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Another Political Cover-Up
May 04, 2010

Mark Twain, who said that history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes, might smile knowingly today if he could catch up with current events.

Collectors who know their numismatic history will also smile.

I thought of this yesterday when I saw an online story about the attorney general of Virginia who gave pins to his office staff bearing an adulterated image of the state seal with the emphasis on the ‘adult’ part.

The Roman goddess of virtue on the seal has a bare breast much as the Standing Liberty quarter design of 1916 has a bare breast.

It was designed by George Wythe and adopted by Virginia in 1776.

For the staff pins, as with the quarter design of 1917, the goddess now has her own virtue protected by the addition of chain mail at the instigation of the state attorney general.

Thus the story line of 1916-1917 extends itself to 2010.

It was only three years ago that we had the hullabaloo over “In God We Trust” being placed on the edge of the 2007 Washington dollar. This echoed the arguments of 1907-1908 over the absence of the motto on the redesigned early 20th century $10 and $20 gold pieces. Subsequently in 2009 the motto was relocated to the obverse on Presidential dollars just as the motto was placed on the two new gold coins in 1908.

This is getting weird.

What long-told numismatic story will be the next template for an event here in the 21st century?

I can hardly wait to find out.

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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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