His birthday meant little during his lifetime, but painter Vincent van Gogh's 150th birthday this month will be marked in the Netherlands by gold and silver commemorative coins. The 10-euro gold coin and the 5-euro silver coin will be struck on the actual birth date, March 30.
The two coins will have the same design. Van Gogh's portrait is created from the placement of the letters of his name. The obverse portrays Queen Beatrix in the same way, by an arrangement of the words "Koningin Der Nederlanden."
The 10-euro proof is struck in .900 fine gold and weighs 6.72 grams. It will sell for $155. The silver proof coin, struck in .925 fine silver, is priced at $24.95.
Orders go to the Coin and Currency Institute, Box 1057, Clifton, N.J. 07014; (800) 421-1866; firstname.lastname@example.org.
When U.S. marshals swoop down on illegal operations, they often find rare coins among the spoils of drug wars. The Marshals' Service will auction some of those coins March 29 at the Arlington, Texas, Convention Center. The auction will offer some 1,200 gold coins, including St. Gaudens double eagles, Krugerrands, maple leafs and other bullion coins.
Online bidding will be accepted at Lonestarauctioneers.com. Information is available at (817) 740-9400.
The American Numismatic Association will hold its annual National Money Show on Friday through March 23 in the Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C.
During the show, Heritage Numismatic Auctions will hold a two-day sale of U.S. coinage and currency.
Land of the chads
Florida's quarter will be among the five struck in 2004, but the final design is being voted on by residents. Voting in Florida has a checkered record (ask Al Gore), and at least one of the designers of the final five designs under consideration has cried foul.
Tim Prusmack of Fort Pierce, Fla., whose design of "America's Spaceport" shows a space shuttle on the launching pad, says voting is flawed and unhelpful. His design seemed to be running behind an Everglades design and a design showing a space shuttle with a 17th-century ship, "Gateway to Discovery."
Prusmack wrote to Gov. Jeb Bush that newspaper polls clearly favor his design.
The choice of a final design will probably not be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, however. The governor has the final say.
XDaniel Webster is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.