The ideals of Freedom on our coinage.
As a youthful 17-year-old collector in 1975, I remember my excitement over the Bi-centennial coins commemorating 200 years of independence. At that time in our history, these coins had raised quite a stir, since the only collector products available from the mint were the annual proof and uncirculated sets. As far as silver coins were concerned, the 40% silver clad proof and uncirculated Eisenhower Dollars were the only coins available to the collecting public. Changes in circulating coinage designs were unheard of, and the mint had not issued a commemorative coin in years.
The biggest news of the time was the proof 1975-S Lincoln Cent made famous by the mint moving all its circulating coin production to Denver and Philadelphia that year. I remember paying over $20 for a 1975 proof set because of the 1975-S cent and then boasting that this coin was rare, and would go up in value. At any rate, hindsight is 20-20!
As you can well imagine I was thrilled when the bicentennial coins finally hit the street. When the half-dollar was released, I went to the bank to pick up a few after which I then showed them off to anyone who would listen. With the Quarter, Half-Dollar, and Dollar available in 40% silver clad, I bought both three-coin silver proof and uncirculated sets. Apart from the Eisenhower Dollar entering circulation in 1971, these coins were the first design changes I witnessed as a collector. Despite all this, it is the allegorical message on these coins that still speak to me today 34 years later.
The coin of particular allegorical interest to me is the 1776-1976 dated Eisenhower Dollar. On the Eisenhower Dollar?s reverse is the Liberty Bell superimposed over the moon. The popular interpretation at the time was to show how far we as a nation had come in just 200 years, from independence to men walking on the moon.
The beauty of the allegory though is that the interpretation is in the eyes of the beholder and when I look at this coin, I have somewhat of a different take. Being influenced by the cold war and the space program, I see the Liberty Bell representing freedom and the moon representing a national dream. When people are free to pursue their dreams the potential for innovation and growth are near endless. Therefore, I believe that only through freedom could we have accomplished such a technically difficult task as going to the moon. Only now do we know that the former Soviet Union was nowhere near landing on the moon.
In closing, freedom continues to differentiate us from other nations. We are blessed to be born in the USA! Let us never take freedom for granted, but use it to better others and ourselves.
Happy Fourth of July to you all!