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!

How about a Numismatic World News Podcast?

For the last few weeks, I have been publishing the Weekly Numismatic World News every Sunday evenings. These posts consist of links to the articles that I find around the Interwebs along with a commentary on one of the articles or something else related to the news.

I had an idea. Rather than just post the news, I would create a podcast that would allow me to report the news and add some information. Rather than typing a full discussion, the news links posted on the website would be the equivalent of show notes for the podcast. The commentary would be moved to the show.

For those not familiar with a podcast, it is like a radio show but stored in an audio file that can be downloaded or listened to on demand. You can download podcasts and listen to them like any music file. There are also programs that allow you to subscribe to podcasts so that they can be downloaded when new episodes are available.

If there is an interest, I can produce a weekly podcast that will look at the various numismatic-related news items with commentary in a show that is a half-hour or less. In the future, I will look to create special podcasts from events.

Please note: I will continue to write this blog. It is not an either/or situation. If there is an interest, I can do both!

Would you be interested?
 

Would you be interested in a Numismatic World News Podcast?





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Quick update

Although I have a few posts in draft form, I had to take some time out for some administrative-type work.

Since I published the Numismatic Dictionary I have received many corrections and requests for additions from readers. Thank you to everyone who send their input. The dictionary now has 678 entries that appear to have been copy edited by a few persistent readers. If anyone finds something that was missed, please feel free to contact me. I have plans that involve publishing the dictionary. Stay tuned for that announcement.

In the last month, I had the requirement to print blog entries. When I tried to print the blog entries, the output was ugly because it included a lot of the extra items on the page. Elements like the sidebar and sharing buttons are useless on a printed page. It has taken a bit of work, but now if you print the page using your browser’s print button, the article will print without the extras. You do not need any extra software or to go through an extra step to print a page. For those who are not programmers, we go through a lot to make life easy for ourselves until we find another problem and work hard to make the next one easy.

Behind the scenes I am trying to convert the blog from using HTTP, to HTTPS (secure). The reason behind this is to promote privacy, such as when you read the blog on a public Wi-Fi network nobody needs to know your interests, and because search engines are lowering the search rank of those sites that do not support HTTPS. Obviously, Google, the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the search space, is the first search engine to lower the rank of sites not supporting HTTPS.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as one would think—or at least I thought. A test I conducted this past week proved I have a bit more to do. When the site is converted, the only difference you will notice is the lock icon on your browser will appear. Until then, if you try to go to https://coinsblog.ws it will redirect you to the non-encrypted version.

After I finish converting the blog, I will then convert the news micro-site (news.coinsblog.ws).

Finally, I will be spending a few hours at the Whitman Baltimore Expo tomorrow (Sunday, June 18). I do not expect anything to happen but you may want to watch @coinsblog on Twitter for updates. I am so embarrassed… Whitman Expo is NEXT weekend!

Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter — SERVICE UPDATE

Since Volume 22 of the “Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter” will not be sent via email, the following would have been the exclusive content included in the newsletter. A service update follows.

Counterfeiting remains a problem for society and the collector’s market. This was highlighted this week with two stories I posted about scammers and opportunists preying on the public too eager to believe.

In the collector’s market, scammers are taking advantage of the Royal Mint’s myriad of errors on the new £1 coin and mocking up their own errors to sell online. The error coins are clearly contrived because most either remove the center copper-nickel section or replace it in reverse, showing the Queen’s portrait on the wrong side. A few have been polishing the side with the Queen’s portrait to resemble the 2016 version that was issued by the Royal Mint to businesses for testing.

Canadian authorities have found that altered $5 notes are being used to forge $100 notes. Currently, the $5 note is made of polymer and scammers have found that by cutting out the features in the clear window and taping over the cutouts and still be used. Scammers print their own $100 notes, which are still printed on cotton bond currency paper, and use the clear window to make the notes look legitimate. The problem is that if people looked at the notes, its alterations and counterfeits are easily detectable.

It is interesting that people are so willing to try to figure out how to counterfeit currency, especially when it can be detected if someone put in the time to look. It says a lot about a society when the number one blog post on my site is “How easy is it to pass counterfeit currency” where I discussed the use of the iodine pen and the number one clicked link is the one to the site where I borrowed the image of the of the iodine pen.

The scary part is that people are not paying attention to the simple measures.

SERVICE UPDATE

Because of an issue with the provider, the Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter has been suspended.

Unfortunately, the automated system run by MailChimp appeared to have choked on the word “counterfeit.” I am not sure if this is the exact reason for the problem, but their support is so bad that I have not been able to contact a human to explain the issue to me. When I tried to find another provider (SendInBlue based in France), I was accused of being a spammer. Based on what I can find out, MailChimp may have added me to a non-public database blackballing me from finding another service.

If that is the case, then I will likely create a self-hosted newsletter service. Although it is something I am technically capable of doing I was hoping to relieve myself of the management responsibility. Until I can determine my next move, I am suspending the newsletter. Sorry!

Delay for Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter

To all the readers expecting the Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter, I apologize for the delay. Chalk this up to the list provider over abusing automation and blocking my account.

According to the mailing list service, I violated their Terms of Service (TOS). I do not know how I violated the TOS because when I click on their links for the reason, I am sent to their Terms of Service web page. It’s like being punished but not knowing why you are being punished!

The notice I received said that the third-party service that they contract with to check for violators to the TOS is a computer without the smarts of Watson or common sense to understand context. In other words, it was programmed by a bunch of geeks whose knowledge of fuzzy logic defies Boolean logic. I used to work with these types of people… they would drive me crazy!

After some serious word parsing of the TOS, I think it might be because I was talking about counterfeiting. I was not promoting counterfeiting, selling counterfeit items, nor was I providing instruction how to counterfeit, but I was providing a cautionary note with regard to the recent stories about the fake British £1 coin errors and the counterfeited Canadian $100 note.

Unfortunately, the ability to communicate with a sentient being at this company is limited to clicking on a link and sending an email. Since I do not know when they will come to their senses and re-activate my account, I cannot tell you when you will receive the newsletter.

I want to keep the content exclusive to the newsletter. However, if the problem is not resolved by tonight (Monday, June 5), I will post what I wrote here and look for a new provider.

And now, the news

Astute observers might have noticed minor changes to the blog. While the look has been the same, I add a News menu item and a Recent News feature to the sidebar. These were added along with the soft launch of the Coin Collectors News.

Following a number of years writing the blog, I have been added to many mailing lists that send press releases and announcements from around the numismatic industry. Usually, I only publish these releases on the blog when I have something to add. When I do not, they end up being deleted. Since most have good information for the community, I decided to publish them.

Rather than add the press releases to the blog, I created a microsite called Coin Collectors News at news.coinsblog.ws. Although the microsite has the same look and feel of the blog (it’s now my brand), it is separate from the blog. Since it is separate, there is a different RSS feed for the site. If you use an RSS reader, you can find the feed here. For those who want to receive updates via email, you can sign up at here. Later on, if you decided you want to subscribe to the feeds, see the signup fields on the top and bottom right of any page.

When news items are published, an alert will be posted to the @coinsblog Twitter feed, the same account as the blog.

The items posted on Coin Collectors News will be press announcements only. No comments or commentary will be allowed, including by me.

Subscribers of the Numismatic World News Newsletter were the first to know about this service. It was announced to them about two weeks ago as a perk for subscribing. Last week, I added the links to the microsite to the blog and now I am ready to let everyone else on the new resource.

Behind the scenes, I am working on a numismatic bill tracker. Currently, I manually keep a list that I update monthly. After doing this a while I decided to put my technical background to good use and write programs to search for new bills, maintain their status, and produce a formatted report. With that work done, the next step is to create a microsite to share this with everyone. When it is ready for the soft launch, the subscribers to the Numismatic World Newsletter will be the first to know.
 

Oops… I’m sorry! I messed up!

Some of you might have noticed that many of the links to the blog stopped working properly. I know that the indexing robots (e.g., Google, MSN, Yahoo) have been filling my error log with messages.

Over the weekend I made some behind the scenes adjustments so that I can add new features. Apparently, most of my work went without a problem except I selected the wrong options. I think it is fixed now.

Don’t worry about telling me that something went wrong, I will be watching the logs to make sure everything is correct. The logs will give me more information about what is happening behind the scenes to identify the problems.

This is my fault and I apologize for the issues.

Want the last Weekly Numismatic World News test run?

In October, I asked if there was an interest in receiving a newsletter of containing the coin, currency, and bullion-related stories I find on the Internet that is being reported in the non-numismatic media. With a significant number of you who responded with interest, I decided to move forward to see what I can do.

After a month of collecting stories, editing templates, and making sure as much of the process can be automated as possible, I am almost ready to move forward.

Right now, I am the only subscriber to what I am calling the Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter. There have been two test issues. Since I am happy with the results, I think I am ready for a broader test.

I am opening up the subscription to all of my readers. If you would like to receive the last test issue, you can use the signup form here or click on the “Weekly Newsletter” link on the menu. There is a warning on the page that the newsletter is in Beta Testing. Don’t worry about that. If you want to receive the last test run, then signup.

The last test newsletter will be generated as of Sunday night/Monday morning based on my clock here on the east coast of the United States. When the newsletter is ready for regular production, it will be produced around the same time each week. It will only contain news from the previous seven days.

If there are any comments or questions, you can either post them here or drop me an email note. Let’s see how this goes!

Quick catch up…

Last I reported, I had travelled to Philadelphia to see the students at Juaniata Park Academy that we raised money to visit the U.S. Mint and Federal Reserve. I did make it to the school despite the flat tire and other problems my Chevy Avalanche experienced along the way. We did have a one-hour visit to talk about coins, currency, and the history they reveal. I had a lot of fun. Rather than talk about it in this update, I will write a longer post soon.

Counterfeiting is on the rise. The number of reported arrests for counterfeiters has increased. Some of it may be attributed to the largest seizure of counterfeit currency in Peru. Although not confirmed, there is speculation that the arrests in Peru provided leads into the distribution network. The Peru notes are amongst the best counterfeits produced outside of the United States. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to determine if you have one of these notes. The U.S. Secret Service has been advising cash-related businesses to be wary of people making unusual large cash purchases.

The U.S. Mint is preparing for an increase in sale of bullion American Eagle coins. Gold is down over $230 since its high in July or $151 since the election. Even with the strong dollar, the lower price of gold and the trust in the American Eagle coin is driving buyers to authorized dealers. One dealer said that 2017 pre-orders are their highest in a while.

The market for silver is facing a similar downward slide. From the $20.17 close in the beginning of August, the price as this is being written is $15.90. A 21-percent drop in silver spot prices is quite large over this period and greater than the 17-percent drop in the gold spot price.

Lower spot prices may be driving speculators to the market. Since the Federal Reserve Board increased the discount rate, the rate they charge for overnight loans to their large customers that are required to have a certain amount of liquidity at market close, by 250 basis points (.25 percent), there are some that believe that the markets are getting ready for a shift. Precious metals are always used as a hedge against inflation investments and may be a sign that some are expecting an economic crash.

A future post will discuss the coin-op industry’s reaction (albeit late reaction) to the GAO Report U.S. Coins: Implications of Changing Medal Compositions (GAO-16-177, Dec. 10, 2015). It appears to be an attempt for the coin-op industry to fight composition changes in U.S. coinage. Although most of their argument reads like a complaint that they do not want to undergo the cost of converting machines, they do make a point in that some of the alternatives has the potential to create a market for counterfeiting coins that would hurt the economy. One example they site is that it may be easier to counterfeit plated steel coins because the technology that checks for electromagnetic signatures of the coins would not be able to detect a real coin from a slug.

Following my post about the scrap industry not being able to return mutilated coins to the U.S. Mint I was contacted by someone in the industry who thanked me for the story. I was asked to emphasize that although the current court case involves companies based in China, the problems affect scrap dealers throughout the United States. Following this conversation, I was able to speak with a broker who has been buying scrap coins from smaller companies who said that the U.S. Mint has been discussing a way forward but in a way that makes it sound like they are not happy with having to deal with this situation. The U.S. Mint will not comment as long as there is an active case in federal courts.

The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act is now Public Law 114-282. Although I am not a collector of commemorative coins other than for topics that interest me, I am interested in this topic. Although I am a fan of silver coins, I am going to try to buy the gold Apollo 11 commemorative coin. I have two years to save my pennies!

Finally, I am working on creating a weekly newsletter opt-in containing numismatic-related stories from non-numismatic media sources from around the world. I will curate the news that appears in the newsletter but want to automate some of the processes. Automation of the workflow is in progress. Watch for the signup process to appear here soon!

POLL: Are you interested in a numismatic newsletter?

NewsletterThose who follow me on Twitter or watch the widget in the sidebar on these pages can watch the coin, currency, and bullion-related stories I find on the Internet. Rather than find the stories from the regular numismatic sources, I try to find things reported in the non-numismatic media.

Some of you may not use Twitter, find it difficult to watch the timeline, and do not see some of the stories I find even if you are peering into my timeline using the widget. You might think that you are missing something interesting that you would not think about otherwise. Some of the recent stories I found include:

If there is an interest, I will create a weekly newsletter with a short introduction to the stories and links to where to find more information. For example, I would write a blurb about the Battle of Hastings 50p coins, maybe add a picture, and send links to the 2-to-3 sites I found stories about the coin.

Most of these stories will be new content probably not appearing on the blog or in the numismatic press—with the exception of the coin recyclers’ issues since I have more information than what is published. It also provides insights into what the press says about coins and currency.

Would you be interested in receiving a weekly newsletter with a summary of world wide numismatic news?




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