The Smithsonian's O Say Can You See? blog has an article by numismatic curators Emily Pearce Seigerman, Hillery York, and Jennifer Gloede about
"Money and the Military". Here's an excerpt. -Editor
This week the National Numismatic Collection is celebrating National Coin Week with a series of blog posts and an Objects out of Storage program on April
19, 2017, from 1-3 p.m. in the museum's Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza. The theme of National Coin Week is Conflict and Courage: Money and the
Military, commemorating the entry of the United States into World War I. Money funds militaries, of course, but money also conveys messages, which may
influence and impact both allies and enemies. We've selected a few such objects that range from antiquity to World War II to share with you today.
War in Antiquity
Political propaganda was integral to warfare in the ancient world. The method of mass-marketing the cool, calm, and collected rulers who came in and out of
power needed to be far-reaching and overt-something akin to the modern convenience of television, radio, even billboards. The farthest reaching artifact of
antiquity was coinage.
Tetradrachm, Alexander the Great, Thrace, 300-281 BCE
Alexander the Great and his generals launched perhaps the greatest and most widespread use of coinage as propaganda. Coins of Alexander promote an image of
him as a divine, beautiful, and powerful ruler. His coins don't just depict him as one divinity-sometimes he is adorned with horns as the son of the
Egyptian god Ammon, sometimes he wears a lion skin denoting Hercules, and sometimes he dons an elephant headdress displaying his prowess in battle against the
18th-Century Spiritual Warfare
Chinese Coin Sword, China, 18th century
The daggers and spears of men are not the only concerns of soldiers. The coin sword, an art unique to south China, is believed to hold power that can drive
away evil spirits. It is a charm still used by some in China, predominantly as an element of feng shui. Coin swords are made by fashioning threaded coins
around one or two iron rods.
Traditionally, the coins used in a sword's construction must all be from a single emperor's reign, and the cord or wire which binds them together
must be red. It takes at least 100 cash coins to create these swords, as they span about two feet in length. These swords are hung on the walls of houses as a
warning to evil spirits. The older the coins, the more effective the sword!
To read the complete article, see:
Money and the military: How numismatics aided and affected war efforts
Wayne Homren, Editor
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2012 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster