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Veterans Day in Coins

November 15, 2017 0 Comments

As Veterans Day, November 11, passes again this year, and we pause to remember those who fought, and those who sacrificed their lives for their country, it seems a good moment to consider coins that honor the military. This is especially true because next year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. It was that event back in 1918 that is the reason why Veterans Day is November 11, as that was the official ending of WWI. Since then it has grown to become a global date to remember the heroes of all the wars fought for peace.

Commemorations are always of special interest to coin collectors, because many mints use these occasions to issue special coins, and this centenary is no exception. For the US Mint, the work began officially on February 18, 2016, when the Mint announced a competition for the World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin. The competition offered designers a prize of $10,000 and their initials on the coin, in return for a design that would capture the sentiment and patriotism of the country nearly one hundred years ago while. . . [helping]. . . future generations to understand and appreciate the impact of what was called ‘the war to end all wars. Last month the winning design was released, and now we wait for the coin itself to become available.

Other countries have jumped in early. Australia, for example, has broken with the red poppy tradition and released a version of their $2 coin featuring rosemary, a plant often worn ‘for remembrance’, in a reference to Shakespeare’s play, ‘Hamlet’. The coin uses color to show the green leaves and blue flowers of rosemary in the center, with the word ‘Remembrance’ intertwined with rosemary branches around it. Although the coins are sold at face value, collectors’ sets have an additional contribution to veteran’s charities added to them.

American collectors, looking for commemorative coins of veterans should be aware that in most countries November 11 is called ‘Remembrance Day’ or ‘Armistice Day’. In addition, Australia and New Zealand celebrates ‘Anzac Day’, and have released coins for that day too. Anzac Day, which is April 25, marks the first battle fought by Australian and New Zealand troops in WWI, the battle of Gallipoli.

For collectors, this coin bonanza for the centenary can be an addition to a number of other commemorative coins with military themes. In 1991 there was a silver dollar created to commemorate the 38th Anniversary of the Korean War. In 1994 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Silver Dollar was created. As with the upcoming WWI coin, part of the money raised from these coins went to veterans’ organizations and projects.

1995 saw the release of the Civil War Battlefield Foundation Silver Dollar, and it was the Civil War that began the concept of honoring those who fought in war. The small town of Waterloo, New York, held the first such service, on May 5, 1866, and over the years the dates have changed, with new events, but the theme of honoring those who fought, and those who died has continued.

A coin collector with a military interest or connection could build an extensive collection of coins around the theme of commemoration. Targeted collections always have a greater value than random ones, so developing a theme to the coins you collect is a good first step to building a worthwhile collection.

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