What is this thing?
May 13, 2011 6:20 PM   Subscribe

What can you tell me about this award? (Pic 1, Pic 2) My great-grandfather gave this to me when I was a child, no one knows where he got it, or what for. It's a 1923 silver dollar mounted on a keychain, so that the coin can rotate freely. The box it came in is black cardboard lined with silver.

I imagine it was given in the year that's on the dollar? Could be wrong about that. I assume it's an award, because my mom says so -- but maybe it was just a fancy gift? My great-grandfather was an engineer. He and my great-grandmother did a lot of work with foster children. I also know he was a mason.

I'm interested in finding out whatever I can about the medal. I figure it's not worth very much money, but I've had it forever and it's always been a mystery.
posted by hermitosis to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
These things are called spinner coins. It's possible that it was given to your great-grandfather in conjunction with some award, but I'm pretty sure the thing itself is just a souvenir/toy. Here's basically the same thing on ebay. My grandma has a few of them lying around, so maybe they were popular back in the day.
posted by phunniemee at 6:35 PM on May 13, 2011


That's interesting. As an adult I'd sort of suspected it wasn't really an award, but that's all I ever heard anyone describe it as. Seriously, people treated this thing like it was a big deal, and my dad kept in his safe for like fifteen years, but also I was essentially raised by hillbillies, so there ya go.
posted by hermitosis at 6:38 PM on May 13, 2011


probably just worth the value of silver, like 30-40 bucks... (if you wanted to sell it)
posted by fozzie33 at 7:06 PM on May 13, 2011


My guess is also that it has no significance other than as a keychain, and your grandfather was being sweet by telling you it was an award.

I've seen souvenirs that are similar in form, but that is an especially lovely one. Still, its most valuable assets are definitely going to be your good memories.
posted by Rinku at 8:26 PM on May 13, 2011


I bet it was given as a memento in conjunction with an award.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:40 PM on May 13, 2011


probably just worth the value of silver, like 30-40 bucks... (if you wanted to sell it

Yeah, the problem with coins in general is everyone back in the day was collecting them, so there's a surplus of them on the market. Once you factor in the cost an expensive in saving the coins and lugging them from one house to another, they're more or less a loss. My grandmother was so proud of her coin collection. She stored it in a giant box that easily weighed 20lbs or more. All coins: silver nickles, dimes, old pennies, etc. She used to smile and tell me that she was saving leaving them to us grandchildren.

Instead, when she went to the nursing home, it had to be sold right away, and for much less than she imagined she'd get for it (but probably realistic given the weak market for coins).

Memorabilia based around coins -- like your great-grandfather's -- are still being made today, and judging by when they're advertised are probably still geared towards older people. Although today it's more likely to be a coin that's colorized.

Your great-grandfather's item really has sentimental value only. It's also entirely possible that he received it well after 1923. The liberty head coins were popular for collectors and incredibly easy to find -- they're still basically the go-to coin when someone is selling a bag of old silver dollars.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:11 PM on May 13, 2011


as a random aside, that particular coin, I believe, is the only US coin ever to have the word "Peace" engraved on it.
posted by kuppajava at 7:00 AM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've got to agree, it's just a souvinir of something. But of what?!? Does that date on the coin mean anything special to your family/your great-grandfather? I'd check to see if that is the date of someone's graduation (high school or college), marriage, first child, whatever.
posted by easily confused at 8:28 AM on May 14, 2011


I see these at the flea markets every now and again. I think I've seen them selling about $25 or so. I didn't pay much attention to the coin inside though.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:27 PM on May 14, 2011


Here's the exact same one on Ebay. There's even a golden version!

Along with the 1922 Peace Dollar, this year is one of the most commonly encountered due to the high mintages. Coins were struck at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints.
Mintages: 30,800,000 (Philadelphia), 6,811,000 (Denver), 19,020,000 (San Francisco)
(Source)

I agree with Rinku, your great-grandfather had a great sense of humor.
posted by lioness at 5:41 AM on May 15, 2011


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