The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 36, September 3, 2017, Article 11


Regarding the Kennedy-Pope satire item discussed last week, a reader writes:

The In the Pope We Hope tokens were given out by Robert Bashlow in 1961. Bashlow was an odd duck with many unusual connections. I have often wondered about the prescient 1963 date on the tokens. When asked in 1961 Bashlow would not give a reason. Bashlow had a lot of weird connections and operated in secret for much of the time.

Tony Terranova of New York City writes:

I have one of these in copper.

Another reader writes:

I believe Ed Rochette listed the 'In the Pope We Hope' medal in his catalog of JFK tokens and medals. I have one in silver and believe the mintage was around 75 in that medal but no longer have Ed's book to verify. Maybe a Numismatist article as well? This of course can be complete wrong attribution but I do have one.

Dick Johnson writes:

Ed Rochette listed this medal in his 1966 catalog of John F. Kennedy medals. It is his catalog #K-S-2b with 3 struck in gold. It was also struck in silver, 45 made, and 1,200 in bronze. They were struck in London by John Pinches. He priced the bronze at $5, the silver at $20, the gold was unpriced.

Rochette also listed a satire Washington quarter which was coated with red nail polish forming a Papal hat and cloak of Washington’s portrait. Both items express the concern of political activists that Kennedy, as U.S. President, would take orders from the Pope. Of course Kennedy won the presidency despite this group’s actions.

Ed Rochette is Catholic, Bashlow had no religion. Rochette did not take kindly to Bashlow’s anti Pope medal. To his credit Ed listed the medal in his catalog -- because it existed -- but had some comments about these two satirical pieces:

“Satirical pieces have no place in a book on coins, medals and tokens struck in memory of a martyred president And yet are listed [because they exist]... To acknowledge that these exist seems to admit that there are some who are bigoted. ..."

Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes:

Whitman Publishing associate editor Brandon Hall wrote a feature on that mysterious Kennedy medal mentioned in the last E-Sylum.

Thanks! Here's an excerpt. -Editor


In September 2014, Whitman Publishing introduced The Kennedy World in Medallic Art: John F. Kennedy and His Family in Medals, Coins, Tokens, and Other Collectibles, by William R. Rice. Rice is respected as a well-renowned Kennedy historian and his text shines a light on the more personal aspects of the life of President John F. Kennedy and his family. While President Kennedy is widely considered one of the most beloved presidents of the United States, he also managed to strike a nerve among some American Protestants given that he was the first Roman Catholic president. In The Kennedy World in Medallic Art, Rice highlights one of the controversial medals that the enigmatic entrepreneur Robert Bashlow crafted to possibly capitalize on the anti-Catholic sentiment of the time.

Robert Bashlow was known as a rather eccentric figure who financed many interesting and sometimes obscure projects. His endeavors in numismatic publishing are well established as he was close to coin historian Walter Breen. Rice describes that Mr. Bashlow possessed a wide range of interests, as he was also known for his published works which focused on the Vietnam War, music, and sexuality. Bashlow also had a rather tumultuous personal life and he was eventually evicted from his New York Riverside Drive apartment for fighting with his landlord and failing to make rent payments on time. Unfortunately, in July 1979, the New York Times reported that Mr. Bashlow was one of 80 people who perished in a fire at the Coronade Aragon Five Star Hotel in Zaragoza, Spain. The fire started as a result of a pastry machine exploding in the kitchen.

One of the legacies that Bashlow left behind was a Kennedy medal that is thought by Rice to be a practical joke, given his colorful history. Bashlow’s 32 millimeter satirical John F. Kennedy medal was struck in London, England, by the John Pinches Ltd. Co. and is available in bronze, silver, and gold mintages — the latter of which is reported to be held in the Smithsonian Museum. While the medal was produced in 1961 and sold by the Robert Bashlow Co. Inc. in New York City, its date reads 1963 on the obverse. Rice elucidates that the reason for this is because the common thought of the time was that by the end of Kennedy’s first term, the Catholic Church would be in total control of American politics.

While the satirical anti-John F. Kennedy medal certainly pushes boundaries, it is still a piece of history that symbolizes the turbulence of early-1960s America. The medal boasts a personality of wry wit and satire befitting its creator, Robert Bashlow, who will perhaps always be remembered as one of the most infamous numismatic entrepreneurs in American history.

Thanks, everyone. That gold example highlighted last week is quite a rarity. Interesting piece, despite the controversy. Would anyone have an image of that papal Washington quarter? -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Bashlow’s satirical anti-Kennedy medal highlighted in The Kennedy World in Medallic Art (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NUMISMATIC NUGGETS: AUGUST 27, 2017 : Bashlow Kennedy Pope Satire Medal (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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