In God We Trust -- The battle continues

I have written several times about the motto "In God We Trust" which, as used on coins, celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

The motto offended Christians in the 20th century and atheists in the 21st.  The words "In God We Trust" are the most controversial words on a coin. No one is suing the government over the words "E Pluribus Unum" "liberty" or "five cents."

The latest salvo against the motto's numismatic appearance is about to be fired by attorney Michael Newdow, who is seeking plaintiffs for his case.  Former cases argued that the motto violated the establishment clause of the constitution.  But in the 1970 case, Aranow vs. United States, the Supreme Court upheld the motto because it had "lost through rote repetition any significant religious content."  The new case will argue that the law violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which states that religious activity may not be substantially burdened without a compelling governmental interest and laws narrowly tailored to serve that interest.  Newdow intends to argue that the government has no compelling interest in placing "In God We Trust" on every coin when most other nations function without it.

For background information about the origin of this motto and why Christians were offended, please go to my: two cent piece article.

More recently, I wrote an article about a debate on the motto between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.  With another presidential election coming up, it will be interesting to see whether "In God We Trust" makes it to the debate.

The word "Numismatist" in a Guido Bruetti Mystery

Are you looking for a detective story with the word "numismatist" in it?

I just finished reading Death in a Strange Country: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery  The action occurs on page 25:

 'The report isn't back yet, but he had American coins in his pocket, so he's got to be an American."

"Or a numismatist," Brunetti suggested amiably. 
 There followed a long pause which told Brunetti the Vice-Questore didn't know the meaning of the word." 
I always enjoy Italian detective stories that mention numismatists -- even if only in passing.

Special proof dimes for March of Dimes look like a bargain

On May 4 at noon, the US mint will release two dimes as part of a March of Dimes Set.  One dime will be a reverse proof from Philadelphia, while the other is a proof from West Point.  They will accompany the March of dimes commemorative dollar in a set selling for $61.95.  The commemorative dollar alone costs $51.95, so the two special dimes are a mere ten bucks.  “How much will these coins be worth?” I hear you ask. 

The mintage for the two dimes will be a paltry 75,000.  To look for comparable proof dimes, we have to go back to 1951, with a mintage of 57,500 or 1952 with a mintage of 81,980.  These are worth $47 and $33.  The modern dimes should be worth more than this.  Most collectors of the 1950’s dimes stick to the business strikes while collectors of more modern sets include the proofs.  In particular, the reverse proof will have a unique appearance and should demand a substantial premium.

To compare to modern coins with low mintage, we need to look at nickels.  The special matte uncirculated nickels of 1994 and 1997 had mintages of 167,703 and 25,000.  These are valued at $71 and $244 respectively.

I note that for comparable mintages, proof nickels are worth more than proof dimes, most likely due to their larger size.

Based on my analysis, the two proof dimes could reasonably be valued at $65 to $75 each.  I expect sets to start selling for over $150.  The $61.95 price for the three coin set should be a tremendous bargain.