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Thoughts of Beatles and Kennedy Half
By David C. Harper, Numismatic News
October 08, 2013

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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I just returned from a whirlwind vacation trip to Germany and the Czech Republic. I am still digesting the experience.

While I did not forget my numismatic roots, I had to pay my generational respects to the site where the Beatles first played in 1960 in Hamburg. The Indra Club doesn’t look like much, but what a revolution in music sprang from there. Now I have a sense of the place as well as a memory of the group’s first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show in early 1964. This performance occurred about a month before the release of the Kennedy half dollar. See? My mind was not strictly devoted to coins either in 1964 or now.

My itinerary also included the Hamburg Michel Church that appears on the 2008 German 2-euro coin.

There were stops in Berlin, Dresden and Prague as well as the little town of Bad Arolsen, which was the seat of Waldeck-Pyrmont’s princely house during the German Empire.

If you haven’t heard of Bad Arolsen, don’t feel bad. Unless you collect German coins or have memorized the contents of the Standard Catalog of World Coins, you are not likely ever to have heard of a town with a population of little more than 8,000.

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A French chateau-style castle was at one end of a street and a church was at the other. If Iola was a bit older and had ever had reigning princes, it would probably look just like it. Naturally, I felt at home.

Most of my trip though was more of standard tourists sites and experiences.

Germany still strikes me as being behind the United States in credit card use, but it is catching up fast. Now you pretty well can keep the cash in your wallet if you ask about paying by credit card before you order and are ready to move to the restaurant next door when you receive the occasional, nein.

Prague is a beautiful city with much to see, but what surprised me most was being asked on three occasions on one day by individuals on the street if I wanted to change money.

That smacks of black market, but I was in a tourist area and I am sure I looked and acted like a tourist.

The Czech Republic does not use the euro. It uses the crown. The exchange rate is about 19 crowns to the dollar. It is not a currency I want to accumulate because who knows when I will return? I would much rather have euros considering my regular visits to the World Money Fair in Berlin each year in February.

Using a credit card then becomes a method of dodging the issue of exchanging money and accumulating unwanted crowns.

I visited a small museum in Berlin devoted to the German Democratic Republic, the old Communist East Germany. It was surprisingly interesting even though it is a fairly small and cramped entity. Since its history occurred almost entirely within my lifetime, there was an awful lot in it that did not require lengthy study to truly appreciate. But sadly, I saw no coins or notes there.

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