While it may not have quite the same ring as “Ode to Billie Joe”, there’s an “Ode to Louis McHenry Howe” in lot 2062 of The Boca Collection, Part I, one of three volumes in the set covering Heritage’s January 2010 FUN U.S. Coin Auction.
Howe was a journalist turned ultimate political insider and ultimate confidant to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Through a quarter of a century Howe guided Roosevelt through his early state-level political experiences, his personal and political crises in the aftermath of his failed 1920 bid for the vice-presidency, and the vast majority of Roosevelt’s first term as president.
Howe’s contemporaries could not deny his influence, however, so they called him names instead, attacking his appearance and his political acumen. He was a “Rasputin” for his perceived influence over Roosevelt, an unflattering “Talleyrand,” a “ghoul.” Less grudgingly, he was also “The President’s Other I,” “The Man Behind Roosevelt,” or as the title of a recent history-biography describes him, FDR’s Shadow.
Thus, it was a message from the President’s secretary and confidant – in some ways a last wish – and was, ultimately, the catalyst for the return of proof sets. The idea took only months to travel from Howe’s mind to then-Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau’s desk to the coining presses in the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.
Why did Howe make his request? The press release that was the ultimate source of the above quote states simply, “Howe was said to have been interested in numismatics.”