Napoleon III Coin

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

When my father was ten years old, he and his family moved from their apartment in Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Vence, a small town hidden in the mountains of southwestern France. His large public elementary school in New York was replaced by a little private one. Out of the sixteen students in his grade, only my father and one other student, a boy from Algeria, were foreigners. They quickly became close friends. My father and his family came back to the Upper West Side when he was twelve years old. Before they left, as a token of friendship, my father exchanged parting gifts with the Algerian boy. My father, a big coin collector, gave him an old buffalo nickel that he had carried around for good luck. In return, his friend from Algeria gave him this coin, which was an old family heirloom of his. The coin is from the middle of the 19th century, a relic of Algeria as a French colony, and it features the emperor of France at the time, Napoleon III. Napoleon III is famous in Algeria for releasing the Algerian rebel leader Abd al Qadir, who is known for having started the long, arduous rebellion against French rule. To my father, the coin symbolizes a friendship from nearly four decades ago, between a New Yorker and an Algerian, who both met in a foreign land. 

– Ben Weinstein

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant