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If Not Presidents, Who or What?
April 08, 2008

If Ronald Reagan is put on a silver dollar to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2011, would you buy it?

Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for just such a coin. H.R. 5235 was introduced Feb. 6 by Reps. Elton Gallegly and Roy Blunt.

Politics aside, numismatics is a field where collectors constantly complain that the only designs we see are Presidential faces, yet proposals continue to flow to add more Presidential faces.

It seems that in the 10 seconds of thought the average politician gives to such suggestions, you need instant recognition. Love him. Hate him. Sign me up. Get that away from me. It's quickly over, up or down.

Reagan already will be honored with the other Presidents in the Presidential dollar series.

I expect if he appears on a classic commemorative silver dollar, he will probably sell well. But what commemorative topics do we forego when we fall back so quickly and easily on Presidents?

How about coins to help the National Park system? This legacy of land and natural beauty has been bequeathed to us by our ancestors. Wouldn't a few extra commemorative dollars do more good here to keep them in pristine shape?

The sesquicentennial of the Civil War years begin in 2011. Should we not remember them and reflect on their historical legacy?

It is always a losing game to say my ideas are better than your ideas, but we never even get a chance to discuss ideas in the first place because the default setting on coinage matters points to Presidents.

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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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