Trick Or Treat

In celebration of All-Hallows-Eve, the Coin Collectors Blog presents some of the 2011 numismatic trick-or-treat.

25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set

TRICK: Anyone who tried to order the 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set starting at 12:00 Noon ET on Thursday, October 27 found that the U.S. Mint provided the most recent trick by not being able to keep up with the ordering demand

TREAT: If you were able to order your set, it should be a fantastic collectible.

American Numismatic Association

TRICK: There is never a good way to handle certain personnel issues. But regardless of whose feelings were hurt, the last statement issued by the ANA Board of Directors was unnecessary, uncalled for, and really lacked and an adult approach to a tough situation.

TREAT: The ANA actually using social media to reach out to members and respond.

American Numismatic Association, Part II

TRICK: The ANA Board of Directors making a myopic decision on how to handle club tables at their shows. Rather than make simple rules saying that the tables must be staffed at all times except during meetings, the Board went beyond reasonableness and added restriction as to how many clubs could share a table.

TREAT: A regional organization could have one table with the support of member clubs and tangentially fit within the rules. After all, these are “members” under one umbrella organization and only members will be staffing the table without violating the ANA’s ridiculous rules.

Over productions of Presidential Dollars

TRICK: National Public Radio did a highly inaccurate story about how the Federal Reserve is holding more than $1 billion in dollar coins in its vaults costing the taxpayers money.

TREAT: Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introducing H.R. 2977, the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act (COINS Act) to transition the U.S. from paper dollars to coins. Add to this the unconfirmed rumor that the “Super Committee” is considering adding this to their final bill.

The United States Mint

TRICK: Since the resignation of Ed Moy as Director of the U.S. Mint, the position has gone unfilled.

TREAT: Since being hired as Deputy Director on January 25, Richard Peterson has lead the U.S. Mint in a professional manner questioning whether the U.S. Mint really needs a politician as a director. As for the problems occurred while ordering the 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set, it could be said that the systems not being able to keep up with the loads are a residual problem left over from the previous director not managing the technology properly.

CCAC Blueprint Report

TRICK: As a concept, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee’s report “A Blueprint for Advancing Artistic Creativity and Excellence in United States Coins and Medals” should not be controversial. However, it seems that the CCAC has found two ways of making a good idea irrelevant. First, the CCAC, whose first “C” stands for Citizens, forgot the citizens. They created the report and did not ask for comment from the citizens. Even though I provided comments, I was basically told, “Thanks, but no thanks.” It would be nice if they were inclusive. The other TRICK was that the report has appeared to have become shelfware—a document sitting on the shelf without impact.

TREAT: Even with the issues in the report, it is a step in the right direction and should be something the U.S. Mint should be working on now!

What are your numismatic trick-or-treats for 2011?

Image is of a 2007 $200 commemorative casino token from the Four Queens Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV. Image is courtesy of the Silver Strikers Club. Details of this token can be found on the Silver Strikers Club website.

Exploring Charlotte Numismatically

Many years ago, my father accepted a job with a company named North Carolina National Bank in Charlotte. Growing up on Long Island, I knew this was going to be a culture shock. What I knew about the south was printed in the newspapers. No matter how my parents tried explain that living in Charlotte was not that bad, I was skeptical. It did not help when my parents bought a house just beyond the city limits in a neighborhood with no street lights and was very quite. A sharp contrast from an area that was across Jamaica Bay from JFK Airport!

Charlotte is an interesting city with some interesting quirks. For as long as I remember, Charlotte has always been concerned with its image. Charlotteans are so worried about what the rest of the world thinks of them that they lose sight with the concept of “just be yourself.” While this attitude continues, Charlotte has moved up in the “major leagues” by concentrating on itself and building itself into something more than a 2½ horse town and Atlanta’s little sister.

One thing that Charlotte has going for it is that it is really the financial capital of the south. Charlotte is second to New York as being the largest banking centers in the U.S. Charlotte was the home of that little bank named North Carolina National Bank. Today, that bank operates under the name of Bank of America. It also was the home of First Union before being bought by Wachovia which was later purchased by Wells Fargo. Charlotte is the home of Wells Fargo’s east coast operations.

I bring this up after reading a Charlotte Observer story, “Museums of Money”that appeared last week on their website. The story begins by reminding us that Charlotte has had a long financial history dating back to the 1799 discovery of gold of Conrad Reed’s farm along Little Meadow Creek in nearby Cabarrus County. Conrad’s son John further explored the area in 1802 and began mining operations in 1804. The Reed Gold Mine is now a privately owned historic landmark open year round to visitors. You can still pan for gold to find the slivers still floating in the waters.

The story was prompted by the opening of the new Wells Fargo History Museum in the building they purchased from Wachovia in downtown Charlotte. The museum pays tribute to the gold and banking heritage of the area along with the history of Wells Fargo dating back to its founding in 1852. You can read about Wells Fargo’s history on line and see some the artifacts at their museums nationwide at

Another museum mentioned is Mint Museum of Art. With the discovery of gold in the Charlotte area, congress authorized the first branch mints outside of Philadelphia. The U.S. Mint in Charlotte was opened in 1837 and was the first mint ousted of Philadelphia to strike gold coins. The Charlotte Mint produced over $5 million in gold coins until it was taken over by the Confederacy after North Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861. After the war its status was changed to an assay office. When the building was set to be demolished in 1931, a group of private citizens bought the building and moved it a few miles south of its downtown Charlotte location. The building was rededicated in 1935 as the Mint Museum of Art. Today, the museum has expanded to a new location in downtown Charlotte and the location of the original Mint building is called Mint Museum Randolph. The Randolph location has a small gallery dedicated to when it produced coins including a model of the layout showing where the coins were struck and stored along with examples of the half and quarter eagles struck at the old Mint.

Not to be outdone, Bank of America has a its flagship museum at its corporate headquarters in Charlotte. The Bank of America Heritage Museum does focus more on its heritage from its founding as North Carolina National Bank in 1961, but does recognize the full history of all the banks that it acquired over the years which dates its history back to The Massachusetts Bank founded in 1784. If your interest leans to the Bank of America before being purchased by Nations Bank, their museum in San Francisco will provide you with that opportunity. For those not in either location, the Bank of America Heritage website provides some information of interest.

One museum of note was the Levine Museum of the New South and its permanent exhibit “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers.” This award willing museum concentrates more on the growth of Charlotte and the area from the end of Civil War until today. One of the exhibits shows one of the first ATMs developed by IBM in Charlotte first used by First Union bank.

So if you are in, near, or traveling to Charlotte, these are all good places for a numismatist to go and explore.

Silver Eagle Set Sells Out, But…

After going on sale at noon, the U.S. Mint changed the catalog page for the 2011 American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set to say the sets have been SOLD OUT at 6:00 PM.

Those of us who were able to order sets found that the U.S. Mint early was faced with slow response time at the website and busy signals on the phone. In fact, the phone system was the most frustrating. After calling 1-800-USA-MINT, the interactive voice response (IVR) system answered and presented the options. After pressing “1” to order products, we were told “Your call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.” Sometimes, it was followed by a message saying that I was selected to participate in a survey after the call. But I never got to the survey when the call reverted to a busy signal.

The website was no better. Many times it did not respond. When it did, users could only get back to the front page. After being able to select the sets and change the quantity, trying to check out became an act of futility. For the first hour, if you could get back to the online shopping cart, requests to checkout was not responded to by the U.S. Mint servers.

Fifty minutes into this adventure, my call sailed past the intro to actually place me on hold. A few moments later, a pleasant woman answered the phone and helped me place my order for five sets, the household limit.

Once the order was completed, I turned back to the computer and continued trying to place an order anyway. After trying for 90 minutes, I gave up and decided to have lunch.

U.S. Mint ordering limits prevented a quicker sellout. Two friends were able to order sets by phone at 3:00 PM. They called from work and each placed their order with the same representative.

Although I do my work for a different government agency, we always attempt to architect the systems, including the VRS, for the worst case scenario. Although predicting the maximum load and how to build systems is more of an art than a science, there are tools that helps the performance engineers’ job easier. The U.S. Mint should consider finding system engineers who come with performance engineering support to fix their systems.

Now that I have that off my chest, I am looking forward to seeing this set, especially the reverse proof. The reverse proof was the highlight of the 20th Anniversary set and should be the highlight of the 25th Anniversary Set.

E-Numismatist Now Available for Android Phones

The American Numismatic Association announced today that users of Android-based smartphones can now read The Numismatist electronically. While the app is free from the Android Market, members are required to login in order to be able to read The Numismatist electronically.

This expands the ANA’s electronic reach following the release of their iPhone app and HD version for the iPad. You can read “Review: E-Numismatist Is Worth Its Quirks” for more about the iPhone and iPad apps (rated MS63).


Since I do not own an Android device, I am inviting a guest reviewer for this app. If you are an ANA member with the ability to log in and read The Numismatist electronically, I will publish your review here on the Coin Collectors Blog.


  • Before sending me the review, you must contact me via email (I don’t want to be bombarded with reviews)
  • Your review must include screen images of the running app (see my review of the iOS apps as an example)
  • Your review must conclude with a rating on the 70-point Sheldon scale with a short justification
  • Reviews are subject to editing (spelling and grammar) and reviews by both of us before posting
  • I will also need a proper spelling of your name for the by-line and an email address for readers to contact you

Your review will be a great service to the numismatic community and you will have my gratitude.

Perth Mint Introduces 1 Tonne Gold Coin

Early this morning U.S. time, the Perth Mint unveiled the world’s largest gold coin. The 1 Tonne Gold Kangaroo Coin is made from 99.99-percent pure gold, weighs one tonne (1,000 kilograms or 2,204.62 pounds), is 80 centimeters (31.49 inches) in diameter, and 12 centimeters (4.72 inches) thick. The obverse features Queen Elizabeth II and the reverse features a Red Kangaroo. The coin has a face value of AU$1 million ($1.04 million U.S. Dollars) and contains $55.23 million in gold (at the spot price $1718 per troy ounce).

Perth Mint surpassed the effort by the Royal Canadian Mint whose 2007 CA$1 million face value coin, made with 99.999-percent pure gold, and weighed only 100 kilograms.

Why did the Perth Mint do this? As a publicity stunt, of course. In a video produced by the Perth Mint (see below), the director said that it will be part of their exhibit for the 100,000 people per year who come to visit their facility. Certainly, the chance to see the World’s Largest Coin will be an attraction that will increase the number of visitors.

You can see how the Perth Mint made the coin in their video below.

25th Anniversary Silver Eagles Price Set

On Thursday, October 20, the U.S. Mint not only confirmed that the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set at noon Eastern Time (ET) on October 27, 2011, but that the price was set at $299.95 with a limit of 5 sets per household. The U.S. Mint caveated the price noting that the price is subject to change depending on the price of silver.

Earlier this week, I attempted to predict the price of the set. At that time, the guess was $368.95 with the price of silver at $42—which was the price when I did the calculations, not posted the article. If we give me the approximate $10 drop in silver ($50 for five coins), and take away the 33-percent markup ($16.50) should have lowered my guess to $312.45. That would be only a $13.50 difference. So my guess was only significantly off by my assumed price of silver.

Spin aside, I am looking forward to this set. Hopefully, their website will stay up long enough to allow me to place my order!

Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Help Protect the Ancient Collecting Hobby

I received this in email and thought it was important enough to reprint here.

This message is being transmitted on behalf of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) concerning an urgent matter that affects all collectors of ancient coins.

What is being asked of you is to take 5 minutes to write a comment to the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee via a website. Please submit your comment once by the deadline of November 2, 2011, 5pm EST.

Please consider sending this to any coin collector you know:

The US State Department is seeking public comment on a new request for import restrictions made on behalf of Bulgaria. To submit comments electronically to the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), go here:!submitComment;D=DOS-2011-0115-0001. For further details of the request, see

What is at issue?  Despite President Obama’s efforts to foster government transparency, the State Department has not indicated whether coins are part of the request. Nonetheless, based on recent history, it is probable that import restrictions on coins will be proposed. As a practical matter, this means the State Department and US Customs may be considering restrictions on tribal coinages from Thrace, coins of Greek city states like Apollonia Pontica and Messembria, Roman provincial coins struck at Bulgarian mints, and even some Roman Imperial coins. It’s also possible that any restrictions will include later coins as well. Though details are few, the public summary the State Department has provided indicates that Bulgaria seeks import restrictions on objects from 7500 B.C. to the 19th c. AD. If restrictions are imposed on coins, many common types will likely become so difficult to import legally that they will become unavailable to most collectors.

Why bother?  Large numbers of coin collectors have made their concerns known to CPAC. Recently, 70% of the comments CPAC received on an MOU with Greece were from concerned coin collectors. Even though recent extensions of import restrictions to certain Greek and Roman Republican coins from Italy and on coins from Cyprus despite the vast amount of public comment make it easy to become cynical, public comment can at least help moderate demands for import restrictions. For example, the archaeologists actively sought import restrictions on Roman coins as well during the discussions about the Italian MOU, but they remain exempted, and thus easy to obtain on the open market, likely due to the 2000 or so faxes CPAC received from concerned collectors.

What should I say?  Tell the State Department and CPAC what you think about the bureaucracy’s efforts to deny you the ability to collect common ancient artifacts that are available worldwide. You might also might consider noting that coins from Bulgarian mints are common and often very inexpensive. Tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands exist in collections around the world, and because of the low price the vast majority of these coins will never have been through an auction and will have no verifiable provenance.

If you are having trouble commenting from the direct link above, go to and search on docket number DOS-2011-0115. Further information about, including instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the dockets, is available on the site under “How To Use This Site.” Kindly note that your comments will be public so avoid conveying any personal information, and, of course, be polite in commenting on the issue.

Please submit comments just once, before the cutoff of 5:00 PM EST Nov. 2, 2011.

NOTE:  Click this link to see the Notice of Receipt of Cultural Property Request From the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria.

From a note sent by

Learning From a Non-Numismatic Catalog

This week I received the “Gift Preview 2011” catalog from Hammacher Schlemmer. Within its pages was a note that said that during the Civil War, Hammacher Schlemmer was allowed to strike their own coins because of a shortage of circulating coinage. Their “Rebellion Tokens” was made from copper.

If you are not familiar with Hammacher Schlemmer, the company started in 1848 as a hardware store. As time went on, the company expanded into high-end merchandise that was high quality and highly innovative. For the last three decades, Hammacher Schlemmer has supported innovative inventors through its Hammacher Schlemmer Institute testing and reviewing new products to sell to their clientele. The claim that they are America’s longest running catalog with over 168 years without interruption.

Not only does the catalog have interesting items, but interesting facts about Hammacher Schlemmer.

Image taken from the Hammacher Schlemmer “Gift Preview 2011” catalog.

Predicting the Price of 25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set

Several stories have confirmed that the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set will go on sale October 27, 2011. Shipping is expected to begin in late November.

The United States Mint American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set will include five one-ounce American Eagle Silver Coins:

  1. one proof coin from the United States Mint at West Point
  2. one uncirculated coin from the United States Mint at West Point
  3. one uncirculated coin from the United States Mint at San Francisco
  4. one reverse proof coin from the United States Mint at Philadelphia
  5. one bullion coin

All five coins will be mounted in a custom-designed, highly polished, lacquered hardwood presentation case accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.

The U.S. Mint plans to produce 100,000 of these set with a limit of 5 sets per household. The prices has still not been set.

If we were to speculate on the potential price of this set, we can look at the cost of the 20th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set. In August 2006, when the 20th Anniversary set when on sale, $100 purchased a 2006-W Proof, 2006-W Burnished, and 2006-P Reverse Proof coins. That year, the U.S. Mint sold the 2006-W Proof Silver Eagle for $27.95 and the 2006-W Burnished Eagle for $19.95. Using the proof price for the reverse proof, the total cost was $75.85. By pricing the set at $100, that is a 33-percent markup.

For the 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle set, there are two proof coins currently selling for $29.95, two uncirculated coins now selling for $50.95, and the current price of silver is $42—but these calculations will use the price of the uncirculated coins currently on sale at the U.S. Mint as a basis for this speculation. With these prices, the total cost of the coins are $272.75. Given that the 20th Anniversary set was marked up about 33-percent, the total cost with the mark-up is $362.75.

Adding to the costs will be the “custom-designed, highly polished, lacquered hardwood presentation case accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.” This differs from the cardboard-based packaging that was used for the 20th Anniversary set. Aside from the labor, the U.S. Mint has to account for materials. Therefore, the speculative cost of the set will be $368.95.

Remember, you heard it here first!

ANA Successfully Uses Social Media

As easy as it is to criticize, it should be just as easy to complement. I want to complement the American Numismatic Association, specifically, whomever is responsible for the @ANACoins Twitter account. If you have not been following the tweets for @ANACoins, the updates have been reporting the goings on at the ANA National Money Show in Pittsburgh.

During the open Board of Governors meeting on October 14, person using @ANACoins had the following conversation:

Under proposal, clubs would get free club tables but all tables would have to be staffed. #ANAshows
14 Oct
CoinsBlog CoinsBlog
@ANACoins How about shared club tables so clubs can pool resources?
14 Oct
@CoinsBlog 2 clubs are allowed to share one club table under the proposal. Thanks for the question.
14 Oct
CoinsBlog CoinsBlog
@ANACoins What about a regional org like MSNA and its member clubs?
14 Oct
@CoinsBlog That’s something we need to clarify. I’ve shared your tweet with Gov. Greg Lyon. We’ll get an answer on that.
14 Oct

I am happy that someone is responding to their Twitter account and I hope to hear from Greg Lyon during the week.

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