Ask most people to empty their coin tray and one thing is obvious: most coins are printed with the faces of men. From FDR to JFK, coinage is male-dominated. However, there have been several coins throughout history that showcase the faces of powerful women, such as the ones listed here.
Helena, Mother of Constantine the Great
Helena’s portrait can be found on the AE3 and BI Nummus coins, which date back to the Roman Empire, approximately 330 A.D. Helena is considered a saint in Catholic and Orthodox religions. She was influential in Constantine’s rule, particularly when it came to acceptance of Christianity. Helena’s face is portrayed on the obverse side of the coin, and her image is styled as the Roman goddess Securitas on the reverse.
Susan B. Anthony
The 1979 Susan B. Anthony Dollar is the first U.S. coin featuring a woman. Anthony is known for her role in the anti-slavery and women’s powerful suffrage movements, and she dedicated her life to fighting for racial, gender, and educational equality. The coin was minted through 1981, and then again in 1999. Although not often found in circulation, gold coin dealers do not consider them to be rare.
Female Veterans of World War II
American women weren’t allowed to serve in combat roles during World War II, but they filled vital noncombat positions in the armed forces. The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), a civilian organization comprised of female pilots, moved cargo, towed practice targets, and transported military aircraft, among other accomplishments. They were awarded veteran status in 1977, and the 1994-W Women’s Veterans Commemorative Silver Dollar honors the achievements of these brave women and the many others who contributed to military efforts during World War II.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver
In 1995, Eunice Kennedy Shriver found herself at the center of controversy. Founder of the Special Olympics and sister of President Kennedy, Shriver dedicated her life to providing enrichment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. She was honored for her dedication by having her portrait placed on the obverse side of the 1995-W Silver Dollar Special Olympics Commemorative coin. The controversy? Shriver was still alive and became only the second living person to be featured on a U.S. coin. (Check out this explanation of how a person lands on a coin.)
At Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, we’re always interested in sharing the story behind the coin, and these are just a few of the women honored through coinage. Next time you come in to buy gold coins or sell your own, we’d love to share more fascinating stories like these. Call us today at 404-236-9744 to schedule a free appraisal appointment.