– George Carlin, Brain Droppings
Some people in the advertising business appear to have way too much free time on their hands. Maybe they’re simply trying to justify their own existence. Or maybe they really believe that God is in the details. Submitted for your approval: the following illuminated sign. It stands about six feet tall on the side of a bus shelter in the Loop:
I happened to be waiting for a bus there the other night; a bus that didn’t come for a very long time. So, having nothing else to occupy my time, I began studying those coins, especially since I spent many years as a coin collector. Let’s take a closer look:
Things began to look strange right away. The first thing I noticed was that Roosevelt was facing the wrong way on the dime, as if this were a reversed image. But wait a minute – the word “LIBERTY” reads correctly! The penny right next to that dime is even stranger. Lincoln is facing the wrong way, but the date reads correctly. And at the top, where it says “IN GOD WE TRUST,” the lettering is all backwards, as one would expect of a mirror image – except for the word “GOD,” which reads correctly! What kind of subliminal weirdness have I stumbled onto here?
Other things I noticed – the main jar on the right is threaded the wrong way. Recalling the old saying, “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey,” it’s obvious that this jar is threaded to go “righty-loosey.” So we can make a pretty positive ID on a reversed photo right there. But the jar next to it IS threaded correctly, so one might infer that they only had one jar of coins to work with and they just pasted all this together. One other oddity is a coin about the size of a dime that we’re viewing edgewise in the center of the photo. It’s not an American dime, since the edge is a pure silver color, rather than tinged with copper from the “sandwich” planchet used on U.S. dimes since 1965. Also, though it didn’t really come out in this photo, I could see enough of the image when I was standing there to be sure it wasn’t a U.S. coin. A Canadian dime, perhaps? A medallion? Some other foreign money? And why feature this anomaly right in the center of the photo?
It occurred to me that there may be some finer points of U.S. Treasury laws restricting the accurate reproduction of U.S. money in advertising and other print work, so that may explain some of this. But whoever put this ad together went further than just carrying out the letter of the law. I mean, maybe I’m a little weird for going over this billboard in such detail, but not half as weird as the person who made all these quirky design choices!