A gift that changes lives


Dollar Eisenhower. (Images courtesy of usacoinbook.com.)

Those who attend coin fairs may have noticed that many of them offer children one or more free coins when they enter the coin exchange room. I’m also sure that there are many coin shops all over the country, including where I work, that offer young people in their shop free coins or currency.

Can you imagine how many times these donations have changed lives?

In our store, parents often bring their children with them so they can have the opportunity to select up to six foreign coins from a treasure chest in the middle of our showroom. While adults are transacting, their children are having fun.

If I serve such a family, I try to make sure I ask young people questions about the pieces they select, so that they actually consider the information included on the surfaces of the pieces. Among the questions are:

Which country issued the coin? Do you know where this nation is located in the world? What is the date? What is the denomination? What is it made of? What is the significance of the portraits or illustrations on the coins?

When I started asking such questions, the most common answer is that the child suddenly starts looking at the pieces much closer. On the other hand, if you don’t stimulate a young person’s imagination to really look at a coin or note to find answers to such questions, they will usually come out with coins that are big and shiny or change that is the biggest. , in better condition, or has the highest face value printed on it.

If you open someone’s mind to the fact that coins and currencies are issued at a specific time and place for a specific purpose and the information depicted therein reflects that situation, you could change a life and trigger another lifetime numismatist. For numismatic organizations, this could increase future membership. For dealers, this could lead to more future business.

When I’ve taught numismatics courses for the past few years, one of the first things I do is give each attendee a copper-nickel Eisenhower dollar. Then I go around the room asking everyone in turn to identify a piece of information they observe on the piece. I chose this piece because most attendees have never seen one, which makes it an immediate curiosity. Here is a list of the information that young and old participants noted:


We believe in God



Bust of Dwight David Eisenhower

Creator’s initials

the United States of America

E Pluribus Unum


one dollar

Eagle carrying olive branches in its talons landing on the moon, with the Earth in the background

Fluted edges

Several metal colors on the edge

The diameter and thickness of the part

The form

Each of the elements of this piece is there for a specific reason. For example, the reverse illustration was adapted from the Apollo 11 spaceflight insignia patch in which the first humans set foot on the Moon. Each report tells a story that can inspire a desire to know more about money in particular and the whole world in general.

If you can possibly achieve all of this by giving a coin or a banknote, you will also get pleasure from it.

Patrick A. Heller was honored as a 2019 FUN Numismatic Ambassador. He is also a recipient of the American Numismatic Association’s 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award, 2017 Exemplary Service Award, 2012 Harry Forman National Dealer of the Year Award and the 2008 Presidential Award. Over the years he has also been honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild (including twice in 2020), the Professional Numismatists Guild, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets, and the Michigan State Numismatic Society. He is the communications manager for Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan, and writes Prospects of freedom, a monthly newsletter on rare currencies and precious metals. Back issues of the newsletter can be viewed at www.libertycoinservice.com. Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That You Don’t, and Important News You Need to Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which broadcasts in live and is part of the audio archive published on www.1320wils.com).


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