The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














Right on the Money

by Lew Clayman

Lots of people carry family photos in their wallets - beloved pictures of beloved children, spouses, parents, siblings, pets. Some carry pictures of boats, too. Turns out that most people do, provided only that they keep cash in their wallets. No kidding.

I've noticed an increasing trend towards pictures of boats and ships on currency, both in the US and elsewhere, although being an American I've noticed it first "here at home."

As far as I'm aware, there are no boats pictured on US paper money. Coins however are developing quite a large and varied fleet. In large part, this is due to the wide variety of images on the "tails" side - what coin collectors call the "reverse" of a coin. Back when men were men and a buck was a buck and even a small oddly-shaped bit of driftwood lying half-dry on a sandy beach was a small oddly-shaped bit of driftwood lying half-dry on a sandy beach, there was no variety to speak of - quarters varied only by mint mark and date, and so did the rest of the coins unless you found the odd pre-1960 "wheatback" penny. Oh, but then came the commemoratives, the Bicentennial Quarter, and then the State Quarters - at some point there will be close to sixty different US quarter designs in circulation, as well as several kinds of nickels and who knows what else. Meanwhile across the pond, the Euro coins bear a different obverse in each country that mints them.

I blame the internet. In the old days, governments made a good profit by selling postage stamps to collectors who never used the service they'd paid for, and by selling premium-priced stamps and whatnot at many times the face value of the stamps. Coins were treated the same way and still are; but when email reduced everyone's dependence upon (and interest in) postage stamps, a market was lost. So coin designs multiplied, and the revenue stream was again restored and everyone was happy again except for the Post Office.

Here's a list of boats that may be sailing along happily in a pocket near you (as of the date of writing):

US Coins (source)

Quarters (25 cent coins):
Florida (galleon of Ponce de Leon)
Maine (four-masted spritsail schooner)
Minnesota (duckhunters in skiff)
Missouri (Corps of Discovery/Lewis & Clark river raft)
New Jersey (Washington crossing the Delaware)
Rhode Island (topsail sloop)
Virginia (Jamestown ships, 1607 - square-rigged pinnaces)
Nickels (5 cent coins)
Westward Journey Nickel Series (Lewis & Clark keelboat)

Canadian Coins (source)

Dime/10 cent coin (schooner Bluenose)

Canadian Notes (source)

$100 reverse (explorer canoe)
$20 reverse (sculpture of Haida canoe)

UK Coins (source)

50p/1994 D-Day (invasion fleet)
£1/2004 Scotland (ships visible beneath Forth bridge)
Crown (£5)/2005 Trafalgar (HMS Victory? & another ship)

UK Notes (source)(source)

£10 England (HMS Beagle)
£1 Scotland (schooner Hispaniola, from Treasure Island)

Euro Coins (source)

Nickels (5 cent coins) - Greece (tanker)
Two-cent coins - Greece (c1821 War of Independence Corvette)
Cents (1 cent coins) - Greece (trireme)

Australian Notes (source)

$20 (schooner Mercury)

NZ Notes (source)

$10 Millenium

front: Maori war canoe

back: surfboards, kayaks

NZ Coins (source)

50 cent (The barque Endeavour, commanded by Captain Cook)