, the Capitol and other buildings in the city in 1814.

The burning of the White House was a low point for the American republic, but Dolley's reputation was made by her plucky behavior. It did not hurt that the nation's honor and situtation were retrieved by a peace treaty signed just a few months later that basically said, "Never mind." The country did not have to pay the price of the significant defeat that led to the loss of the capital city and Andrew Jackson's victory in the Battle of New Orleans after the treaty was signed made it seem like the United States had won the war.

How plucky will collectors be with Dolley Madison's coins? As I wrote yesterday, prices are up. If historical reputation means anything, Dolley Madison's coins deserve a sellout, but I know it doesn't work that way.

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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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