Show me the money
When I was a lad growing up in a small town at the edge of the world, I whiled away the time by collecting coins.
That is a confession I am not especially proud to make, particularly after finding my old collection of nickels. I can recall how excited I was when the little holes in the coin collectors’ book were nearly filled with nickels.
But looking it over a few weeks ago, I can’t figure out why I was so thrilled by my collection of, except for different dates and mint marks, essentially identical coins. During World War II, I told myself, the nickels were made out of different metal combinations. Yet, I replied, they still had the same old profile of Thomas Jefferson on the front, and his house, Monticello, on the back – page after page of heads-and-tales Tommys and Monties.
Not so long after that, though, I came across some new nickels that were different on the back in honor of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Louisiana Purchase and the Westward expansion of the United States (I know they started doing that state thing with quarters, too, but, truth be told, nickels are more in my price range).
So now, just like with the quarters, every few months, the mint makes a different nickel.
While this might not make getting nickeled and dimed to death any more pleasant, it would at least give your pocket change a little variety, and for those who collect coins, something different to stick in those little coin windows.
They’re going to change the way Jefferson looks, which excited me for a second when I actually thought they were going to have TV’s George Jefferson on the front and a deluxe apartment in the sky on the back.
Actually, it’s just a different profile of the ex prez, but they are going to put a bison on the back of the coin. This, no doubt, will create a public outcry to return the American Indian to the front of the five-cent piece. But that’s not likely, since the leaders of our nation put Sacagawea on that dumb golden dollar coin, which, as far as I’m concerned, continues our mistreatment of the native people. It also makes me wonder if those Sacagawea dollars will fit in slot machines at the Indian casinos, but there’s no room in this column for that sort of speculation.
What I want to speculate upon is whether this nickel thing portends an exciting new direction for the United States mint.