It's official, the new Nevada state quarter titled "Morning In Nevada" will go into circulation in January 2006. The winning design of three mustangs romping through the Nevada countryside beat out four other entrees for the privilege of representing Nevada's image.
Nearly 60,000 Nevadans voted, some twice, for their favorite design. Living in Virginia City, I voted for the miner which came in third, but we Comstockers didn't have enough mail-in votes as the 14,000 school kids across the state that put the mustangs over the top. I was disappointed the miner lost, but the great lesson learned by those kids was how important voting is and how their vote can really make a difference.
And speaking of coins, have you seen the new buffalo nickel? I waited in line at the bank for an hour to get a whole roll of 'em, and what a disappointment that turned out to be. The old buffalo nickel, (1913-1938) had a strong healthy looking buffalo. The new buffalo is kinda scrawny looking with spindly legs.
And another thing, the old buffalo is facing left, the new buffalo is facing right. What's this all about, a coded message telling us which way the country is headed? Another troublesome feature about the coin is the obverse side (heads.) The old coin had an Indian, which made the coin a true representation of this country many years ago, when Indians and buffalos ruled the plains.
The new coin has Thomas Jefferson on the obverse side or at least part of him. Unbelievably, part of Jefferson's head is missing as he's facing right with a smile on his face, much like the Man In The Moon. Now that we know about Jefferson and Sally Hennings, I can understand why they put a smile on his face.
Jefferson, the man who drafted The Declaration Of Independence and became our third president, is also pictured on the $2 bill. Nickels and a $2 bill, chump change for such a great statesman. Jefferson belonged on the $10,000 bill, but that spot was already taken by Salmon P. Chase, who was Secretary of the Treasury under president Lincoln from 1861 to 1864.
Lincoln, who was shot in 1865, was the first of four sitting presidents to be assassinated in office. The Civil War president went through some trying times holding a divided country together. We have honored him by striking his likeness on a coin of the lowest denomination in circulation, a penny.
Of course Lincoln is also on the $5 bill, but shouldn't he have been placed on a bill of loftier dimensions? Lincoln fared better than our 20th president, James Garfield, who was shot and killed in 1881. Look as you may, you won't find Garfield on coin or currency, while our 25th president, William McKinley who was shot in 1901, was placed on the $500 bill.
John Kennedy, our 35th president, was shot and killed in 1963. A 50-cent coin was struck in his likeness a year later. Today most people think of a hip-hop rapper when they hear the words "Fifty Cent." With the exception of McKinley, Lincoln, Garfield and Kennedy were shown little respect; they deserved better.
Suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony has the distinction of being the first woman to appear on a U.S. coin. First struck in1979, the coin had a 20-year run before being taken out of circulation in 1999. Just a tad bigger than a quarter, the Anthony coin caused a lot of confusion because of its size and the public didn't readily accept it.
In 2000 a Shoshone Indian woman named Sacajawea, who helped guide the Lewis and Clark expedition, was honored with a coin struck in her likeness. The $1 gold colored coin is the same dimensions as the Anthony coin, but has proved immensely popular with the public, so much so that it's impossible to find one in circulation. The mint has stopped making the coin for general use and sells it only to collectors. The Sacajawea coin is selling for a lot more that its $1 face value and is a fine investment for collectors.
And what about the other presidents who got no respect? How about Millard Fillmore, Martin Van Buren, Rutherford B. Hayes, Zachary Taylor and William Howard Taft?
Taft, our 27th president, was the heaviest man to ever hold the office of president of the United States. The rotund Taft tipped the scales at a whopping 340 pounds.
Maybe we could petition the mint to strike a silver coin in his likeness. They could use an ounce of silver for every pound Taft weighed.
Imagine a coin containing 340 troy ounces of silver. Not only would it be a fine investment opportunity, but it's quite possible we could get the Comstock Mines back in operation furnishing the silver for it.
Chic DiFrancia lives in Virginia City and writes occasionally for the Nevada Appeal.