Sunday, May 23, 2010

Captain America’s shield, a 2010 penny

Have you noticed the shiny new “tail” of our great American penny? I know what you’re thinking; “What’s a penny?” but I still a carry a small amount of cash on me in case the stock market crashes again. That way, I can still buy a couple more cups of coffee before I take to the streets and riot for them. Anyway, I isolate and save old and sparkling new coins like a hoarding squirrel.* Did you know that in 1943, the government stopped minting pennies in copper? True stuff. They started stamping out steel pennies so our nation’s supply could be routed to make copper projectiles, the only thing Marvel Comics fan Franklin Delano Roosevelt thought would stop Nazi Germany’s Red Skull. I made that last part up, but pennies were really made of steel to help the war effort. Three mints. One of them had an accidental copper pressing that’s so rare it’s worth pant-loads. If you were to come across one of these ’43 copper beauties, it’s likely a Chinese fake. Damn dirty commies.

Coins not made of their current bullshit composition even sound different. I was once at the checkout of a Whole Foods when I discovered a silver treasure by sound alone. The cashier dropped my change in my hand and I heard an alien clink that used to be commonplace. I must have looked like an obsessive-compulsive maniac poking through the coins in my cupped hand and then showing the silver dime to the unimpressed girl. You have to enjoy life’s pleasure when they come. If you can’t differentiate the sound or remember that the US stopped minting silver quarters and dimes after 1964, look at the rim of any “silver” coin and you’ll see a darker stripe sandwiched between the junk metal of the front and back. Damn dirty capitalists.

So yeah, I’m a geek. A few weeks ago, I was passing around a penny at work, celebrating the new design to people who wouldn’t validate their interest by taking it from me for a closer examination. The one guy who did immediately pinned down my enthusiasm and shat in its face. See, the front of the new penny still has old Abe Lincoln’s gnarly profile but the back has replaced the traditional Lincoln Memorial (if you look close enough, you can even see a faint outline of the seated Great Emancipator) with a union shield that, at first consideration, is pretty awesome. It reminds me of Captain America’s first shield. Perhaps that’s the appeal. Finally, the US Mint received my suggestion of combining my love of coins with my love of fascist superheroism. What had not occurred to me was that not only is the removed Lincoln Memorial a symbol of freedom** but the architecture itself is an homage to ancient Greek democracy. A shield, as my coworker pointed out, is defensive.
Chew on that national mood.


*If I were to tell you that in person, I wouldn’t look you in the eye.

**My use of “freedom” here is appropriate and not at all related to the political machine that has made the term a weapon. In fact, I’ve already made a personal commitment to vomit on myself and call it perfume whenever I hear someone say America stands for “freedom.”

14 comments:

Mario Speedwagon said...

I can't believe I actually sat here and read through this entire thing about coins that I consider are only good to dig through and hopefully find a quarter or dime within a pile... Congratulations! You have made the topic of pennies worth reading about!

C. Andres Alderete said...

I can't believe you did either, but I take a low, hairy-legged curtsy at making pennies interesting for you.

JennAventures said...

I need to go find a penny.

Heather said...

I too can tell the difference between a silver piece and todays junk. I did not know that there was copper pennies from 43', that is very interesting. I don't think my dad knows that either and he was an avid collector.
Great post!

Chrissy said...

You're dreamy...

C. Andres Alderete said...

Do it, Jenn.

Thanks, Heather. I had more fun than usual working on this one.

Chrissy, I agree.

carma said...

my son is seriously fascinated with this kind of thing; he is always pointing out things on the dollar bills...

unfortunately my hearing is crap, so I'm not sure I could distinguish a clink from a clank

Alex said...

My god, our money is a dirty lie--not just our economy! :D

C. Andres Alderete said...

Carma, there's a pretty cool website, that I can't remember right or have the energy to look up, which has all the competing penny designs he might be interested in. There were a couple of cool runners up.

Oh Alex. I love it when you call me God ;)

Alex said...

Scoot over; there's not enough room in these comments for both of our massive egos. :D

C. Andres Alderete said...

My ego's bigger than yours.

Bash said...

Weak design.

cranegal107 said...

I started a petition to abolish the penny (1 penny costs 1.7 pennies to make losing americans 48 Million dollars a year) and I need support. I am trying to get ten million people to sign. Will you sign and spread the word? :) Thank you for your time!

http://www.change.org/petition​s/stop-the-production-of-costl​yuseless-pennies

Gary W. Deason said...

Cool coin. I've got the same coin. I was wondering what it cost. And I took advantage of this http://violity.net/ site. He suggested to me.

Related Posts with Thumbnails