Author Topic: The Romance of Helen Trent, Duel in the Sun, and the Egyptian Magic Coin  (Read 388 times)

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Offline WillieBoyd2

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A rather twisted story of a top rated 1940's radio program, a very successful 1946 motion picture, and the Egyptian Magic Coin.

Helen Trent Promotional medallion
Silvered brass, 32mm, 11.04gm
Obverse: Cartoonish figure of Egyptian Pharaoh with hieroglyphs
Reverse: Cartoonish figure of Egyptian Sphinx and pyramids with hieroglyphs

These items usually do not have any inscriptions, text, or logos on them. This makes them hard to identify by people who have found them in collections, estates, or with metal detectors.

They frequently appear on Internet coin collector or metal detector forums, usually by people asking "what is this?" or to identify something found as an "Ancient Egyptian Coin", "Aztec Coin"  "Mayan Coin", or something similar.

"The Romance of Helen Trent" was an American radio program or "radio soap opera" which ran weekdays from 1933 to 1960.

It told the story of the always 35-year old heroine and her continuing attempts to find the right man.

The show's daily opening:

And now, "The Romance of Helen Trent", the real-life drama of Helen Trent who, when life mocks her, breaks her hopes, dashes her against the rocks of despair, fights back bravely, successfully, to prove what so many women long to prove in their own lives: that because a woman is 35 or more romance in life need not be over; that the romance of youth can extend into middle life, and even beyond.

In 1948 one of the sponsors, Kolynos toothpaste and tooth powder, issued a silvered brass medallion as a promotion.

Life magazine photographer Herbert Gehr photographed the Helen Trent medallion in January of 1948 but the photograph was not used in the magazine but was kept in the files.

The photograph is now owned by Getty Images. It is now on their website under "Helen Trent medallion necklace".

The design on the Helen Trent medallion is similar to the Egyptian Magic Coin.

Egyptian Magic Coin
Gold colored bronze, 32mm, 8.35gm
Obverse: Egyptian Pharaoh seated on throne with hieroglyphs
Reverse: Egyptian Sphinx and four pyramids with hieroglyphs

Motion picture "Duel in the Sun" Egyptian Magic Coin promotion:

"The Romance of Helen Trent" has another connection to the Egyptian Magic Coin.

Early in 1947 Selznick International Pictures released the motion picture "Duel in the Sun".

The release was preceded by a massive $2,000,000 publicity campaign.

Life magazine's February 10, 1947 issue had an article on the publicity campaign along with a photograph of actress Ruth Roman surrounded by promotional items.

Giveaways for Duel publicity included light bulbs, paperweights, tiny parachutes, postcards, seeds, pencils, stickers, crossword puzzles, lollipops, matchbooks, typewriters, blotters, money clips, gin-rummy pads, telephone pads, ash trays.

Selznick starlets like Ruth Roman, who wears a Duel T-shirt, were not given away however.

Love that movie!

The film starred Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, Lionel Barrymore, and Walter Huston, all well-known 1940's film stars.

The film was a tremendous box office success partially due to the publicity campaign and attempts by various groups to censor or block the film.

A local preacher (Walter Huston) known as the "Sin Killer" gives the beautiful sexy Jennifer Jones an Egyptian Magic Coin as a medal which will protect her from "sin" and help her to be a "good girl".

The Sin Killer gives Jennifer the medal

Here. I want you to take this. It's a hallowed medal, and a good one. I took it off a thieving card sharper. But first I shrived him and sent him to the pearly gates as nice and pretty as any from his own faith could have done. You wear it, girl.

The medal is shown with close-up views of both sides.

The film medal with the obverse and reverse edited together.

An Egyptian Magic Coin similar to the one in the film:

Egyptian Magic Coin similar to the one in the film
Silvered bronze, 32mm, 9.90gm

There are many types of Egyptian Magic Coins but the one above appears to match the one in the film.

The reverse of the one above is slightly rotated from horizontal as is the one in the film.

Life magazine letter:

The Life magazine February 10 1947 article resulted in a letter sent to the magazine and published in the March 3, 1947 issue which mentioned the medal that Jennifer Jones wore in the film.

Jennifer Jones wearing her medal

The letter:


Your commentary on Duel in the Sun (Life, Feb. 10), though excellent, is incomplete.

Even the soap opera is currently engaged in increasing its own nuisance value through tie-ups with picture studios.

Helen Trent, from the soap opera of the same name, is the proud owner of a "medallion necklace".

Any acquaintance rash enough to pass a casual comment up on this bauble is instantly bombarded with the following:

"Oh do you like it i think its stunning too jennifer jones gave it to me it is an exact replica of the one she wears in the great new david o selznick technicolor production duel in the sun in the picture the necklace is given to jennifer to bring her good luck and it plays an important part in her exciting romances with joseph cotten and gregory peck".

Amy Margaret MacMellan, Reno, Nev.

It is possible that Egyptian Magic Coins were manufactured to help publicize the film but no documentation is available as these items were privately made.

The Mysterious Egyptian Magic Coin
Coins in Movies and on Television
The San Francisco 1949 Peso

Offline Figleaf

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Good fun further research, WillieBoyd. For the first instalment, see this thread. More is better :)

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.