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V16 2013 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 13, March 31, 2013, Article 11

ON POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS

Last week Rich Bottles, Jr. sent me an image he'd found on Facebook of an Anti-Obama slogan ("Obama Sucks") written on a dollar bill, noting "This is probably not appropriate for The E-Sylum, but it's numismatic related none-the-less."

Fred Michaelson writes:

This is about as "numismatic related" [sic] as my big toe.

Rick Witschonke writes:

I was enjoying the latest issue of The E-Sylum when I encountered Mr. Bottles' totally tasteless and inappropriate exhortation to deface US paper money with his vile political message. It would seem to me that this item should have been rejected by any competent editor both on the grounds of involving The E-Sylum in political partisanship, and on the plain bad taste of the message. You can be sure that, if this continues, I shall no longer be a subscriber.

First, I should note that Rich Bottles forwarded the item in a numismatic context, and we shouldn't shoot the messenger. He did not originate the image - it's someone else's vile message.

Taken literally, I would agree with Rick Witschonke. It’s a crude message, crudely presented, and I said as much in my comments. But the E-Sylum item wasn’t about the literal message – it was about the general practice of political speech in numismatics. That goes back to ancient times, and perhaps a reader more familiar with the subject will summarize it for us. I’m more familiar with the U.S. examples from satirical Hard Times Tokens and scrip through “Vote the Land Free” counterstamps and Liberty Dollars, all eminently collectible.

Rick adds:

The distinction that you are apparently missing is that Obama is a sitting president. If we were discussing Hard Times Tokens or Roosevelt campaign buttons (which I have written about myself), that is a legitimate numismatic topic. But by publishing mindless derogatory statements about current political figures, you are allowing The E-Sylum to be used to spread their political agenda. This is what I find totally inappropriate.

I guess I give my readers credit for being far too smart to be swayed by such things. This ain't Facebook - we're numismatists here. And to me, the fact that this is a contemporary numismatic item is all the more reason to discuss it now. I've said again and again that the time to collect and document ephemeral numismatic items is here and now, in the present. There will never be a better time.

Fred Michaelson adds:

But I gotta say that scribbling something on a dollar bill does not make it a "contemporary numismatic item." In several decades it might be a numismatic item, and that would be the time to discuss it---not now.

Fred says he still likes The E-Sylum, so I guess we'll agree to disagree on this one. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: MARCH 24, 2013: Anti-Obama Message on Paper Money (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v16n12a11.html)

THE BOOK BAZARRE

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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