by B.B. Pelletier

There have been so many questions about the silver dime I use for scale in my reports that today I will reveal the entire truth to you. In fact this is a very special dime! It is a rare misstrike, and the image on the obverse isn’t President Roosevelt at all! It is his feeble-minded but kindly identical twin cousin, Louie Roosevelt. You can’t tell that from the pictures I have been publishing, so today I have enlarged the image to show all the subtle but important differences.

You don’t notice until the dime is enlarged that the man on the coin has a thin mustache and an anchor tattoo on the back of his neck. The date of the coin is another giveaway. What looks like a smudge over his eye is actually a birthmark that was the only way his nanny could tell young Franklin Delano Roosevelt from his cousin. Twin siblings are rare enough, but you almost never hear of cousins who are identical twins. The danger of a mixup while they are young is obvious. You don’t want Bob Dylan’s twin cousin, Dylan, growing up as Bob. The music would be awful and think of all the album covers that would have to be changed, once the mixup was discovered!

This is an extremely rare misstrike that was never supposed to leave the U.S. Mint. The date is a clever giveaway.

Back in the 1960s I was a dealer in rare coins in New York. I specialized in error coins such as the 1955 double die cent and others that are less known. One day while I was eating lunch in the coin district of New York City where my shop was located, I witnessed a crime. A robber had just robbed the Ersatz-Mart, a huge emporium of rare counterfeit coins, bills, rare artifacts and political promises. Manny Ersatz was a good friend of mine, so I copied down the license plate number of the getaway car and within an hour the robbers were caught. Why would anyone drive their own car to a robbery, a pink Eldorado convertible with vanity plates that said BADGUYZ?

Back to my story. Manny was so thrilled to recover his stolen merchandise that he offered me any one thing in his store as a reward. Well, I had no trouble selecting what I wanted. On display in his store for everyone to see was the actual hatchet used by young George Washington to chop down his father’s cherry tree. Of course, being so old the wooden handle had been replaced three times and the head once since the incident, but the provenance for this historical artifact was beyond reproach. I wanted it!

But Manny wasn’t about to let that hatchet go. So he reneged on his generous offer, and instead gave me a collector’s book of Roosevelt dimes. It was half-filled and at the time was worth about ten dollars! However, I was a coin guy, so naturally I popped every dime out of the book for a once-over. That’s when I discovered this rare misstrike. You can bet that I went straight to Manny and waived it under his nose. I was angry over losing the hatchet, but I didn’t appreciate how upset he would be over this mistake. He offered to buy it back from me, but I was pigheaded and told him I reckoned I’d just keep it awhile.

Well, a while turned into over 30 years. Manny and I never spoke again and he passed away in a freak accident involving a runaway Macy’s Thanksgiving parade balloon. It was Woody Woodpecker that was featured in a Seinfeld episode, where it was supposed to be accidentally deflated. What the public never saw was the balloon falling on one of the line holders as it came down on Fifth Avenue. Manny was wearing a World War I Bavarian pickelhaube helmet in support of Woody’s German ancestry, and when the balloon came down the tip of the helmet ripped through the fabric, trapping his head inside the gas bag for several minutes until the other workers could get it off him. When they did it was too late. Manny had passed. The Seinfeld people stopped doing real stunts after that. They embedded a brass plaque in the avenue where he fell and visitors can see it in the early hours of the morning, when the traffic dies down. And the city passed an ordinance making it illegal for anyone to wear a pickelhaube helmet on Thanksgiving.

Of course I was devastated when this all happened, but it was too late to do anything about it. My good friend, Manuel Varms Ersatz, was gone forever and I still had the dime that caused the rift between us. So, now you know the whole story behind the dime that appears in my reports. I hope in a small way that this tale helps us all remember Manuel Varms!