After receiving the email, I could not remember what I ordered from the U.S. Mint that they are charging my credit card? I remember I made my annual order of presidential coin covers, but I received those. A visit to the U.S. Mint’s online catalog jarred my memory to remembering that I ordered the 2013 Theodore Roosevelt Coins and Chronicles Set. A quick visit to the webpage noted that the items will be available for shipping on March 18, 2014. I received the notice on March 18, 2014. This means the set should arrive within a week!
I usually do not buy the Coins and Chronicles sets because the subjects do not interest me. However, I have always been a fan of Teddy Roosevelt. My first exposure to Roosevelt was as a youngster growing up on Long Island, I was fortunate to have taken a few field trips to Sagamore Hill, his home in Oyster Bay, New York. My other exposure to TR was visiting the memorial to him at the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West in Manhattan. Every time I go to the AMNH, which still my favorite museum, I make sure I stop in the TR Memorial.
Roosevelt initiated the “Golden Age of American Coin Design.” Using his bully pulpit, he held the designs of the U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber in contempt. In fact, Roosevelt had called Barber’s designs “atrociously hideous.” Roosevelt ordered coinage whose designs were more than 25 years old to be redesigned. Roosevelt was a fan of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and asked him to help redesign American coinage.
After Saint-Gaudens died of cancer, Roosevelt continued to look to revitalize U.S. coinage. He seized upon Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday to redesign the small cent. He was steered to Victor David Brenner, whose bust of Lincoln was used as the model for the new Lincoln Cent first issued in 1909. Not only was Lincoln the first president to appear on a circulating coin, but Brenner’s obverse design is still in use today.
Roosevelt called his coinage redesign his “pet crime.”Up until the release of the 2013 Roosevelt dollar, the president who is credited with starting the renaissance of American coinage design has not been honored on a United States coin. His image has appeared on coins but as part of an image of Mount Rushmore. You can find Roosevelt on the 1991 Mount Rushmore silver dollar and clad half dollar. Mount Rushmore also appeared on the reverse of the 2006 South Dakota State Quarter. Roosevelt’s image does not appear on the 2013 Mount Rushmore quarter.
If you want to learn more about our 26th president and have the time to read three books that were writing in Victorian-era prose, I would highly recommend the three books by Edmund Morris: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt that covers his life up until his presidency, Theodore Rex about his presidency, and Colonel Roosevelt that discusses his life after he leaves office in 1909. For those who want a little lighter reading and in one book, I recommend Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough.
I have not yet read The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin that covers the era of Roosevelt and his successor, William Howard Taft. Between Roosevelt and Taft, it was a time of bridging the Victorian era with the industrial age. It was a very interesting and important time in U.S. history.Taft is another president that does not get the respect he deserves. Aside from pulling the country out of the recession of 1909, Taft was the only president to have been appointed to the United States Supreme Court. He was the 10th Chief Justice serving from 1921 through 1930. For numismatists, Taft was responsible for convincing congress to pass the appropriate legislation that formed the Commission of Fine Arts. Although Roosevelt created the CFA by executive order, Taft felt that was not constitutional. He asked congress to codify the CFA’s existence into law.
For those in need of a good trivia question, Taft was the last president with facial hair, sporting a very cool looking handle-bar mustache.