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August 15, 1980     Jewish News
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August 15, 1980

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Y/ . , by Simon Griver Numismatism, or in layman's language coin collecting, is now a billion dollar world- wide industry-coin crazy commemorative medals, as well as the traditional coins of currency. Israel has successfully carved for herself a lucrative share of this fast expanding market. The Israel Government Coins and Medals Corporation has for the past 20 Years been minting medals that commemo- rate a wide range of events, places, people and institutions. In addition, the Bank of Israel issues annually special silver coins to mark Chanukah and Independence Day. "The medals serve as important media for communicating about Israel, its history, culture and achievements, to both Jewish :and non-Jewish people in all parts of the Western world," observes Eliezer Shiloni, the Director General of the Israel Govern- ment Coins and Medals Corporation. The medals and coins are minted in silver, bronze and sometimes gold. Millions Israeli Coins and Medals Worth Their Weight in Gold Opening August, 1980. Visit us,.watch us grow and get to know The Home. Call Bill Goldsmith--420-2512--for infor- mation. Applications for admission are now being accepted. THERE IS PLENTY OF SPACE AVAILABLE. Please call 9ur social worker, Mrs. Janet Schiff at The Home, 420-2512. of them are sold each year. Half of them to Americans, 10% to Europeans and the rest are snapped up by Israelis themselves. The Corporation has 100,000 subscribers who receive a discount on all their purchases. These people are avid collectors, who buy at least one copy of each of the dozen or so coins that are minted each year. On average a bronze coin sells for $7, a silver one $90, while a gold coin weighs in a rather expensive $400. All the same there are thousands of Israelis who buy every coin, including the several that are issued each year in gold. While half of the market is cornered by these hardened collectors, the other half comprises the souvenir buyers. These of course include tourists, as well as local people buying the odd gift. In this vein the Bar-Mitzvah and Wedding medals are par- ticularly popular. "Collecting these medals and coins is in many ways similar to collecting stamps," explains Aviva Blum, the Advertising Man- ager of the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corporation. "Already there are two weekly newspapers in America that cater to the interests of the numismatist But while stamps, however valuable, are just pieces of paper and many coins are only faded lumps of metal, commemorative medals are artistically designed and attrac- tive." Indeed, the medals are also literally worth their weight in gold. Any medal contains 90% of the relevant mineral. Yet the recent surges and slumps of gold and silver on the w)rld market has in no way effected sales of the medals. Despite the fact that the value of the medals is inextric- ably linked to the prices of gold and silver, speculators seem to steer clear of the commodity, leavin them as the preserve of collectors. Three Israeli commemorative medals." At left, "Illegal At(yah" showing a small overcrowded ship carrying European Jews to Eretz Yisrael after World War lI In the center, the Entebbe Operation of1976 and at right, mass immigration to Israel. (World Zionist Press Service photo by David Halpern. Over the years the medals issued have included a multitude of Jewish and Israeli themes. There are medals that bear the heads of Herzl and Weizmann; that depict places like Massada and the Knesset; that celebrate such victories and achievements as the Six Day War and the Entebbe raid; that recall the suffering of the Holocaust and the plight of Soviet Jewry; that reflect institutions like E1 Al and the Hebrew University. A complete collection Containsnot only a gallery of Jewish and Israeli history but also some Christian themes. Medals like the one commemorating 'Terra Sancta' are favorites of non-Jewish buyers. It is worth noting that the recent currency change over to the Shekel was anticipated in modern Israel as long ago as 1961 by the issue of a commemorative half Shekel coin. Perhaps the most important aspect is that the profits made by the government owned coin and medal corporation, rather than lining the pockets of enterprising businessmen are earmarked to fund the restoration of ancient monuments and ar- chaelogical research. Appropriately, the coins and medals enrich the culture that they depict. NEXT DEADLINE (Aug. 29th Issue) WEDNESDAY NOON AUG. 20TH (All material must be typed and is subject to editin In the event space is limited, articles published will be determined by time element involved.) How wonderful it is when people live and celebrate together as one. ... Psalms Announcing an important experience. . . a traditional Sabbath S September 5 - 7, 1980 in a Williamsburg Hilton Inn and National Conference Center traditional city The Young Adult Division enthusiastically invites you to three days (and two nights) of sociability, song, study, s'udot (meals) and services in celebration of the Sabbath preceding the High Holy Days Kingsmill-on-the -James Williamsburg, Virginia our Scholar-in-Residence DR. DOV PERETZ ELKINS UNITED JEWISH FEDERATION OF NORFOLK AND VIRGINIA BEACH t I First and last name(s) of person(s} registering on this coupon I ........................................................ o*., ........ ,., I ................................................................ .* ..... , I I Address ....................... I Phone ........................ I Enclosed is a check made payable to the UNITED JEWISH FEDERATION 1 in the amount of ......... I the full Bill of Fare of $75 per person i registered above. I I Desdline for roliotralion= Aug. 20 I