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Students trust in motto art
By Patrick A. Heller
April 29, 2014

In an effort to spur interest in America’s heritage, the Lansing, Mich., members of a group called Salt & Light Global sponsored an art contest for Michigan high school juniors and seniors. The contest theme was the 150th Anniversary of the legislation enacted on April 22, 1864, to place the motto “In God We Trust” on U.S. coinage.

The contest organizers contacted high schools across the state. One volunteer happened to visit my coin shop in early March and asked if I had an interest in participating in the program. I arranged for significant publicity through the American Numismatic Association, the Michigan State Numismatic Society and by personal contact with some high school art teachers I know.

A total of 67 entries were received that included a wide range of artistic media. I was honored to be one of about 10 judges that evaluated and rated the entries, without knowing the names or schools of those submitting their art.

The award ceremony took place Tuesday last week, on the 150th anniversary date on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol.  A total of 13 students from 11 different high schools won awards and prizes ranging from $500 to $2,500.  Many of the winners were given their awards by the state legislator from their district.  Afterward, there was a reception inside the Capitol that included a presentation by William Anderson, president of a nearby coin club and a member of the MSNS board of directors. The award-winning artworks were also on display.  

One of those winning a $500 prize was Liz Diemer, the daughter of Grand Rapids, Mich., coin dealer Dan Diemer.  She created a red, white, and blue eagle roughly in the shape of the shield that appears on the obverse of the U.S. two cent.

The Michigan State Numismatic Society and Liberty Coin Service were recognized for helping sponsor and support this numismatically related art contest.  

The anniversary was also commemorated in Pennsylvania in honor of the U.S. Mint employee who was most responsible for creating the design for the two cents that incorporated the “In God We Trust” motto.

If anyone has ideas for a U.S. numismatic anniversary coming up in 2015, please send me the concept at so that I can pass it along to the Salt & Light Global people.


Central States

The Central States Numismatic Society show in Schaumburg, Ill., last week was held in a beautiful convention center.  The attached hotel was nice and even had a television screen built into the bathroom mirrors. The convenient free parking was also much appreciated.

I attended the show with two other members of my staff to “walk the floor.”  One of my staff noted that the amount of trophy quality rarities in dealer showcases was much more than he has typically seen. It would not surprise me if this observation were accurate, since these top quality specimens are relatively hot right now.

From experience, we came prepared with excess inventory that drew significant interest and sold quite well. I was also able to pick up some bargain lots for future customer offerings as well as a handful of coins for customer want lists.  So, we were satisfied with the business at the show.

However, in talking with several dealers who had booths, we only remember one who was happy about his show activity. A large number of dealers rated the show as so-so. It seemed like a slim majority reported having a poor show.  

Attendance for the Wednesday dealer set-up day was quiet. When the public was admitted on Thursday, there never seemed to be a significant buzz in the room. On Friday, the day we left, one dealer wryly joked that a bowling ball could be rolled down the aisles and never hit anyone.

Despite the wonderful features of the Schaumburg location, it could be that the problem with attendance is location, location, location. For those who would fly to attend the show, the taxi fare was much higher than for other major shows. The show is located so far in the northwest Chicago suburbs that, depending on traffic, it could take an hour to reach from the Chicago Loop area. I encourage the board of Central States to do a serious analysis of the number of dealer tables sold and the size of attendance over the years. My suspicion is that both are down from where they were 10-20 years ago.  

With the growing competition by online sales of numismatic items, those hosting a major coin show cannot afford to become complacent. Instead, they need to be proactive to offer more value to encourage dealers and the public alike to attend in person.




Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at Other commentaries are available at Coin Week ( and He also writes a bi-monthly column on collectibles for The “Greater Lansing Business Monthly” ( radio show “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at  



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