Thursday, September 17, 2009

Designer Coins

You may be pleased to know that a Filipino designed the first "territorial coin" minted by the United States for its new colony, the Philippines. At the end of Spanish rule, there was a veritable Babel of currencies in this country, even coins from Spain's ex-colonies in Latin America were accepted as legal tender.

As early as 1903, when the Filipino-American War was still raging, the US Congress passed the Coinage Act to put some logic in the currency situation. A local sculptor, Melecio Figueroa, was hired to design the first Americana territorial coins. On the reverside of the coin, Figueroa drew the mighty American eagle with wings outstsretched and the words "United States Of America" with the year, 1903. On the obverse side, he put a lady, standing tall, holding a hammer-like instrument resting on an anvil. That coin was the size of a Mexican silver dollar.

Mr. Figueroa must have been a dotting father for he used his own daugahter as a model for the mallet-weilding lady, even if she was only ten years old then. I wonder why he did not ask his wife to pose, instead of imagining how his pre-teener would look like as an adult.

He had another design for the one centavo and half-centavo coins-- a man, also with a hammer and anvil, but seated in front of the Mayor Volcano. Eventually, the half-centavo coin was pejorataively called "kusing" as it was perceived to be valueless; it was eventually withdrawn from circulation. These designer coins are now collectors' items#

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