POLL: Looking for Palladium Eagles after September 29

American Palladium Eagle mockup as presented to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee

The U.S. Mint announced today that sales of the American Palladium Eagles will begin on September 29. As bullion issues, they are being sold through with authorized channels and not directly to the public.

After seven years since the law was passed (American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-303), these coins Will begin their sale. There is no indication whether the U.S. Mint will offer collectable versions or just release the bullion coins.

The coin will have a $25 face value and require that “the obverse shall bear a high-relief likeness of the ‘Winged Liberty’ design used on the obverse of the so-called ‘Mercury dime’” making it yet another bullion coin that will feature a design from the early 20th century. For the reverse, the law says that the coin “shall bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.” Both the Mercury Dime and 1907 AIA medal designed by Adolph A. Weinman, whose Walking Liberty design is used on the American Silver Eagle coins.

No price has been announced but the current Price of Palladium is $911.63. As a reference the current spot price of metals are as follows:

Precious Metals Price Snapshot as of September 19, 2017
(This is a static chart—it does not update)

The U.S. Mint does not publish the bullion and bulk sale prices the way it does for collector coins but it is likely that these coins are sold to distributors at a premium over their spot price. I guess we will find out how much these coins will cost for investors and collectors purchase when they hit the market.

For today’s poll, are you going to buy one?
 

Are you going to purchase the new Palladium Eagle?






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American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set Price Announced

American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set will be on sale on October 19, 2017 at Noon ET for $199.95

The U.S. Mint did you publish in the Federal Register last week that the American Liberty 225th Anniversary Silver Four-Medal set will be priced at $199.95.

The American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set are four silver medals featuring the gold 225th Anniversary American Liberty Gold design struck in silver and without a denomination. Each medal will contain one troy ounce of silver and consist of one medal from each of the active mints with different finishes:

  • Philadelphia Reverse Proof
  • San Francisco Proof
  • West Point Enhanced Uncirculated
  • Denver Uncirculated

It was previously announced that the set will go on sale at noon on October 19, 2017.

Weekly Numismatic World News for September 17, 2017

My booth at DC Big Flea after setup. At least half of what you see was sold on 9/16!

As this is being posted I am packing up after working this past weekend at the DC Big Flea Market and Antique Show in Chantilly, Virginia. Since I have been working in the collectibles business, I have been trying to sell at one show a month with DC Big Flea being the show I work every other month. Aside from this show is close to home, I think I have found the right mix of items to be successful.

Working shows in the collectibles and antiques market is no different from a numismatic dealer on the bourse floor. Each dealer specializes in an area and tries to find the right mix of inventory and prices to make the show a success.

Although this sounds like common business sense, there are times when I go to shows and ask the dealers how they are doing I get grumbles from many and smiles from the rest. What I am guessing is that the grumblers have not adapted to the market trends.

I learned that turning over my inventory, regardless of the cost, is very important. Having stale inventory means that my money is tied up in that inventory and does not do me any good invested in that inventory. I have to find fresh items and make sure that those who are regulars and those who want to be regulars know that the next time they see me that I will have something new, even if it is in the category of merchandise I sell.

There are two lessons I have learned in the last few years. First, it is not going to hurt my bottom line if a customer asks for an additional discount such as another $5 or 10-percent off. It makes them feel like they found a bargain and I move the inventory. But that lesson is not possible without my second lesson is to treat the entire inventory as a single unit. By treating the inventory as a single unit, if I sell something at full price to someone who does not want to negotiate but sell the next item for a deeper discount, I am no better off than I thought I would have been.

With some exceptions, I think that many numismatic dealers get stuck with the idea, “this is what I paid so I have the get this price to at least break even.” If I worked that way my truck would come home loaded with inventory and more work to do. However, with the inventory sold, I now have the money to find something fresh for the next show.

Just something for the dealers to think about.

Now for this week’s news:

 September 11, 2017

The value of modern currency comes not from what it's made of, but what we all agree it's worth. → Read more at bbc.com


 September 11, 2017

The notion of money has been an important part of the human way of life for more than 2,900 years. When looking back at its origins, there is no doubt that the trade system has evolved considerably. As we mentioned before, bartering was used as the main system for the exchange of all kinds of goods and products. → Read more at thecostaricanews.com


 September 11, 2017

If anyone should not be on money, it’s Andrew Jackson. The 7th President of the United States hated paper money. He also hated Native Americans and loved having slaves, but for now, let’s focus on how he believed that the United States should only have gold and silver coins as currency. → Read more at harpersbazaar.com


 September 12, 2017

Ever throw in your two cents? Probably not like a visitor did recently at the Peoria County Courthouse. At the security checkpoint Aug. 31, someone left → Read more at pjstar.com


 September 12, 2017

In February of 1870, a sparkling new steam-powered coin press inside the United States Mint in Carson City struck its first coin, a Seated Liberty silver dollar with a crisp → Read more at elkodaily.com


 September 12, 2017

From Viking silver to Roman bronze, amateur treasure hunters in Europe locate all kinds of buried treasures with their metal detectors. Now, a new hoard is making headlines: As the ChronicleLive reports, the caretaker of a primary school in Northumberland, England used his own electronic device to find a stash of Medieval-era silver coins buried underneath the school's playground. → Read more at mentalfloss.com


 September 12, 2017

My friend Hugo Salinas Price, a tireless promoter of sound money, offers a Primer on the Mexican ‘Libertad’ Silver Ounce as a Vehicle for Savings of the Common Folk. This is a guest post by Hugo Salinas Price. → Read more at fxstreet.com


 September 13, 2017

India issued its first commemorative coin series back in 1964 in the honour of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It was the same year of Nehru’s passing away. Over the last 53 years, commemorative coins have been issued for various reasons — some as uncirculated collectors items and others for mass circulation. → Read more at indianexpress.com


 September 14, 2017

One-cent coins as well as 10-cent and 25-cent coins will soon no longer be legal tender in Jamaica. (Photo: Jamaica Gleaner) → Read more at caribbean360.com


 September 16, 2017

The Big Maple Leaf was named the largest coin in the world by the Guinness World Records in 2007. But a group of thieves ensured its life in the public spotlight would be brief. → Read more at thedailybeast.com

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OIG Probe into Mnuchin using government resources expands

Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin seems to think his position with the government affords him perquisites to be paid by the taxpayers.

Last June, Mnuchin married actress Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium located near the National Mall. Vice President Pence officiated the ceremony.

Louise Linton and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are pictured during their honeymoon in Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug. 5, 2017. (Alan Simpson Photography/Splash News)

While that was old news, ABC News recently reported that Mnuchin had requested the use of a government plan to fly them on their honeymoon. They had planned a trip to Italy, France, and Scotland. Linton is a native of Scotland.

According to ABC News, an Air Force spokesperson said that a U.S. Air Force jet could cost roughly $25,000 per hour for an international flight. Domestic travel is estimated between $10,000 and $15,000 per hour.

A request for the jet was requested in writing by the Secretary’s office but later deemed unnecessary following a review by Treasury Department officials.

The Department of Treasury Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has acknowledged to ABC that it has opened an official inquiry into this request. This investigation is in addition to the investigation the OIG is making into his trip to Kentucky.

The Treasury Department is also being sued by a public interest research group because the department has not responded to their Freedom of Information Act request.

Mnuchin becomes the first Treasury Secretary since Andrew W. Mellon to be actively investigated for wrongdoing while serving as Secretary.

For reference, articles of impeachment were introduced in the House of Representatives to remove Mellon from office in January 1932. Hearings were held in the House Judiciary Committee. Before the committee voted on the articles of impeachment, Mellon was appointed as the Ambassador to the Court of St. James (the formal name of the Ambassador to the United Kingdom). He resigned as Treasury Secretary and served as an ambassador for a year before retiring to private life.

Mnuchin has not commented on the situation.

Image courtesy of Alan Simpson Photography/Splash News via ABC News.

How the iPhone X can help numismatics

On September 12, Apple opened the Steve Jobs Theater on their new campus in Cupertino with an announcement of new hardware. There was the new Apple Watch 3, Apple TV-4K, and two new iPhones.

Outside of the tech press, everyone is focused on the iPhone X, “X” for the Roman numeral 10, a marvel of engineering but will cost $1,000. Breaking that $1,000 barrier is a big thing because it makes the iPhone X the most expensive smartphone on the market.

But I see another story that can be more important to a lot of other markets than the price of the device. It is the technology that can be industry altering.

Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X have dual-lens cameras that are designed to enhance the use of photography. The new cameras have larger sensors that pick up more pixels of information with a processor that can better process the image.

It is the image processing and the iPhone’s ability to use the detailed images to map the terrain, textures, and to use augmented reality (AR) to enhance what the camera sees.

An area where this technology can help numismatics is with computer-based grading.

Computer-based grading was first tried in 1991 using the technology of the day. While it was a good start, the technology was just not ready for the ability to grade coins.

Apple proved that the technology is ready to try again.

Human-based grading has led to an environment of mistrust amongst the grading services. It is the failure of humans to be consistent in grading that leads to religious-like arguments as to which grading service is better. These failures have led the creation of verification services to check up on the ability of grading services to do their job.

The ability for the imaging process to visualize and analyze thousands of polygons on an image, the way imaging technology visualizes the three-dimensional surface, in such a way to allow for real-time expression processing and rendering can be used to assess the surface of a coin.

Another problem that can be resolved is the crack out game. Some people will crack coins out of their slabs to submit them to the grading services multiple times to play on the failure of humans to be consistent to try to have the coins graded higher. The information created based on the surface analysis of the coin will result in digital data that should be unique to each coin. Minute scratches and other environmental factors can help distinguish one coin from another in the same manner that there are subtle differences that can detect on identical twin from another.

Creating a digital signature for each coin will help prevent theft or help law enforcement use the information to track stolen items.

Imaging analysis can look at the surface to find alterations like the use of a chemical that would change the surface. Rather than using the “sniffing” technology that Professional Coin Grading Service has pioneered to find chemical additives, a surface analysis can detect chemical-based alterations to the surface.

Altered surface detection can also be used to detect unnatural toning. It will require teaching the imaging systems to detect the differences between natural and unnatural toning, but the long-term benefits to the hobby will be tremendous.

Device that could metallic analysis of a coin below the surface

Aside from grading consistency and the ability detect altered surface, it is possible to expand current technologies that will help detect the use of plated or other metal counterfeits. Devices that are able to visualize a few microns under the surface of the coin to detect the metal content along with the new visualization technologies will make it more difficult to pass counterfeit coins.

In the short term, this will not put the third-party grading services out of business but it will change their business. They will not be grading and regrading coins. The computer will analyze the coin, provide the owner with a report, and that report will be consistent regardless of the imaging process used. Otherwise, the coin was altered and you would know about it.

Counterfeit U.S. coins in counterfeit PCGS holders (Photo courtesy of PCGS.)

Eventually, this could eliminate the plastic slab that has been counterfeited. The coin itself becomes its own identifier and reduces the reliance on the slab.

This technology will eliminate the verification services. There will no need for a human to verify the human-based grading. After all, the fourth-party verification process is artificially driving up the costs of collector coins because of blind trust placed in humans verifying humans.

Although I spent nearly all of my adult life in the technology industry, I am not for technology completely taking over all aspects of our lives. There is a level of trust in the hardware and software that must be earned to have me feel comfortable with things like self-driving cars or even maintaining personal information (see the recent Equifax breach).

However, I am for the use of technology where it can solve a problem. Technology can solve the problem of inconsistent grading. Technology can solve the problem of coin identification. Technology can solve the problems with counterfeiting. Why not use technology to increase the trust in the numismatic market by fixing these problems?

It is now time that technology was put to use in the numismatic and collecting industries in order to create a level of assurance for the collector that their item is genuine and the condition is what the collectible is being represented as.

Credits

  • iPhone X image courtesy of Apple.
  • Niton scanner image by the author.
  • Counterfiet PCGS slabs courtesy of PCGS

Treasury Sued for Mnuchin Travel Records

Louise Linton’s Instagram post that prompted the initial inquiry by the watchdog group.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a law suit against the Department of the Treasury for the release of documents relating to the August 21 trip by Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife Louise Linton.

On August 23, CREW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain department records of the trip. They said that Treasury has not responded.

“We filed an expedited FOIA request because Americans deserve more information to determine whether there has been misuse of government resources,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “We’re suing because the government has so far failed even to respond.”

A report has noted that a Treasury spokesperson confirmed that Mnuchin reimbursed the government for Linton’s travel expenses

Copy of the pleadings (courtesy of CREW):
CREW v Treasury

Weekly Numismatic World News for September 10, 2017 (TRY 2)

NOTE: A previous version was posted by mistake and then deleted. Sorry!

The old Round Pound and the new 12-sided £1 coin

As I watch the numismatic-related news that is published around the world in the regular media are the number of stories that come out of the United Kingdom and India.

Aside from the change over from the “round pound” to the new 12-sided pound coin most of the stories are about what to look for in pocket change. People in the UK are now scrutinizing their pocket change more with the issuance of the new pound coin and it has caused a lot of people to look for the circulating commemoratives issued by the Royal Mint.

Unlike the United States, the primary unit of currency in the UK, the pound, circulates as a coin since the lowest denomination of paper currency is the £5 banknote.

The Royal Mint also produces a £2 coin.

Additionally, the 50 pence coin does circulate and has also been used for commemorative purposes.

Now that the focus is on the new 12-sided pound coin, the other coins have been getting notice. The nation’s tabloids have been writing about these coins generating more interest than the America the Beautiful quarters are receiving here in the United States.

S. John Rajendra Prasad with his collection of ancient coins and rare stamps. (Credit: The Hindu)

India is a different story. I have not seen any other society that has a general love of coins. There are stories about collectors who look for coins in various places, hoard coins, and use coins for teaching and trading.

The stories that appear in the press the collectors that are highlighted for the volume and longevity of their collections.

Volume seems to be a similar story between the collections. Many of these collections would be classified as hoards based on our societal norms. But rather than lumping the coins together, Indian collectors do sort and separate coins by types, sometimes in a way that makes sense.

I have not had the chance to learn more about the appeal of coins to the Indian society but I find the overall passion for their collecting pursuits quite appealing.

And now the news…

 September 4, 2017

THE Benjamin Bunny 50p coin has now arrived and is the latest commemorative coin to be released by the Royal Mint as part of the Beatrix Potter series. But when exactly did the coin enter circulati… → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 September 7, 2017

‘Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck’ – that’s how the saying goes but what if it was worth enough to keep you going for months? A dad has told of his surprise after being handed a rare 1p coin that could be worth thousands of pounds – because it’s in silver. → Read more at mirror.co.uk


 September 9, 2017

A hoard of more than 280 gold and silver coins from the time of the Roman invasion of 
Britain has been unearthed by two metal detectorists. → Read more at granthamjournal.co.uk


 September 9, 2017

The first building block of Australia’s new icebreaker was welded into place at a keel laying ceremony at Damen Shipyard Galati in Romania late last month. The concept design was done by Knud E. Hansen, and Managing Director, Finn Wollesen attended the ceremony, along with Rasmus Nygaard from Friends of Nella Dan. → Read more at maritime-executive.com

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Keep Safe Out There!

Sunday afternoon satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Storms of all type are hitting the shores of the United States. Nearly two weeks after Harvey did his damage in southeast Texas, Irma is north of the Florida Keys and heading towards Naples as I type this.

And don’t get me started on the devastation that Equifax will bring to all of us!

While Irma is now attacking Florida, Hurricane Jose is hanging out about 300 miles northwest of the northern Leeward Islands. Some forecasts have Jose stalling out over the Atlantic Ocean. However, its movement shows is on a very slow track that if it keeps going will land on the shores of the Carolinas.

Forget the suggestion to keep your valuables in your dishwasher or washing machine. If the electricity flashes or surges, it could trigger the appliance to turn on. If the storm rips apart your house, your appliance can find itself miles away with your valuables still inside.

In the days to come, I will have information about protecting your collectibles in case of a disaster.

It is too late to plan now. Your primary concern should be to the lives of you and your family, relatives, friends, and neighbors. If you were told to evacuate, get the heck out! Material items can be repaired and replaced. Once you die there is no coming back.

For everyone else not in the path of the storms, please consider helping. If you cannot work in the affected area, you can donate money and blood. Money is more flexible than donating goods because it allows relief workers to buy what is necessary instead of warehousing surplus.

Blood is needed to help the injured and sick during this time.

Blood has a shelf-life of around four weeks. It constantly needs renewal. You can donate whole blood every 56 days!

To find a blood drive near you visit redcrossblood.org.

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) works with credible agencies to help people during domestic disasters. You can donate to any of the members listed on their website at nvoad.org.

Keep safe!

Mnuchin under investigation for Fort Knox trip

Being Secretary of the Treasury does have its perks.

On August 21, Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to speak at a luncheon sponsored by the Louisville chamber of commerce. Joining him on the flight was his wife, actress Louise Linton.

Later in the day, Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) visited the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky becoming the first civilians to visit the facility since 1974. The U.S. Mint posted a picture of Mnuchin holding a gold bar in front of a balance scale.

Conspiracy theorists have comment, “is that’s all that’s left?”

On August 21, 2017, was the total eclipse of the sun that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. Although the path of the total eclipse passed over part of Kentucky, the Fort Knox area experienced only 96-percent of the eclipse.

During the trip, Linton posted a picture of her departing a government plane on Instagram noting her attire. In the context of a diva actress, this type of braggadocio is expected. But as someone flying at government expense during what is supposed to be a government-sponsored trip.

When a concerned citizen questioned her choices in the context of a government trip, Linton responded in a way that one would expect of a diva, self-centered actress. But as someone traveling using government-sponsored transportation, Linton’s comments were not well received.

A day later Linton apologized for her comments, removed the Instagram post, and made her profile private.

Days following the trip, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of the Treasury asking for information about the trip. CREW is questioning the use of government resources for what they claim is a personal trip. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, also wrote to the Treasury Department asking for records of justification for Mnuchin’s use of a government plan for the trip.

Because of the outrage about the trip, The Washington Post is reporting that the Treasury Office of the Inspector General will be looking into the trip “… to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics, and appropriation laws and policies were observed.”

Cabinet officials can request to use government flights under specific criteria. These flights are flown mainly using Air Force resources and are costlier than a commercial flight. It is recommended that cabinet officials use military resources only in the case of national security or for employees whose security could not be guaranteed in the commercial environment.

A source has suggested that Mnuchin may have violated government policy by using the government plane for this trip. Mnuchin does not face a threat that requires additional security that would justify his using government resources. Further, since Linton is not a government employee, her travel is not reimbursable by the government. It was predicted that Mnuchin will be required to pay the difference between a commercial flight and the cost of the government flight. He will also be required to reimburse the government the full cost of Linton’s portion of the trip.

A 20 Mark Pick

When you are a picker sometimes a find can be worth more than originally expected.

This past week I was offered a small library of military books from the estate of a former career military officer. Normally, I will not invest too much into books since they are not big sellers. However, if I can find certain military books at a good price, I will buy the entire lot for what I know will sell and take my chances on the rest.

As I was thumbing through the books, I found papers with various notes. The former owner did not like writing in the book. Rather, he would write his notes on papers and leave them between the pages. He would also use different objects as bookmarks. I found everything from business cards to old identification cards. And not just his identification card. There were cards from other people along with a lot of black and white pictures.

Since the books were handed down from his father, there were a number of early editions, especially books about Germany and Europe leading up to World War II. His father may have been an analyst since there were papers with insight beyond the written pages. I will be looking to donate some of this to a university or museum for them to study.

But I did find something numismatic between the pages. A 20 Reichsmark Bank Note from January 22, 1929. In trying to learn more about the note, the front has a portrait of Ernst Werner von Siemens, the founder of the electrical and telecommunications company Siemens.

1929 Nazi Germany 20 Reichsmark banknote (front) — Pick #181a

The back of the note has a worker’s medal with angels surrounding the medal. Written in small letters across the bottom of the note is the following:

WER BANKNOTEN NACHMACHT ODER VERFÄLSCHT ODER NACHGEMACHTE ODER VERFÄLSCHTE SICH VERSCHEFT UND IN VERKEHR BRINGT, WIRD MIT ZUCHTHAUS NICHT UNTER ZWEI JAHREN BESTRAFT

According to Google translate means:

Anyone who imitates or distorts banknotes, or imitates or falsifies himself and puts them into circulation, shall not be punished with brethren under two years

In other words, there is a minimum of a two-year sentence for counterfeiting this note.

1929 Nazi Germany 20 Reichsmark banknote (back)

Although a cool find, this is not the type of item that would fit into my collection. I am likely to sell it to the next collector.

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