12 Pieces of Pewter: Paw Coins


Collectable medallions with a broad range of art…

Paw Coins Collectible Coins

Kickstarter ending 11/24/14

The word for the day is “Exonumia.”

11-2-14coins3One of the things I hope to see in endlessly refreshing Kickstarter is the next big con craze. And I know I won’t see it coming, or I’ll totally get it wrong. I thought that MaryMouse’s “Certified” badges were, well, kind of silly. And I’m pretty sure that if they were brought in front of the judge he’d say “Jury, do you find the defendant silly?” And there’d be a big “Yes we do your honor” and lots of flash-bulb photography, and MaryMouse would be forced to, I don’t know, hand out cupcakes in SoHo or something. But they’re a part of furry fandom culture now, and that’s really neat. And I’m pretty sure this is what MaryMouse does on weekends. Foxloft’s Tagua Totems were another, they’re pretty but seemed so specific and niche when they first came out–but you can wear them out and about and they’re nice art, I see three or four of them at even the little furry gatherings.

Both of these are ubiquitous in the fandom, or at least the slice I interact with. And both are really nice little shorthand signs for who we are when we’re not shambling, blunt-muzzled hairless chimpanzees, even if you might never get them exactly right (try finding a piece of costume jewelry to show that you’re, say, a foxtopus, meerkrab, or Mexican hairless). Something that expresses someone’s furry side, but isn’t too hard to mass produce, is going to be a winner.

Am I right with Mel Drake’s “Paw Coins” project? Hard to say without a crystal ball. But there’s a lot of the hallmarks here–individual enough to paint the fandom with a broad brush, a small enough collection to be manageable.

11-2-14coins1The general scope of the project: A series of a dozen medallions, textured enameled coins with a hole in the top, about the size of a US quarter (or a dog license). As the project base expands, new coins will come on line–Japanese themed coins, Egyptian designs, coins specific to interests, and so on, to create a modest range of designs that should appeal to a range of wearers.

One aspect of artist MelSkunk’s business plan that I particularly like is the idea of partnership designs–in addition to designs of her own, MelSkunk wants to use her coins to partner with other artists as an inexpensive promotional piece for their projects, a way to spread the word and share their work–maybe like the limited run of Kevin and Kell coins she talks about as a part of the Kickstarter.

11-2-14coins2A part of the plan I’m ambivalent about is the idea of the series being collectible. It seems like a double-edged sword. If you can somehow tap into the right-place-right-time magic of, say, beanie babies, you might really have a thing! the coins have rarity values assigned to them–so the kickstarter angel and trailblazer coins are both super-rare, print runs of 50. The 8 common designs of series one are in quantities of 500, limited but probably about the demand of the fandom…maybe. This is a bit of a gamble, to my mind. I’d be curious to know what the print run is on MaryMouse’s “CERTIFIED: RAVER” badge, for instance.

This gets me to one of my two big conflicts with the project–is it about furry identify play (“FIP”) or collectability? If it’s about FIP, the idea of a limited print run and the general focus on sets instead of single items are a handicap. The 100 rare kitsune pieces could get snapped up in two or three cons, and then, well, that one’s gone, and that’s part of the project’s plan, there won’t be another, but there’s probably more than 100 Kitsunes and Japanophiles that might want one–probably more than would want the dumpy blue fursuiter coin (not my favorite, it looks too much like a Bad Furry commemorative medallion).


The second guff I have with this is tied to the first–Melskunk’s concept of the project for the Kickstarter is sets, and they’re a little pricey! Looking at the first set of eight commons, I personally, being who I am–a cynical liberal gay dog–might want the sexy werewolf, I’ve got a dragon friend that might want the hoarding medallion, and after a couple of drinks I might wear the gay pride paw or use it for my key chain fob. The “Dog Person” I could take or leave, it’s the wrong sort of cute for me. I could give away the “cat person” and maaaybe the tiger, and I have no idea what I’d do with the American flag coin (it’s kind of pretty but I don’t like jingoism or rampant patriotism on principle) or the fursuiting coin. So that kind of leaves me with half the set that’s keepers. But because of the structure of the Kickstarter’s rewards, I can’t get those without buying the full set–so in the specific case of the Kickstarter I’ve blown $65 (the minimum for a set of commons) for three pieces I really like.

It just feels like a conflict of concepts. If the project is about the FIP, I’d like the sexy werewolf and gay pawprint, please, here’s my $12. If it’s about collectability, then sure, the entire set makes sense, but I don’t know if collectability is really a “thing,” you have to get really lucky and capture the right place and right time. Maybe at a convention merchant’s table you could do something like sets of two or three, one visible and the others hidden, or just sell them Foxloft Studios style as what they are, expressions of one’s inner dragon or otter or bear.

That being said, there’s a certain magic of specificity in a series of linked ideas–coins, fighting varmint badges, magnets, whatever–and customers might well want to collect a set–but they’re going to want to collect their set. Whether the Kickstarter meets its goal may well be tied to that conflict.

Note: Images used above are included to promote the work of crowdfunding artists, and are owned by the original creator.



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