Copper is the third most common element in the world.
Copper is a versatile metal that has been exploited for many purposes since the Bronze Age that started roughly in 3300 BCE. It is as practical as wire carrying electricity and for cooking. It is used for its artistic qualities such as the Statue of Liberty. Copper is also a medium of exchange.
Copper has a long history of being integrated with coins in the United States. From the first half and one cent coins of the late 18th century, every coin ever struck for circulation has contained copper, except for the 1943 Steel Cent.
U.S. cents have been made of copper, steel, and copper plated zinc. What’s next?
When coins were struck using precious metals, more were struck using a majority of the precious metal, and the balance was copper. Although legislation required changes in the composition of the alloy, copper continued to provide the filler.
Precious metals, like gold and silver, do not oxidize. Copper will naturally oxidize. Copper oxidizes when it is exposed to the environment. Water, salts, and acids in the air will react with the copper that will cause a molecular change in copper that causes its color to change. A typical example of what happens when copper oxidizes is the Statue of Liberty. The copper statue is now a blue-green color after many years of enduring the elements. That blue-green color is known as verdigris.
In numismatics, the copper oxidation is apparent as the colors of the half-cent, one cent, and two cent coins oxidize. When a coin is the color of the initially polished planchette, it is said to have a red color. As the copper in the coin oxidizes, the color is described as red-brown, sometimes with a percentage of red to brown color. A brown coin is a coin whose red color has completely oxidized.
The oxidation process is natural and can not be stopped. It is possible to slow the process. Eventually, the copper will oxidize and turn every cent ever struck to brown.
Numismatics does not consider the oxidation of copper as damage to a coin until the appearance of verdigris. Then the coin loses its value. However, verdigris is not damage. Verdigris is the result of the natural oxidation process.
Would this metal detector find be considered “artificial toning” (Image from CTTodd.com)
As collectors, we have seen the natural oxidation of copper accelerated by artificial means. Coins stored in holders made of the synthetic polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) produce an acidic gas as it oxidizes accelerating the oxidation of the copper used to make coins. That acceleration can lead to the rapid breakdown of the PVC holder, causing it to appear as if it melted to coin. Numismatists call this damage. It is a natural reaction by the copper.
When copper oxidizes, it does not change its molecular structure but alters its form. If someone would test the surface of a cent with bright red color and one that has turned brown, both will test as being made of copper. The surface would have to examined on a molecular level to see how oxidation has reformatted the molecular structure.
Oxidation only changes the color on the surface. The Statue of Liberty is an example of this phenomenon. When the statue was conserved in the early 1980s, experts found that the verdigris covering the copper was no more than 6-8 millimeters (one-quarter of an inch) deep. As a testament to how copper can maintain its structure, it the restorers estimate that it had lost .01-percent of its surface in her 100 years of living in New York.
An example of how copper tones
Although few would call the verdigris on the Statue of Liberty ugly, verdigris on a coin causes people to turn their heads away.
Another way that the oxidation of copper changes coins is when a coin becomes toned. Some collectors marvel at colors some coins become when the copper in the alloy oxidizes. Others see the coin as damaged. Both views are right.
From a scientific perspective, a toned coin shows the flaws within the alloy. If the alloy was a consistent mixture of metals, toning on every coin would be similar. Instead, the inconsistencies of how the copper is mixed with the primary metal is revealed in the pattern of the toning. This inconsistency makes toning difficult to predict and challenging to detect whether toning was through natural oxidation or by artificial means.
Experts claim they can tell the difference between natural and artificial toning. With certain exceptions, such as the toning from known contaminants like the lignin in paper and PVC, very few people can tell the difference without extensive examination. Specialized equipment such as microscopes that enhance the image using a type of radiography is the only way to determine the difference between natural and artificial toning. And that is not a perfect solution.
The third-party grading services can examine coins using specialized equipment and determine whether the coin was naturally or artificially toned. But they can only be reasonably sure. Without examining the surface to determine the type of contaminants that caused the oxidation, they can provide the best guess based on the evidence they can collect.
If you read the various numismatic forums, members share many formulas that they found to accelerate the oxidation of the copper in a coin. Some have even bragged how they were able to have the coins graded by the third-party grading services as being naturally toned. Collectors continue to chase these coins and pay additional premiums for them.
Another numismatic curiosity is the alleged conserving of coins to remove damaging oxidation. Unlike the oxidation of iron, which breaks down the molecular bonds of the alloy, the bonds of oxidized copper molecules remain strong. The green color is on the surface of the copper where it was in contact with the contaminants.
It is impossible to reverse the oxidation of copper. The only way to remove the oxidized copper that has turned to verdigris is to remove that layer of copper. When speaking with professionals that restore art and antiques, they admit that their methods of restoring copper involve removing the oxidized layers. They recognize the fact that it is the only way to restore the luster to copper.
However, numismatic conservation services make claims that they can safely remove the oxidation without damaging the surface of the coin. When asking a professional art restoration company whether this was true, they wondered how these companies could get away with making their false claims.
When shown example images of coin conservation found online, the professionals were able to explain how most of the cleaning was done using sonic tools or high pressure distilled water possibly mixed with baking soda to raise the alkaline level of the water. They did refer to this as a form of cleaning because it is designed to loosen the bonds between the contaminants and the metals.
One set of images showed the removal of verdigris on a coin. The expert said that the only way to remove the verdigris spots was the alter the surface of the coin by removing that layer of copper which changes the surface of the coin. It is an evasive procedure, yet the example images showed the coin before conservation and following the work in a third-party grading service holder not marked as having altered surfaces.
While sitting at a table where a bronze bust worth tens of thousands of dollars was in the process of conservation, this expert saw before and after images of silver and gold coins and wondered if the numismatic industry knew something the multi-billion dollar art industry did not.
The art industry documents its conservation methods. Auction houses, insurance companies, dealers, and collectors know how art is conserved. They accept that the surface of the bust on the table is being altered to remove the verdigris spots. Once completed, the restored copper bust will be worth more to a collector, who will know about the restoration.
Art restoration is so understood that a graphic like this does not cause controversy.
Similar openness does not exist in the numismatic industry. Numismatic conservation companies do not document their methods by calling them trade secrets. These coins are in third-party grading service holders without any indication of their conservation, and the auction companies are happy to sell them for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What have we learned?
- Every coin that has been struck for circulation by the U.S. Mint contains copper except for the 1943 Steel Cent.
- Copper oxidized to the point of forming verdigris on the surface.
- Oxidation only occurs on the surface that is in contact with the environment.
- The rate of oxidation is controllable through proper handling.
- Once copper oxidizes, it is not reversible.
- It is not possible to remove oxidation without altering the copper surface.
The art world understands that conservation of copper requires altering the surface. It is accepted as part of an industry where significant works sell for tens- or hundreds-of-millions of dollars. The numismatic world hides behind alleged proprietary secrets and few questions about what they are doing.
Maybe it is time to ask the numismatic conservation companies to disclose what they are doing to understand whether they are altering the coins’ surface, or not. Maybe it is time to ask the third-party grading service why are they not disclosing that they are placing conserved coins in their holders. Maybe it is time to hold the auction companies and dealers responsible for not disclosing when a coin is conserved.
Maybe it is time the industry is honest with itself and honest with its collectors.
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
President Kennedy’s speech at Rice University was not the official policy announcement. He made that announcement on May 25, 1961. This speech was to convince the American people and Congress that it was necessary to fund this idea. Given the technology of the time, the space race was a longshot with people bound and determined to beat the Soviets to the moon.
Eisenhower Dollar Reverse featuring the Apollo 11 mission insignia
Kennedy’s vision was accomplished by the Apollo 11 crew of Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin along with the thousands of support people on Earth. A little more than eight years after Kennedy made it the nation’s policy, Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969.
From within the capsule attached to the top of the Saturn V launch vehicle, a rocket once described as a giant Roman candle, the rocket roared to life to lift the three pioneers into the final frontier. Even though the liftoff occurred at 9:32 AM in Florida, it was watched worldwide regardless of the local time.
Four days later, on Sunday, July 20, 1969, the world held its collective breath as the Lunar Module (LM), call-sign Eagle, was guided to the moon’s Sea of Tranquility and landed at 4:18 PM Central Time. Relief came when Neil Armstrong transmitted a message to Mission Control in Houston:
“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) Charles Duke’s response summed up the feel of those of us on Earth as he stumbled a bit at the beginning:
“Roger, Twan– Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”
According to the official schedule, Armstrong and Aldrin were supposed to get five hours of sleep. Realizing that it was unlikely they would be able to sleep, the crew prepared for the first walk on the moon’s surface.
Six and a half hours after landing, after Walter Cronkite and the CBS News team showed models as to how Armstrong will descend from the LM, pull the D-Ring to activate the camera, Armstrong left the LM and went down the latter. He pulled the D-Ring, and the world watched his progress. Just before reaching the surface of the moon, Armstrong uncovered a plaque mounted on the LM that read:
Armstrong looked at the surface and described the moon’s dust as “very fine-grained” and “almost like a powder.” Then with a short jump, he left the bottom rung of the ladder and was standing on the surface of the moon.
“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Over the years, there has been a debate about whether Armstrong included the word“a” in the statement. That is not what was heard at the time, and modern examinations of the audio tapes neither confirm or deny the claim. Regardless of what he said, Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the surface of the moon, a little more than eight years since President Kennedy said it was his goal.
Ironically, with the concerns about weight and preserving fuel, there appears to have been a lot of souvenirs carried to space with the crew. The most famous of these souvenirs are the Robbins Medals.
Apollo 11 Flown MS66 NGC Sterling Silver Robbins Medallion, Serial Number 241, from The Armstrong Family Collection (Courtesy of Heritage Auctions)
The practice of carrying Fliteline medals started in 1965 with the flight of Gemini 3, NASA’s first manned mission in the Gemini program. In 1968, the Robbins Company of Attleboro, Mass. was contracted to produce the Fliteline medals starting with Apollo 7.
It is reported that 480 of these 28mm medals were carried aboard Apollo 11.
According to Heritage Auctions, the most paid for a mission flown Robbins Medal was medal #241, a silver medal graded MS66 by NGC, that sold for $112,500 (including buyer’s premium) on November 1, 2018. It was sold with a Statement of Provenance signed by Armstrong’s sons as being once owned by Neil Armstrong. The provenance likely accounts for its high price.
According to news reports, Barry Ron Skog, a coin dealer in the suburbs of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit coins. He was last week to 30 months in jail.
Counterfeit 1803-dated dollar found in Hong Kong for $3. It is not part of the story but makes for a good accompanying image.
Skog, 68, advertised in Numismatic News sending lists of available coins to interested collectors. Reports say that Skog, who used the alias Ron Peterson, sold $57,000 worth of counterfeit coins. On his arrest, his list contained 275 counterfeit coins which would have sold for over $200,000.
A source said that Numismatic News cooperated with investigators when a reader alerted them about the problem.
I am reporting this in very stark terms so that if anyone is searching the Internet for information about coin collecting, I want you to know that this situation is not typical of the hobby.
Like any industry, there are a lot of outstanding people and a few that ruin the reputation for others. Skog is not typical of the vast majority of the dealers I have met. Although there are dealers I disagree with on many different issues when it comes to numismatics, the state of the hobby, or their approach, I do not think they are bad people.
Not all mail order dealers are bad people either. For some, it is a hobby. They use the proceeds from buying and selling through ads placed in the numismatic media to enhance their collections. The same is true of some of the people who sell on eBay. Sure, there may be issues with some eBay sellers that give the rest a bad name, but there are more honorable people than those trying to scam you.
Finally, Numismatic News is an outstanding publication and an excellent source for stories about the hobby. While its future is uncertain, while it is still publishing, I have no problems recommending it as a reliable source. A scammer like this could have done this using any other publication. There is nothing about Numismatic News to place them at fault.
Unfortunately, stuff happens. When it does, it was nice to hear that the community banded together to stop someone from hurting other members.
And now the news…
July 8, 2019
HISTORIANS are baffled after a mysterious African coin that could date as far back as the 8th century was found in Australia. The copper coin could mean Captain Cook – famous as the first Eur… → Read more at thesun.co.uk
July 8, 2019
Scientists are perplexed at the origins and provenance of two very ancient and unusual Roman coins that turned up like a bad penny in the 20th century. A Quincussis – the correct scientific name of this strange find — has thus far only been mentioned in texts dedicated to the coinage of ancient times and at most only a drawing was reported, but no one has ever seen one, until one was presented to Dr Roberto Volterri of the Rome University for analyses and then its twin surfaced. → Read more at ancient-origins.net
July 9, 2019
A Burnsville coin dealer who admitted selling counterfeit coins was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison. Barry Ron Skog, 68, pleaded guilty to the counterfeit coin scheme Feb. 21. → Read more at twincities.com
July 9, 2019
Greek customs officers caught a Turkish citizen attempting to smuggle 1,055 ancient coins across the border from Turkey on Tuesday, the Greek Reporter news site reported. The coins were hidden in seven water bottles concealed at the bottom of a bag containing food, it said. → Read more at ahvalnews.com
July 9, 2019
A federal judge in St. Paul sentenced a former Burnsville coin dealer Tuesday to 2½ years in prison for fraud in the sale of bogus collectible coins. Barry Ron Skog, 68, owned the Burnsville Coin Co., which advertised the sale of collectible “numismatic” coins. → Read more at startribune.com
The American Numismatic Association election is over and the membership has made a choice. Steve Ellsworth will become the new President of the American Numismatic Association at the World’s Fair of Money in August. Ralph Ross will become Vice President.
Although these were not my choices for leadership, I will support them for their two-year term. Both men deserve the support of the entire membership regardless of what you thought about the election.
The ANA is at a critical juncture in its modern history. There is a societal change happening that is affecting many hobbies and traditional institutions. It is a change borne out of changes in ideas, ideals, and how the new generation thinks about hobbies and their traditions.
The status quo is no longer acceptable. Millennials and those identified as Gen Z, who graduated from high school this year, grew up in a different world. In their world, money is electronic, stamps are utilitarian only used when necessary, and the concept of formality is reserved for a noncontroversial post on social media.
With the Millenials and Gen Z now in that numismatic black hole between being a Young Numismatist and their reawakening when they get older, it is time that the ANA adapt to the new world order of technology.
Adapting traditional hobbies between the past and technology will be difficult. Ask the philatelic (stamp collecting) world how technology has upended what they built. Technology has changed many aspects of our lives, and if numismatics do not change along with it, numismatics will become a minor aspect of the hobby community.
Making this bridge between the traditions of numismatics and the future is what the new ANA leadership and the Board of Governors will need your help. The only way the ANA will change to meet the needs of the membership is for the association to speak out. Members, especially those that are not of AARP eligible age, must be the ones to speak to the Board and let them know what the ANA has to do to have a healthy future.
Overall, 19,737 ANA members were eligible to vote in this election; 31.06 percent of eligible voters participated.
One of the most significant issues is that the membership is not engaged. Maybe it is time for the ANA members to get off the sidelines and become involved.
Members must open lines of communications with the Board of Governors and let them know what you think. They cannot perform their jobs without knowing how to respond to the membership. Your input will help President-elect Ellsworth, and the rest of the Board set their agenda.
Help Ellsworth and the Board have a successful term. Let them know what you think. As a member you can contact the ANA directly. When you do, please keep it respectful and include your membership number.
Those who want to add their comments to a public forum, the ANA gives you that opportunity. Go to the ANA website, register, and post your message as an open blog post. Yes, the ANA website has a blog section for you to post whatever you like. Keep it clean, respectful, to the point. If you can add details to your ideas, I am sure the Board would appreciate the help.
In case you did not know, the ANA website also has a section of numismatic forums for collectors to talk with other collectors about numismatics. For those who are not happy with other forum sites, you might want to take the opportunity to see what the ANA has to offer.
If all else fails, you can write to me. Although I am one voice in the numismatic wilderness, I am a collector who wants to see the ANA remain a thriving home for numismatic collectors. You can write to me directly or post a comment here.
It is your ANA.
Your ANA needs your input.
Support the new Board and help them find their direction.
Usually, news about a new artist selected for the Artistic Infusion Program is not big news in the numismatic community. The program currently has 13 artists including a few who were once employees of the U.S. Mint. But the recent announcement that Steven Kenny of St. Petersburg, Florida seemed a little unusual because of his artistic style.
Newly named Artistic Infusion Program artist Steven Kenny (photo courtesy of www.stevenkenny.com)
Kenny’s primary work is surrealism, a style described as “irrational juxtaposition of images.” There are many different styles of surrealism that many artists have explored. One of the most famous surrealist artists was Salvador Dali.
While exploring Kenny’s website, you can see he has an interesting take on surrealism. Most of his works appear to be his take on portraits of different types of people adapting to their environment in unique ways. But these works go beyond that simple description, which is usually the case with artists who specialize in surrealism. His work has a simplicity that the more you look at them, the more that you can see complex themes formed by the image.
“The Beach” by Steven Kenny. Available as a print on his website.
The way Kenny approaches a subject makes his selection to the AIP a fascinating choice. The U.S. Mint has always had a problem figuring out how to create designs for complex subjects. It is one thing to design a coin with an organization’s logo or the bust of a person, but what about design a coin for a national park, a forest, or an event?
Although seeing a surrealistic design on a coin would be interesting, someone with a background in surrealism has a different view that has the potential to improve on coin designs.
Kenny’s selection to the AIP is a very interesting move for the U.S. Mint. Whoever made the selection should be praised for not only selecting a talented artist but one with a different perspective.
I encourage everyone to explore Steven Kenny’s website to see more about his art.
And now the news…
June 30, 2019
Using powerful infrared light, researchers have found a way to tint metal without dyes or pigments – with scientific implications far beyond coin-collecting → Read more at theglobeandmail.com
July 2, 2019
The U.S. Mint selected St. Petersburg surrealist painter Steven Kenny to create designs for coins. → Read more at abcactionnews.com
July 3, 2019
PHOTO: “MIR” → Read more at galpost.com
July 3, 2019
To continue, please click the box below to let us know you're not a robot. → Read more at bloomberg.com
July 3, 2019
→ Read more at kitco.com
July 4, 2019
A rare gold solidus dating back 1,600 years has been found by a group of Israeli students in the Galilee region. → Read more at sci-news.com
July 4, 2019
A treasure trove of Arab coins dating back some 1,000 years has been discovered in an old German cemetery near the Baltic coast. → Read more at thefirstnews.com
Independence Day in the United States is a celebration of the formal breakup with the British monarchy. But like a lot of political decisions on this side of the pond, it was a decision that caused a lot of debate. For example, during the discussion on whether to declare independence, Maryland was one of four colonies to hold out. The others were New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
Here are five other historical notes about the declaration:
- The preamble of what would become the beginning of the Declaration of Independence passed on May 15, 1776.
- On June 11, 1776, the “Committee of Five” was appointed to draft a declaration. Committee members were John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut. They completed the draft on June 28, 1776.
- The Continental Congress debated the draft on July 1-2, 1776. New York and South Carolina were still holdouts, and the two Deleware representatives were deadlocked. This lead to the historical ride of Caesar Rodney, who rode 80 miles to Philadelphia to vote in favor of independence.
- After Thomas Jefferson made the final agreed upon corrections to the document, the Continental Congress approved the draft on July 4, 1776, with 12 votes. Only New York abstained since they did not have the authority from their government.
- The final signatures were added on August 2, 1776. Since New York approved the resolution of independence on July 10, the New York delegation is included amongst the signatures.
Although we celebrated the birth of the nation in 1776, the new country was not recognized until 1783 when the two nations signed the Treaty of Paris.
Even while other things were going on, Congress found time to introduce and vote on numismatic-related legislation during the mother of June. The most significant development was the passing of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (S. 1235) by unanimous consent.
If passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the President, the bill would create a commemorative silver dollar in 2020 with a surcharge of $10 per coin that will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative.
When this bill was sent out of committee to the floor for a vote, the media was all in a twitter (pun intended) about the bipartisan nature of the bill’s support. The bill was introduced on April 30, 2019, by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and cosponsored by every female senator. Subsequently, male senators added their support to where the bill had 82 cosponsors. While we live in very partisan times, those of us who watch numismatic-related legislation understands that these bills are not controversial and tend to gain bipartisan support.
The bill is being held at the desk in the House of Representatives and not assigned to a committee. Although a call to the House did not provide answers, a source says that it is being held for procedural reasons.
According to the source, an objection was made by a member because the member believes that the bill violates the constitution. According to Article I Section 7 of the United States Constitution, it says that “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” Since commemorative coin bills raise revenue for private and public (seigniorage) sources, someone believes that the Senate overstepped its bounds.
There was no report as to who filed the objection.
S. 1235: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
Held at the desk. — Jun 5, 2019
Received in the House. — Jun 5, 2019
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Jun 5, 2019
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Jun 4, 2019
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Jun 4, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Apr 30, 2019
H.R. 3155: 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemorative Coin Act
Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 50,000 $5 coins, 500,000 $1 coins, and 750,000 half-dollar coins in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.The coins shall be emblematic of the sacrifices made by millions of people of the United States 75 years ago in bringing an end to World War II. The design on each coin shall represent the World War II Victory Medal, which was awarded to all 16 million U.S. military personnel who served from December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946.The bill requires all sales of such coins include specified surcharges, which shall be paid by Treasury to the congressionally designated National WWII Museum to fund its educational mission of telling the story of the U.S. experience in World War II.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jun 6, 2019
S. 1794: CENTS Act
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jun 12, 2019
H.R. 3483: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint commemorative coins in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the integration of baseball.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jun 25, 2019
S. 1954: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint commemorative coins in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the integration of baseball.
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jun 25, 2019
S. 2042: A bill to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jun 27, 2019
News of the week is not happening on the pages of the non-numismatic media but in the precious metals market. Specifically, the rise in the price of gold. While this news makes the gold bugs happy, it is a bad indicator for the rest of us.
Price of Gold for the 2nd Quarter of 2019
(Chart courtesy of GoldSeek.com)
With the price of gold opening at $1,279.00 on January 2, 2019, it saw some bumps in its price but has largely averaged a modest gain until the price closed at $1,271.15 on May 21. Then it started to climb and climb rapidly by market standards. On Friday, June 28, the end of the second fiscal quarter, gold closed at $1,409.00. The rise is a 10.8-percent gain since May 21.
Gold is considered a safe bet for investors. It is a way of investing in cash or cash equivalence. Investors buying gold will purchase bullion, gold bullion coins like the American Eagle, or shares in a fund that maintains large stores of gold. There are many types of funds and ways to purchase shares in these funds, but it is not the same as owning the physical gold. Most reports are claiming that investors are interested in purchasing physical gold with bullion coins being the preference.
Investors make money by investing with what they consider a manageable amount of risk. If the risk pays off, they can make a lot of money. The risks that fail must be made up elsewhere. Investors diversify their portfolios to mitigate these risks. However, if the institutional and large investors are moving their monies to safe harbors, like gold, they sense a problem.
This relatively sharp jump in the price of gold is being driven by the major investors who are worried about the future of the U.S. economy. They see the various trade wars being detrimental to the economy. One economist said that the recent hike in soybean tariffs to China is going to have long term effects long after this president leaves office.
Although the United States is no longer an agrarian economy, agriculture plays a significant role in the country’s economic health. Upsetting that role that agriculture plays will cause long-term damage to the economy. The soybean tariffs are believed to be the driver that is scaring investors.
You may ask how are soybeans causing gold to rise?
As part of foreign policy in Africa, the government has been supplying countries with the proper climate the means to grow soybeans. It was a way to make the countries self-sufficient by helping create an economy. In many cases, the United States did not follow through on commitments to help with the infrastructure that is needed to create access to the markets. Countries needed irrigation and road improvements. Rather than helping with the upgrades, the United States government concentrated on the military aspects of these country’s problems. A policy of one-problem-at-a-time.
For at least 15 years, China has ignored the military issues and began to supply the money, supplies, and labor to fix the infrastructure. The Chinese government helped build irrigation systems, roads, and provided transportation to build these economies with the promise that China would buy their products.
Although there was significant Chinese investment in Africa, it was still cheaper to buy soybeans from the United States. That situation changed with the 25-percent tariffs placed on soybean exports. The tariffs raised the price of U.S. soybeans beyond what the Chinese would pay to the African exporters. Now China is importing soybeans from Africa while U.S. farmers are provided allegedly short-term subsidies from the federal government.
Now that the infrastructure is in place for China to import soybeans from Africa, the costs have reduced and is projected to have the long-term effect of lowering the U.S. market for soybeans in China. One economist said privately that even if the tariffs were reduced to pre-trade war levels, it might not make it economically viable for China to buy as much from the United States as it did in the past.
Institutional investors see the loss in revenue from China, the increased deficit in providing welfare to soybean farmers, and the danger of the business not returning to the United States. They also see the reduction of tariffs to Russia for wheat and that Russia is also looking to African and South American countries for wheat sources. The competition is making trade prices drop and is making it look like agriculture trade is in trouble.
If exports of United States agriculture are in trouble, then it will hurt the economy. With the uncertainty added to the risk profile investors and fund managers have to manage, they have turned to gold as the natural, safe harbor.
The rise in gold prices always helps numismatics. It helps boost the prices of gold and, by association, other rare coins. However, if the gold prices go up because of economic stress, it will not matter what happens to numismatic prices. Fewer people will be in the market to buy coins.
And now the news…
June 26, 2019
Gold is a hedge against financial risk, and coins offer convenience. → Read more at marketwatch.com
June 26, 2019
COIN collectors can now get their hands on a Toy Story 4 50p piece – but you can’t use it in shops. The commemorative coin features popular character Woody in colour with the cowboyR… → Read more at thesun.co.uk
The countdown to the July 1 deadline to vote for the next American Numismatic Association Board of Governors approaches, it is time to look at the candidates and determine who can best lead the organization forward.
For the first time in many years, there are races for President, Vice President, and Board of Governors. This year this is a choice. Here are my choices:
For ANA president members have the choice of COL Steven K. Ellsworth, ret., or Donald H. Kagin, Ph.D.
Ellsworth is currently a member of the ANA Board of governors and the owner of Butternut Coin Company, which moved from Virginia to Tennessee. Ellsworth has been around but has many strong opinions that have irritated several of the ANA’s constituency. Recently, during the National Money Show, Ellsworth made statements that exhibitors and the exhibit committee interpreted as hostile to them. Unfortunately, when he had the opportunity to clarify his position, his tone turned combative while making accusations of there being a clique amongst the exhibitor community.
Kagin grew up in the numismatics business, the son of a very prominent member of the ANA. But Kagin is not without his issues. He was a member of the Board of Governors during the fiasco with Executive Director and Legal Counsel Christopher Cipoletti in 2007. Then there were the Larry Shepherd issues that led to more embarrassment. For the subsequent election, Kagin said that he and the Board made mistakes and he wanted another chance. Kagin lost the election during a “throw the bums out” feelings by the membership.
Over the last few years, it appears that Kagin has learned from his mistakes. Sometimes it takes falling on your behind to be able to learn from those mistakes. It also seems that his vision for the ANA has matured since his return to the Board.
The Coin Collectors Blog endorses Don Kagin for ANA President for his sober vision and less combative personality, which is necessary for the ANA.
The race for ANA Vice President is between Dr. Ralph W. Ross and Thomas J. Uram.
Although I have briefly met both gentlemen, I cannot say that I have had an extensive conversation with either. The personality dynamics are very different. Although that should not be a determining factor, the differences make it a consideration.
Ross has been a member of the Board of Governors for some time. He is a teacher by trade, which can be beneficial to figure out how to spread the word about numismatics beyond the ANA. In reality, where has he been? In my interaction with the Board, Ross is its quietest member. We do not hear much from him or about him regarding his position on the Board. He is just there.
Uram has been an active participant for some time. He is an exhibitor, judge, and has acted as a coach to exhibitors. Having someone on the Board who understands the exhibitor community may be good for the ANA.
Uram is not a professional numismatist but has had a long career in the financial services industry. Given the ANA’s propensity for having consistent financial problems, having someone around who can make sure the ANA stays fiscally stable may be a good idea.
Finally, Uram is a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) as an appointee of the Secretary of the Treasury. Although I have been a critic of the CCAC and not a fan of the Secretary, having someone with that type of experience could have its advantages.
Therefore, the Coin Collectors Blog endorses Tom Uram to be the next Vice President of the ANA.
Board of Governors
There are ten candidates to fill seven seats. Three people will not be serving on the Board. I will not comment on every one of the candidates in this space. I will provide some thoughts on what has gone into my decision.
First, I do not endorse Mike Ellis and his return to the Board. Although I believe in second chances, some have to come with a significant amount of contrition and time. It has not been long enough after “he had made a mistake and chose to step down from the board.” Any person who had to step down from the Board of Governors because of “mistake” must be required to jump a higher hurdle to return. I am still waiting for the jump.
While I have nothing against Greg Lyon, this would be his sixth and final term on the Board. After ten years as a member of the Board of Governors, it is time to step aside and allow new people into leadership.
There are endorsement forthcoming for Muriel Eymery and Shanna Schmidt. Eymery, who is from London, would bring a very different perspective to the ANA that is very necessary. Her view on foreign collectors and the world of numismatics outside of the United States would be an asset to an organization that appears insular. This type of diversity would benefit the ANA.
Schmidt is a dealer with a specialty in ancient numismatics and has a background beyond numismatics. Aside from adding diversity to the Board of Governors, which is very necessary, the line in her biography that attracted me was that her “master’s thesis was on the cultural-property debate as it relates specifically to ancient coins.” It is a topic that I have commented on several times and wish the ANA would involve itself with on behalf of the numismatic community.
Based on the considerations, the Coin Collectors Blog endorses the following seven candidates for the ANA Board of Governors (in alphabetical order by last name): Rick Ewing, Muriel Eymery, John Highfill, Cliff Mishler, Paul Montgomery, Robert Oberth, and Shanna Schmidt.
If you are an ANA member, go vote!
If you are not an ANA member, you should consider becoming one!
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