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That Promise was Golden
March 25, 2008

Election years bring out politicians and campaign promises. Normally, these do not touch upon numismatics, but 28 years ago this week, candidate Ronald Reagan made an appearance 13 miles to the south of Iola in Courthouse Square in Waupaca. I was there. I listened to his speech.

Incorporated into it was a promise to make the U.S. dollar as good as gold again. That is not exactly an overt pledge to restore the gold standard that was abandoned in 1933 or the gold exchange standard that was abandoned in 1971, but it was as close to the subject as any American leader who had a strong chance of winning the presidency has ever gone since President Nixon closed the gold window.

He was as good as his word. He appointed the U.S. Gold Commission. Its report in 1982 did not bring back the gold standard, but it did make the topic a respectable one in government circles again, something that had not been the case for the prior decade.

The door was opened to striking gold coins again. The Olympic coin legislation had a $10 gold coin component and it was not laughed out of Congress or condemned. It passed and the Olympic $10 of 1984 was the first American gold coin struck since 1933. It sold reasonably well to collectors.

It was followed by the 1986 Statue of Liberty $5, which sold out in just a few weeks. It was a first hint of pent-up gold coin demand.

This was then followed by the creation of the American Eagle program in 1986 and we were off to the races. The gold standard did not come back but Americans were given an American option to invest in if they wanted gold to be a part of their investments.

Perhaps someday a candidate who has more electoral pull than Ron Paul will say something positive about gold or some other numismatic subject.

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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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