Weekly World Numismatic News for November 24, 2019

Maine Troop Greeters Coin

Maine Troop Greeters Coin – Created to commemorate the 3,000th flight greeted, March 22, 2008 (Image courtesy of the Maine Troop Greeters)

Although there is a lot written about numismatics, there are areas that are missing reliable information. This week, it was announced that the Maine Troop Greeters created a database to help identify Military Challenge Coins.

As part of their work greeting service members coming home from the world outpost, the service members leave their challenge coins with the greeters as a token of appreciation. Within the last few years, the organization created a museum within the Bangor International Airport for these challenge coins. With over 6,000 in their collection, they have documented their holdings, making it available for all collectors.

The database provides color images of each of the challenge coins with a description of size, shape, and devices. If you have a challenge coin you cannot identify, you can search the database for keywords found on the coin. It is a simple yet effective idea.

According to their website, the Main Troop Greeters are slowing their growth and winding down operations as the number of troops overseas decreases. They have done a great service welcoming back soldiers returning from overseas wars. Hopefully, their work will not have to be duplicated in the future.

And now the news…

 November 15, 2019
BANGOR, Maine (WABI) – The Maine Troop Greeters have a new, easier way for people to search through their collection of military challenge coins.  → Read more at wabi.tv

 November 15, 2019
Video An extremely rare half-dollar coin from 1838 has been sold at auction for $504,000. The coin was auctioned Friday at the Whitman Baltimore Winter Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center.  → Read more at foxnews.com

 November 18, 2019
One expensive coin A rare British gold coin from 1703 made from gold seized from a Spanish galleon just sold for over a million dollars.  → Read more at thevintagenews.com

 November 20, 2019
Prominent Russian billionaire entrepreneurs spend their time and money not only on entrepreneurial activities. There are dedicated collectors among them, too. Some of them approach their hobby as professionals, rather than enthusiastic amateurs.  → Read more at pravdareport.com

 November 23, 2019
Remember the times when our mothers used to sell old newspapers and old magazines to the scrap dealers? Maybe this woman got a little carried away or didn't realise in time what she was doing, but she accidentally ended up handing over 15 gold coins to a scrap dealer.  → Read more at indiatimes.com

 November 24, 2019
November 20, 2019 5 Comments Ireland's Central Bank will honor THIN LIZZY's Phil Lynott with a limited-edition commemorative coin, marking 70 years since his birth.  → Read more at blabbermouth.net

 November 24, 2019
Video Two amateur treasure hunters were sentenced Friday to lengthy prison terms for stealing millions of dollars worth of 1,100-year-old coins. The coins date back to the period when the Anglo-Saxons were battling Vikings for control of England.  → Read more at foxnews.com

 November 24, 2019
The coins were found under a hedge by a member of the public A stash of rare coins which were found hidden under a hedge at an allotment have been reunited with their owner.  → Read more at bbc.com
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DON’T BUY COINS ON TELEVISION!

Over the years, I have heard from many people regarding the problems with mailorder numismatics. Every few months, someone writes and asks about the value of something they bought from a non-numismatic magazine or from something they saw on television.

My answers tend to be upsetting because the market does not value these items as the television hucksters do.

Recently, I wrote about the experience with someone who brought in a box of coins he bought from television and magazines. I described his reaction as “The look on his face when I told him was as if I kicked his dog.” Then I was provided an example of why my words land very hard.

Sunday’s are my day off. Even though I have personal work to catch up on, I will play couch potato and watch television. This past Sunday, I entered the wrong number in the remote and landed on the Fox Business channel.

On the weekend, when the markets are not open, the business channels broadcast other programming. At this time, Fox Business was airing an infomercial for Coins TV.

When I tuned in, the camera was panning a display with graded American Silver Eagle coins. Of course, I stopped to stare at the shiny silver coins. Then I heard the pitch.

The pitchman is Rick Tomaska, owner of Rare Collectibles TV. Tomaska seemed pleasant and appeared knowledgable. His pitch was selling a date run of American Silver Eagle graded MS-69 by NGC for $1,995.00. It almost seemed reasonable until it was made clear that the pitch was for a date run of 31 coins from 1986-2016.

Is $1,995.00 a good deal for the 31 coins? My first instinct was to check the price guides. Since the online Greysheet does not include the retail price for graded bullion coins (why?), I used two other guides: Numismedia Fair Market Value Price Guide and the price guide from NGC. Based on a grade of MS-69, the guides provided the following information based on prices for the 1986-2016 34-coin set:

  Numismedia FMV
34 coins @ MS-69
NGC Price Guide
34 coins @ MS-69
RCTV Infomercial
31 coins @ MS-69
Total $1,240.00 $1,679.00 $1,995.00
Average $40.00 $54.16 $64.35

But Numismedia and NGC are price guides. Guides are not the retail prices a collector would pay. So we turn to the interwebs to search for “date run American Silver Eagle coins.” The search returned several entries on the first page that was not RCTV.

Taking the top three entries from the search, only one dealer was sold out. The others offered a complete set of 34 coins, 1986-2019, graded MS-69 by NGC for considerably less than Tomaska’s price. To be fair, where there was a difference between the cash and credit prices, I used the credit card price, which is usually higher. Then I searched eBay and sorted for the lowest price. The following is what I found:

Company Date Run Coins in Set Advertised Price Shipping Average per coin
RCTVcoins.com 1986‑2016 31 $1995.00   $64.35
JM Bullion 1986‑2019 34 $1541.70   $45.34
Mint Products.com 1986‑2019 34 $1399.99   $41.18
eBay Seller constitutionclct 1986‑2019 34 $1299.00 $14.95 $38.65

For the eBay dealer who was charging for shipping, the cost per coin was the lowest even after adding the shipping costs to the total price.

JM Bullion and Mint Products.com are reputable companies. Both firms are worth considering if you do not feel comfortable making this purchase from an eBay seller. Note that these companies will base the price of their bullion coins on the current spot price of silver. Their retail prices may fluctuate.

When you buy from these television advertisements, you will overpay.

To help enforce the issue, the JM Bullion website said that they would buy a complete date set of American Silver Eagle bullion coins for $1,094.12 when I looked up the price. If you purchased the set advertised on television, you would be LOSING $900!

As part of the pitch, if you ordered the set, Tomaska would send a copy of the 4th Edition of American Silver Eagle: A Guide to the U.S. Bullion Coin Program autographed by Miles Standish, the book’s co-author, who was present with Tomaska.

What is sad is that Miles Standish joined Tomaska as part of this infomercial. Although Standish did not assist Tomaska in his pitch for the set, his presence is an appearance of legitimacy. It is similar to the appearance of past ANA President David Ganz on an infomercial. Neither endorsed the product that was being sold, but their presence was used to suggest otherwise.

I would not recommend buying coins or any collectible from a television show. Every collectible I have seen being hawked on television was 45-60 percent over what might be considered wholesale value for its market.

As a small business owner, I would be foolish to criticize someone for making a profit. It’s the Ameican way. However, there is a difference between making a profit and price gouging. It is why I am warning you against purchasing collectibles from a pitch on television.

All images are screen shots taken using an external camera. Use of images are permitted and protected under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.Code §107).

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 17, 2019

American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof CoinThe biggest numismatic-related news of the week that not reported in many media outlets. It was the failure of the U.S. Mint to deal with a high volume of orders for what everyone anticipated would be a popular product.

On November 14, 2019, the numismatic community rushed to the U.S. Mint website. It flooded their call center attempting to purchase the 2019 American Eagle One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin. As with almost all of their past launches, the U.S. Mint e-commerce systems failed the collecting community.

Collectors reported web failures, outages, and disconnection on the telephone trying to order the product. I was first alerted of a problem by a family member and my mailbox filled with readers who experienced similar issues.

After hearing the criticism, the U.S. Mint issued the following statement:

At the moment of launch, there were 99,000 people online and 4700 callers waiting to purchase the American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin (19XE). Completed orders were processed until all inventory was sold. We are constantly seeking feedback from our customers, and rest assured your voice is being heard.

To try to spin this further, on Friday, the U.S. Mint issued the following statement:

Yesterday, the Mint catalog website had more than 150,000 unique visitors and 1.6 million page views in the first hour of sales of the American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin (19XE). For context, the catalog website’s previous highest traffic and page views were for the Apollo 11 product launch, when we had 124,000 visitors in one day and 863,000 page views in one hour. We are pleased with the numismatic community’s response to this product. The volume of traffic did briefly slow down our site response. However, after the first two minutes we were able to process over 1800 orders per minute on average. Completed orders were processed until all inventory was sold. Additionally, we identified approximately 5% of traffic as coming from bots, including 3% of traffic from a single IP address, of which zero orders were processed.

With all due respect to the U.S. Mint, if this is beyond your capacity, then the competence of the Mint and their contractor (aren’t they contracted with Pitney-Bowes?) are in question. There are e-commerce systems that have higher capacity requirements and service their customers better.

The failure of their e-commerce system is not a new problem for the U.S. Mint. We can go back through the history of this blog to note how badly they have implemented their e-commerce systems.

Frankly, I am not surprised. Years ago, when I was a contractor within the Department of the Treasury, I had to listen to how the U.S. Mint’s systems were built to be greater and better than anyone else in the department. Their technology directors touted their capacity and their capabilities over all the other bureaus. They used these reasons to allow them to separate themselves and to avoid integration with other systems, even suggesting that they be the central integrators for the department.

Even though I have not worked within the Treasury Department in many years, the results and the spin published by their public relations department demonstrates that the chutzpah continues.

For four years, the U.S. Mint has been holding forums to try to learn from collectors what they expect. One thing they have not learned is to fix the mechanisms that provide collector access to U.S. Mint products. It is time for the U.S. Mint to stop talking and do something. Their problems have surpassed annoying and are bordering on malfeasance!

And now the news…

 November 12, 2019
We all have them, worth almost nothing, but still can be useful. They are the little button-sized ¢5 coins that fill up your pockets or coin jar, that the Banco Central (Central Bank) will stop minting starting January 1, 2020.  → Read more at qcostarica.com

 November 12, 2019
LOWELL, Mich. — When 43-year-old Jason Faraj entered Collector’s Korner in Lowell, the smooth-talking antiques aficionado gained the trust of the store owner and left with more than $5,700 in merchandise.  → Read more at wzzm13.com
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The Sad State of Television Numismatics

Someone walked into my shop today with a box full of items he said that he wanted to consign to one of our auctions. He said that someone mentioned that I was knowledgeable about coins and wanted me to help liquidate his collection.

I have to admit I was excited as he held a box that you would pack books in and not carry coins. We put the box down and opened the box and was instantly disappointed.

On the top was a complete set of the State Quarter packages from one of the television shopping networks. It was the type of stuff that was over-hyped by touting their “limited production” by the U.S. Mint.

Looking at a few of the packs, they contained two quarters for each state on a card. They appear that if they were graded, they would probably average MS-64 and be worth $5-7 each. If they grade higher, the coins could be worth more. It is not worth my time and money to have them graded. Further, in the liquidation auction business, I would doubt these would sell for more than $5 per card.

The look on his face when I told him was as if I kicked his dog. He then gave me the same familiar story: they cost so much; the guy on television said they were a limited run; they should be worth more; and many other tales as seen on TV.

Anyone who has worked in a coin shop or handled second-hand property has heard the stories. Someone with a slick marketing presence appears on television and spins the tale to sound better than it is. Sure, the State Quarter was a limited production, but the Mint produced hundreds of millions of each of those coins.

In addition to the State Quarters, he had coin sets produced by companies like the Franklin Mint and the National Collectors Mint. While I try not to promise what could happen in an auction and avoid asking how much they paid, he pulls out a Buffalo Nickel display still offered by one of these companies.

The display is a round wooden stand that can rotate on a base. Around the edges is a space for 25 Buffalo Nickels. The nickels on his stand looked to be in extra fine (XF) to almost uncirculated (AU) condition. On top of the stand is a pewter figure of a buffalo (bison) modeled after James Earle Fraser’s image.

It is a lovely display, but one that is not popular. A previous consignor had the display without the coins. We finally were able to sell it for $1.00 to someone who was going to take it apart and repurpose the wooden stand. Selling the nickels in today’s market should allow him to break even.

For the last 25 years, this gentleman bought these coins and medals at a premium above their value. The box had gold plated medals with micrograms of gold that are nearly worthless in the collector market. He did have some older sterling silver sets that he bought when silver was under $8 per ounce. He can make money on those items to make up with some of the losses.

After going through the box, I said that he would be lucky if I can get $500 for everything. That lead to the look as if I kicked his other dog.

He asked how these people get away with overcharging for their merchandise. Unfortunately, there are few laws regarding price gouging except in an emergency (like overcharging for gas during a crisis) or if done fraudulently. But these television hucksters are practiced and can afford the lawyers to tell them how far they can go before they cross the line.

There are no laws to prevent companies from calling themselves a mint. There are credible companies that use “Mint” as part of their business name (e.g., I have been a customer of Miller’s Mint from Long Island and highly recommend them). Others use the moniker to make their products sound more official than they are.

If you like the packaging and are willing to pay the premium for it, then enjoy your collectible. While the Buffalo Nickel stand is not my style, I can understand the appeal. But when it comes time to sell, the packaging has little to do with the numismatic value of the coins or medals.

Anything plated has less than a gram of the metal. There is so little plating that it is not worth the cost for someone to have melted.

Which reminds me, the “1933 Double Eagle Tribute Proof” plated with 14 micrograms of 24 karat gold is not worth the $19.95 they charge on television. Even at the current price of gold, the item contains less than 1-cent worth of gold ($0.00047).

It bothers me that I have to disappoint people like this. It is worse when I have to tell an older person, like the octogenarian gentlemen who was in my shop this week, that the collection he thought was an investment is not worth a lot.

I am not sure what can the industry can do to prevent this from happening. These are legitimate businesses whose marketing practices may be less than ethical but are legal.

Some might suggest that this is something the American Numismatic Association should try to deal with. The ANA may not be the right organization for this. Maybe a consortium that includes the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG), the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA), and the ANA could work together to find a solution.

Until then, I am open to suggestions!

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 10, 2019

Northern Ireland Hoard

Hoard of coins found in Northern Ireland (Image of courtesy of Birmingham Live)

Although I am not a metal detectorist, I love reading the stories about someone going out and finding treasures. When the stories come from the United Kingdom, those finds can be exciting.

In Northern Ireland, two men looking for a friend’s lost wedding ring found a small hoard of 84 coins dating back to the 16th century. The oldest coin was dated 1512, which was during the reign of Henry VIII.

According to the story, the men who do this as a hobby, look at old maps and accounts of history to find areas that may be the sites of ancient villages or battles. Although I was surprised to read this, it makes sense, and it brings up an interesting point.

Finding artifacts buried in the ground, including coins, are a window into history. Researching where to search and understanding the history of a coin is like what archeologists do to unearth history.

I wonder if there is a way to welcome metal detectorists into the numismatic family?

And now the news…

 November 4, 2019
A British girl named Kate Harding was out working in the garden with her mother on a normal day. She was 9 years old and had no idea the silver coin she had just found in the dirt was over 700 years old. She put it away and didn’t think much about it. Many years later, she found herself face-to-face with the police at her front door; she had no idea what was happening, but she would soon find out. Her life was about to be drastically affected in a way she couldn’t have predicted. Here’s what happened to Kate Harding 14 years later.   → Read more at finance101.com

 November 4, 2019
£1 million worth of historic silver “thruppences” is to be sold off in an effort to stop coin collecting dying out in the digital age.  → Read more at telegraph.co.uk

 November 4, 2019
Australia’s embrace of a cashless society has seen coin production at the Royal Australian Mint plummet, with revenues from coin sales down more than 30% compared with last year. While the mint had budgeted for circulating coin revenue of $85m in 2018-19, the mint achieved a result of just $58m, selling 111m coins to the banks, 106m of which were for circulation.  → Read more at theguardian.com

 November 5, 2019
As the old saying goes, ‘there’s no Christmas in coin collecting.’ And local coin shop owner Jeff Spielman is warning collectors not to be fooled by scammers in the Lincoln City area. Spielman, owner of the JS Coins LLC shop, has seen a variety of counterfeit coins and jewelry come through his doors during his tenure in Lincoln City.  → Read more at thenewsguard.com

 November 5, 2019
An ultra-rare 1838 half-dollar coin could fetch as much as $500,000 at the Whitman Baltimore Winter Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center on Nov. 14. Known as 1838-O Capped Bust Half Dollar, the coin is one of only nine known to exist, according to numismatic auction house Stack’s Bowers Galleries.  → Read more at barrons.com

 November 7, 2019
Paul Raynard, 44, screamed “'there's millions – this is the moment we dreamed of!” to best pal Michael Gwynne, 52, when he realised the scale of the find  → Read more at birminghammail.co.uk
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 Why I Wrote In God We Trust (Nov 6, 2019)
 PNG tips to avoid gold scams (Nov 5, 2019)

 

October 2019 Numismatic Legislation Review

Challenger Crew

The STS-51L crewmembers are: in the back row from left to right: Mission Specialist, Ellison S. Onizuka, Teacher in Space Participant Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist, Greg Jarvis and Mission Specialist, Judy Resnik. In the front row from left to right: Pilot Mike Smith, Commander, Dick Scobee and Mission Specialist, Ron McNair. (Wikipedia)

The numismatic legislation news of the month is the president signing the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 (Public Law No. 116-65) into law. In 2021, the U.S. Mint will issue no more than 350,000 silver dollars in commemoration of Christa McAuliffe.

For those who do not remember or were not born at the time, McAuliffe was selected as the first civilian teacher to fly into space as part of the Space Shuttle program. On January 28, 1986, she boarded the Space Shuttle Challenger along with Francis R. Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Gregory Jarvis for mission STS-51-L. Challenger lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 11:39 AM.

It was an unusually cold morning, even for Florida. The cold and deterioration of the O-Rings that sealed the joints of the solid rocket boosters failed. The firey escape of fuel caused the external fuel tank to explode 73 seconds into the flight. Challenger disintegrated, taking the lives of the seven-member crew.

The surcharge of $10 per coin sold in 2021 will be paid to the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics program “for the purpose of engaging and inspiring young people, through mentor-based programs, to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

S. 239: Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Introduced: January 28, 2019
Summary: (Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue not more than 350,000 $1 silver coins in commemoration of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher tragically killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster.(Sec. 4) The design of the coins shall bear an image and the name of Christa McAuliffe on the obverse side and a design on the reverse side that depicts the legacy of McAuliffe as a teacher.(Sec. 5) Treasury may issue the coins from January 1-December 31, 2021.(Sec. 7) All surcharges received by Treasury from the sale of the coins shall be paid to the FIRST robotics program for the purpose of engaging and inspiring young people, through mentor-based programs, to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jan 28, 2019
Passed Senate with amendments by Voice Vote. — Jul 9, 2019
Measure laid before Senate by unanimous consent. — Jul 9, 2019
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Jul 9, 2019
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Jul 10, 2019
Received in the House. — Jul 10, 2019
Held at the desk. — Jul 10, 2019
Ms. Waters moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill. — Sep 19, 2019
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Sep 19, 2019
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on S. 239. — Sep 19, 2019
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote. — Sep 19, 2019
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Sep 19, 2019
Presented to President. — Sep 27, 2019
Signed by President. — Oct 9, 2019
This law can be viewed at http://bit.ly/116-S239.

The House also passed the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2423) for 2020 and the National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 1865) for 2021. Both bills head to the Senate for their consideration.

H.R. 1865: National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. William J. Pascrell (D-NJ)
Introduced: March 25, 2019
Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins, and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins that are emblematic of the National Law Enforcement Museum in the District of Columbia and the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers throughout the history of the United States.All sales of such coins shall include specified surcharges, which shall be distributed to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Inc., for educational and outreach programs and exhibits.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 25, 2019
Mr. Scott, David moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. — Oct 28, 2019
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Oct 28, 2019
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 1865. — Oct 28, 2019
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. — Oct 28, 2019
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Oct 28, 2019
Received in the Senate. — Oct 29, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1865.

H.R. 2423: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Elise M. Stefanik (R-NY)
Introduced: April 30, 2019
Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 400,000 $1 silver coins that are emblematic of the women who played a vital role in rallying support for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.Such coins may be issued during the period beginning on January 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020.All surcharges received from the sales of such coins shall be paid to the American Women’s History Initiative of the Smithsonian Institution.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Apr 30, 2019
Mr. Scott, David moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. — Oct 28, 2019
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Oct 28, 2019
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 2423. — Oct 28, 2019
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. — Oct 28, 2019
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Oct 28, 2019
Received in the Senate. — Oct 29, 2019
Received in the Senate, read twice. — Oct 29, 2019
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Oct 31, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR2423.

Two additional commemorative coin bills were introduced in the House of Representatives. One is so new that the Government Printing Office has yet to release the official text.

H.R. 4681: National World War II Memorial Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Introduced: October 15, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Oct 15, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR4681.

H.R. 4940: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Nation’s first statewide investigative law enforcement agency, the Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)
Introduced: October 31, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Oct 31, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR4940.

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for November 3, 2019

Virginia Halfpenny

A 1773 Virginia Halfpenny from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection (not my friend’s coin because I forgot to take pictures) (Image courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg)

The other day an old friend found my shop. He stopped in and as part of our conversation, showed me a handful of old coins he found while running around with his metal detector on the Virginia coast.

He was in an area not far from Jamestown. The metal detector community in the area knows that it is possible to find small items dating back to colonial times. Most of the time, people find bullets and buttons from the Civil War era. They dream of finding something special.

On this day, my friend comes in excited. He finds what he thinks are colonial coins. If he is right, he could have hit the local jackpot. I asked to see the coins.

Upon pulling out the coins wrapped in cheesecloth, the first thing I noticed that the coins were round. But Scott, you say, coins are supposed to be round. I say that you are correct, but at a time when minting coins required striking dies with a hammer, the result is not perfectly round.

While laying the open cloth on my desk, the sound the coins made was suspicious. Anyone who has handled large copper coins knows the sound made by a dropped coin.

Picking up my trusty 16x loupe, I went to examine the coins when I picked them up and felt they were lighter than expected. A quick drop on the hard floor confirmed that they were aluminum.

My friend found souvenir coins from Colonial Williamsburg used as part of the experience of living in the 16th century. A tourist would pay for the coins then use them in the shops or to purchase dinner in the village. Quick online research suggested they were used in the 1980s.

We think some kids buried the coins while playing and forgot about them. Or someone was trying to fool a metal detectorist, like my friend.

Even though he had dreams of being in one of the stories I add to the weekly news digest, we had a good time hanging out and talking. After all, what is the point of collecting if you do not have fun!

And now the news…

 October 29, 2019
SIOUX CITY — Throughout the 19th century and somewhat into the 20th century, before the federal government took full control of printing money, it was common practice for banks to produce their own banknotes.  → Read more at siouxcityjournal.com

 October 31, 2019
words Al Woods With so many of resorting to contactless card payment when we come to pay for those smaller items, it might seem inevitable that coins will, at some point in the near future, become a thing of the past.  → Read more at fluxmagazine.com

 October 31, 2019
A first-time treasure hunter was stunned to hit the discovery of a life-time with his metal detector within the first few hours of using it – an Iron Age coin baring a intricately stamped horse. Ron Silvester, 69, from Buckinghamshire unearthed 2,000-year-old coin just three hours into his first ever attempt at metal detecting after agreeing to go along with a friend.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 November 1, 2019
This is the extremely rare Australian coin worth up to half a million dollars that could be lurking in the bottom of your grandparents' old penny jar. Australians on the hunt for the 1813 'holey dollar' caused an uproar on Facebook earlier this week when one man thought he found one in New South Wales, in a jar full of mixed pennies and foreign coins belonging to some grandparents, who had died.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 November 1, 2019
The majority of American citizens do not know what backs the U.S. Dollar, and a recent study shows there are a lot more surprises were that comes from. A recent study carried out by Genesis Mining revealed some interesting details that would shock you too, except of course you already knew the answers.  → Read more at coinspeaker.com
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My First Numismatic Auction

UPDATE: The auction is online and begins to close at 7:00 PM on Sunday, November 3, 2019!

1878 Liberty $2 1/2 Quarter Eagle Gold Coin

Lot #1: Beautiful classic Liberty Head $2½ quarter eagle gold coin in a Capital Plastics holder.

One of the reasons for my limited posting is that I started a business in collectibles and estate downsizing. Until now, I had not received many numismatic consignments. The few numismatic items that consignors have brought in were not exciting.

A few weeks ago, someone walked into the shop and asked about consigning coins. The coins were something he inherited and did not know what to do with them. Then my consignor removed an 1878 Liberty $2½ quarter eagle gold coin in a Capital Plastics holder. It is a beautiful coin in hand. It looks uncirculated.

Although the 1984 U.S. Olympics Commemorative Set sare not popular, he handed two of the three-coin sets with the gold coin.

He continued to empty the bag, and I found Morgan and Peace dollars, Seated Liberty quarters, and a few other coins.

1 Gram TAYER Gold Ingot

1 Gram TAYER Gold Ingot

While unpacking another consignment, there was a 1 gram gold bar mixed in amongst the papers.

Finally, someone brought in the few Israeli coins and medals his late father owned.

Put it all together, add a few of my surplus coins, and there are 54 total coins in my company’s current auction.

Here is a small sample of some of the coins in this auction:

We do ship!

If you want more than coins, check out the rest of the auction which includes sports autographs (like a Joe Montana autographed football), art (two prints from Yaacov Agam), a Black Forest Cukoo Clock (it works!), and so much more. Feel free to peruse the entire 284 lot auction.

But don’t forget the coins, including this 2005 Canadian Silver Maple Leaf silver bullion coin with a Rooster Privy Mark.

Weekly World Numismatic News for October 20, 2019

2019 American Innovaation $1 - DelawarePerusing the wide world of coins, I noticed that it is only here in the United States that collectors complain about modern coinage. Why?

My Twitter followers (@coinsblog) have seen the articles coming from the United Kingdom. U.K. news outlets have staff that follows the special issues from the Royal Mint that are selling for hundreds of times over their face value in online auctions. These coins have a limited run and are issued as circulating commemorative coins.

Similarly, the Royal Australian Mint recently released an alphabet series, similar to what the Royal Mint did in 2018. As part of the series, they created a stir when they used the letter “X” to highlight a small village in Western Australia. Aussies learned something about their own country.

In the United States, we bemoan new issues by the U.S. Mint. We look at the coins and come up with some reason to dislike them. Many of the reasons range from the parochial to the absurd.

Dealers do not like them because they make more money on selling you what they think are “better” coins. Rather than try to use the opportunity to get people interested and into their shop, they would rather sell a more expensive coin. Note to dealer: selling 100 coins at a $1 profit is the same as selling one coin for a $100 profit except that you now have 100 new customers rather than recycling old ones.

Another reason I hear is that modern coins are not worth the money and, therefore, not worth the time. Really? Are you collecting or investing? Are you enjoying your collection, or is it something to do?

Recently, I sold off my Morgan Dollar collection. I started the collection many years ago and realized that I did not have the eye for coins that I have today. I also lost interest.

2019 Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Quarter - IdahoSomeone asked what am I collecting today. I respond with modern circulating commemoratives. When I get a strange look, I have been responding with, “do you know what the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is?”

Who is Frank Church, and what is the River of No Return? If you paid attention to the American the Beautiful Quarters program, you would learn more about your own country. I did not know about this wilderness area in Idaho until I looked at the quarter.

I also learned that the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, both United States territories, have beautiful memorials to those who gave their lives in World War II.

Now collectors are lamenting the new American Innovation $1 coins. Why? Because they do not circulate? Then go pick up a roll and start spending them! You can show people the series that is beginning with honoring Annie Jump Cannon, who invented a system for classifying the stars still used today. Aside from being a Delaware native, Cannon was a suffragist and hearing impaired.

Stop being so stuck up about modern coins, buy a roll, and give someone a William Henry Harrison dollar. Then ask them why Harrison is so important to U.S. history? Pick a president who is not famous and do the same exercise.

If you have children, why not plan a trip based on the quarter that has been released. If you cannot travel to Guam to see the War in the Pacific National Park, then a trip to San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. You can also Remember the Alamo and visit a fascinating area of the country.

Collecting modern coins may not make the dealers rich or be a great investment. But there is enough material to have fun beyond just accumulating metal discs.

And now the news…

 October 10, 2019
Weet-Bix is given the “W” in an A-to-Z collection depicting “all things Australian.” Weet-Bix, a breakfast cereal manufactured by a Seventh-day Adventist health food company in Australia, is set to cement its icon status.  → Read more at adventistreview.org

 October 11, 2019
Finance minister Tito Mboweni on Friday finalised the designs for the 2020 silver Kruger Rand and the R25 Natura Series collectable coin due next year. He also gazetted an update to a coin design that makes a leopard featured in a Big 5 collectable coin series somewhat less angry.  → Read more at businessinsider.co.za

 October 12, 2019
As many as 96 varieties of coins used during the period of the Western Ganga dynasty, which ruled Karnataka, are among the attractions at the three-day philately and numismatic exhibition here. Among the other exhibits at the 12th State Level Philately Exhibition organised by the Karnataka Postal Circle are commemorative coins, Chinese gold panda coins, stamps on 100 years of Indian cinema.  → Read more at thehindu.com

 October 12, 2019
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A young Alaska Native woman left an impression on Alaska’s territorial Senate in 1945, delivering a speech that led to the passage of the nation’s first anti-discrimination law.  → Read more at seattletimes.com

 October 15, 2019
MURRELLS INLET — The ship owned by the richest man in America is giving up its gold, again. The North Carolina was a side-wheeled steam packet, a coastal transport that carried mail and was owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt.  → Read more at postandcourier.com

 October 16, 2019
One of the rarest coins in the world is set to sell at auction for an incredible £1.6million. The Umayyad gold dinar dates back to 723AD and was made from gold mined at a location owned by the Caliph – one of the successors to the Prophet Muhammad.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 October 16, 2019
A Bunbury businessman has unearthed one of Australia’s rarest coins — worth more than $10,000 in mint condition —while birdwatching in the Goldfields outback. Mick Cross was photographing birds at Malcolm Dam near Leonora when he picked up a small coin sitting in the dirt metres from the popular camp site.  → Read more at thewest.com.au

 October 16, 2019
Calling all Antique Roadshow enthusiasts. Have you ever seen a large metal coin featuring an old lamp with the number 60 on it? After discovering this mysterious-looking coin among her Grandmmother’s collection, a woman from Chilliwack is asking the public if they have any idea what it is.  → Read more at coastmountainnews.com

 October 18, 2019
Nowadays, having savings and investments both have equal weight in importance and necessity as well. In terms of investments, there are a lot of options for you to choose from. These options range from stock investments to mutual funds to cryptocurrency.  → Read more at nuwireinvestor.com

 October 19, 2019
Binyamin Elkin, the six-year-old son of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Ze'ev Elkin discovered a 2,000-year-old coin from the City of David excavations at the President's Residence on Thursday.  → Read more at israelnationalnews.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for October 13, 2019

Australian $1 X Coin

X is for Xantippe
(Image courtesy of the Royal Australian Mint)

George Santayana was a Spanish-American philosopher, writer, and poet who influenced many of the decision-makers in the early 20th Century. In 1905, Santayana wrote The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense, where he wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

In the chapter, Santayana was emphasizing the need to use every experience as a lesson to improve the future. The rest of the chapter discussed how to apply lessons from things that went well.

What does George Santayana have to do with numismatics? Numismaitcs has not learned from the past and making the same mistakes expecting a better outcome. In other words, the numismatic industry is fulfilling the axiom credited to Albert Einstien: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

What are we doing wrong? Let’s look at it in the context of this week’s news. Following the lead of the Royal Mint, the Royal Australian Mint is producing 26 limited-edition circulating one-dollar coins with the letters A to Z along with a depiction of something Australian that represents that letter. They call it the Great Aussie Coin Hunt.

Some letters are easy, like G for G’Day or V for Vegemite. Others do not have obvious names. When it came to X, the Royal Australian Mint picked Xantippe.

What is Xantippe?

Aussies were perplexed when trying to figure out who, what, or where Xantippe could be. That is when the Royal Australian Mint revealed that Xantippe is a small farming town in Western Australia.

For the Royal Australian Mint, it was the perfect way to get the message out about the new dollar coins. It caused a minor yet fun controversy that had the county talking about the series creating excitement about finding the coins.

In the UK, the Royal Mint had a similar program called The Great British Coin Hunt. In 2018, the Royal Mint issued 10 pence coins struck with British themes. Along with the other limited edition 50 pence themed coins, the Royal Mint keeps Brittons interested in coins by generating excitement about each release.

In the United States, we also saw excitement about looking for coins. We saw an increased awareness of coin collecting during the 50 States Quarters Program. Earlier this year, there was some interest shown over the release of the W mint quarters. The interest was not as strong as the 50 State Quarters, but people heard about the coin.

But that was for National Coin Week. What has happened since then?

Learn from the positive: by advertising, getting the word out, and promoting the coins, the US Mint is capable of getting people interested. By having the numismatic industry join them, people were paying attention.

Since the end of Nation Coin Week, the numismatic industry has been silent to those outside of the hobby. Most of the promotion has been like preaching to the choir. We get it. We got it. But you cannot keep an industry going that outsiders are claiming is dying.

Numismatics is not dying or near death. Like every hobby, it has problems to overcome. The first step to better health is to expand the base. The only way that could happen is if the numismatic industry does something radical: reach out consistently to everyone.

It is time to learn what worked in the past and stop doing the same things over again.

We can learn lessons from other industries. What about the collector car industry? Nearly 20 years ago, the collector car industry existed but was not that strong. The thought was that getting into cars was expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. Then Discovery Networks fell over the answer.

For Discovery, it started as HDNet, a television channel where they experimented with high definition content. They would create something in high definition and air it on HDNet to test the public’s reaction. Interestingly, the shows about cars were their most highly rated content. Then they contracted with Mecum Auctions to broadcast their events, and the ratings for a niche cable channel were higher than expected.

HDNet was renamed to Velocity. Now it is owned by Motor Trend, who rebranded the channel in its name.

Although the car hobby business was doing well, the trade publications point to the rise of HDNet and Velocity as a reason that the hobby is doing better than ever.

What can we learn from putting cars on television? First, there is an interested market out there that may not know where to turn for information. The shows provide both knowledge and entertainment. While there are shows that have a doctrine-like attitude, most are inclusive of all styles and interests.

Just like in numismatics, there is no single way to collect and enjoy cars. And like cars, there is a lot that can be used to teach everyone about history.

There was a multi-part series about the growth of the auto industry that followed many of the early titans, including Henry Ford, William Durant, and Walter Chrysler. One of the segments was their reactions to World War II, while the story was about how the automotive industry also showed how the country participated in the war effort.

What stories can be told about the 1943 steel cent? What about the “Shotgun Shell” cents struck in 1944 by recycling spent shells picked up from the training field?

How about some fun shows? Numismatic Jeopardy, where the questions are based on answers derived from something numismatic-related. For example, “It’s called the Old Line State.” The answer is on the reverse of the 2000 Maryland State Quarter!

Revive the old PBS show History Detectives and do it with numismatics. After all, they did investigate a coin said to be associated with Annie Oakley and a $6 Continental Currency note found in Omaha.

These are a few ideas. I am sure that others can come up with better ones.

Then again, that may mean that the industry will have to break out of its niche comfort zone and embrace something different.

And now the news…

 October 4, 2019

Metal detectorists have made many amazing discoveries down the years in Britain, with a great hoard of 2,600 coins just revealed last month. But there are strict rules regarding archaeological finds made by detectorists.  → Read more at ancient-origins.net


 October 6, 2019

The Royal Australian Mint is producing 26 limited-edition legal tender coins that will be given out as change at post offices over the coming weeks. The A to Z of Australiana could see you pocketing a Neighbours , Weet-Bix or didgeridoo $1 coin in your small change.  → Read more at news.com.au


 October 8, 2019

The UK’s Treasury plans to commemorate Brexit by minting millions of 50 pence ($0.61) coins. But like many of the Conservative government’s recent moves, there is a major flaw: the imprint date will be the Oct.  → Read more at qz.com

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