The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 14, April 7, 2013, Article 13


John Burns writes:

I was taken aback by the crazed attack on the messenger by Rick Witschonke. Rich Bottles REPORTED this item, he didn't seem to be producing them. The inappropriate thing is Witschonke seems to think that only what he believes is worthy. There is a LONG history of items being used for political purposes. I believe that the rhetoric that was bandied about President Bush was MILES above the fairly innocuous phrase used on this note.

Rick stated that his objection was over the fact that the message targeted a sitting President. My view is that current events ARE history - just history unfolding in real time. I feel I've been blessed with a farsighted nature, but I guess that can be confused for political nearsightedness. I've been trying to think of related examples, and one would be the design of the memorial museum in New York commemorating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Early designs included names, photos and descriptions of the terrorists who carried out the attacks. Some objected strongly, believing that this inclusion "glorified" the murderers. To me, history is history and facts are facts, and of course these actors should be included. How could you tell the story of a Civil War battle without mentioning those wearing grey uniforms as well as the blue (or vice verse)? But I can understand that when emotions still run high logic can take a back seat. In some cases it may be best to let time begin to heal the wounds. -Editor

Jeff Kelley writes:

In regard to the feedback (or should I say “blowback”) on the piece on the anti-Obama slogan written on a dollar bill, I fully understand and respect the opinions of those who might disagree with this or any other particular political message, but I think their reactions might be a bit misplaced and in some cases perhaps a bit hypocritical, even if unintended.

As I recall, an article some months ago detailed the stamped dollars being circulated by the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd, and I do not remember the same sort of outcry. It could be argued that the OWS messages did not mention a specific candidate or politician by name, but we were in the run-up to a Presidential election season and the battle lines were clearly drawn in regard to who supported or did not support that political movement.

Coins or currency that have been emblazoned with a political message are highly collectible and historically significant. As a collector, I have been happy to add examples to my collection regardless of the political sentiments being expressed.

I am completely and enthusiastically in agreement with our Editor’s assertion that “… 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. “

Elsewhere in this issue we have a good example of this. See the item above on O. T. Thompson's "Where's George" stamp. The item documents, in the words of the originator, how, why and for how long these stamps have been made. Years from now Thompson may not be around to tell the tale, but now numismatists have some solid primary reference data, including an image of the stamp on a note. -Editor

Jan Monroe writes:

If I write something obscene about a republican political figure on a dollar bill will you publish it?

If someone reports a “Romney Sucks” overstamp (or “Romney Rocks” for that matter) I would probably report it, yes. There - that noise you hear is the sound of kickers getting in a twist on both sides of the political spectrum. But this is only about numismatics. Anyone who reads more into it is bringing their own political views to bear. Like Jeff Kelley, I fully understand and respect the opinions of those who might disagree with this or any other particular political message, such as my good friend Howard Daniel. -Editor

Howard A. Daniel III writes:

I agree that with several people I have corresponded with that the political propaganda "Obama Sucks," on a dollar note is not appropriate for The E-Sylum. But does anyone know the origin of "that sucks" or "he sucks," etc.?

When I was a young man in the Army many years before the Vietnam War, I was trained as a member of a team of about a dozen men and acquired the military occupational skill of Infantry Reconnaissance & Intelligence Specialist. During the training, we were taught how to use current and old weapons. If we ran out of ammunition with our weapon and picked up something from the enemy, we would be able to effectively use it. One of my mentors was my First Sergeant, a combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War, and he taught us how to use many US and foreign weapons from World War II.

When one of the men commented "that sucks" when a weapon jammed, the First Sergeant asked us if we knew where that saying came from? No one knew. He told us that starting in World War II, when a man was hit in the chest and it included the lungs, the chest and lungs would fill up with blood and there was a sucking sound coming from the one or more holes. It was called a "sucking" chest wound. When a medic or someone working on the wounded man and heard the sucking sound, he knew the man would not make it because he did not have the skills and medical supplies to help him. So when it was determined that the man's wound was a sucking chest wound, he would give him some morphine, if available, to dull the pain and comforted him until he died.

Now you know where "sucks" comes from. I bet there is not one in a million people who know this so you are now in rare company.

Howard's email was sent April 1st, but it's no joke. I’ve always wondered where the phrase came from, and this makes some sense. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ON POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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