BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Collector’s beware, a new wooden coin that has been in the works since 2016 depicting locally designed historical icons, will be available starting Friday.
Jean Peiton, the director of the city’s Tourism & Marketing Department announced Tuesday a series of 12 commemorative wooden coins celebrating the history and culture of Fort Madison are now available for purchase.
The artwork, commissioned through Anthony Franklin, a local artisan, depicts unique locations, festivals and history including; The Fort – 1808 to 1813, Historic Business District – 1838, Historic Park-to-Park District – 1838, Iowa Territorial Prison – 1839, Lee County Courthouse – 1842, Fort Madison Toll Bridge – 1886, Cattermole Library – 1894, CB & Q Depot – 1898, Santa Fe Depot – 1910, Sheaffer Pen – 1912, Mexican Fiesta – 1922, Tri-State Rodeo – 1948
The coins are part of a process aimed at developing a supply of branded souvenirs aimed at tourists that frequent the area. Peiton said the hope is to expand the inventory to include items such as t-shirts, hats, and more.
These 12 commemorative coins will be available for purchase at select retail outlets in Fort Madison beginning Friday. The coins are part of a program to help raise funds to foster tourism and historical awareness in Fort Madison.
The coins will be available for purchase starting Friday at the gift shop located in The Old Fort Madison. Any other businesses or locations interested in purchasing a quantity of the coins for their location, can contact the Tourism Office for more details. Proceeds from the sale of the coins are earmarked for added inventory and further artistic renditions.
Franklin, who lives in Fort Madison said the work on the coins was a labor of love.
“I think it’s a real hidden treasure that as far as tourism goes, Fort Madison is a premiere tourism destination in my view. It’s just how we are we going to market it. I think the job Jean does is phenomenal. We have a lot of people with creativity, and with a little volunteer work there could be some really neat things. I love this city. I was born and raised here.”
He said he went through about five renditions of each coin as he compiled information from city and business groups as to what the coins should look like. He then had to speak with officials associated with each coin’s picture to make sure they were on board.
He started working on the project in 2016.
“Back then, around September of 2016, I was basically thinking of ways the Old Fort would be able to generate revenue to sustain itself because they always have to go to the city for money and one of the things I came up with was souvenirs,” Franklin said. “Wooden coins were the first thing I came up. After my discussion with Jean the idea expanded to include 12 different points of interest in Fort Madison.”
He said then he sat down and made a list of places and events he thought would make interesting historical coins and submitted hte list to the city. Once he got the nod from the city he went to work designing and redesigning and redesigning some more until everyone was on board.
Franklin said he tried to hold to a theme of points of interest, which included places like Sheaffer Pen and the Old Prison, as well as a coin dedicated to the Mexican Fiesta.
“Locals say there’s nothing interesting in Fort Madison and nothing to do in Fort Madison and we have such a rich history that people don’t grasp how many different things there are here. For example. W.A. Sheaffer came up with something we always take for granted and made something wonderful with that pen. We don’t use ink bottles any more because of him. And Mexican Fiesta – I don’t think people appreciate how much that festival has impacted this community.
Franklin said the city may also look at doing coloring books and other souvenir type pieces that reflect on the city’s rich history in the future if the coin program generates revenue.