The Beginner's Guide to Collecting Trump Kitsch

kim jung on

This page last updated 09/18/2018

kitsch (noun)  art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way.

Let me state this up front: this page has nothing to do with politics.  It is just a chronicle of some badly made merchandise that happens to have Donald Trump's likeness on it.

I must admit a fondness for the piles of poorly made kitsch that have come on the market since he first announced running for office.  The top items on my list are the Donald Trump coins.

All of these coins bring one question to mind: how difficult is it to get a photograph of Trump and just copy it?  None of these coins look anything like Trump-- and I'm including the  (sort of, maybe possibly) "official" inauguration coin too.  Bas reliefs can't be all that difficult to do. 

Trump's coin committee (if there is one) has yet to issue Presidential Inauguration coins, or even issue designs for them.  If they're ever issued, they will be highly collectible, and will gain in value over the years, as have past official inaugural coins.  The "coins" that have been issued so far will not gain in value, and indeed will never be worth what people are paying for them.  If the coins are made of silver or gold they will be worth the value of the metal in them.  If they're plated (what the fake coin sellers refer to as "clad" or "layered"), you should be able to get them for a fraction of their current price in a year or two.

For we kitsch collectors, this is a good thing.  Myself, I plan on making a tacky room, one filled with nothing but velvet paintings of Elvis, tawdry religious artifacts-- and lots and lots of Trump kitsch.  It doesn't matter how you feel about the man or his politics-- even his supporters are surprised at the sheer volume of tacky Trump merchandise.

Some people assume that Trump is somehow making money from these coins.  Nope.  And here is how these coins are unifying America: If you're against Trump, naturally you wouldn't want him publicized.  If you are a Trump fan, he is not making a dime off of these: his image is being exploited for the gain of others.  Finally, if you're a coin collector, you're against these fake coins flooding the market..  All three groups, from different backgrounds, and all three groups have a good reason for hating these Trump coins.

There are a lot of companies out there that call themselves "private mints" that make all sort of valueless coins, stamps and so on.  So, when Trump ran for office, they all decided "Here's our chance to cash in!"  These same types "cashed in" after the 9/11 disaster by offering coins "clad in silver found in the ruins of the Twin Towers."  These ghouls would clamp onto any event or person to try to make money.  Sadly, there are always suckers who want tawdry stuff, and who will pay top dollar for it.

Honestly, if I was Donald Trump I'd take all of these companies to court for selling such unflattering images.

For some reason very few artists can depict Trump's hair without making it look like some sort of mop.  This is more a matter of the artists lacking the proper skills than anything else.

The coin designers can't get Trump's age right either.  The man is 72 years old, but I have sen depictions of him that looked more like 32 than 72.

One thing I must note: most of these coins were made (presumably) by people who like Trump.  Why in the world are there so many poorly done images of him?  I can see how artists who hate the guy would be happy to make him look bad, but it's his fans that are putting out these things.

I am also fully aware that as hard as I've tried to make this as inoffensive as possible, I am sure some would object on political grounds.  So again I state: this is not about Donald Trump, his personality, or his politics.  It's about cheaply made crap that floods the collectors' market.

Since the people making these coins are such vultures, there are numerous cases where coins are copied or slightly reworked,  In order to get legal protection, such as a trademark, the coin sellers would have to get Trump's permission to copy his likeness.  They don't have that permission, so it's a free-for-all.  Want to get in on the fun?  You certainly can, and there's nothing any of these companies can do.  Just pick a Trump coin you like, and start casting copies.  Don't bother too much with quality standards, and use whatever metal suits your fancy.  Your coins will be just as legitimate as any of the coins seen here.

I use the term "coins" here as a form of verbal shorthand.  Coins are legal tender, and are only issued by government mints.  These objects are more accurately termed as medals or medallions.

I have seen the term "challenge coin" used with some Trump coins.  According to Wikipedia, "A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion, bearing an organization's insignia or emblem and carried by the organization's members. Traditionally, they are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. In addition, they are also collected by service members."

It's both sad and funny at the same time: years from now, the folks who bought Trump coins will need money.  They'll figure that since they paid a lot for those coins, they should get a lot.  They'll enter coin shops, only to be told that the coins have no value at all.  They'll try eBay, only to find that several other saps are selling their Trump coins too, at very low prices-- and aren't getting any bids. 


Value should be addressed here.  Just look at what the coins are made of, and ask yourself how much you are willing to pay for a coin above its metal value.  Prices of base metals per ounce are approximate due to rounding, and are current as of this writing.

Base metals:
Lead: 20 cents a pound/$0.01 an ounce
Iron: 24 cents a pound/$0.01 an ounce
Aluminum: 45 cents a pound/$0.03 an ounce
Tin: 50 cents a pound/$0.03 an ounce
Zinc: $1.05 a pound/$0.07 an ounce
Copper: $2.50 a pound/0.16 an ounce
Nickel: $3.89 a pound/$0.23 an ounce

Gold plated or silver plated base metal coins do not have enough gold or silver in them to appreciably increase their value.

Precious Metals:

Silver: $17.50 an ounce
Palladium: $907.80 an ounce
Gold: $1289.96 an ounce
Platinum: $2270.50 per ounce

Let's look over the fine selection of Trump coins that have been issued so far.

Scary Trumps
scary trump
This, appropriately enough, was made in China.  This is available in a silver plated and gold plated edition.  Look at his eye.  It's like it's staring at you.  This is easily the scariest portrait I have seen of Trump.  I like the way they did his hair too.  I have yet to see any artist of any type that could portray Trump's hair without making it look ridiculous.  This particular coin looks like how a high school art student would do a bust of someone: it looks like the artist just ran a comb through some clay and said "OK, I'm done."

scary knockoff
Another view of the above coin, and just as scary.  Trump looks like he's sucking on lemons.

+another scary trump
Another scary Trump.  The coin's seller really did a good job on photographing his item.  Trump has this Jack Nicholson "Here's Johnny!" maniacal look about him, which is emphasized by the poor flash photography.  This coin is advertised as being one ounce of pure copper, and sells for $2.75.  As of this date, copper sells for $2.50 a poundYeah, this is a real good investment all right.

wrinkly trump        reverse
Front: Wrinkly Trump.  The coin's makers at least made Trump look his age.  Scary.
Coin designers apparently don't like to make Trump look happy.  It's a decent likeness, I will give them that.  They got the tiny hands right.  Their version of Trump is a lot thinner than the real Trump.  But why does it bear no resemblance to the image on the other side?

phallic trump
I get the distinct feeling that the person who designed this does not like Trump.  At the same time, they did as good a resemblance to Trump as the other coins here.

border patrol
Now this is a real mixed message.  The image of Trump looks like something you'd see in 1960s horror movies: the villain, his face burned and melted by fire, takes to wearing a leather mask to cover his face. His lips look like something you'd see in a "Clutch Cargo" cartoon.  The message paraphrases a crude comment Trump made.  Yet the coin's makers support Trump.  I will give them credit for dealing with Trump's hair: they covered it with a baseball cap.

Emotional Trumps

smirking trump
This Trump looks rather effeminate, and has a rather smug looking smirk.  This is advertised as being solid silver.

mr potato head
Now this I admire.  Notice that even though it bears no resemblance to Trump whatsoever, the artist still made the hair look ridiculous.  I like the Mr. Potato Head style nose too. The mouth is way too low on his face, and has an odd shape.  Trump looks like he's about ready to cry.  He's probably crying about how bad this image is.

pot metal trump
A gold plated coin, with another bad job of portraying Trump's hair.  He sure doesn't look happy.  I call this the Scowling Trump coin.  But it is gold plated, so maybe if you got a ton of these you could melt them down and get an ounce of gold.  Maybe.

jimmy stewart
Another crying Trump.  The image bears a striking resemblance to Donald Moffat, who played Rem in the "Logan's Run" TV series.

silent majority trump
The artist figured out the best way to do Trump's hair is to do an outline.  Notice the eyes.  It looks like Trump was in a fist fight.  And, like some other portrayals, the eyes don't match.  And what is it with that smirk?

trump in color
The puffy eys and jowls, not to mention the cauliflower ear, make him look like a boxer.  But why does he look so petulant?

boxing trump
A flip coin.  Trump has his usual smirk, and looks like he is about to hit someone.

thumbs up trump
Trump is kind of sort of smiling in this zinc alloy silver plated coin from China.

Trump Shekels

trump shekel
I suspect this is an artist's interpretation of what the coin will look like, and not the actual coin itself.  It has an image of Trump and Cyrus.  According to "The coin is special because it has been issued by a Temple organization, which while small and politically lacking major significance in Israel, is of symbolic interest because the purpose of the coin is supposed to be used to pay the “temple tax” as mandated in the Old Testament."

trump shekel
The actual issued coin.  Notice how crudely made it is: Trump's face is just a blur.

trump shekel2
This is sold as a "Trump Israel Jerusalem embassy challenge coin," and sells for $35.00. 

Extremely Badly Done Trumps


I call this one spaghetti hair Trump.  As usual, there was no attempt at making even a passable likeness.

pinch face trump
Let's call this one pinch face Trump.

Seriously, do these coin designers even bother looking at photos?  This is a real mess: the eyes don't match up, and the mouth area looks more like a chimpanzee's than a human's.

trump and wife
They didn't even try to make a likeness.    "Yeah, don't sweat it.  Just slap together anything.  If it has Trump's name on it, the marks will buy it."

worst hair yet
I can see the artist sitting up all night, doing the portrait over and over and finally saying "Screw it," and just sculpting this mess with a putty knife.

bad. really bad
Sure, I can see getting his hair wrong, but his chin???

trump wtf
The artist didn't even try to get a likeness.  My guess is that they had a coin die that depicted someone else, and just messed with it a bit to make it look like some sort of Frankentrump.  I had to look twice.  The signature bears an uncanny resemblance to the Neiman Marcus logo.

new england patriots
"Hey, if we combined a sort-of image of Trump with the New England Patriots logo, that would be cool."  "Anything you say, Beavis."

they got his hand size
                    right anyway        the back
This crudely cast coin is being advertised as 2 oz. of .999 pure silver.

turtle trump
I call this Turtle Trump, because his head looks like a turtle's coming out of its shell.  A gold-plated coin.

chesp trump
Crudely cast coin.  Trump looks constipated.


Offset Printed Trumps

trump half dollar
These folks aren't even trying.  They bought a bunch of recently minted Kennedy half dollars (value: 50 cents) and, using an offset press, printed Trump's image on the front.  But they're a real bargain: those defaced 50 cent coins were selling for $29.95 each, and now they're going for $19.95.

trump dollar
The Eisenhower dollar version, which now sells for $14.95.  There are several coins on the market that are made this way.  Since it takes no skill to make coins like these, I won't be listing any more offset-printed coins.

Weird Eyes Trumps

trump liberty coin
Note the skillfully done eyes, which are not pointing in the same direction.  Even though it's a straight-on depiction, the nose is pointing toward the left.  I'm kind of reminded of Alfred E. Neuman here.

trump bow tie
I have never seen even one photo of Trump wearing a bow tie.  His eyes are tiny slits, his face is flat, yet his nose practically jumps off of the coin.  A new era of bad coin making has surely begun, I will grant them that.

silver plated trump
The description on sums this up perfectly: "Silver plated over base metal 38 millimeter Trump medal marries a Trump portrait obverse with a reverse design copied from an American Eagle silver bullion coin, with the coin inscription also copied." 

I can just picture some poor sap buying one of these at a coin show, thinking he is getting an ounce of silver.

larget trump medal
This is sold as a "large Trump medallion."  Trump looks like someone slugged him in his eye.

Coins and Knockoff Coins

kim jung on
A coin celebrating a peace treaty between the US and North Korea that was issued by The White House.  I have no doubt that Trump had a big hand in designing this.

...and its (presumably Chinese made) knockoff.  They didn't put any effort into making a good copy.  But oh my, Trump looks all fat and sassy, doesn't he?

make america great
A fair portrait, depicting a substantially younger Trump, with a very strange smirk.

turkey neck
Is it just me, or does this look more like Hillary Clinton than it does like Donald Trump?  This was apparently either another striking or a bootleg of the above coin, with a coin ridge added, detail added to the hair, as well as a turkey neck.

trump buck rogers
Now this is truly odd.  This is another version of the "Make America Great Again" Trump coin, which was apparently redone a third time.  Only this time Trump looks like Henry Silva from the old "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" TV show.  My thought is that there have been multiple manufacturers of this design.

trump plus mao
This looks like someone took the DNA from Mao Zedong and Donald Trump and mixed them together.  Note the careful detail put in his eyes, mouth and nose.

a redesigned trump
An apparent redesign of the above coin, with a Trump that looks like an overfed Buddy Ebsen.  "Whew doggies!"

russian trump coin          russian trump coin back
And just when you thought things couldn't get any more absurd, a Russian gun foundry issued a $10,000 fist sized silver coin, only 45 of which were made.  The designers of the coin must have used the Trump nickel for inspiration: it's got that same razor cutting edge hair.  I guess it would be inevitable that this was made, since there have been many reports of Trump being Russia's lapdog. Note the spelling of "Amerika."  "In Trump we trust," indeed.  There's more than a little bit of irony in that.

us coin
And, of course, a US company has taken the above design and is selling it in a silver plated 40mm copy.  There is no honor among these people.  To give them some credit, they corrected the spelling of "America."

Trump Liberty Dollars

trump peace dollar
Trump liberty dollar, artist's conception.  These at least have some value, as each is an ounce of silver, gold, or copper.  Look up  liberty dollar sometime on Google: the story behind that is quite fascinating.  Note for instance the "Not to be used as current money" disclaimer on it.  That is exactly what liberty dollars were issued for-- and the US government did not take kindly to that.  Now they're sold with weasel words: they're to be used as barter.  Thus the disclaimer.  The artist designing these finally got Trump's hair looking slightly less peculiar by doing it as an almost abstract design, like it was made of cast metal.  Look up a televangelist named Ernest Angley.  He has the same sort of cast-metal looking hair as this coin.  And is it just me, or does the entire coin look like something that would have been issued in fascist Italy?

liberty dollar knockoff
Liberty dollar, actual produced coin.  Notice the great difference between the artist's conception and the actual coin.

These coins have a $25 dollar face value, have $17.50 worth of silver in them, and sell for $32.50.  I'm in the wrong racket.


Celebrity Lookalike Trumps

This had an image of Hillary Clinton on the flip side.  It resembles a junior high school art class project.  And why does it look so much like JFK?

trump flip coin
Another Trump flip coin.  This looks more like David Doyle from "Charlie's Angels" than it does like Trump.

flip coin
Another Trump/David Doyle flip coin, complete with what I presume is supposed to be an image of Hillary Clinton.

trump bea arthur
Another Trump celebrity lookalike.  This time it's Bea Arthur from "Maude" and "The Golden Girls."

michael moore trump
This looks more like Michael Moore than it does Trump.  The artist did an especially good job on his nose.  And there's that smirk again!  Yet another coin artist gave up and put a hat on Trump, to avoid having to depict his hair.

And here is a Trump image that looks a lot like Leslie Nielsen of "Police Squad!" and "Airplane."

"OK, so you've never seen Trump?  No problem.  Just do a portrait of Newt Gingrich and we'll alter it a bit to look like him.  He has this hair, two eyes, a chin, and a nose.  Just wing it.  It will be fine."

trump flat
"That's a great picture of Bill Pullman from 'Independence Day.'  But we wanted one of Trump.  Oh well.  Let's run it off anyway."

jimmy carter
"OK, we'll get that portrait of Jimmy Carter we have and alter some of the details a bit.  It will be fine."

buddy ebsen
I wonder what Buddy Ebsen would think about this.

buddy ebsen 3
Buddy Ebsen looks a little worried here.

trump coin from guinea
Here we have another Bea Arthur lookalike Trump coin.  This is from the Republic of Guinea, which has a large (that is to say, bad) reputation among collectors.  They issue stamps and coins that are technically legal tender, but which are never actually put into circulation.  In short, they make stuff for "collectors" only, just like all the other fake mints on this page.  There are silver and gold versions of this coin, both 1 ounce, which is OK, in that the metal in the coins will always have some value.  The problem is the coins are selling for at least eight times what the metal in them is worth. 

captain kangaroo
A Trump/Clinton flip coin.  This one resembles Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo.

the joker
Oh no.  Batman better watch out!  The Joker is in town!

Hobo Nickels

According to Wikipedia, a hobo nickel is "...a sculptural art form involving the creative modification of small-denomination coins, essentially resulting in miniature bas reliefs. The US nickel coin was favored because of its size, thickness and relative softness."

puking trump
And here we have a coin from Scotland, probably modified from another coin.  i call this Puking Trump.  Like him or not, Trump has unified the masses, in at least one respect: very few people can depict him well.

take a dump on trump coin
"Take a dump on Trump" coin.  These are apparently modified from quarters, and have been circulated on a small scale.  Trump bears a striking resemblance to the Eoanthropus Dawsoni (Piltdown man) images you used to see in school science books.

trump nickel
The Donald Trump commemorative nickel, which has been hand modified from a real, legal tender nickel.  Trump's hair looks like you could cut tile with it.

chester gould trump
Now this is interesting.  Trump looks like a standard Dick Tracy villain.   I think Chester Gould would have named this character Sourpuss.  This looks like it was hand made from a British coin.

hobo nickel
Another hand made coin, shown as "Donald Trump hair Queen Elizabeth hobo nickel."  Sure, they just altered Queen Elizabeth's image by adding Trump hair to it-- but at the same time, it bears at least as good a   resemblance to Trump as a lot of the other coins here, though Saturday Night Live's Dana Carvey does come to mind too. 

2020 Trumps

trump 2020
I suppose anything is possible.  On this coin, Trump has jowls like Marlon Brando's character in "The Godfather."  Like a lot of other Trump 2020 coins, this looks like they used an old design and retooled it with the number 2020.

Trump freedon 2020 coin front        trump freedom 2020 coin back
This is advertised as a "Trump Freedom 2020 coin," celebrating his alleged accomplishments in office (no comment). 
They shaved a few years and a few pounds off of Trump too.  Notice that 2020 is not anywhere on the coin.  Wait for all the other Trump coin issuers to follow suit and reissue their coins as 2020 coins.

trump 2020 coin
These are advertised as part of a set of four coins for $74.97.  The two tone silver on gold plated coin is shown here, and in the set are also a gold plated coin, a silver plated coin, and a two tone gold on silver.  Trump looks so sad on this coin.  Notice the slogan "Keep America great," presented without any sense of irony.

trump 2020 challenge coin
Trump's image was added almost as an afterthought to this coin. And what is he looking at, anyway?   The seller only wants $9.98 for it, with free shipping.  It will never be worth even that. 

more trump 2020'
Trump 2 1/4" challenge coin.  It looks a bit odd: they shaved off a few years and pounds... wait a minute, I know what it is.  Trump is smiling, a big, sincere
smile.  I have never seen him smile like that in real life.

Coins Without Trump's Likeness

trump 2020

Ad copy for this coin: "This Commemorative Collectors Edition Coin is gold plated for a stunning mirror like finish and is in brilliant uncirculated proof like condition. It is a one of a kind beautiful coin that is sure to enhance any collection."  It's gold plated, and sells for $29.97.

more of the same

A variation of the above coin.

quarter     quarter2     dime

 Some quarters, and a dime, name stamped.  Not a bad markup: These sell for $2.99 postpaid.  I need to make a Trump die and start stamping these things out.                 

trump stamped coin

"THESE COINS ARE STAMPED BY NOVIST AND CONDITION VARIES" the eBay listing said.  Novist.  That says it all.

walk of fame
And people in Hollywood roll their eyes and say "We don't deserve him, all right."  A mean-spirited coin.


january 30?????
And the final indignity.  A Trump inauguration coin.  Notice the date on the coin: January 30, 2017.  The President is inaugurated on January 20, and has been since 1937.  They put as much work into the design of this coin as they did on research.  From the same great minds who made the Scowling Trump coin.  But hey, they're only off by ten days.

The (alleged, maybe, kind of sort of) Trump Inaugural Commemorative Coin Design

official trump coin design

Here is the (alleged) design for the official Trump inaugural medal.  Notice that Trump's likeness is no better than any of the other items seen on this page.  But it's official, and will gain in value over the years, long after the rest of the junk on this page has been filed away in landfills.

Or maybe it isn't.  According to one collector, on "Maybe there will be another medal, maybe not, but this one was at least given to VIPs during the inauguration period, which something that can't be said for the official medal ... if there is one."

So we're back at square one.  This coin was given out at Trump's inauguration-- but then again, if anyone was invited to the nomination, they could make some coins in their garage and pass them around.

I don't think there is going to be an official Trump inauguration coin.  By now, certainly, the design would have been announced.

Below is the actual coin.

official coin?
I find the differences between artists' conceptions and the actual coins made to be fascinating.  They thinned down Trump considerably, and, like all other Trump coin makers, they just gave up on his hair.

Trump Bills

A quick note: we won't be covering all of the Trump billion dollar bills, defaced $2 bills, and so on.Any jerk with a computer and a printer can make their own: where's the skill in that?  Exhibit A: in one evening we designed our own Trump $3 bill, which is every bit as good (and as valuable) as the Trump bills polluting the marketplace.

trump bill
Do you see what I mean?

How to cast a coin the easy way

4 Reasons to Avoid Investing in Commemorative Coins