Never mind the summit. What happened to the coin?

Commemorative coin already minted

By ELIOTT C. MCLAUGHLIN, CNN
Getty Images via CNN

(CNN) - But what about the coin?

A much-ballyhooed Singapore summit between the United States and North Korea met its end Thursday when President Donald Trump called off the conference over some typically Kim Jong Unesque name-calling -- or, as Trump phrased it, "tremendous anger and open hostility."

The cancellation, for now, stamps out the prospects for peace between the long-at-odds nations and the denuclearization of North Korea. Yet it did nothing to stop the production of snazzy coins featuring Trump and Kim in front of patriotic backdrops surrounded by olive branches.

Because the coins already exist.

More than a few people saw the pitfalls in the premature printing of summit coins. Journalist Adam Weinstein remarked Monday, "There's no way a president pre-pressing a challenge coin to commemorate a not-yet-held summit with the North Koreans could ever go wrong."

To its credit, the White House distanced itself from the dubious doubloon from the outset, saying the White House Communications Agency creates coinage for every presidential trip abroad and it was not created or approved by anyone at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Nor did it require any taxpayer coins. Phew.

"Since 2003, White House Communications Agency members have ordered a limited number of commercially designed and manufactured souvenir travel coins for purchase," a White House spokesman said.

The commemorative -- or maybe not-so-commemorative -- spare change was called garish, weird and creepy, and that was before it was deemed decidedly unnecessary.

Perhaps no surprise, President Barack Obama's former chief strategist, CNN's David Axelrod, was one of the first to take a jab.

"Coming soon to eBay: Historic summit coins!" he quipped.

Writer Thomas Ricks asked -- rather appropriately -- if the White House will issue a "no summit" coin. The White House did not return calls inquiring whether that is a possibility. (Disclaimer: Because no one really asked.)

A juggler and kazoo player going by The Hoarse Whisperer suggested that the coin is "now the Chuck E. Cheese token of presidential keepsakes."

On Thursday morning, the White House Gift Shop -- established by President Harry Truman in 1946, which in the ultimate irony was before the Chicago Daily Tribune's infamous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline -- summit coins briefly remained available to the public.

It's a different coin. This one features South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is doubtless thrilled. But it raises the next question: They made two coins?

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