Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for March 18, 2018

When news comes out of the United Kingdom it is fun to read how the British tabloids write about them. They have a way with their words that make no doubt about where they stand.

Philip Hammond has branded a ‘penny-pincher’ after revealing shock plans to scrap 1p and 2p coins (Courtesy of The Sun)

This past week, the tabloids had their fun poking at Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, who suggested that the country no longer produce 1p and 2p coins. He also questioned whether it was to the country’s advantage to eliminate the £50 note.

Chancellor of the Exchequer is to the United Kingdom as the Secretary of the Treasury is to the United States.

During Hammond’s review of the treasury, he said that since 500 million 1p and 2p coins fall out of circulation every year that it might be a good idea to eliminate them.

Hammond is a member of the Conservative Party. Following his statements on the State of the Treasury, MP (Member of Parliament) Wes Streeting, a member of the Labour Party, referred to Hammond as “this penny pincher Chancellor.”

That opened the tabloids and other opposition parties to attack Hammond and the Tories. Much like the argument against eliminating the one-cent coin in the United States, those against removing those coins worry about squeezing the poor a few pennies at a time (allegedly) making their situation worse.

For the £50 note, Hammond cites studies about its use in organized crime for physical payments. However, studies show that the criminals are more apt to use the 500€ note, while it is still in circulation, the 100&euro note, and the $100 Federal Reserve Note. Even with the strong exchange rate being strong on the pound sterling, it is more advantageous for criminals to use higher denomination banknotes.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who has the final say, gave the British press a non-committal statement following the opposition attack. Of course, that opened her up to being called whishy-washy by the tabloids.

The British tabloids do make the news entertaining!

And not the news…

 March 11, 2018

Whether a modern quarter displaying a U.S. national park or a rare, hand-hammered Greek denarius dating back to 250 A.D., history is woven throughout the process and story of all coins, tokens and currencies, according to Monte Mensing, president of the Springfield Coin Club. → Read more at registerguard.com

 March 12, 2018

GAYLORD — When Kandus Schalter received a “challenge coin” from Matt Barresi, director of the Gaylord Regional Airport, she thought she might just keep it in her wallet. But Frank Jasinski thought Schalter, a World War II veteran and local businesswoman with strong ties to the community, should be able to wear it proudly, so he offered to take it to Hogan’s Jewelers, to put a hole and catch in it. → Read more at petoskeynews.com

 March 12, 2018

On Monday, March 12, the National Bank of Ukraine introduces a commemorative coin "The Day of the Ukrainian Volunteer". This was reported by the press service of the bank. The nominal value of the coin is 10 UAH, metal is a zinc-based alloy, the circulation is 1 million pieces. → Read more at 112.international

 March 12, 2018

The Treasury could be paving the way for the end of 1p and 2p coins as it seeks views on the future of cash. It is inviting comments on the mix of coins in circulation as consumers move to non-cash payments such as contactless and digital spending. → Read more at bbc.com

 March 13, 2018

PHILIP Hammond was branded a “penny-pincher” after revealing shock plans to scrap 1p and 2p coins. Unveiling his Spring Statement, the Chancellor resurrected proposals to abolish the “obsolete” copper change. → Read more at thesun.co.uk

 March 15, 2018

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has decided to stop striking coins of low denominations — 1 kopiyka, 2 kopiykas, 5 kopiykas, 25 kopiykas coins, acting NBU Governor Yakiv Smolii has said. “The National Bank stops striking 1 kopiyka, 2 kopiykas, 5 kopiykas, 25 kopiykas coins. All these denominations of coins will be in circulation, but in the … → Read more at kyivpost.com

 March 16, 2018

A pot of 500 gold and silver coins dating to the 15th century was discovered in the Netherlands. → Read more at livescience.com

 March 16, 2018

The five dollar gold coin is the first time the Mint has ever issued currency in a pink hue. → Read more at usatoday.com

 March 16, 2018

Utility workers in the Netherlands struck gold while laying drain pipe at a construction site earlier this month. The employees of Oasen, a water supply company, unearthed a collection of nearly 500 coins in a glazed cooking pot dating back to the 15th century, the NL Times reported — 12 of them gold and the remaining silver. → Read more at nydailynews.com

Coin Collectors News

Yet another quarter series?

Nineteenth Amendment

With so little happening in Congress regarding numismatic-related legislation, it should not be a surprise that I would become excited I am alerted that there was something to see.

The excitement wore off when I saw the bill that was introduced.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced H.R. 5308 with the initial title of To amend title 31, United States Code, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue quarter dollars in commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment, and for other purposes.

The text of the bill is not available, yet.

The Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote. It was the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement. To amend the constitution, it passed the House of Representatives on May 21, 1919, the Senate on June 4, 1919, then by 36 of the 48 states on August 18, 1920.

How do you create a design to commemorate the Nineteenth Amendment? Will there be one quarter per state? If so, what would be on Maryland’s quarter? Maryland rejected the amendment in 1920, the legislature ratified it in 1941, but the vote was not certified until 1958.

Then there is Mississippi that rejected the amendment in 1920 but passed it in 1984 becoming the 48th and last state to ratify the amendment (Alaska and Hawaii were not admitted to the union at the time and are ineligible to vote on the amendment).

While it is appropriate to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, maybe it should be a commemorative coin with the proceeds going to an organization like the League of Women Voters.

H.R. 5308: To amend title 31, United States Code, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue quarter dollars in commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Introduced: March 15, 2018
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 15, 2018
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR5308.

An Estate Auction tip

Not long ago I wrote about alternative places to find coins and other numismatic collectibles that included some of my secrets. As an addendum, I am going to provide another secret to an estate auction from a company I have done business with in the past.

If you are in the central Virginia area or willing to pay for shipping, you can bid on the Coin and Postcard Auction from JLR Auctions of Culpeper, Virginia.

The auction has 144 lots of coins along with eight lots of supplies. If you are into old postcards, there are a few nice lots in this auction. A little something for everyone.

I have bought items through JLR Auctions and have consigned surplus items. They are a good company to work with. I have no stake in this auction but passing along a tip to my readers.

Happy bidding!

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for March 11, 2018

It was announced that the Royal Canadian Mint was issuing a silver Canadian dollar commemorating the 180th Anniversary of Baseball in Canada. Being a baseball fan, I went to the Royal Canadian Mint’s website to see if the coin was worth adding to my collection. The came sticker shock!

The coin is convex, similar to the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins issued by the U.S. Mint. But that is where the similarities end. The reverse of the Canadian coin features a vintage baseball scene reminiscent of the 19th century inside a baseball-looking design. The obverse has the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. It has a face value of $25 CDN.

Then there are the specifications. When I visited the Royal Canadian Mint’s website, I was floored when I noticed the issue price of 159.95 CAD or about $124.82 at the current exchange rate. Here is a comparison of the coins:

Royal Canadian Mint
180th Anniversary of Canadian Baseball
U.S. Mint
2014 Hall of Fame Commemorative Silver Dollar
Mintage 5,000 (limit) 400,000 (actual)
Proof: 268,076
Unc: 131,924
Face Value 25.00 CAD 1.00 USD
Composition 99.99% pure silver 90% silver
10% copper
Weight 30.75 g
(0.9886 troy ounce)
29.73 g
(0.9558 troy ounce)
Diameter 36.07 mm 38.1 mm
Silver Value
(16.57 USD spot)
16.38 USD 14.25 USD
Issue Price
(1 CAD = 0.78 USD)
159.95 CAD
(124.82 USD)
Proof: $56.95 (preorder: $51.95)
Unc: $52.95 (preorder: $47.95)

If you want a baseball commemorative coin and do not want to break the bank, you can still find the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Silver Dollar within 20-percent of the issue price in original government packaging (OGP). Even though the artwork is very good, the price of the Canadian coin is too high. At a premium of over 970-percent over spot, it is difficult to justify.

And now the news…

 March 5, 2018

The Central Bank of Lithuania is calling on tech companies and blockchain experts from across the globe to help in the design and production of a digital collector coin. The Central Bank is organising a hackathon in May for third parties to help in the design and development of the one-off virtual currency. → Read more at finextra.com

 March 6, 2018

A new commemorative coin was unveiled Oct. 9 to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honor those Americans who served. The silver dollar coin, authorized by Congress in 2014, features a service member holding a rifle to honor those who fought in the war from 1914 to 1918. → Read more at wadenapj.com

 March 6, 2018

Major League Baseball came to Canada in the 20th century with the debut of the Montreal Expos in 1969 and the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977, but that was far from the beginning of the country's history with the game. → Read more at mlb.com

 March 6, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – A design is needed for the Bicentennial Coin to commemorate the Illinois Bicentennial. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced the Bicentennial Coin Contest on Tuesday. → Read more at wandtv.com

 March 7, 2018

Reverse of new penny design, showing Abraham Lincoln and the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (U.S. Mint photo) → Read more at chicagotribune.com

 March 7, 2018

The Royal Mint is encouraging coin lovers to celebrate the UK “one coin at a time”. The new series of 10p coins were released into circulation on March 1 and features an A to Z of British landmarks, icons and traditions. → Read more at dailystar.co.uk

 March 8, 2018

A museum has started a bid to buy part of a gold sovereign hoard discovered hidden inside a piano. The find was made in 2016 in Shropshire when the piano's new owners had it retuned and repaired. It has since been declared as treasure. → Read more at bbc.com

Coin Collectors News

When is it permissible to clean your coins

Numismatists and serious collectors will tell you to never clean your coins.

At one time it was common practice to clean coins and even use shellac on copper coins to keep their color. Dealers would dip coins in harsh chemicals to remove dirt and grime in order to make the coins more attractive to buyers. But that was in the past. Today, we are more sophisticated collectors and like our coins with as natural of a surface as possible. Because of this, the value of a cleaned coin will drop since it will not be as desirable as a coin with an original surface, regardless of the coin’s overall condition.

In fact, cleaning a coin or altering it to make the coin look better is not only unethical, but it can also be a crime since you would be representing a coin as original and it is not. It is called coin doctoring. This is such a touchy subject for the numismatic community that the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG), an association of top dealers, spent two years trying to define what coin doctoring really means. In 2012, PNG came out with the following three conditions that indicates coin doctoring (emphasis added):

  1. Movement, addition to, or otherwise altering of metal, so that a coin appears to be in a better state of preservation, or more valuable than it otherwise would be. A few examples are plugging, whizzing, polishing, engraving, “lasering” and adding or removing mintmarks.
  2. Addition of any substance to a coin so that it appears to be in a better state of preservation or more valuable than it otherwise would be. The use of solvents and/or commercially available dilute acids, such as Jeweluster, by qualified professionals is not considered coin doctoring.
  3. Intentional exposure of a coin to any chemicals, substances, or processes which impart toning, such that the coin appears to be in a better state of preservation or more valuable than it otherwise would be. Naturally occurring toning imparted during long-term storage using established/traditional methods, such as coin albums, rolls, flips, or envelopes, does not constitute coin doctoring.

But there may be good reasons to clean collectible coins that may not be considered coin doctoring. Some may have collectibles that could be saved if we could just get the dirt or grime off. Some may have some PVC damage that may not have attacked the surface of the coin and could also be saved.

Another reason to clean coins is if you found the coins with a metal detector buried in the ground. Years of being buried in the dirt probably stored in non-archival materials can take its toll on a coin. These coins can be cleaned to remove the dirt.

The purpose is to remove the foreign substances from the surfaces and not to change the physical properties of the coin.


If you want to try to clean your coin, consider using neutral and non-abrasive means, such as soaking your coins in extra-virginolive oil or acetone. Yes, I did say extra-virgin olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is as neutral as you can get with a product that has been used to make soaps and other cleaners. In order for olive oil to be branded as “extra-virgin,” it must be made by the natural pressing of olives with no chemical additives and be no more than 0.8 percent acidic. Not only does the purity make for oil that is good for consumption, the natural fats can react with dirt on the coin and naturally loosen it to be easily rinsed away.

When trying to remove PVC or other stubborn dirt, try using acetone. Acetone is a natural solvent, chemically known as an organic compound, that has many uses. Acetone is slightly acidic, no more than two percent by volume, which is not enough to cause damage to coining metals.

If you use acetone you need to use 100-percent pure acetone and not nail polish remover. Although nail polish remover does contain acetone, it also contains perfumes and is diluted to the point that it will not work on your coins. The additives will damage the coin’s surface. Acetone can be purchased at your local hardware store and is sold either by the quart or gallon. While shopping, you should also purchase protective gloves (made from powder-free latex or nitrile), a protective mask for your nose and mouth, and something for your eyes if you do not wear glasses. Always remember your safety when using any chemical!

You should never use vinegar or soap. Vinegar is acidic and could affect the surface of the coin. Using vinegar can cause the small scratches and imperfections from the minting or bagging process to become more pronounced. These small etches can also become rough and allow new dirt to adhere to the coin.

Soap is a salt of a fatty acid. Chemically, a salt is a compound that neutralizes the reaction between the alkaline and acid properties of the chemicals. When fats are combined with other ingredients to reduce its acidity, it creates a soap that can be used for cleaning or lubrication. The problem is that the fatty acids on their own will not damage coins, you never know what the alkaline components are that have been added to balance the pH (potential of Hydrogen) of the acid.

Unfortunately, there is no standard definition of pure soap. Its common use is to define a product whose pH is as close to neutral (pH 7) as chemically possible. Unless the company discloses its formula, it would be impossible to tell if the makeup of the soap will negatively interact with the metals.

One final item you should have is distilled water. Distilled water has all the natural impurities removed and reduced the risk of the rinse damaging your coins. Using a squeeze bottle filled with distilled water is the most effective way to rinse away the olive oil or acetone.

When using either olive oil or acetone, the procedure is similar:

  1. Start with a clean work area. Wash your hands and work on a clean surface. Cleaning your workspace with anti-bacterial wipes will also help. Make sure your work area is safe and well ventilated, especially if you are using acetone.
  2. Consider covering your work surface with a lint-free towel folded over several times. If you drop the coin, you will drop it on the padding provided by the towel.
  3. If you are using acetone, don your safety gear. I cannot stress enough that while using acetone is an effective cleaner, you need to work with it in a well-ventilated area and away from any ignition sources, like your kitchen. If you smoke, you may want to leave your matches and lighter outside your work area.
  4. Pour your acetone or olive oil into a glass that would cover the coin. The depth should be about one-quarter to one-half inch of your liquid. It is also important to use glass for this. Acetone will react with plastic and olive oil may loosen anything that would be stuck to the plastic. A clean glass jar, drinking glass, or dessert bowl works best.
  5. If you are using acetone, place the coin in the glass and swirl it around for about 30 seconds. After a few swirls, you should start to see dirt in the acetone. If there is PVC on the coin, hopefully, you can see it begin to loosen. Do not do this for much longer than 30 seconds since the dirt in the acetone could scratch the coin.
  6. If you are using olive oil, place the coin in the glass with the dirtiest side up. Swirl it a few times to ensure the coin is coated and let it sit. Olive oil is not as strong as acetone and needs time to loosen the dirt. Depending on how dirty the coin is, let it sit for 30 minutes to three hours. Do not touch or swirl the coin. Just let it sit.
  7. Remove the coin from its bath with tongs or your gloved hand. Then using your squeeze bottle filled with distilled water, rinse the coin. Rinse it well to remove the acetone or olive oil. Olive oil is harder to rinse, so patience is required.

After the rinse, place the coin on a lint-free cloth and let it air dry. DO NOT RUB THE COIN! Even though you are using a lint-free cloth, it will scratch the surface. Wait for the coin to dry naturally before storing it away.

If your cleaning attempt did not work, try again. If you used olive oil and want to try again, let the coin sit longer. You may also try using acetone instead. If you used acetone to try to remove PVC damage and it did not work, there is one more thing you can try using a cotton swab:

  1. After swirling the coin in the acetone, remove the coin from the liquid and place it on a clean surface. Make sure you are using all of your safety precautions.
  2. Using a cotton swab with a cardboard handle (do not use once with plastic handles since the acetone will react with the plastic), dip the cotton in the acetone and roll the cotton tip across the problem area of the coin. You can gently nudge at PVC particles that may still be attached to your coin. DO NOT RUB THE COIN! You are trying to remove the PVC without causing any further damage and rubbing it or using any other abrasive motion will damage the coin.
  3. Keep rolling the cotton tip over the area, changing tips after a few rolls. You may also want to have a little clean acetone nearby to dip the cotton swab.

Most importantly, be patient. It may take a few swabs to see results. If it is not working or you feel anxious doing this, then stop. The last thing you want to do is add damage to your collectible. At this point, if the coin is not “clean” then it may not be cleanable. You can try to contact a professional conservation service for additional help.

When you are done, make sure you clean your work area and dispose of your used materials properly. Acetone is considered hazardous so NEVER POUR ACETONE DOWN THE DRAIN. Do not let it sit out because allowing it to evaporate will add toxic vapors in the air. Many cities and towns have hazardous waste processing rules. Find out what they do in your area to allow for disposal of acetone. You can also ask the sales clerk at the store where you bought the acetone for your area’s acceptable disposal options.

While olive oil is not hazardous, it is not a good idea to pour it down the drain. The natural fat in the olive oil will congeal and may stick to your pipes. After a while, the fat builds up and will cause a clog. In my neighborhood, the water company once had to remove a 25-pound congealed ball of grease that caused a backup in everyone’s drain. It was not a pretty sight. You can dispose of olive oil with the trash since it is a natural product and will not pollute the environment.

Yet another quarter series?

With so little happening in Congress regarding numismatic-related legislation, it should not be a surprise that I would become excited I am alerted that there was something to see. The excitement wore off when I saw the bill that was introduced. Rep. Barbara Lee...

read more

An Estate Auction tip

Not long ago I wrote about alternative places to find coins and other numismatic collectibles that included some of my secrets. As an addendum, I am going to provide another secret to an estate auction from a company I have done business with in the past. If you are...

read more
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