I have a lot of passions. Art collecting, comics, elaborate and highly choreographed dancing in unconventional places, I dig it all. But of all the things that I enjoy doing when not communicating with and educating the masses, my love of coin and paper currency collecting stands out, as for some unusual reason, I have never once talked about it in my writing before.
Yes, I am a numismatist. I started my now vast and highly valuable collection in 2004 from what I can vaguely recall (I kind of blacked out most of my time spent growing up in Canada, it was not fun.). After spending time online reading random things about American History and being fascinated with the Millennium Quarters put out by my former country of residence in the year 2000, I decided to take up the past time. Not really knowing if I’d stick with it or not.
To my surprise, I did. And oh, what an experience it has been. Haranguing my friends to check their quarters, rifling through my mother’s purse to find old Canadian currency (Sorry Mom.) and acquiring real gold coins for dirt cheap on Craigslist, all great memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The only real thing that bothers me about the pastime is the general consistency of American currency. For decades, the stuff hasn’t really changed much at all, and I find this sad.
In the past, things were different. The Walking Liberty, the incredible works of Augustus Saint. Gaudens, The magnificence of the Peace Dollar, all beautiful designs lost to history that deserve to be brought back. Why haven’t they? Well, because many at the Mint object to an alleged “Disnification” of coinage and paper money and a good deal of Americans feel that current designs should be kept in perpetuity. Though this is a fine position, as an artist and numismatic junkie I feel that it is wrong. Fortunately, things may be changing in the next few years.
Recently, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that the U.S. 10 Dollar Bill will be re-designed next year. In the place of once prominent Alexander Hamilton (Who will still be featured in some way), a woman will be taking his place. I have no problem with re-designing currency, as it used to happen all the time. But I do think this is the wrong bill to do it on.
If you’re familiar with social media, (And who isn’t these days?) you might have seen the recent #Womanon20 campaign that briefly swept across the country and generated some media buzz. The supporters of placing a lady on that bit of American currency are really on to something, as Andrew Jackson was really not deserving of being placed on the bill at all. He was an asshole.
For starters, the man was against the very concept of a central bank (No one really knows why he was put on the bill to replace Grover Cleveland in the first place) and was also vehemently racist. When his own Supreme Court issued orders favorable to Indians, the man laughed them off, saying “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” What a noble man.
Ultimately, I support the inclusion of a woman on some form of U.S. currency, but I would prefer the 20 over the 10. Andrew Jackson was an asshole and is really not deserving of the honor. The sooner we get rid of him, the penny, the 50 cent piece and the one and two dollar bills the better. As a well versed coin and paper currency collector, their continued existence pains me.