Jan 6, 2009

The Rex Doubloon: Fifty Years

Mardi Gras 2009 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Rex Doubloon, the forerunner not only of millions of doubloons thrown from thousands of floats over the past half-century, but also of the many Krewe-specific throws Carnival crowds now take for granted. Prior to the creation of the doubloon parade riders threw generic beads and other trinkets to parade watchers.

All of that changed with the Rex Doubloon, the creation of H. Alvin Sharpe, a New Orleans self-taught artist, inventor, and metal carver. Mr. Sharpe approached Darwin S. Fenner, the Rex Captain, and convinced him that lightweight aluminum medallions, bearing Rex's image and seal, would be a fitting coin for a fanciful realm. Mr. Fenner approved a first order of 80,000 plain aluminum coins, undated just in case the crowds didn't like them and they needed to be used in later years.

But the crowds loved them, and within a few years Rex was joined by other parading organizations in throwing millions of doubloons to happy Carnival parade-goers. Rex's doubloons were given a gold anodized finish in 1962, and the reverse side was dedicated to an illustration of the parade theme. Doubloons have become one of Mardi Gras' most happy traditions.

To recognize this anniversary, a 50th Year Commemorative Doubloon has been created, along with a booklet documenting its history. The front of the Commemorative Doubloon reproduces the original Rex image, while its reverse carries the seal from a commemorative Rex medallion created in 1884. The 50th Year Commemorative Doubloon and Booklet are available for sale to the public at Enoch's Framing and Gallery, 4001 Baronne Street, New Orleans, and for Internet purchase at www.mardigrasguide.com.

All proceeds from the 50th Year Doubloon Project benefit the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, established in 2006 to benefit education and other causes essential to the rebuilding of our city. Learn more about the Foundation at www.probonopublicofoundation.org.