Finding error dies

Lincoln Cent Dies from the Denver Mint

In the hunt for something interesting, I stumbled across two listings on eBay for a two error dies from the Denver Mint being sold by noted error expert Fred Weinberg. These Lincoln cent dies are not dies with errors but dies with part of the design still visible.

Dies from the U.S. Mint makes for an interesting collectible. Standing about 2½ inches tall and about 1¼ inches across the base where it is loaded into the coining press, it is really an unremarkable piece of metal. Weighing 192 grams (about 6.8 ounces), the only distinguishing marks on the die is the serial number stamped on the base.

Before being discarded, workers at the U.S. Mint are supposed to completely grind off the design so that it cannot be used to strike counterfeit coins. Even though it is not cost effective to flood the U.S. economy with counterfeit Lincoln cents, the U.S. Mint does not want to take the chance someone will try. Once the design is removed from the die it can become a collectible.

Close-up images of the dies make the visible design look more dramatic than in person. After all, the images were likely taken with a macro lens on a die used to strike a coin 19.05 mm (0.750 inches) in diameter. Even so, the idea was fascinating enough for me to submit bids high enough to win both dies.

The first “error” die was used to strike the obverse of 1993-D Lincoln cents. This die is not completely filed down since it does show some of Lincoln’s hair. Although not a large area, there is enough of the incuse portion of the die’s section to be able to identify it as hair and providing a good guess as to where it would be on the coin. The sticker in the image was placed there by the seller. I decided to leave the sticker.

The other error die was used to strike the reverse of 1994-D Lincoln cents. In this case, the “error” is very subtle. There are two lines that would have been where the bottom two steps of the Lincoln Memorial would have been. Based on the placement, these would be to the center-right of the Lincoln statue in the monument. In the image, it is at the bottom of the “R.” I do not know why the “CR” is written on the die but I am not removing it, for now.

I do not know how Fred Weinberg finds these items but they are fascinating. The next time you go to a show you should check out his inventory. He finds some really interesting errors that have to be seen to be believed.
 

Looking down on the Lincoln Cent “error” dies. The 1994-D reverse die is on the left, The 1993-D obverse die is on the right.

Single images courtesy of Fred Weinberg & Co.

Can we now move on?

In 1916, the U.S. Mint began to circulate three iconic coin designs that remain favorites amongst collectors. To celebrate, the U.S. Mint issued 24-karat gold centennial versions of the Mercury Dime, Standing Liberty Quarter, and Walking Liberty Half-Dollar. The designs of the coins are the same as their century-old counterparts except the gold specification was added. Earlier this month, the U.S. Mint released the 2016-W Walking Liberty Half-Dollar 24-karat gold coin to complete the series.

With the release of the gold Walking Liberty Half-Dollar, every coin design that was part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s “pet crime” that has gone out of circulation, except the Bela Lyon Pratt quarter and half-eagles and the Saint-Gaudens $10 eagle, have been reproduced at least once. Only Victor D. Brenner’s Lincoln Head Cent design remains in circulation even though the reverse has been redesigned a few times.

Isn’t it time we move on?

Let’s forget the legal limitations placed on the U.S. Mint that only allows them to do a tribute like this in gold even though the original coins were struck in silver, how many collectors are really interested in buying these coins? How many can afford these coins?

Judging by the listings for online auctions and dealers that specialize in modern precious metals, it seems that the alleged sellout of the gold Mercury Dime was because of speculation. While there will always be some opportunists in any market, the appearance of the churn in that market feels more like people looking to make money rather than collect, especially since its $209 issue price is more affordable.

Now, both the Standing Liberty and Walking Liberty gold coins are still available. With the limited availability, why aren’t collectors buying these coins?

Aside from the cost of a gold coin, how many younger collectors or even those that are a part of Generation X have any connection to those coins? It is possible we Baby Boomers have seen these coins in circulation, even sparingly. I was able to find Mercury dimes and Buffalo nickels as late as the very early 1970s before they were all removed from circulation. My interest in collecting started when I found Indian Head cents in pocket change.

I am not saying that these designs are unworthy of a tribute. As a collective, they are arguably the most iconic designs of U.S. coinage. But what many consider the best of the best will live on as part of the American Eagle, Buffalo 24-karat, and the soon-to-be palladium bullion programs.

Isn’t it time we move on?

Sales of mint and proof sets are down. Sales of commemorative coins are not meeting expectations where only a few have been sellouts. And the only modern coin that has seen any respect from the Baby Boomer and older collecting community was the 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar gold coin.

It is time we move on.

The 115th congress will be sworn into office on January 3, 2017. Giving the congress time to get settled including my representative who will be entering his first term in the House, I will write to him to propose a that a silver program similar to the 24-karat gold program be created. Maybe, if coins are offered in silver, a more affordable metal, we can use those coins to generate additional interest in collecting.

It may not be much, but it is a start!

Coin images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Another 2018 Commemorative design competition

U.S. Mint Breast Cancer Awareness Design Competition LogoThanks to congressional lawmaking, the U.S. Mint is holding competition for the two commemorative coin programs that will be issued in 2018. Earlier this year, the competition was opened for designs of the 2018 World War I Centennial Commemorative silver dollar. Now, the U.S. Mint has begun a competition for the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coins.

Signed into law on April 20, 2016 by President Obama (Public Law 114-148), the law requires the U.S. Mint to have an “juried competition” for a design “emblematic of the fight against breast cancer.” As part of the design, the law says that “The Secretary shall encourage three-dimensional designs to be submitted as part of the proposals.”

There is a caveat: you have to be an artist of some type and a U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older. You can read the Official Rules on the U.S. Mint website, but in summary Phase I of the competition is the evaluation of three-to-five examples of your work submitted digitally to the U.S. Mint. You have to be able to submit a digital portfolio. Even if your work is good and you think you can be part of the competition, you either have to be able to take a good picture of your work or find a photographer who can help.

An “expert” will review the submissions and select no more than 20 artists for the second phase.

In Phase II, those selected artists will be asked to submit one design along with a plaster model of both the obverse and reverse for the proposed coin that includes all of the necessary elements required of a coin. Only one artist’s design will be selected. The winning artist will receive “not less than $5,000.” If your design is selected, you will have your name etched in numismatic lore for being the designer of the coin. For this, your initials will appear on the coin, the Certificate of Authenticity, and in places like the Red Book!

Full details can be found on the U.S. Mint website.

Summary of the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Program

  • Commemorative coins issued in 2018
  • Design, emblematic of the fight against breast cancer, selected from a juried competition with no less than $5,000 going to winning design
  • “The Secretary shall encourage three-dimensional designs to be submitted as part of the proposals”
  • 50,000 $5 “pink gold” coins with an alloy of at least 75-percent gold with a $35 surcharge
  • 400,000 one-ounce silver dollars made with not less than 90-percent silver with a $10 surcharge
  • 750,000 clad half-dollar coins with a $5 surcharge
  • Surcharges will be distributed to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of New York, to further breast cancer research funded by the Foundation.

Pink gold can has been more commonly described as “rose gold.” Rose gold is an alloy of 75-percent gold with 20-percent copper and 5-percent silver. The color can be adjusted by changing the ratio of copper and silver.

It’s not an error but should be

Revere of the 2016 Cumberland Gap Quarter

Revere of the 2016 Cumberland Gap Quarter

What would you consider the difference between artistic license and just getting it wrong? This may be a question we could put to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts who did not pick up on a mistake in the design of one of the America the Beautiful Quarters.

The artistic error was found by a member of my local coin club who also participates in re-enactments from the Revolutionary War era. Since he is acquainted with the how items from that period look, he told fellow club members about his find.

While looking at the quarter celebrating the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky he noticed something was wrong. A careful examination of the gun shows the flintlock is mounted on the wrong side.

During that time, since most people were right-handed or learned to shoot with their right hand on the trigger, the flintlocks were placed on the right side of the stock. Doing so allowed the flash created by striking the flint to be guided away from the shooter. If the flintlock was placed on the left, the flash would fire into the shooter causing injury.

Manufacturing technology was very different prior to the industrial revolution. Parts were either case manually with molds or formed one at a time where speed was important, especially to satisfy a government’s order to arm soldiers. It would be impractical to alter the basic mechanism for the majority of guns made. Left-handed guns were custom projects that only the wealthy could afford. A frontiersman would not be the type with the means to purchase a custom made gun with a left-handed flintlock.

Further, look how the frontiersman is holding the gun. He is not cradling the gun with the trigger nearby so that he can fire if necessary. The butt, or stock of the gun is extended forward and the barrel pointed backward. Someone suggested that the perspective on the flat coin may make this look different but think about it, how would you hold the gun if you were standing on a ridge looking westward over an untamed landscape?

Although I did not have the eye or knowledge to pick up on this mistake, surely one of the specialists on the CCAC especially the one appointed to the commission who is a specialist in American history. I do not expect much out of the CFA since their specialties are not really fine arts since the majority of their work deals with the aesthetics of buildings, facades, and fencing around the District of Columbia.

There are 11 members of the CCAC and seven in the CFA and not one of them noticed any problems with this image? If they are allowing historically inaccurate images on United States coinage, then what is their purpose?

Credits

The Gold Merc is coming

If you read my Baltimore show report, you might have noticed that I included images of the Mercury Dime 2016 Centennial Gold Coin. According to the U.S. Mint, the coin is scheduled to go on sale on April 21, 2016 at noon Eastern Time.

Obverse of the soon to be released Mercury Dime 2016 Centennial Gold Coin

Obverse of the soon to be released Mercury Dime 2016 Centennial Gold Coin

Reverse of the soon to be released Mercury Dime 2016 Centennial Gold Coin

Reverse of the soon to be released Mercury Dime 2016 Centennial Gold Coin

With a mintage limit of 125,000 and struck in West Point, the coin will be struck on a 24-karat (.999 pure) gold planchet. It will differ from the original Mercury Dime in that it will be dated 2016. On the reverse the coin will have the “W” mintmark since it will be struck in West Point, include “AU 24K” and “1/10 OZ.” to note that the coin will contain one-tenth ounce of gold. Otherwise, it looks exactly like Adolph A. Weinman’s design that was used from 1916 through 1945.

At 16.50 mm in diameter, the gold coin will be a little smaller than the 17.91 mm silver dime. The gold coin will be heavier (3.11 g) than the original that was made from 90-percent silver (0.7234 troy ounces).

To make this coin, the U.S. Mint is exploiting a loophole in the law that authorized the American Buffalo 24-Karat Bullion Gold Coins program (31 U.S.C. § 5112(q)). According to the law, after the first year of issue (2007), the Secretary can change the design of the coin as long as the design is reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. The U.S. Mint used this law to authorize the 2009 Ultra High Relief coin and the fifty year celebration of the Kennedy half dollar in 2014 with the dual date.

The original Winged Liberty “ Mercury” Dime was a silver coin produced as a result President Theodore Roosevelt’s “pet crime” where he thought U.S. coin design was hideous. Weinman was Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ student who is credited with finishing the work on Saint-Gaudens coin designs after the master sculpture’s death. It was not one of Weinman’s favorite works but it is beloved by collectors.

As a collector who has an almost complete collection of Mercury dime (missing the 1916-D), I was skeptical about the visual appeal of the coin in gold. When I open the folder, I see 30 years of silver coins. Since I try to keep my collection at extra fine (XF) or better, you can get used to seeing that beautiful silver color. When I saw the gold coin in a size that is close to the original dime in the presentation box at the Whitman Expo, I thought it made for a beautiful tribute.

Pricing of the coin will depend on the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) afternoon price of gold on Wednesday, April 20. That number will be plugged into their pricing grid to determine the opening price of the coin. For example, the LBMA PM price of gold on April 14 is $1,233.85 per troy ounce. If this was the basis of the opening price, we would look up in the table for the price range $1,200.00 to $1,249.99. Since this is an uncirculated business strike coin struck under the American Buffalo act, the table shows that the coin would open at $194.00.

Using my example, this would give the coin a $70.61 or 36-percent numismatic premium over the spot price, which also takes into account U.S. Mint production costs (materials, labor, packaging, etc.).

If the LBMA PM price goes over $1,250 then the opening price of the coin will be $199.00. Being under $200.00 may give the market a psychological boost that may promote quicker sales. Then again, if the price of gold dips below $1,200.00, the coin will open at $189.00.

Putting on my prognosticator’s hat, I predict that the price of gold will go up enough that the opening price will be $199.00.

NOTE: I am just a blogger making a prediction. If you want a better market analysis, ask a professional advisor. They may have a more informed opinion, but we are all just throwing ideas up against the wall trying to figure out what will stick!

What is the U.S. Mint doing?

What is going on at the U.S. Mint? For an organization whose actions are micromanaged by law seems to be finding a way to get around those rules to make some real questionable decisions.

2015-S Saratoga National Historical Park Quarter

2015-S Saratoga National Historical Park Quarter

First, the U.S. Mint begins production of uncirculated San Francisco struck America the Beautiful Quarters in 2012 leaving the coins of the first two years of the program out. Collectors of the entire set will have two uncirculated options for 2010 and 2011 but a partial set for the rest of the program. Why start something like this in the middle of the program?

Just before the release of the S-mint quarters, the U.S. Mint changed its branding and changed the design of the Presidential $1 Coin Cover. Those of us who collect the coin covers now have two different formatted designs that shows when you show your 2010 Abraham Lincoln cover followed by the 2011 Andrew Johnson cover. And the change puts a thick black bar across the bottom forcing the portrait to be reduced making it an ugly design.

2010 Lincoln First Day Cover (before branding)

2010 Lincoln First Day Cover (before branding)

2011 Andrew Johnson First Day Cover (after branding)

2011 Andrew Johnson First Day Cover (after branding)

Although I love the reverse proof coins and do not think including them in special sets, such as the 2015 Reverse Proof Roosevelt Dime as part of the 2015 March of Dimes Special Silver Set, but there are persistent rumors of a Presidential dollar reverse proof set. Why add a reverse proof set in the middle of a series? What is the U.S. Mint thinking? Adding a reverse proof to an existing series is as wrong as the S-mint national parks quarters.

2015 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin

2015 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin

Allegedly, there is “excitement” being made over the new 24-karat $100 Liberty gold coin. First, there was a lot of industry discussion on the $100 face value, which is irrelevant to the issues. What difference does the denomination make on a non-circulating coin? But am I the only one who thinks the image of Liberty looks like an anorexic weakling?

Look at some of the past images of Liberty and they have a stronger look. Two of the most famous by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Adolph A. Weinman has a striding Liberty that shows character. George Morgan’s Liberty had a regal look and Anthony de Francisi’s Liberty on the Peace dollar is just a marvel of beauty. This image is so uninspiring that I would buy the coin only because it is the first year of issue and has some investment potential. Otherwise, if I were to invest in 24-karat gold coins I would continue to buy the American Gold Buffalo.

2015 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin Reverse

2015 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin Reverse

The appealing feature of the coin is the eagle on the reverse. While there have been flying eagles on Christian Gobrecht dollar, James B. Longacre’s Flying Eagle cent, and Saint-Gaudens’ $20 gold coin, the new design brings forward the strength of the eagle gripping an olive branch to symbolize peace. Although the eagle depicted on Official Seal of the United States includes arrows in one of the eagle’s claws, modern sensibilities will prevent the symbolism that the arrows would depict.

I know that the designs were approved by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. But, as usual, their motivations and sense of design is really in question. Maybe it is time we drop one of these committees and streamline the process.

Expanding collecting options from the U.S. Mint is good for the hobby. However, adding options to existing series and ugly coins should be discouraged.

Saratoga Park quater image courtesy of USACoinBook.com
All other images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Do we dump Andy for a woman?

$20 Series 2006 ObverseDuring the course of searching for information, I stumbled upon the website for Women on 20s. It is a site dedicated to replacing the image of President Andrew Jackson with a woman by 2020. The group has targeted the $20 Federal Reserve Note to be replaced 2020 because it is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Jackson is being targeted because as we look back through the long lens of history, he was not exactly a model person judging by today’s standards. During the War of 1812, Jackson led U.S. Army troops against native tribes working with the British against the United States to regain the lands taken following the colonies’ independence. It was said that Jackson’s troops were brutal against the native tribes on his orders, killing them rather than taking prisoners.

After beating back the British in the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson declared martial law in New Orleans and used his troops to enforce martial law. Aside from having a magistrate arrested who sided with a newspaper reporter writing who was arrested for writing negatively about his rule, he had members of the local militia who sided with the British executed without trial and went on to use it as propaganda to allegedly maintain order.

As president, Jackson’s policies to relocated native tribes lead to the Indian Removal Act that codified his policies. This lead to the “Trail of Tears” that forced the relocation of Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations from their ancestral homelands in the southeast to an area west of the Mississippi River that had been designated as Indian Territory. It is considered the most violent and brutal act against the native tribes in United States history.

To have Jackson’s portrait on the United States central banks’ currency is also a bit ironic. Jackson was against the concept of a central bank and refused to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States and vetoed the bill to continue its charter. After winning election in 1833, Jackson withdrew all of the country’s funds from the bank limiting the bank’s ability to conduct business. He gave power to local banks to lend money and issued the Specie Circular, an executive order requiring government transaction be done in gold and silver coin (specie).

Poster issued by the Whig Party blaming Jackson for the Panic of 1837

Poster issued by the Whig Party blaming Jackson for the Panic of 1837

With the western expansion and federal lands being made for sale and the requirement that duties were to be paid in gold and silver, this created a run on banks that could not provide the hard currency necessary for people to exchange their banknote. Although Jackson paid off the country’s debt in 1835, the only year it has ever been paid off, the squeeze on currencies, lack of central management of money, corrupt bank practices, and reckless land speculation by railroads lead to the Panic of 1837. The resulting depression lasted five years and included the default of many banks and the treasuries of many states. Remember, this was long before the deposits were insured by the federal government.

The Women on 20s organization does not believe that this should be the legacy honored on U.S. currency. But if we look into the history of all of the men on U.S. currency, there are aspects of their pasts and personal lives that would make some blush, including Benjamin Franklin’s common law wife and illegitimate son.

1999 Susan B. Anthony DollarWomen on 20s do recognize that suffragette Susan B. Anthony did appear on a one dollar coin but the coin failed because of its confusion with the quarter. They also recognize that Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, appears on the current one-dollar coin. Aside from the 2003 Alabama State Quarter, no other woman has appeared on circulating coinage (they do not count commemorative issues). Since neither dollar coin has circulated well and since the Alabama quarter was a temporary issue, the organization believes a better tribute is warranted.

In what looks like an addendum to their argument, they mention that a portrait of Martha Washington appeared on the Series 1886 (Fr. #215) and 1891 (Fr. # 223) $1 Silver Certificates. Both Martha and George Washington appeared on the reverse of $1 Series 1896 Educational Series note (Fr. #224).

To decide who they will try to lobby to appear on the $20 note, the organization started with 15 candidates. Voters were asked to select thee of the 15 candidates in this preliminary round. The top vote-getters will be subject to another final voting round.

2012 First Spouse coin featuring Alice Paul

2012 First Spouse coin featuring Alice Paul

In the first round, the 15 candidates were Alice Paul (appeared on the 2012 First Spouse gold coin), Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony (appeared on the 1979-1999 dollar coin), Eleanor Roosevelt (appeared on the 2014 First Spouse gold coin), and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Women on 20s reported that 256,659 people had cast ballots when the first round ended on April 5, 2015. They reported that Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks were named by as many as half of the voters as one of their top three. They added Wilma Mankiller to the final ballot. Mankiller, the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation and the first female to be a chief of a native nation, was added because of a claimed “strong public sentiment that people should have the choice of a Native American to replace Andrew Jackson.”

Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation

Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation

Voting is open at the time this is being written. There is no closing date listed on their website.

Since congress does not control the design of the currency, Women on 20s will have to convince the Federal Reserve to change the design of the $20 Federal Reserve Note. If the Federal Reserve, whose chair is Janet Yellen, agrees to the change, they will work with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for the design and the U.S. Secret Service to ensure that the appropriate anti-counterfeiting measures are included.

Design changes to any Federal Reserve Note can take 3-5 years to complete.

NOTE: I contacted the Women on 20s organization for comments via email. That email has not been returned at the time of writing this article. If they answer my questions, I will publish them in a follow up post.

Image of the $20 FRN and Whig Party poster courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Coin images courtesy of the U.S. Mint
Image of Wilma Mankiller courtesy of the Native American Encyclopedia.

Sunday morning numismatics on CBS

CBS Sunday Morning-The Money IssueThe U.S. Mint has sent out a press alert saying that CBS Sunday Morning will air two segments this Sunday, April 12th, that may be of interest to collectors. The first segment will focus on the artists and engravers in Philadelphia and the role they play in the coin-making process. The segment will also look at some of the Philadelphia Mint’s history.

A second segment will look at the penny and the debate about whether or not it should be eliminated.

Anthony Mason

Anthony Mason

CBS is branding this show “The Money Issue” with CBS News Senior Business Correspondent Anthony Mason as the guest host. The four scheduled segments include “What’s in a name” examining the art of branding; “The Look of Money” with Anna Werner showing the design process as the U.S. Mint’s press alert said; Correspondent Nancy Giles reports on “Making sense of pennies” and the great elimination debate; Mo Rocca who reports on “Pirate Joe’s” and the grey market of food; and more.

CBS Sunday Morning is usually hosted by Charles Osgood and airs at 9 am Eastern Time. Check your local listings to see when it airs in your region.

Images courtesy of CBS and cbsnews.com

Challenging to following up

I know it has been a while since I wrote a substantive post. But as the holiday season is upon us, business has picked up and I am doing a lot of buying and selling. While good for business, it has not provided me time to write. I have a backlog that I will get to, so please be patient.

Of the items I am buying and selling are Challenge Coins. While not coins in the strictest sense of the term challenge coins are the size of large dollar coins or crowns issued, usually issued by a military organization and given to someone as a sign of appreciation. Back in 2009, I wrote about NBC news anchor Brian Williams admitting that he collected challenge coins.

Although given in appreciation, not everyone appreciates their significance and, in some cases, their beauty. Aside from finding them in estate sales, they are included in large lots of items I purchase while looking for other items. For some reason, the sellers throw them into the lot thinking that they are not worth much.

For the most part, challenge coins do not have value the way coins have value. Most challenge coins are enameled bronze disks. What makes them interesting is the topic, the location depicted, or who issued the coin. Some challenge coins are very basic while others have artistic value that rivals anything issued by government mints.

Although I have handled hundreds of challenge coins in the last year, two stand out as exception. Unfortunately, I was so excited to have found them that I sold them to new owners before taking pictures. One was a coin that was overlaid on a large “V” which was to be the Roman numeral for five. It was very striking. The other was a coin that was three-inches wide by one-inch tall in the shape of a dog bone. This very unique challenge coin was issued for an anniversary of the police canine unit of Amtrak in Chicago. Aside from various insignias and images of the five types of dogs that Amtrak Police Canine Unit trains, the coin included representative flags including one for the City of Chicago.

Here are some challenge coins that I have recently sold:

US Army Garrison Natick-obv
US Army Garrison Natick-rev
U.S. Army Garrison Natick Challenge Coin
Presented for Excellence by the Garrison Command Team in Natick, Mass.
U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) HQ-obv
U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) HQ-rev
U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) Headquarters Challenge Coin
Presented by the Deputy Command in Chief C.S. Abbot, Admiral, U.S. Navy
Rear Admiral Charles S. Abbot (ret.) was Deputy Commander in Chief of USEUCOM from 1998 to 2000.
78th Troop Command-obv
78th Troop Command-rev
78th Troop Command Challenge Coin
“Georgia’s 911 Force”
The 78th Troop Command is the Georgia National Guard. Coins was presented by the Sargent Major (see the insignia on the reverse).
US Forces Korea 50th Anniversary-obv
US Forces Korea 50th Anniversary-rev
United States Forces Korea Challenge Coin
50th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration
FBI 100th Anniversary-obv
FBI 100th Anniversary-rev
Federal Bureau of Investigation Challenge Coin
100th Anniversary of the FBI

Finally, if you want to start your own challenge coins collection, here are a few I have for sale for you to start:

2014 Trick or Treat

Hobo Ike and JeffersonIt has been a few years since I did an All-Hallows-Eve numismatic trick-or-treat that it seems like a good time to do add one. Here are my numismatic tricks and treats for this past year.

Girl Scouts need a values adustment

TRICK: It was announced in January that the 2013 Girl Scouts commemorative coin did not generate enough sales for the U.S. Mint to provide a payout of seignorage. This is the first time this has happened. Part of the problem was that the Girl Scouts are stuck in the 1950s mindset that does not see collecting coins as a girl’s hobby. Although values are important, this shows that he Girl Scouts’ values are behind the times and will not be the catalyst behind helping expand the hobby. They should be ashamed for contributing to this failure.

ANA Willfully Gives up its Premier Status

TRICK:The Professional Numismatists Guild and the American Numismatic Association announced in January that “the first” PNG-ANA Numismatic Trade Show the weekend prior to the 2014 World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont that it will be open to the public. While making it sound exciting it made the entire show 8-days long. This was a bad move because of the length and because it makes the ANA play second to PNG. If the ANA wants to be the premier numismatic organization, the one that anyone wanting to learn about and be about numismatics, The ANA should not play second fiddle to any other organization.

There are coin treats!

TREAT:In creating a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Kenney half-dollar, the U.S. Mint has made a coin that is not really circulated into something interesting for the collector. The dual-dated gold coin became an instant hit before the price of gold dropped and the silver sets are reportedly selling well. This was a good move by the U.S. Mint.

TREAT:For the most part, commemorative coins are sales do not meet expectation. While there are a few exceptions like 2005 Marine Corps 230th Anniversary silver dollar, most commemoratives do not come close to their maximum mintage. But the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemoratives appear to have hit a home run. The combination of the subject and the curve of the coin may be a significant factor in the coin’s success. The $5 gold and silver dollar coins are both sold out. There are some of the clad half-dollars available.

TREAT:Speaking of cool stories, what about the Saddle Ridge Hoard? After a couple found the hoard of gold coins while walking their dog, it spawned an interest in metal detectors and searching for buried treasure. It was such an amazing story that it even found its way into the national news cycle. But like everything else, another shiny story diverted the media’s attention and the coins went on sale to the general public on Amazon.com.

Not all coins are treats

TRICK: Colored and coins with gimmicks are proliferating in the market. So far, the U.S. Mint and the Royal Mint are resisting colored and other gimmicks while the Royal Candian Mint and New Zealand Mint are at a race to the bottom for gimmick coins.

Numsimatics and technology

TREAT: The ANA launched its new website with new technology ready for growth on time and under budget. This is the website that ANA Governor Laura Sperber said, “I can’t wait to see what a disaster the ANA new web site will be.” So far, there has not been a follow up from Sperber while the new site has been a success.

TREAT: More recently, the U.S. Mint had a great launch to their new website. After years of frustration with the online ordering of what would be popular items, the new site handled the launch of the 50th Anniversary Kennedy 2014 Half-Dollar Silver Coin Collection with no issues.

Failure to launch

TRICK: The U.S. Mint launched the Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin at the Whitman Show in March not anticipating its popularity with fewer coins that there was a demand. It was as if the U.S. Mint had a blind spot with how popular this coin would be.

TRICK: The dealers who paid less than desireable people uninterested in anything other than a quick buck to mob the lines at the Denver Mint and the World’s Fair of Money. I continue to belive that their ethics must be questioned and appropriate actions taken by the ANA even though I do not think that will happen.

TREAT: With the drop in the price of gold, the current price of the gold Kennedy half-dollar tribute is less than what is was at launch. Teach these greedy dealers a lesson and buy the coins for less directly from the U.S. Mint!

U.S. Government hands out coal

TRICK: Because the U.S. Mint can only do what the laws that congress pass tells them they can do and congress is so dysfunctional they cannot even pass laws for issues they agree on, the United States was the only country involved with the Allies on D-Day NOT to issued a commemorative to honor the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

TRICK: In the name of political correctness, the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) continues to make it difficult for ancient coin collectors to participate in its hobby by allowing countries to ask the State Department to overreach on the enforcement on the Cultural Property Implementation Act. It is turning ancient coin collectors into criminals even for collecting common coins. Their actions are rediculous.

CCAC is the CCAC

TREAT: The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee suggested creating American Arts medals that will feature the artistic ability of the U.S. Mint’s artist.

TRICK: The arts medals are medals, not coins. Even with the beauty of medals like the 9/11 silver medal, it did not sell like coins would. In fact, it grossly under performed without raising significant sums for the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the Twin Towers in New York. But this is what the CCAC is face with because of congressional dysfunction (see above).

So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian… it’s Hallowe’en.
— Orson Welles, The War of the Worlds, CBS Radio, October 30, 1938

BOO!

Hobo Ike and Jefferson courtesy of Darth Morgan posted at Coin Community

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