Weekly Numismatic World News for November 19, 2017

Sometimes, I find it difficult to keep an open mind with some of the non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins that are on the market.

Some of the themes have started as interesting ideas have turned into blatant commercialism that I am not sure how to interpret its benefits to the hobby.

From superheroes to movie tie-ins to the cartoons, the themes are as varied as the grocery store shelves.

The latest NCLT that has me wondering about the future of the hobby is the 2018 Fiji Coca-Cola Bottle Cap-Shaped Dollar.

Yes, a Coca-Cola bottle cap-shaped coin with a face value of one Fijian dollar. The reverse of the coin is colored the famous Coca-Cola red with the script logo that is familiar to anyone who has passed by a Coca-Cola product. The obverse has the Fijian coat of arms, the date, and the specifications of the coin: 6 grams of .999 fine silver.

After looking at the specifications, the coin is 32.6 mm (1.283 inches) in diameter and I thought that the coins were going to be very thin.

Comparing the specification of this coin to pre-1965 United States coins that were made of .900 silver, the Washington quarter was made of 6.25 grams of silver and copper but was 24.3 mm (.957 inches) in diameter. The quarter is .25 grams heavier but 8.3 mm smaller. My caliper measured a 1960 uncirculated Washington quarter with a thickness of 1.75 mm.

Something closer is the size of the Kennedy half-dollar with a diameter of 30.6 mm (1.204) or 2 mm smaller than the Coco-Cola bottle cap coin. But the Kennedy half-dollar weighs 12.5 grams, more than double the Fijian coin.

To satisfy my curiosity, the caliper said that the uncirculated 1964 Kennedy half-dollar in my collection was 2.15 mm thick.

Not counting for the flare of the edges to resemble a bottle cap, the coin is probably 1 mm thick, less than the 1.35 mm of a 1955 Roosevelt dime I measured.

The coin is available for pre-order only from one company on eBay for $29.95 with free shipping. Expected shipping is on December 8, 2017.

The last time I checked, the listing reported that 1,481 of these coins were sold.

For the record, 6 grams of silver weighs .1929 troy ounces. With the price of silver currently at $17.31 per troy ounce, the coin contains $3.34 worth of silver.

If someone buys one of these coins, feel free to write a review. I will publish it here on the blog!

And now the news…

 November 13, 2017

BRENTWOOD — When milestones are reached in the armed forces, servicemen and women often receive a challenge coin, creating solidarity with others who share the same accomplishment. → Read more at fosters.com


 November 14, 2017

A hoard of 21 Islamic gold dinars, 2,200 silver coins, and gold artifacts dating to the 12th century CE has been unearthed by archaeologists digging at the Abbey of Cluny, a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. → Read more at sci-news.com


 November 14, 2017

IF you've got one of these most sought-after 50p coins then you could be sitting on a tidy profit. The Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin was introduced into circulation in September and Brits are slowly starting to find it in their spare change. → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 November 15, 2017

An "exceptional and rare" medieval treasure trove including more than 2,200 gold and silver coins has been found in France in what has been called a "remarkable" discovery by archaeologists. It's the kind of discovery archaeologists dream of. → Read more at thelocal.fr


 November 15, 2017

It was just a strange old penny, a copper-nickel Indian Head minted in 1859, when the government was trying out different metals for one-cent pieces. A grandfather gave it to Eric Pfeiffer Newman in 1918, when he was 7, a little bonus for his nickel-a-week allowance. → Read more at nytimes.com


 November 16, 2017

A metal detectorist has tracked down a rare gold coin from Richard III's reign near to the site of the Battle of Bosworth. The Half Angel is one of just a handful of such coins that have survived from the king's two-year reign. → Read more at leicestermercury.co.uk


 November 17, 2017

Archaeologists with the National Center for Scientific Research and other institutions in France revealed today that they have unearthed 2,200 silver deniers and oboles, 21 Islamic gold dinars, a very expensive gold signet ring and other objects made of gold from the Abbey of Cluny, located in the department of Saône-et-Loire. → Read more at mining.com

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Images courtesy of Modern Coin Mart on eBay.

Weekly Numismatic World News for November 12, 2017

As I peruse the Interwebs for numismatic-related stories from non-numismatic sources, my searches are inundated with stories about Bitcoin, crypto-currencies, and blockchains. Most of the time, the stories are just noise given my objective to find information relevant to collectors including the issuance of circulating currencies and the impact of precious metals on the market.

While there is some use of the technologies as an indicator of a store of something resembling wealth or as a new method of providing electronic transactions, the concept of inventing a currency out of thin air—or electronic bits—is something that may be more dangerous than the stock market.

Bitcoin, which is a type of crypto-currency, is traded using a blockchain, a technology that provides a mechanism for secured transactions between parties. Like the Federal Reserve Note, it is an invented currency whose value is in the eye of the beholder. The only difference between the Federal Reserve Note and crypto-currency is that the worth of the paper currency is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Bitcoin has no backing, very little regulation, and could become as worthless as Enron stock as fast as it became worthless.

Although you may have issues with the way the federal government and the politicians have been conducting themselves, the government provides the backing to make sure that the currency you use has some representative value by law. It is called fiat money.

Crypto-currency not only has no intrinsic value, but it is not backed or supported by the government. It has no regulation and is worth what someone will provide in trade. The assignment of value to crypto-currency may be market driven but those who have seen the silver market of 1980, unregulated markets can cause significant problems.

The blockchains that protect the transactions are software creations. Software is what is used to provide the logic to the computer to do its job—or not do its job in the cases of Equifax, Target, Home Depot, the Office of Personnel Management, and any of the other servers you have heard attacked in the last few years.

Of course the most important thing to numismatists, crypto-currency has no presence in the physical world. You cannot create a collection of bitcoin since it really does not exist. And maybe that should be the question: if it does not have a physical form or a physical representation, is it really money?

And now the news…

 November 6, 2017

The Stellarton Legion is now the proud recipient of a Nova Scotia Highlanders ceremonial unit coin. And Stellarton Legion president Jack Chaisson was on hand to take personal delivery of the coin from Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Todd at Pictou Legion, after attending the county Remembrance Day ceremony in town Sunday. → Read more at ngnews.ca


 November 6, 2017

The Royal Mint has released its official Remembrance Day coin ahead of commemorations on Saturday. Stephen Taylor, a graphic designer at the Royal Mint, said his artwork was inspired by the world-famous war poem 'In Flanders Fields' by John McCrae. → Read more at standard.co.uk


 November 6, 2017

The Perth Mint has released a world-first silver coin in the shape of a figure eight. Likely to be a hit with Chinese coin collectors and buyers, only 8888 of the 2oz, 99.99 per cent silver coins will be released at a recommended retail price of $218. → Read more at thewest.com.au


 November 7, 2017

Bruderer UK, which has nearly 50 years’ experience creating world renown precision high speed presses, has installed a state-of-the-art machine into the Royal Mint’s Llantrisant facility, giving the world famous institution additional speed, capacity and flexibility. → Read more at expressandstar.com


 November 8, 2017

Gold isn’t so shiny anymore. Globally, demand for the precious metal has fallen to its lowest level since late 2009, according to the World Gold Council. In the third quarter of 2017, demand for the haven asset was 915 metric tons, 9% lower than a year earlier. → Read more at qz.com


 November 9, 2017

In January, 1999 Cassinelli Construction Co. was employed by Nevada State Public Works Department to remove a portion of Carolyn Street at the Nevada State Museum to construct a parking lot and build a small park facing Carson Street. → Read more at elkodaily.com


 November 9, 2017

Gold was once a common form of payment around the developed world, but after World War II the precious metal's influence began to wane. In 1971, when the United States finally put an end to the gold standard, the role of the yellow metal changed for good. → Read more at fool.com


 November 10, 2017

The Thank-A-Vet cenotaph memorial coin set, created for local veterans and their families as a keepsake, has been completed with the minting of the final two coins and creation of a pine display box. – Sean Allen/Metroland → Read more at brantnews.com


 November 11, 2017

The thing about money — we all need it. “Money bewitches people. They fret for it, and they sweat for it. → Read more at royalgazette.com

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Thoughts on this weekend’s Whitman Expo

Whitman Expo came to Baltimore this weekend to fill up three large halls in the Baltimore Convention Center. Like every Whitman Expo, dealers come from all over making it a must-attend east coast destination.

I was able to attend on Friday afternoon. It was not for long because I had to work half of the day. But it is always worth the trip.

Travelling to Baltimore on Friday is different than going on Saturday. First, the traffic between the Washington metro area and Baltimore is heavier. The traffic in Baltimore is also heavier especially on I-95 going through the city. And parking is a little more expensive because you compete with the business parking of downtown Baltimore. Someday, I will take the light rail that stops between the Convention Center and Camden Yards.

During a short visit to a show like Baltimore you either have to have a concise strategy or whatever objectives there are will not be fulfilled. This time I had no objectives and spent a lot of time talking with people.

Over the years I have met a lot of dealers and others while walking around I wanted to visit with some of these people. I also got to meet with one of the long-time readers of the blog. Bob is a frequent correspondent who came down from New Jersey on Amtrak to also visit the show. It was good to meet Bob and put a face on the real person behind the emails.

During the short time I spent on the bourse floor I learned a few things about the market:

  1. Sales are moderate but steady. Dealers are selling more online than in shows but see the shows as a valuable marketing tool. None of the dealers I spoke with are seeing the end of coin shows but can envision a reduction in the number of shows.
  2. Some dealers are diversifying their inventory from their core interests to other areas. One dealer noted that he was seeing more junk box searching than in the past. Although he thought that his sales were below average, he thought that the low-end sales would pick up on Saturday when younger people will attend.
  3. I thought there was a lot more silver than gold. One dealer that sells modern bullion coin such as American Eagles, Canadian Maple Leafs, and Chinese Pandas said that silver bullion was selling better than their gold counterparts. With silver trading under $17 per troy ounce, those interested in bullion are buying silver. He also attributed the interest in silver with some of the better silver issues like the Pandas and other non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins.
  4. Speaking of NCLT coins, I did not see a big selection. A dealer whose case included a few older issues said that the current NCLT issues may be too expensive for the market. It is one thing to issue themed coins that may be of interest but selling them has been a problem. Some people find it difficult to justify the selling of a one-ounce silver coin for more than four-times bullion value. This dealer thought that the licensing fees being paid for these images were probably driving up the price and driving their potential market away.

Another interesting aspect of the show is the number of non-numismatic items for sale. There were two dealers whose cases contained only jewelry. Most of the jewelry were quality items and estate pieces but I was surprised there were two dealers whose inventory was exclusively jewelry. A few dealers I have seen in the past also had cases of jewelry. One said that the rings he was selling were an accumulation of many years and found that the market was more receptive to the jewelry.

In addition to the jewelry, a dealer was selling used music compact discs (CD) and another had African artifacts including a beautiful silver necklace. Some of the currency dealers also had historical papers, letters, ledgers, and other ephemera that only has a tangential tie to numismatics.

Last week I asked how dealers would respond to the market. It looks like some dealers have turned to inventory diversity and including non-numismatic collectibles. If it helps bring in more collectors, it might be a good move.

Weekly Numismatic World News for Noveber 5, 2017 (one day late)

What are the future of large coin shows like Whitman Expo?

I missed posting the Weekly Numismatic World News on Sunday because I was working. As part of my collectibles business, I work a show at least once per month. These shows allow me to interact with people and find out what interests them. Even if they do not buy from my inventory, I am able to learn about the market and try to predict trends.

Sometimes, I wonder if the numismatic industry does the same thing.

Next weekend will be the Whitman Baltimore Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. I am curious as to what I will find.

Since Whitman took over the show, they have improved the experience and what I have been told, they improved the experience for the dealers. They have made it a destination for many east coast dealers and collectors.

But it looks like the show has plateaued.

This is not Whitman’s fault. Whitman provides the venue. What are the dealers doing to meet the new demands of the market? What are the new trends? Based on my last few visits to Baltimore, you would never know that the hobby is changing. New collectors are not collecting the same coins as their parents and grandparents. New collectors are not buying in the same way as their parents and grandparents. Yet, when I go to Baltimore I will find an environment that may have been more comfortable 10 years ago than it is today.

I am not sure what needs to be changed. I will think about it when I am walking the bourse floor next weekend. But for now, the industry needs think about how to evolve. Otherwise, we could be looking for the downfall of these shows and that would be a shame.

And now the news…

 November 2, 2017

Australia’s new Remembrance Day $2 coin is racist and a national disgrace, Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell says. The coin, featuring rosemary leaves and purple flowers, is to honour Australians killed and wounded in military conflicts. → Read more at theadvocate.com.au


 November 2, 2017

Rare coins, mostly Roman, are believed to have been collected by the Kent castle’s owner, Edward Hussey, and his son → Read more at theguardian.com


 November 3, 2017

“There’s just a wide variety of things,” Rust said. “Money was issued by Mormons before they made it to Salt Lake, and then things that were issued once they were in Salt Lake.” → Read more at sltrib.com


 November 3, 2017

Founding father saved first issue $5 with untold historical value → Read more at tetonvalleynews.net

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October 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

It seems that when I write these posts about the monthly numismatic-related legislation reviews, I note how frustrating it is to follow the workings of Congress. Even though I work as a part-time political analyst and have some contacts I can leverage, even the insiders cannot explain why things happen.

Let’s look at recent legislation. Even though the House passed both the The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2519) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 1235) on the same day and sent both the Senate at the same time, the Senate only passed one of the bills while the other is languishing in committee.

Commemorative coin bills are not a big priority for Congress. Most of the time, they are treated as favors for one member or another, along the lines of “you help me with mine and I will help you with yours.” These are not big issues but are used to win points with constituents back home.

Although nobody is sure of the reasons why the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act is being stalled in committee, it may be because of politics and personality conflicts. Usually, when one of these bills are introduced, a version will be submitted to the House and Senate hoping one will pass. The Senate version, S. 1503 was introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Sen. Warren is not a favorite amongst her colleagues on the other side of the aisle. My sources speculate that the Senate’s leadership could be using this as a future bargaining chip against some of her principled stances.

It does not matter what you think about Sen. Warren or her politics. This is the way Congress works. If you think that the Basketball Hall of Fame should have a commemorative coin to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2020, then let your senators know that you support H.R. 1235 that has already passed the House.

H.R. 965: Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park Redesignation Act
Sponsor: Rep. Ann M. Kuster (D-NH)
Introduced: February 7, 2017
Summary: This bill redesignates the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, in New Hampshire, as the “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park.”
Referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands. — Feb 23, 2017
Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Unanimous Consent. — Jul 26, 2017
Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 197. — Aug 25, 2017
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Oct 2, 2017
Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. — Oct 3, 2017
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR956.

H.R. 2519: The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Timothy J. Walz (D-MN)
Introduced: May 18, 2017
Summary: This bill requires the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue commemorative coins in recognition and celebration of the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.Surcharges received from the sale of these coins shall be paid to the American Legion for costs related to promoting the importance of: (1) caring for those who have served, and those who are still serving, in the Armed Forces; and (2) maintaining patriotic values, strong families, and assistance for at-risk children.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — May 18, 2017
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Sep 25, 2017
Received in the Senate. — Sep 26, 2017
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Sep 29, 2017
Presented to President. — Sep 29, 2017
Became Public Law No: 115-65. — Oct 6, 2017
This new law can be viewed at http://bit.ly/115-HR2519.

H.R. 4044: 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Introduced: October 12, 2017
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Oct 12, 2017
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR4044.
PN1082: David J. Ryder — Department of the Treasury
Date Received from President: October 5, 2017
Summary: David J. Ryder, of New Jersey, to be Director of the Mint for a term of five years, vice Edmund C. Moy, resigned.
Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Oct 5, 2017
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Hearings held. — Oct 24, 2017
This nomination can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-PN1082.

Scary collectible for Halloween

The Royal Canadian Mint has created two unique coins they call “Nocturnal by Nature” that would fit the theme of Halloween.

What makes them interesting is that the fields and some of the devices are plated with black rhodium to create a darkened look.

The first coin’s reverse, which is sold out, features a barn owl (Tyto alba) descending upon its prey. The view is looking up as the owl descends toward the night sky.

The second coin’s reverse has an image of a brown bat, darkened by night with its silhouette as it crosses passed the moon overhead.

As with all Canadian coins, the obverse features the official Royal Canadian Mint portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The fields and legends are also plated with black rhodium that will make the Queen’s portrait really stand out.

Each coin is one troy ounce of .9999 silver, has serrated (reeded) edges, is 38 mm in diameter, and weighs 31.39 grams. Both coins have a face value of 20 dollars. The Royal Canadian Mint classifies the finish as matte proof.

Mintage is limited to 7,000 for each coin.

The single barn owl coin appears to be sold out on the Royal Canadian Mint website but looks like it can be purchased as part of their subscription program.

The price is listed at $119.95 CAD ($93.55 USD as I type this) for each coin with free shipping to Canada and the United States.

It may be too late for Halloween but they look very interesting!

All images courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Under-Appreciated Platinum Eagle Proofs

Over a week ago, the U.S. Mint announced that they will begin a three-year series of the American Platinum Eagles proof coins featuring designs inspired by the Declaration of Independence. After looking at the designs and the designs of past platinum proof coins, they may be one of the most under-appreciated series of coins produced by the U.S. Mint.

Since its introduction in 1997, the U.S. Mint has produced four series of proof coins with the reverse honoring different aspects of the nation. To see the list, see the “U.S. Coins by Type” page.

What distinguishes these coins are the well-executed reverse designs that few get to see or pay attention. It may be difficult for the average collector to consider collecting these coins because of the price of platinum has been either on par or higher than the price of gold. Also, platinum is not as well regarded as gold or silver as a precious metal causing it to be overlooked.

Since many of these coins did not sell in large quantities, many could be classified as modern rarities. But do not let the lack of supply dissuade you. Prices could be in the range of their bullion value plus a modest numismatic premium because the demand is also lower.

It is too bad these designs are confined to platinum coins. Unfortunately, the authorizing laws allow the U.S. Mint to do this with the platinum coins but not with silver. Since silver is more affordable for the average collector, maybe it is worth trying to ask Congress to change the law to allow these types of series for the American Silver Eagle proof coins.

Coin images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Weekly Numismatic World News for October 29, 2017

Twelve years ago, when I went looking for numismatic information online, there were a few resources. The major numismatic publications had not fully embraced the online world and writing about numismatics strictly from the collector’s point of view was non-existent. I took a chance and started writing my own blog.

On October 29, 2005, I posted my first article on the Coin Collectors Blog. Back then it was hosted on Google’s Blogger service. While that was a good start, I found Blogger a bit limiting and moved to have it hosted by another company and changed the look-and-feel.

During that time I have also updated my collecting habits. In addition to the coins of the 20th century, I added Maryland colonial currency, the currency of the State of Israel, Canadian coins, and numismatic items associated with my hometown of New York City and specifically, Brooklyn.

I have also picked up some other items that I just think are neat.

And I have written a lot.

Over 1,540 articles later, I have written on everything from the one-cent coin to the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles. I have written about the making of coins and currency to the government’s legal and policy roles in the process. I have called out the American Numismatic Association for its failures but have complimented them when deserved.

What I have found really special is you, my readers.

When I started I did not know how many people would be interested in reading the blog. Today, I can report that my logs show that there an average of 1,100 unique visitors to this blog every time something is posted—which does not include the number of times people or bots try to hack the blog!

Not every reader is from the United States. After the United States, the top five countries the logs show (in order) are Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, India, and Spain.

After the home page, the top read post is “How easy is it to pass counterfeit currency.” This seems to be a search engine favorite when people are looking to do nefarious deeds. But after that post, my information pages U.S. Coins by Type and Numismatic Dictionary (respectively) are the second and third most read pages. GREAT! I am glad it is a used resource!

I am humbled and honored that you take time out of your day to read what I write. I hope you enjoy reading the Coin Collectors Blog as much as I enjoy writing.

Thank you for being part of my 12-year journey. Now onto my next 12 years!

And now the news….

 October 21, 2017

Sunlight barely reaches the depths of the cavernous, 5,000 sq ft warehouse space in Chai Wan where Dr Werner Burger and his Taiwanese-born wife, Tsai Yui-mei, who goes by the name Lucy, house seven tons of coins. → Read more at scmp.com


 October 22, 2017

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in our country who hasn’t been affected by breast cancer—more than 100 women die from this disease every single day. The unbearable toll is too much; it’s time to end breast cancer once and for all. → Read more at marieclaire.com


 October 23, 2017

MOORESTOWN — Ted Brigante’s interest in coins began early. An owner of E&B Co. on West Main Street, Brigante grew up listening to his father weave tales of his own fascination with the pennies, dimes and dollars that might one day be worth more than their face value. → Read more at burlingtoncountytimes.com


 October 23, 2017

Metal detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles unearthed the ancient trove, which contained around 74,000 coins, as well as gold and silver jewellery, in June 2012 in a field in Grouville, ending a 30-year search for the treasure. → Read more at jerseyeveningpost.com


 October 24, 2017

A coin dating back to the construction of a historic North-east castle has been discovered. The 16th-century find was unearthed at Castle Fraser, near Inverurie, by a nine-year-old taking part in an archaeological dig, run by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS). → Read more at eveningexpress.co.uk


 October 24, 2017

On October 23, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Congressmember Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) President and CEO Myra Biblowit, BCRF Chief Mission Officer Dr. → Read more at qgazette.com


 October 25, 2017

An American “doughboy” with a distinctive crooked nose will adorn a World War I Centennial Silver Dollar being released by the U.S. Mint to mark the hundredth anniversary of the war’s end. The design on the heads side of the coin, which goes on sale next year, is titled “Soldier’s Charge,” and depicts a stone-faced soldier gripping a rifle. → Read more at stripes.com


 October 25, 2017

PHOTOS BY ADRIENNE SARVIS / THE SUMTER ITEM A large coil of copper, called a mondua, and a u-shaped piece of copper, called a manilla, were on display during the annual Sumter Coin Show on Saturday. The pieces were used as currency by Africans and Europeans during the time of the Atlantic slave trade. → Read more at theitem.com


 October 25, 2017

In a rather remarkable discovery, Chinese archaeologists excavated nearly 300,000 pieces of ancient coins that weighed 5.6 tons. The ancient currency was found under a common residential home in Fuliang County located in the province of Jiangxi, China. → Read more at nextshark.com


 October 26, 2017

British coin expert Roger F. Bland—stopping through the United States to accept a prestigious award for his study of coins—visited campus Thursday evening to detail the history of ancient coin-finding to a group of roughly 40 University affiliates at the Harvard Art Museums. → Read more at thecrimson.com

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All coin images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Time for the olde guard to wake up to new technology

SinoTech Stereo Microscope with USB interface

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the people who have been in the numismatic industry and has been responsible for keeping alive and solid over the last number of years. Their knowledge of the art and business of numismatics are invaluable. I wish some would write more about what they know.

However, the area where they are lacking is the science of numismatics. The part where technology has been able to automate to perform mundane work and do the finest details that many factories have increased output while reducing the workforce. It is their inability to grasp new technologies that have been holding back the growth of numismatics.

Recently, someone with great numismatic credentials said that you cannot teach grading using computers.

When I was working in non-civilian agencies, we would call that BRAVO SIERRA (from the phonetic alphabet meaning “B.S.”).

It used to be that video technology prevented images from being shown in detail. This goes back to the day from the old television standards were the picture was 525 scan lines (the number of passes the across the screen it took to form the picture) drawn about 30 times per second (the frame rate). This was different from early computers that drew fine dots on the screen. At the point color monitors entered the market, most were 640 dots wide by 480 dots tall which was a little smaller than your standard television screen.

Technology has advanced beyond what we had with the old cathode ray tube (CRT) television and monitor. Now, you can buy a monitor that attaches to your computer that has the same resolution as your television. What we call “4K High Definition” is 4096 pixels wide by 2160 pixels tall or over six time the size of the old monitors.

The iMac I am using has a display that is 5120 pixels tall by 2880 pixels wide and the iPhone 6 Plus in my pocket has a display that has 401 pixels per inch resolution. Think about that for a moment… every square inch of an image will use 160,801 individual dots to display on a device that fits into my back pocket!

These monitors are not only larger but the pixels are denser, meaning they are smaller and closer together. When in the old days you can look into the television and see jagged edges, you closeup look now shows smooth lines.

Go look at the specification of the smartphones and tablets that are on the market. They make television that was being sold as little as 10 years ago look like something out of ancient history.

Cameras are also better. Most smartphones can shoot images of over 8 megapixels up to 20 megapixels with image sensors that surpass what was on the market as late as 5 years ago. The amount of image data these cameras can capture are remarkable!

Can you guess the grade?

There are a lot of industries that use this technology for critical image analysis. The growing telemedicine field uses the imaging to allow a doctor to examine patients from anywhere including some of the most rural parts of the world. A nurse in the middle of a jungle can draw blood, put the slide in a machine that will take images and perform other data analysis and send it back to a doctor thousands of miles away to help diagnose illnesses.

Manufacturers of parts for your automobile and the airplanes you fly us this image analysis to check for imperfections in metal parts including difficult to spot stress fractures to prevent breakdowns. That should be comforting driving down the road at 60 MPH or 30,000 feet in the air.

Even the food industry uses this imaging technology to prevent foreign substances from being packaged and landing on the grocery store shelf. Remember the opening theme from Laverne & Shirley where they are on the bottling line watching for bottles without caps? That job does not exist anymore. Computers with imaging technology not only watch for those bottles but can spot one that is not filled correctly and if something other than beer was placed in the bottle.

If we can trust the imaging technology for medicine, vehicle safety, and food integrity, why can’t we trust imaging technology to grade coins?

Images taken with an iPhone 6 Plus

This is not to suggest that we can start grading coins by computer tomorrow but we can start soon. Programs have to be written to support the type of image analysis that would be required to determine an MS-69 coin from an MS-70. In fact, we may see fewer MS-70 coins using computer image analysis because the closer we look the more flaws we will find.

Professional Coin Grading Service provides the tip of this iceberg with the PCGS Photograde app. Whether you use the online service or one of the mobile apps, detailed imaging, and high definition displays can show you the details necessary. In fact, in a video PCGS produced about Photograde, they note how you can see the scratches on the imaged coin.

Images from PCGS Photograde App on the iPhone

If you can use the high definition images to see the details of coins, then the first step would be to use those images and the knowledge of grading to grade coins. Digital images can be transmitted anywhere there is a connection using the proper teaching platform.

With all due respect to the numismatic expert that said to me that you cannot teach grading using the computers, it is time to evolve from the early 2010s and see how technology has evolved to make it possible.

Credits

Breast Cancer coin design announced on NYC television show

Design of the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Gold Coin was announced today on Fox 5 New York featuring interviews with New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D), the sponsor of the authorizing legislation (Public Law 114-148) and Myra Biblowit, President of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the organization that will receive whatever is collected from the surcharges.

No additional details were provided including the name of the winning designer or whether the silver dollar and clad half-dollar will have the same design.

Here is the video segment from “Good Day New York:”

Still frame of the reverse design also from “Good Day New York:

Still frame of Breast Cancer Awareness commemorative coin reverse from Fox 5 NY

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 be 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.

All media courtesy of WNYW — Fox 5 NY.

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