In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
“In Flanders Fields” was written during World War I by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician stationed in northern France. Aside from being a physician, he was a teacher, poet, and author. McCrea was appointed as a field surgeon and was in charge of a field hospital during the Second Battle of Ypres when his friend and former student Lieutenant Alexis Helmer was killed in the battle. The death and funeral of his friend inspired McCrae to write the poem.
“In Flanders Fields” was published anonymously in the British magazine Punch on December 8, 1915. However, the index for the year printed only a few weeks later attributed the poem to McCrea. The poem became one of the most popular of the war and was extensively printed in the United States while its leaders were debated whether to join the war.
McCrae died of pneumonia on January 28, 1918 while commanding No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne. He was buried with full military honors at Wimereaux Cemetery near the English Channel 3 miles from Boulogne.
McCrae’s poem has made the poppy a popular and powerful symbol of Remembrance Day celebrated on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the Commonwealth Realm to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day in 1919. In the United States, we celebrate it as Veterans Day.
2004 Canada Poppy Quarter, the first colorized coin ever issued for circulation by any mint.
The remembrance poppy is not as strong a symbol in the United States since the nation did not declare war on Germany until April 1917. The American Legion has used the poppy as part of its fund raising efforts.
Maybe the United States should embrace the poppy as well. Why not create a commemorative coin with a colored poppy as the design and use the seignorage from the sales to support the work of the Department of Veterans Affairs? How about changing the reverse of the Roosevelt Dime to be a red-colored poppy to raise awareness of all our veterans? Using the Roosevelt Dime would give it a needed refresh and would tie both World Wars in one coin. Then the U.S. Mint could strike special silver dime for sale to the public.
Maybe it is an idea whose time has come.
Last year I asked why the United States would not consider using polymer notes after the Bank of Canada made their announcement that they will transition to using the polymer substrate. Not only are polymer notes very difficult to counterfeit, they last longer reducing printing costs and overhead to both the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Federal Reserve.
The Spink Auction
was held on October 2, 2012 in their London offices. None of the nine Canadian test notes printed on DuraNote were sold.
After it was announced that Spink of London will auction sheets of DuraNote trial printings from the Bank of Canada, BEP told CoinWorld that they printed as many as 40,000 sheets of Federal Reserve Notes using the DuraNote substrate.
DuraNote was a product of Mobil Chemical and AGRA Vadeko of Canada. Trials of DuraNote were not successful and the project was abandoned. Patents for DuraNote were sold following the Exxon-Mobil merger.
Around the same time, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) developed a polymer substrate with a different formula that went into production in 1992. Since then, Australia has been successfully printing polymer notes.
In the mean time, there continues to be issues with folding of the paper specially designed for the new $100 Federal Reserve Note. Since the October 1, 2010 announcement by the Fed of the folding issue, the Fed and BEP has less than forthcoming on the status of the new note including the BEP withholding their annual report for fiscal year 2011 so they do not have to disclose how many of these notes they have in inventory.
The paper being used by the BEP is manufactured by Crane & Company who has had the exclusive contract with the BEP since 1879.
Where DuraNote failed RBA succeeded in creating a workable technology that is being adopted world wide. With the new $100 note having printing problems, why has the BEP not looked into the RBA polymer substrate for U.S. currency? Why does the Federal Reserve, BEP, and Secret Service cling to 19th and 20th century printing technologies in the 21st century? Or is this a matter of the influence being purchased [PDF] by Crane & Company in order to maintain its monopoly.
Maybe it is time for the Fed and the BEP to re-examine their commitment to paper and stop wasting time and money with failed technologies.
The future of the hobby we love are in our children. There has to be a way to get children interested in collecting coins beyond looking at the sameness of circulating series. We have seen that the 50 State Quarters program has had a postitive impact on the hobby. There has even been intrest in the Presidential Dollar program and the educational aspect with learning about each president.
Our friends at The Perth Mint has taken this one step further. They have created a AU$1 series based on animals found in Australia. The 2008 Australian Animal $1 Coins program is being marketed to young collectors to teach them more about Australian animals. The Perth Mint has also been reaching beyond Australia to young collectors all over the world.
The program is a 12 coin series of $1 non-circulating legal tender coins with four coins in each of three categories of animals that live in the air, on land, and in the sea. To appeal to the young collector, The Perth Mint offers the coins on individual cards or together with an album and two different sets. The complete set includes all 12 coins, a complete album with themed games, stickers, and a medal of “Gordy the Gekko,” a mascot of The Perth Mint.
There is even a companion website that also has games for the young, or young at heart. There is a contest, but I am not sure it is something those of us who live outside of Australia can participate with. But I had fun with the word search game.
With the current exchange rate, the cost for the complete set is just under $47.00. It sounds like a good gift for the young numismatist. With the Whitman Baltimore Show coming this weekend, I will see if a dealer has a set I can buy for my niece who really likes animals. She will like it!
Image courtesy of The Perth Mint.