Yes, I’m a day late. At least I’m not a dollar short!
It is not a surprise to economic and market watchers that there is a perceived coin shortage. The problem is not just in the United States, but worldwide central banks are trying to fix their circulation issues.
Over the last three months, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been trying different tactics to get money to circulate. In addition to striking more coins, they promote new designs and a program for citizens to redeem old coins for the newly issued coins. It has a moderating effect on the COVID crisis at high levels in the country.
India has also been dealing with rumors one type of circulating coin has been counterfeited or been withdrawn and not legal tender. However, the RBI has insisted that the coins are legal tender but continue to promote them with the redesign.
The Royal Mint has stepped up the production of 1 penny coin for circulation. Physical money is used more in the UK than electronic transactions, especially outside of the cities. Although some feel the penny has been overproduced and would rather see the 2 pence coin used, the increase in the number of transactions since the lifting of COVID restrictions created the demand.
The United States continues to see shortages. Most of the reports are coming from outside of the major metropolitan areas. Most are looking for one-cent coins. Experts are blaming accelerated consumer spending in areas where cash payments are more prevalent. More populated urban regions are seeing more electronic transactions than cash.
Let’s keep the economy moving. Spend those coins! (not the ones you collect)
And now the news…
September 14, 2021
Bankers thought the nationwide coin shortage was over, as the U.S. economy reopened and previously housebound consumers were able to unload more of their change. But a combination of factors — including government stimulus payments, accelerated consumer spending and the threat of the COVID-19 delta variant — has stymied progress and forced retailers to resort again to asking shoppers for exact change.
→ Read more at americanbanker.com
September 14, 2021
Croatian National Bank (HNB) Governor Boris Vujčić said on Monday after meeting with European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis that a test production of euro coins with Croatian national motifs should begin by the end of this year, with possibly about two million coins being minted.
→ Read more at croatiaweek.com
September 15, 2021
LAS CRUCES – The Las Cruces Police Department received two reports of movie prop money that was passed as legal tender over the weekend, a news release on Monday stated. In the news release police stated movie prop money can look like actual currency but, in most instances, does not have the same texture.
→ Read more at lcsun-news.com
September 15, 2021
A very rare large gold coin from the reign of Charles I is expected to fetch £50,000 when it is sold at auction.
→ Read more at newschainonline.com
September 15, 2021
A huge hoard of Iron Age gold artifacts has been uncovered by an amateur metal detectorist in Denmark. The "enormous" find consists of almost one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of gold buried 1,500 years ago, according to a press release from the Vejlemuseerne museum, which will exhibit the hoard.
→ Read more at cnn.com
September 16, 2021
One penny coins were back in production last year after none were minted for general circulation in the previous two years, Royal Mint figures show.
→ Read more at bbc.com
The week of September 20th through the 26th, the Royal Mint is celebrating Collect Week 2021. It is the week that the Royal Mint celebrates coin collecting and collectors. The Royal Mint has plans that allow people to participate virtually, including webinars that many outside the UK may be interested in attending.
Three Graces UK Five-Ounce Silver Proof obverse (trial piece) – TR213GS5
One of the more fascinating events of Collect Week is the auction for Die Trial Pieces. Die Trial pieces are coins struck before the production run as a test. The Royal Mint has a good description of Die Trials on its website.
The list of die Trial Pieces includes gold and silver strikes from 2019 and 2020. Each coin has a hallmark attesting to the quality of the strike as defined by the Royal Mint. The Royal Mint published a list of 60 Die Trial Pieces that will be in the auction.
There are also webinars held during the week. You may have to adjust your sleep pattern to attend if you are interested, but it might be worth your time. The list of webinars advertised are:
If I get up in the middle of the night to attend a webinar, I will attend “The Importance of Die Trial Pieces.” The description makes it sound like they will discuss the minting process from the Royal Mint’s perspective.
“Making the Grade” may be worth an extra pot of coffee to see how the UK views grading.
Learning more about collecting is fun, and it is good to hear from different voices.
As I reach milestones in creating a price guide for the American Eagle Handbook, I will report the progress on the blog. Since most price guides do not disclose how they determine their prices, it is important to share my progress with the community.
2021-W American Silver Eagle Type 1 Proof
Whether you are putting together a price guide or anything to covey information, you must first determine what data you want to report. As I look at the American Eagle series, reporting prices is not the same as a price guide with grades across the top and rows for each year and prices on each row. It is not how American Eagles are collected.
American Eagle coins are collected either in their original mint packaging, also called their original government packaging (OGP), or graded by a third-party grading service and housed in a holder. Based on a quick, non-scientific survey, it does not appear that many people are collecting American Eagle bullion coins and filling holes in albums.
The first decision was easy. American Eagle coins struck for the numismatic market would be priced based on whether the collector had the OGP or not. While using the data from eBay to see if there was a price difference, there was a $10-20 difference for proof coins and an $8-15 difference for other strikes, like the burnished American Silver Eagle coins.
Many people believe that eBay is not a good source of data. Although there is a bias against eBay, the information learned by analyzing the buying trends from such a diverse market can tell a story. I will not base the prices on a survey of only eBay. The book will include a survey of dealer prices and other markets.
The first two columns of prices will be if the coin is in its OGP or not in its OGP. The rest of the table will have columns for graded coins.
Prices for graded coins have different considerations. At what point does the difference between grades become irrelevant? Using the eBay survey, it seems that the numismatic premium is significant for a 70 grade and lesser for 69. When the grade is 68 or lower, the average appears to be bullion cost plus a smaller numismatic premium.
Bullion coins do not come in packages, but there are other considerations. The U.S. Mint packs the bullion coins in special rolls that seem to affect prices. Rolls get packed in monster boxes for shipping to authorized purchasers. Those monster boxes also have a different price structure.
The problem is that the rolls and monster boxes have a limited shelf-life. Although there appear to be some rolls and monster boxes from previous years, most of the rolls for sale are from the current year.
One more consideration is that some collectible American Eagles are only available as part of sets. Sets in their OGP will be priced based on market factors while providing only the price for graded coins in the main tables.
For now, the price tables will look like this:
Prototype ASE Proof Price Table
||. . .
Note that the price data is just filler. They are not correct!
Prototype ASE Bullion Price Table
||. . .
If you have another idea, please leave it as a comment below.
I like big silver coins.
Some like gold. Others like copper. I like silver.
Since 1986, I have been collecting American Silver Eagle Proof coins. It is a collection my later father started for me and, until 2019, purchased the individual proof coins. I supplemented the collection with the special sets that the U.S. Mint issued, but it is a nearly complete set of proof coins in their original government package.
Although I have to find the 1995-W anniversary set for the elusive 1995-W American Silver Eagle, I have been trying to keep the collection up to date. It is why I hung up on a business call to make sure I was logged in to the U.S. Mint website to purchase the Reverse Proof Two-Coin Set.
By 11:58 AM, I was on the page for the set. As the time counted down to noon, I refreshed the page waiting for the Add-to-Bag button.
I am probably not the only one pushing the refresh button two minutes until noon. Until the Add-to-Bag button appeared, the system was responsive. Of course, the page was likely cached by Cloudflare or my ISP (Comcast), but it was responsive. At the stroke of noon, all that ended.
The first thing we notice is that someone rebranded the Cloudflare gateway error page. Although I do not have inside information, I would bet that Cloudflare told the U.S. Mint to make it so that they don’t get blamed.
I wonder if Cloudflare demanded the U.S. Mint rebrand their gateway error page so that they don’t get the blame?
Another change is the HTML file that appeared as a text file. Under Safari, the file type kept downloading the information to my Downloads folder. Under Firefox, one of the systems in the chain treated me to a small HTML file.
Under the hood HTML output as a web page?
Somehow, a set made it into my bag, and I made it to the checkout page. I couldn’t use my stored credit card because I would see the Bad Gateway error. The card was next to me, and I furiously typed.
Suddenly, there was a new error. I don’t know what it means, but the U.S. Mint’s programmers did not know how to handle that error. How do I know that? The error message provided said so.
This is a new error. In my days as a programmer, we would be chastised for this type of error message!
According to several reports, the website crashed at the beginning of the process. It was difficult to tell, but the U.S. Mint admitted there were problems. They announced that there were products available at 1:19 PM on social media.
After stubborn persistance, I received the confirmation of my order at 12:48 PM.
I asked the U.S. Mint for comment. I will let you know what they say.
Coin World reports that scammers are selling counterfeit 2021-CC Morgan Dollars on eBay.
CC Privy Mark for the 2021 Morgan Dollar
According to Coin World, the coins have several issues, but the primary problem is that the U.S. Mint has not shipped any coins. How can you buy a coin that the manufacturer has not shipped?
Another scam you can find on eBay is that some sellers are offering MS-70 coins for “pre-sale.” How can a seller sell a coin graded MS-70 that has not been released or graded by the grading service? How will these sellers guarantee that the coins they receive from the U.S. Mint will grade MS-70 unless they pay off the grading service?
I know many collectors want to add these coins to their collection. You may want to wait until the coins are issued, the grading services see the coins in hand, and the suckers get out of the market. If you want to see what I mean, look at the 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set. After they were released, the prices climbed to $500-700 with limited availability. Although the price numbers have not changed, the value of $500 is less than in 2011 and is generally available.
And now the news…
September 10, 2021
Renovators discovered a hidden box and pouch stuffed with rare gold coins, minted during the reigns of French Kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV
→ Read more at smithsonianmag.com
September 12, 2021
Telangana’s Rachakonda police seized fake Indian currency notes with a face value of over Rs 1 crore and genuine currency worth Rs 1.3 lakh after busting a gang involved in cheating people on the pretext of exchanging black money.
→ Read more at indianexpress.com
The U.S. Mint has made it easy for the numismatic industry to complain. However, numismatists and the public should commend the U.S. Mint for its performance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coining machines striking one-cent coins at the U.S. Branch Mint in Philadelphia.
During the recent media availability, U.S. Mint Director David Ryder said that the U.S. Mint is the only sovereign mint in the world to produce its bullion products since the start of the pandemic without interruption.
When COVID-19 affected the entire population, nobody understood the virus. In a panic, the entire world shut down. We did not understand the effects, but people were getting sick, requiring ventilators and scarce resources, and filling hospitals. For the U.S. Mint, there was an outbreak at the West Point Mint that affected production. They moved production to Philadelphia while those in West Point went into quarantine.
Like many critical businesses, the U.S. Mint reworked its schedule, added health precautions to keep workers safe, and continued production. While the numismatic world was worried about grading bullion coins from Philadelphia as an attempt to make a buck, the U.S. Mint was dealing with the health and safety of their workers.
It puts the industry’s selfishness in perspective.
Analysts give us many reasons why precious metals have risen, and the demand for bullion coins defies the usual analysis. Still, the U.S. Mint has been operating to supply a clamoring market.
Bullion production did slow down. The temporary closing of the West Point Mint reduced the resources they could use to produce bullion coins. There were also production problems by the U.S. Mint’s suppliers in producing the blanks they use. Those businesses were also facing COVID-19 issues that limited their capacity. And do not forget about the mines that could not operate or operated with limited capacity so they can protect their workers.
Ryder said that the procurement staff was diligent in using their resources to ensure the U.S. Mint had the materials to manufacture bullion.
Further limiting the U.S. Mint’s ability to manufacture bullion was the requirement to satisfy the orders for circulating coinage from the Federal Reserve.
As retailers were opening with new precautions, they reported that it was not easy to change because there were not enough coins. Headlines of a “coin shortage” became a topic. When the Federal Reserve investigated the issue, they found there were enough coins in the economy. Because the economy was not moving, circulating coinage was not circulating.
The problem was that the supply chain was interrupted and not moving as expected.
The U.S. Mint was ordered to increase circulating coin production to satisfy politicians and others who misinterpreted the problem. The Federal Reserve’s solution was similar to the coin pusher arcade game where you drop a coin into the slot, hoping it lands in the right place so that a moving bar can push more coins into the bin for you to collect as a prize. The game is a windfall for the arcade owner. The player rarely wins.
Coin Pusher in a penny arcade. Cambridge Midsummer Fair 2005 (Photograph © Andrew Dunn, cc-by-sa-2.0)
In the pandemic version of the game, the U.S. Mint manufactured coins so the Federal Reserve could dump billions into the economic hopper, hoping that some would fall out into the circulating economy.
In 2020, the U.S. Mint struck 14.774 BILLION coins, 23.7-percent more than they struck in 2019. Nearly every industry reported a reduction in demand and the ability to produce products. And the supply chain continues to affect production in some industries, including tech, where there is a shortage of computer chips. But the U.S. Mint was able to add over 14 BILLION coins to the economy.
The U.S. federal government continues to operate under mandatory pandemic-related protocols. As a federal bureau, the U.S. Mint continues to do its part to maintain social distancing and keeping its workers safe. No company, industry, or government has continued or boosted its production in this manner in the last 18 months.
Remember, the U.S. Mint does this without using any money from the general treasury. Their operating budget comes from the seignorage (profit) from the coin manufacturing process. When the profit exceeds their needs, a portion of the money is deposited in the general treasury. The more money the U.S. Mint makes, the more money they deposit in the general treasury. Talk about a money-making operation.
The U.S. Mint continues to have problems dealing with the collector market. Given the circumstances they have faced over the last 18 months, you have to admire their accomplishments.
I regularly peruse online news sources looking for numismatic-related stories in non-numismatic media. The stories are not limited to geography or the news media. I find stories about numismatics on sites that cover news for different disciplines and industries.
The ancient bundle of coins found on Habonim beach in Israel. (photo credit: OFIR HAYAT via The Jerusalem Post)
Although I post a link to every story I read on Twitter, the stories I find the most interesting make it to the weekly post. Regular readers will notice that I find many stories about people finding ancient coins make the weekly post.
I do not collect ancient coins, but I am interested in their stories. Even though the concept of a minor was not offered when I went to college, I filled many of my electives with history and political science classes. So when I see stories about these discoveries, I read each article thoroughly. Most are very well written and include a context around the era that the coins are from.
Recently, a professor who teaches ancient history using coins to highlight his lectures said that much of what we know about rulers was learned from studying coins. He is excited about new finds because the coins could add to their knowledge of history.
While discussing the coin hoard unearthed in Israel, we discussed collecting ancient coins. He said that once the collector decides what to collect, they can compile a nice collection for the same amount of money as assembling a nice Mercury Dime collection.
An important suggestion was to buy ancient coins from a reputable dealer. It will prevent you from a claim that you have stolen cultural property by a foreign government. This is because the U.S. State Department Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) accepts any claim from any country without understanding how they hurt legitimate collectors. I have written many posts on this subject. Just search for ACCG (Ancient Coin Collectors Guild) to read those posts.
Even if you do not collect ancient coins, read the articles about the finds from around the world. The articles are fascinating and provide a look at the world’s collective history.
And now the news…
August 18, 2021
Israeli archaeologists working for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have discovered a Byzantine-era gold coin depicting Jesus’ Crucifixion. According to CBN News, the coin was one of several artifacts found during an excavation by Ramat Ha-Sharon, a city near Tel Aviv.
→ Read more at christianheadlines.com
August 18, 2021
This summer, tour guide Yotam Dahan was camping with his family on a beach near the town of Atlit, Israel, when he stumbled onto a greenish metal mass made up of 13 pounds of ancient coins.
→ Read more at smithsonianmag.com
August 18, 2021
August marks the 50th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s infamous decision to “close the gold window,” reneging on the U.S. government’s pledge to redeem dollars for gold. Although Nixon’s action spelled the end of the postwar Bretton Woods framework, the system in place circa 1970 was a pale shadow of the original gold standard.
→ Read more at thehill.com
August 18, 2021
The King of American Coins just fetched a princely, world-record sum. The single finest example of the 1804 US silver dollar sold for an astonishing $7.68 million at a Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction on Tuesday to become the most expensive coin of its kind.
→ Read more at robbreport.com
August 22, 2021
Madurai: Keeladi, with its rich storehouse of antiquities, has hogged the limelight, especially with the recent finding of a punch-marked silver coin dating back to the ancient Maurya dynasty. The silver coin was a hidden treasure with symbols of sun, flower and Nandi.
→ Read more at dtnext.in
The Chinese scammers are back after a brief hiatus. They are flooding social media with advertising for fake coins. I found three ads from these scammers offering American Silver Eagles for $9.95 on Facebook in the last two days.
NOBODY IS SELLING LEGITIMATE AMERICAN SILVER EAGLE COINS FOR LESS THAN THEIR SILVER VALUE!
As I type this, silver is $23.73 per troy ounce. It means that that the American Silver Eagle contains $23.73 worth of silver. Even with a modest numismatic premium of 5-percent (below the current market value), a silver bullion coin should cost around $25.00. A quick market survey shows that legitimate dealers are selling ungraded American Silver Eagles for $33-36 each. Coins with the Type 2 reverse are selling for $1-3 more.
Proof American Silver Eagles are more expensive because they cost more to purchase. If the U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins for $73.00 and dealers on the authorized purchase program receive a 5-percent discount, the wholesale price is $69.35 per coin.
Who would sell a proof coin less than the wholesale cost? If it is a genuine coin, then it is likely stolen merchandise. Otherwise, scammers are selling fakes.
Before you purchase these alleged “good deals,” please remember my five rules:
- NO LEGITIMATE DEALER IS SELLING BULLION COINS FOR BELOW THE SPOT PRICE!
- IF THE DEAL IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT LIKELY IS NOT A GOOD DEAL!
- IF THE DEALER DOES NOT IDENTIFY THEMSELVES ON THEIR WEBSITE, THEY ARE LIKELY HIDING SOMETHING.
Check the “About” or “Contact” page. If there is no contact information, then they are hiding. If the address is in China or the Middle East, they will sell you counterfeit merchandise.
- IF THE SITE IS “POWERED BY SHOPLAZZA,” IT IS LIKELY A SCAMMER SITE.
According to contacts in the information security industry, the service is run by Chinese companies known to sell counterfeit merchandise.
- IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS, THEN DON’T PURCHASE THE COINS!
Please! Please! Please! Do not give these scammers your credit card information. You will be ripped off, and they will likely steal your credit card information, leading to other problems.
Last year, I purchased two coins knowing they are counterfeit for educational purposes only. I used gift cards to purchase the coins to prevent exposing my credit card information. Both coins are made of nickel-plated steel and contain no silver.
Two counterfeit American Silver Eagles purchased from LIACOO, a company based in China who advertised on Facebook.
The font for LIBERTY is too thin. Also, the stars in her flag draped over the shoulder are too small.
Aside from the rims being to thin, look at the U in United and the dash between SILVER and ONE. These are not correct for the 2020 ASE.
In my day job working within the collecting world, there are two hobbies whose collectors have arguments about which way is best. Comics collectors argue whose universe is better. Most of these arguments are Marvel versus DC comics, but there are interested collectors in the smaller and independent (indy) publishers. But you can go to a Comicon and find that the differences are all in fun.
New Change Find: a 2021 Roosevelt Dime
U.S. numismatics collectors are different. On one side, there are the collectors of old coins. If the coin was not circulated and made of precious metals, then it is not worth collecting. They look at modern coins as “trinkets” or not worth their time. The rest of us will happily collect modern (post-1964) coins and the new issues by the U.S. Mint.
As an aside, my company sells sets of 50 State Quarters for higher prices than in 2019. Although there is an active market for this material, they sell for less than collectors paid in the 2000s.
Enough people are collecting modern material that the Treasury Inspector General has noticed the problems collectors have experienced with ordering from the U.S. Mint. Modern products are selling out as fast as they are offered, and premiums are rising 100-percent and higher on the secondary market.
For this poll, I am asking if you are collecting the coins produced by the U.S. Mint in 2021, then what are you collecting?
As always, your comments are welcome!
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What does it take to create, publish, and maintain a price guide for coins?
Readers who downloaded my first edition of the Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins have asked about the lack of a price guide. I hesitated to add a price guide for American Eagle coins because, with very few exceptions, the spot price of metals affects the prices. Market watchers know that spot prices are volatile. Are there differences in prices that might make working on a price guide a good time investment?
To better understand pricing and price guides, I asked several dealers what they use for pricing guidance. Most of them said the Greysheet and what the coins were selling on eBay. A few larger dealers will start their eBay auctions at $1 and sell the coins regardless of the final bid. High-volume dealers say they are rarely disappointed with the results.
Smaller dealers will subscribe to a service that will automatically adjust the prices based on the spot price and the results of the eBay inventory. Depending on the service level these dealers have with the service, the price for coins can change every day.
The pricing service can query eBay for list prices, and the prices realized to come up with their formula.
In the past, I tried to ask the people who write the Greysheet how they come up with prices. The harsh rejection at that time prevented me from asking again. It was time to look at other guides to determine how they create their prices.
Information from PCGS’s website is clear that their price guides are for coins only in their holders. In the past, PCGS noted their price guides use the prices on the Certified Coin Exchange market, which Collector’s Universe, PCGS’s parent company, owns.
Similarly, NGC notes on its website that they base their prices on the market of NGC-graded coins only. Neither service considered the market perception of CAC-certified coins. Although the Greysheet has a publication that publishes guidance for CAC-certified coins, that information is available only to subscribers.
One of the price guides not affiliated with a grading service is Numismedia. They are similar to Greysheet in that they offer a range of publications that span the market. Although their website does not disclose how they determine prices, their Fair Market Value guide has been more comprehensive and closer to retail market values than I have experienced with the Greysheet’s retail guides.
Other price guides found around the web have different concerns. A few are crowd-sourced, meaning that collectors provide input based on what they paid. Although crowd-sourced prices report real-world transactions, the information is limited to what users report and not a market survey.
Then there is the Red Book, A Guild Book of United States Coins. For 75 years, it has been the bible of coin values for many collectors. Unfortunately, the Red Book has several problems. First, it is published once a year and released in April. It means that production for the Red Book must begin before then.
A few years ago, I volunteered to work as a pricing contributor for the Red Book. I felt prices for modern coins were too low for the market, and I tried to bring them up to reality. It was challenging to make the edits using the poorly design web form. Even with my effort, much of my input did not make the book. The following year’s pricing entry was a spreadsheet, but my attempts at aligning the prices with the market did not affect the published prices.
Another problem with the Red Book is that the contributors are not given sufficient time to provide input. The process should be ongoing rather than giving the pricing editors a few weeks to edit the prices, so there is no rush before closing the edition.
Although I was not involved with the Blue Book (Handbook of United States Coins) pricing, I suspect it has similar issues.
It appears that every method used to create a price guide is flawed. Publicly accessible price guides are too generic to be taken seriously. Unless the public is willing to pay high prices for the wholesale guides, there is an opaqueness in how the industry prices coins.
Creating price guides is a difficult task. Over the next few weeks, I will continue my market survey while compiling the price guide for the American Eagles Handbook. I will share what I find here on the blog. Stay tuned!