Symbolism is something that is well liked and deeply respected in numismatics. The coin designs of 1916 are arguably some of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing of U.S. coins. Other coins such as the Una and the Lion five pound coin are among the greatest representations of symbolism in coins, that one in particular showing the queen leading the British lion forward. However, lately the symbolism has declined in U.S. coins.
All circulating coins in the U.S. have either one or two common themes. They either depict a dead president or honor some state or national park. While some of these coins can be very good looking, (the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter for instance) none of these designs are even close to what the Mint has achieved in the past. What happened to designs showing freedom of thought (Mercury dimes) or liberty leading America towards a bright future (Walking Liberty halves)? The coinage of the today is dead and static. However, great designs showing symbolism still exist, but it takes some hard searching. The Proof Platinum American Eagles are a perfect place for symbolism lovers to start. Take this year’s design for instance. It shows liberty feeding a eagle, which symbolizes America’s freedom. Such design ideas as this are perfect examples for what circulating coinage should look like. Another series that is a shining example of symbolism is the American Silver Eagles, although the obverse is the same design used in the Walking Liberty half dollars. Still there is another coin of today that shows symbolism. That coin is the Star Spangled Banner commemorative dollar, which depicts lady liberty defiantly holding a 15 star 15 stripe flag in front of Fort McHenry. These coins are perfect examples of what our circulating coins could be.
Changing the designs could have fringe benefits too. There would not be any more fuss over changing designs after taking the presidents off the coins. There would not be as much worry over having equality between men and women if liberty was shown on our coins. These new circulating coins could evoke a rejuvenated American spirit, enforcing that our country is one of the best in the world.
In conclusion, while it is unlikely that these changes will happen anytime soon, just imagine how cool it would be if we had another numismatic renaissance like 1916. Only time will tell if our coin designs will ever return to their former glory.