Works of Art
The coins and currency of the United States were once works of art. They captured the imagination and history of our nation in beautiful and magnificent bas-relief. Coins at one time were fashioned from rare metals like silver and gold. Master artists designed the images for our currency and skilled engravers worked diligently to reproduce the inspiration of the artist’s original vision. The skills of artists and engravers were put on display for the public to enjoy on a daily basis. These images stamped on the money captivated and elevated the common man, even if it was only for a moment as currency changed hands in daily transactions.
Just like the masterpieces created by Monet, Van Gogh, or Michelangelo, these coins are now sought after for their beauty and artistic composition. Just as serious art collectors, coin collectors understand the time, skill, and work that was necessary to fashion these miniature treasures.
The value of the coins isn’t necessarily found in the metal from which they were struck, but also on the rarity and condition of the image. Like the classic paintings, wear and damage affect the value of these treasures, the same happens with our coins.
Today, as I emptied my pockets and saw the metal discs that came tumbling out, I was ashamed to think that the same agency that one time selected the beautiful images of the rare old metal coins of our past, have now selected the images that cover our baser metal minted change.
I find the image on the new nickels extremely appalling. The unfinished look of George Washington is stamped without the framing edge on the coin. Even the much regaled state designed quarters have a coarse, bedraggled, and inconsistent look, with none of the grace or finesse of our old coins. I don’t think I will ever see a time when collectors will ooh and aah over these misrepresentations of the greatness that was once found in the history of our money.
I am also sure that much of our coins and currency are still printed and struck on the presses of old, but even the old machinery and crafts cannot infuse beauty without beauty and inspiration being engraved on the plates.