The November 1929 issue
of The Numismatist began with an article,
“Which Are the Ten Best Coins?” a paper by George A. Pipes. His listing, which
he based upon the importance of the coin in the development of coinage,
historical or literary associations, an intrinsic beauty in design and
workmanship, included the following:
1. Stater of Lydia, Asia
Minor. “This is the first coinage of the world.”
2. Decadrachm of
Syracuse. “This large silver coin is considered by competent authorities to be
the most beautiful in the world.”
3. Denarius of Marcus
Brutus, 44 B.C. This piece referred to the assassination of Julius Caesar.
4. Shekel of Simon
Maccabaeus, 139 B.C. This issue was closely associated with the Bible and early
5. Tetradrachm of
Antioch, bearing the portraits of Antony and Cleopatra, 43-41 B.C.
6. Testoon of Florence,
about A.D. 1535, bearing the head of Alexander de Medici, afterward Pope
7. Sovereign of Queen
Elizabeth, 1558-1603. “This coin is interesting because of its design, and
particularly on account of the personality of Queen Elizabeth and the prominent
place she occupies in history and in literature.”
8. Petition crown of
Charles II, 1662, by Simon.
9. Ducat of Ferdinand
and Isabella of Spain, 1492, a piece bearing relationship to Columbus.
10. 1652 Pine Tree
shilling. “This coin, more than any other, symbolizes American tradition.”
It would be interesting
to see what a similar list, if compiled today, would contain. The 1929 list was
by a scholar the likes of which would be hard to find today. At least in a
popular sense—such as articles in Coin
World, The Numismatist, and
elsewhere—most of the above would be unfamiliar to modern readers. My guess is
that probably not one in a thousand readers of this present comment could tell
something about each coin.
What do you think?