Some random thoughts…

Although it has been a while since I have posted something outside of the Weekly World Numismatic News, it does not mean that I have been idle. Here are some random thoughts:

Glenn B Smedley Medal

2019 Glenn B Smedley Medal

First, I want to thank the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors for awarding me the 2019 Glenn Smedley Memorial Award. It is an honor! I wish I could have been there for the award ceremony.

ANA President Steve Ellsworth asked me to continue as Chair of the Technology Committee. I accepted his appointment. Steve has a different vision for how to move forward. Change is a good thing and will work with him and the Board to do what is best for the ANA.

There continues to be work to do for the ANA to add technology to the numismatic experience. One of the areas I would like to include more technology are the exhibits. After speaking with one person familiar with the exhibiting process, I think there are ways to add technology without technology overshadowing the numismatic content. I will have a proposal shortly. Stay tuned.

2007 Somalia Motorcycle Coins
I love these coins but is this the direction the U.S. Mint should go?

Not long ago, U.S. Mint Director David Ryder said that there might be a chance to add color to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins. I have had a mixed feeling about adding color to coins. There are some cases where the color acted as an enhancer. Other times, some mints produced coins that were discs with prints. I will wait until the design is released to decide how I feel about the Mint’s attempt with color.

There are many collectibles whose values have declined over the last year, including some collector coins. One area that remains low are those collector sets produced by the television hucksters or the private mints. These firms overhype the value of their wares to convince buyers that they should purchase them as an investment. Recently, I handled an estate with several items purchased from QVC and the Franklin Mint. All of the coins were overpriced. The family was upset when I provided my valuation. I will talk about this more in a future post.

Another article idea that is inspired by my business is the difference between collecting and investing. Although some people like to try to mix the two, most of the time, the result is that the investor does not create a compelling collection while most of the collectors create value without trying.

I sold my silver Pandas. I lost interest after the composition was changed but the hype has kept the prices up. Hype is not a long-term strategy.

Recently, I decided to liquidate part of my collection. As part of the process, I realized how much I have learned over the years. It is a real case of “the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.” I learned several lessons during this process, including not to trust my judgment. In one case, coins I graded years ago were over graded. If I would have used the tools and knowledge, I have today, and the grades would be different.

Finally, I am still waiting to find a “W” quarter in change. I have yet to see one. Most of the people I know that are looking for these quarters are roll hunting. If I were into conspiracies, I would suggest that the Mint did this on purpose to increase the demand for quarters. People would demand rolls of quarters, forcing the Federal Reserve to order more.

Considering the U.S. Mint is a government agency, I bet they are storing most of the quarters in Area 51! After all, if we are going into conspiracy theories, we might as well go all of the way!

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for September 1, 2019

Token for a free bottle of Coca-Cola in 1915-16

While perusing the news for numismatic-related stories, some of the searches tend to find letters to the editors from people who tell a part of their collecting stories. This week, I came across a letter from a collector in the outer suburbs of the Chicago area.

Gregory Martin wrote to the editor for KendallCountyNOW.com that he would ” like to bring to mind the concept of starting your young ones on starting a coin collection.”

In three of the four paragraphs, Martin shows his passion for both collecting and how it relates to history. He mentions the 3-cent nickel and the 1943 steel cents as gateways into understanding what was happening in our country’s history.

Martin may have touched on something that today’s teachers can use to explain history. For example, the story of westward expansion was more about economics than exploration. People left the east for better opportunities, to find gold, discover silver, or for 40 acres and a mule. These stories can be taught using the money of the times.

As collectors, we know about fractional currency, postage stamp money, and why arrows periodically appear on minor coinage of the time. However, using these tangible items as props, a teacher can explain the history and show the results by using the money of the time.

Every coin, currency, and token is a reflection of the times when and where produced. A teacher can use the history of the San Francisco Mint to teach about the Gold Rush and the Great Earthquake of 1906.

The New Orleans Mint had its place in the Civil War.

The Carson City Mint is as much a story about the old west as it is about the economic battles, including the Crime of ’73.

One Dollar Baltimore B-Note featuring Frederick Douglas and a Baltimore oriole.

Trade and sales tax tokens can show how stores, states, and municipalities tried to work through the Great Depression. Transportation tokens show how transportation had grown in the 20th century. And how some cities, like Baltimore, issue its own “currency” to help promote local business.

Using numismatics to learn about history goes beyond the United States’ borders. After becoming interested in Canadian coins, I learned more about the British monarchy and the decline of the monarch’s power by studying the transitions from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.

After finding three banknotes from the State of Chihuahua, I learned more about the Mexican Revolution after trying to understand why currency for a three-year state existed.

Maybe it is time to take the saying “history in your hand” and turn it into something tangible. After all, a handful of trade and sales tax tokens may have more of an impact than just reading about the Great Depression.

And now the news…

 August 18, 2019

A Utah businessman paid $1.32 million for a dime last week at a Chicago coin auction. It wasn't just any 10-cent piece; the 1894-S Barber Dime is one of only 24 that were ever made, according to Stack's Bowers Galleries, which held the auction Thursday night.  → Read more at cnn.com


 August 24, 2019

TREASURE-hunters have dug up a hoard of ancient silver coins dating back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 – worth an impressive £5million. A metal-detecting couple made the lucky find while searching an unploughed field on a farm in north-east Somerset.  → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 August 24, 2019

Such a hobby does not take a lot to start and can be rewarding in so many ways. To start with you learn about money and in it's many denominations, including the Civil War 3 cent nickel! In American collecting you can observe the way our country grew and developed, gaining a perspective on people and actions of this great nation.  → Read more at kendallcountynow.com


 August 24, 2019

For the first time in almost half a century the Treasury has ordered the Royal Mint to stop producing any 1p or 2p coins. The crackdown on coppers comes at a time when all our cash is under threat – with banks preferring that we pay for goods online or with cards because it saves them money.  → Read more at thisismoney.co.uk

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Weekly World Numismatic News for August 25, 2019

Glenn B Smedley Medal

2019 Glenn B Smedley Medal

Since the numismatic news has been light this week, I would like to answer some of the criticism received for last week’s post about my not attending the World’s Fair of Money.

The allegedly offending paragraph began, “One of the reasons I could not be at the World’s Fair of Money was because I was attending two seminars from another show.” (emphasis added)

First, every critic missed the first four words: ONE OF THE REASONS. It was not the only reason. I disclose a lot about myself and my life outside of collecting on this blog. I do not reveal everything. Attending the seminars was only one of the reasons. The other is I have a business to run.

Regular readers know that I started a business last year that is not numismatic-related. While my company does handle some numismatic items, these are not my focus. To maintain a new business, I have to make decisions that I may not like today but will help me in the future. I decided it was not in my business’s best interest for me to leave to attend the World’s Fair of Money.

Critics suggested that I could have attended the virtual seminar from my hotel room in Rosemont. While it sounds logical, let’s look at reality. Hotel Wi-Fi is not conducive to attending an interactive workshop for three hours. Hotel Wi-Fi services are not designed for that type of service. It may support downloading your latest streaming movie, but it does so with the support that you do not see. Since this is not a technical blog, I will tell you as a retired computer person that what you see and what is reality are very different.

Then there’s the question of being cost-effective. I run a startup business. While I have early success, it takes a lot of resources to build a business. I asked about the cost-effectiveness of sitting in a hotel room for a six-hour seminar. The answered varied but did not answer the question about whether the cost adds up.

Nearly every one of the naysayers in email and those who commented was established, dealers. All are over the age of 50. None would answer the question as to whether they would have attended a show that was not related to their business in their first few years of business.

I suspect that many of them have suppressed their early struggles as they have become successful.

I applaud each of their successes. But each has forgotten that the success came at a cost. Even though I might be around their age, I am running a new business and am enduring the struggles they faced at a younger age. It is more difficult for me now than it was for them in the past.

Some who have engaged in a conversation, I asked whether they understood my point? They did not get it!

Where is the outreach beyond the four walls of the convention center? Why is the entire show confined to the convention center? Why is there no attempt to get other people interested who did not attend or could not attend?

The bottom line is why is the ANA not broadcasting the World’s Fair of Money online to a broader audience?

It is possible to contribute the ANA without attending a convention. How do I know this? I have the Glenn Smedley Award to prove it can be done! I did not set out to win awards. I set out to improve the ANA and make it accessible to more people. I set out to move the ANA into the 21st century with technology. I see technology as the force that will promote the ANA.

I also see the Luddite attitude of some as the force that will be the ANA’s demise.

There are many issues the ANA faces, and I am concerned about how the organization’s use of technology will affect its future. I have three concerns that the ANA should address:

  • Broadcasting from the National Money Show and World’s Fair of Money. With all due respect to the older members, sometimes it is not possible to show up. With the technology available, the ANA must start broadcasting from the show floors, meeting rooms, and even the auctions. News, interviews, activities, and just plain showing off to an Internet audience will keep current members engaged and spark new interest.
  • Online education must be expanded to include courses for the experienced collector and non-collector. The ANA must go beyond was previously discussed. It did not go far enough. The effort was like trying to smell a rose at arms-length because there is a thorn on the side. The ANA must commit to bringing robust education services online or stop trying to dabble.
  • Aside from expanding technology in these areas, another enhancement would be to add technology to the exhibits. With all due respect to the exhibit committee and those who have created great exhibits, static displays are in yesterday’s museums. Museum and other exhibits are not becoming interactive. Even the Manley Library exhibits have rotating displays the allow visitors to view both sides of the object. Under current rules, it is challenging to add electronic aids to exhibits. Having access to electricity for each of the cases must be an option for exhibitors. Having access to the Internet must be an option for exhibitors. Add this capability and watch the exhibits really pop!

As of now, I believe I am still Chair of the money.org Committee, the former Technology Committee. If ANA President Steve Ellsworth chooses to allow me to continue in this position, I will work to help the ANA move forward with these goals.

And now the news…

 August 19, 2019

A Utah businessman paid $1.32 million for a dime last week at a Chicago coin auction. It wasn’t just any 10-cent piece; the 1894-S Barber Dime is one of only 24 that were ever made, according to Stack’s Bowers Galleries, which held the auction Thursday night. Only nine of the coins are confirmed to still exist.  → Read more at ktla.com


 August 20, 2019

The oldest coins minted for colonial Australia have gone on show at the Royal Australian Mint, allowing visitors to lay eyes…  → Read more at the-riotact.com


 August 21, 2019

(MENAFN – Newsroom Panama)  The 50 cent coins  that were minted to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of Panama City, 500  → Read more at menafn.com


 August 21, 2019

The prosecutor said that Louis "The Coin" Colavecchio "is effectively unable to enjoy life without conceiving new criminal ventures."  → Read more at providencejournal.com


 August 22, 2019

Gold prices have been hitting a fresh high everyday since Tuesday.  → Read more at indiatoday.in


 August 23, 2019

The penny will go on show for the first time at Saffron Walden Museum on Saturday August 24  → Read more at bishopsstortfordindependent.co.uk

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Weekly World Numismatic News for August 18, 2019

2019 Worlds Fair of \MoneyThis past week the World’s Fair of Money was held in Rosemont, just outside of Chicago. I wish I knew more of what happened, but the coverage of the show was its usual light to non-existent.

For years, I have been calling for the ANA to broadcast from the convention. For many years, I have been saying that when the collector cannot go to the show, the show must go to the collector. Nearly every other industry that holds a significant show finds ways of broadcasting part of the show to people who cannot attend.

One of the reasons I could not be at the World’s Fair of Money was because I was attending two seminars from another show. These were classes that are required so that I can become a licensed appraiser. Rather then travel to the show, I was able to view these seminars as they occurred. The conferencing software also allowed me to ask questions.

For next year’s show, I would like to see the ANA start to broadcast the Money Talks programs. All business-related items like the meeting of the Board of Governors session could appear on a live stream. Let’s start with that before I go into the rest of my wishlist.

And now the news…

 August 10, 2019

The Royal Mint has revealed no new 1p or 2p coins were struck over the last year. Is the future of copper coins under threat again?  → Read more at which.co.uk


 August 12, 2019

The government’s latest wheeze to convince us that Brexit means Brexit was announced this weekend. Sajid Javid is drawing up plans for millions of 50p coins to be issued when the UK leaves the EU later this year.  → Read more at independent.co.uk


 August 14, 2019

To ensure you the best experience, we use cookies on our website for technical, analytical and marketing purposes. By continuing to browse our site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.  → Read more at antiquestradegazette.com


 August 15, 2019

Sen. Roy Blunt wants a commemorative coin to honor Negro League Baseball when it celebrates its 100 year anniversary in 2020. The Missouri Republican talked about his coin push during a tour of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, this week.  → Read more at rollcall.com


 August 15, 2019

A woman from Asten found a very peculiar coin when she emptied out her purse after her vacation on Wednesday. A 2-euro coin, with the image of Princess Beatrix on it, that had also been minted with an image of an eagle with a swastika under it, De Gelderlander reports.  → Read more at nltimes.nl

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Weekly World Numismatic News for August 4, 2019

Congress is nothing if not full of shallow people who would pander to their own mothers if it meant winning a vote or two. Their shallowness is on display just before they go on an extended break when members drop bills into the virtual hopper for consideration.

In the old days, members of Congress would write have the bills printed on paper and dropped into a physical hopper. The Clerk of the House would empty the hopper and enter new bills into the Congressional Record and add it to the calendar. The bills are sent to the Government Printing Office (GPO) for publications. Nowadays, the hopper is virtual. The submittal process is all by the press of the button — however, the still prints the bills and the Congressional Record causing delays in reporting.

Members of Congress know this and can milk a story for days while they travel back to their districts for their summer break.

It is excellent public relations for these people whose approval rating is lower than drain cleaner. So in between the bills to rename Post Offices, federal buildings, and sections of highway are bills to create commemorative coins. Congress gets a nice writeup about these bills that they hope their constituents will remember knowing most people have short attention spans.

The numismatic media is no different than any other press sectors. Every numismatic-related bill that is introduced gets banner headline coverage even though very few will receive a hearing. The only difference in their reporting is that the numismatic media will bury the term “if it passes” somewhere in its reporting.

Then, when a bill passes one chamber and sent across to the other, someone is breaking out the champagne. Except someone forgot that we are talking about Congress where nothing is easy. Sure, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (S. 1235) and the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 (S. 239) passed the Senate, but the House has not accepted these bills. Members of the House will not let these bills in the front door because they are revenue-generating bills, which constitutionally must be introduced in the House.

It was particularly interesting when a Tennessee newspaper lauded Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for S. 1235 without noting that the bill introduced by this one-time member of the House is blocked for violating the constitution.

I find this stuff fascinating. Then again, I used to work for the federal government!

And now the news…

 July 28, 2019

We’ve had a whole host of new currency introduced recently, but what should you do if you still have old coins or notes knocking about? The answer depends on what kind of currency you have, and how long ago it went out of date – while you can still exchange the recently changed notes and coins, you may be out of luck if you find any half-pence or farthings.  → Read more at simplybusiness.co.uk


 July 30, 2019

A Vancouver Island man has spent the last 10 years uncovering thousands of items using his metal detector — many of which are historic and valuable, he says.  → Read more at cbc.ca


 July 30, 2019

Nearly two years after they stopped being legal tender, 145 million old-style £1 coins are still missing.  → Read more at bbc.com


 July 30, 2019

Collectors are only too happy to share the history of their collections with visitors  → Read more at gulfnews.com


 July 30, 2019

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — From Satchel Paige to Jackie Robinson and Buck O’ Neil, several of baseball’s iconic players began their professional careers with the Negro Leagues in Kansas City. Now those legends, along with countless others, could be honored with a special, commemorative coin.  → Read more at fox4kc.com


 August 1, 2019

Twin Cities coin dealer Barry R. Skog has been sentenced to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright for perpetrating a counterfeit coin fraud scheme.  → Read more at startribune.com


 August 2, 2019

The PIL filed by the National Association for the Blind (NAB) sought directions to the RBI to include distinctive features in coins and in currency notes, so visually-challenged persons can easily identify the same.  → Read more at hindustantimes.com

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Weekly World Numismatic News for July 21, 2019

While there was plenty of news this week, I want to take this opportunity to use myself as an example. Some may have noticed that the blog was taken down for a little more than a day earlier this week. The downtime was necessary to clean up after my account was attacked.

The attack occurred after I had given the person who is maintaining my company’s website the administrative passwords. Although that person did not attack my account, the use of compromised services on the Internet allowed the attack to happen.

Being attacked by malware on the Internet is nothing new. I am sure that most of you experienced an attack either of a website, your email, or social media account. The clean up is not fun. The embarrassment after spending a career as an information security profession is enormous.

I do pay attention to my version of the world to make sure that what I am involved with does not cause problems. Even so, something got passed my watch and infected my entire account, including this blog and the news site.

I have written about security issues in the past. As my experience has shown, letting down your guard can lead to an unintentional disaster.

I know that Internet security is both problematic and annoying. Having to watch over your virtual shoulders can make the time you spend online unpleasant. But it has to be done. You have to stay aware because the threats adapt as you do.

Fans of Hill Street Blues will remember that after the morning briefing, Sergeant Phil Esterhaus would say, “Let’s be careful out there.” Sound advice for the Internet age.

And now the news…

 July 14, 2019

London (CNN Business)Alan Turing, a crack code-breaker and visionary mathematician who was convicted under Victorian-era homophobic laws, will be the face of Britain's new £50 note. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney announced Monday that Turing, who killed himself in 1954 after he was subjected to chemical castration, will appear on the new polymer note by the end of 2021.  → Read more at cnn.com


 July 17, 2019

Nick Vorsin wasn’t sure what he’d find when he stopped in at the Calgary Coin Gallery, but he ended up buying a couple of nice surprises: two 1967 Canadian Centennial coins. One was a 50 cent piece, featuring an image of a howling wolf, along with a silver dollar featuring a Canada goose.  → Read more at globalnews.ca


 July 17, 2019

(UPDATED) A study finds that Filipinos frequently use P20 bills, leading to the banknote's wear and tear. A coin version will extend its life span. MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The orange P20 bill will soon get a coin counterpart, an official of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Wednesday, July 17.  → Read more at rappler.com


 July 18, 2019

Before you say, "Keep the change," make sure you don’t have one of these. You never know, one of your pennies could be worth the price of a nice dinner out — or maybe a whole lot more.  → Read more at cnbc.com


 July 21, 2019

Richard Hayes left a $45 million coin on the streets of Manhattan all day Tuesday, but he wasn’t particularly worried about a thief carting it off.  → Read more at marketwatch.com


 July 21, 2019

Rusty Goe has spent much of his professional life on a deep dive into the history of the U.S. Mint in Carson City. He’s written multiple books on the subject and spent thousands of hours in research, getting to know the people who worked there 150 years ago.  → Read more at carsonnow.org


 July 21, 2019

There was an increase in hoarding coins during the "tumultuous" reign of the queen, an expert says.  → Read more at bbc.com

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The ANA Election is Over, Support Your New Board

The American Numismatic Association election is over and the membership has made a choice. Steve Ellsworth will become the new President of the American Numismatic Association at the World’s Fair of Money in August. Ralph Ross will become Vice President.

Although these were not my choices for leadership, I will support them for their two-year term. Both men deserve the support of the entire membership regardless of what you thought about the election.

The ANA is at a critical juncture in its modern history. There is a societal change happening that is affecting many hobbies and traditional institutions. It is a change borne out of changes in ideas, ideals, and how the new generation thinks about hobbies and their traditions.

The status quo is no longer acceptable. Millennials and those identified as Gen Z, who graduated from high school this year, grew up in a different world. In their world, money is electronic, stamps are utilitarian only used when necessary, and the concept of formality is reserved for a noncontroversial post on social media.

With the Millenials and Gen Z now in that numismatic black hole between being a Young Numismatist and their reawakening when they get older, it is time that the ANA adapt to the new world order of technology.

Adapting traditional hobbies between the past and technology will be difficult. Ask the philatelic (stamp collecting) world how technology has upended what they built. Technology has changed many aspects of our lives, and if numismatics do not change along with it, numismatics will become a minor aspect of the hobby community.

Making this bridge between the traditions of numismatics and the future is what the new ANA leadership and the Board of Governors will need your help. The only way the ANA will change to meet the needs of the membership is for the association to speak out. Members, especially those that are not of AARP eligible age, must be the ones to speak to the Board and let them know what the ANA has to do to have a healthy future.

Overall, 19,737 ANA members were eligible to vote in this election; 31.06 percent of eligible voters participated.

One of the most significant issues is that the membership is not engaged. Maybe it is time for the ANA members to get off the sidelines and become involved.

Members must open lines of communications with the Board of Governors and let them know what you think. They cannot perform their jobs without knowing how to respond to the membership. Your input will help President-elect Ellsworth, and the rest of the Board set their agenda.

Help Ellsworth and the Board have a successful term. Let them know what you think. As a member you can contact the ANA directly. When you do, please keep it respectful and include your membership number.

Those who want to add their comments to a public forum, the ANA gives you that opportunity. Go to the ANA website, register, and post your message as an open blog post. Yes, the ANA website has a blog section for you to post whatever you like. Keep it clean, respectful, to the point. If you can add details to your ideas, I am sure the Board would appreciate the help.

In case you did not know, the ANA website also has a section of numismatic forums for collectors to talk with other collectors about numismatics. For those who are not happy with other forum sites, you might want to take the opportunity to see what the ANA has to offer.

If all else fails, you can write to me. Although I am one voice in the numismatic wilderness, I am a collector who wants to see the ANA remain a thriving home for numismatic collectors. You can write to me directly or post a comment here.

It is your ANA.

Your ANA needs your input.

Support the new Board and help them find their direction.

Hey ANA Members, it’s time to VOTE!

The countdown to the July 1 deadline to vote for the next American Numismatic Association Board of Governors approaches, it is time to look at the candidates and determine who can best lead the organization forward.

For the first time in many years, there are races for President, Vice President, and Board of Governors. This year this is a choice. Here are my choices:

President

For ANA president members have the choice of COL Steven K. Ellsworth, ret., or Donald H. Kagin, Ph.D.

Ellsworth is currently a member of the ANA Board of governors and the owner of Butternut Coin Company, which moved from Virginia to Tennessee. Ellsworth has been around but has many strong opinions that have irritated several of the ANA’s constituency. Recently, during the National Money Show, Ellsworth made statements that exhibitors and the exhibit committee interpreted as hostile to them. Unfortunately, when he had the opportunity to clarify his position, his tone turned combative while making accusations of there being a clique amongst the exhibitor community.

Kagin grew up in the numismatics business, the son of a very prominent member of the ANA. But Kagin is not without his issues. He was a member of the Board of Governors during the fiasco with Executive Director and Legal Counsel Christopher Cipoletti in 2007. Then there were the Larry Shepherd issues that led to more embarrassment. For the subsequent election, Kagin said that he and the Board made mistakes and he wanted another chance. Kagin lost the election during a “throw the bums out” feelings by the membership.

Over the last few years, it appears that Kagin has learned from his mistakes. Sometimes it takes falling on your behind to be able to learn from those mistakes. It also seems that his vision for the ANA has matured since his return to the Board.

The Coin Collectors Blog endorses Don Kagin for ANA President for his sober vision and less combative personality, which is necessary for the ANA.

Vice President

The race for ANA Vice President is between Dr. Ralph W. Ross and Thomas J. Uram.

Although I have briefly met both gentlemen, I cannot say that I have had an extensive conversation with either. The personality dynamics are very different. Although that should not be a determining factor, the differences make it a consideration.

Ross has been a member of the Board of Governors for some time. He is a teacher by trade, which can be beneficial to figure out how to spread the word about numismatics beyond the ANA. In reality, where has he been? In my interaction with the Board, Ross is its quietest member. We do not hear much from him or about him regarding his position on the Board. He is just there.

Uram has been an active participant for some time. He is an exhibitor, judge, and has acted as a coach to exhibitors. Having someone on the Board who understands the exhibitor community may be good for the ANA.

Uram is not a professional numismatist but has had a long career in the financial services industry. Given the ANA’s propensity for having consistent financial problems, having someone around who can make sure the ANA stays fiscally stable may be a good idea.

Finally, Uram is a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) as an appointee of the Secretary of the Treasury. Although I have been a critic of the CCAC and not a fan of the Secretary, having someone with that type of experience could have its advantages.

Therefore, the Coin Collectors Blog endorses Tom Uram to be the next Vice President of the ANA.

Board of Governors

There are ten candidates to fill seven seats. Three people will not be serving on the Board. I will not comment on every one of the candidates in this space. I will provide some thoughts on what has gone into my decision.

First, I do not endorse Mike Ellis and his return to the Board. Although I believe in second chances, some have to come with a significant amount of contrition and time. It has not been long enough after “he had made a mistake and chose to step down from the board.” Any person who had to step down from the Board of Governors because of “mistake” must be required to jump a higher hurdle to return. I am still waiting for the jump.

While I have nothing against Greg Lyon, this would be his sixth and final term on the Board. After ten years as a member of the Board of Governors, it is time to step aside and allow new people into leadership.

There are endorsement forthcoming for Muriel Eymery and Shanna Schmidt. Eymery, who is from London, would bring a very different perspective to the ANA that is very necessary. Her view on foreign collectors and the world of numismatics outside of the United States would be an asset to an organization that appears insular. This type of diversity would benefit the ANA.

Schmidt is a dealer with a specialty in ancient numismatics and has a background beyond numismatics. Aside from adding diversity to the Board of Governors, which is very necessary, the line in her biography that attracted me was that her “master’s thesis was on the cultural-property debate as it relates specifically to ancient coins.” It is a topic that I have commented on several times and wish the ANA would involve itself with on behalf of the numismatic community.

Based on the considerations, the Coin Collectors Blog endorses the following seven candidates for the ANA Board of Governors (in alphabetical order by last name): Rick Ewing, Muriel Eymery, John Highfill, Cliff Mishler, Paul Montgomery, Robert Oberth, and Shanna Schmidt.

If you are an ANA member, go vote!

If you are not an ANA member, you should consider becoming one!

The Story of Tubman on the $20: a mass of lies, evasions, folly, and hatred

Mockup of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman

When there is a discussion on the design of United States currency, there is no way to avoid politics. Politics drives the designs, composition, and the economic condition that goes behind every coin in your pocket. Politics governs the currency printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, including the overall management of it through the Department of the Treasury.

Aside from my interest in the nuance of politics, beyond reports on cable news, it is why there is a monthly report on legislation that would effect numismatics. Whether it is a proposal for a commemorative coin or the creation of a commission to celebrate something in history, every bill introduced in Congress has the potential to change numismatics.

Paper currency is less regulated than coins. Coining money is mentioned in Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution. The federal regulation of currency began with the National Bank Act of 1863. Whereas the Constitution says, “Congress shall have Power…to coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin,” there is no provision for paper currency.

The Constitution does not say that Congress should design the coins, but they do, sometimes to the detriment of the final result. But the design of the currency is left to the Department of the Treasury.

There is no set process that the Treasury goes through to decide on the design of the nation’s currency. The process changes for each new Secretary that heads the department. In the previous administration, Secretary Jacob “Jack” Lew, went through his version of the process to decide that the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the $20 Federal Reserve Note will be replaced with Harriett Tubman by 2020.

According to sources, although the Bureau of Engraving and Printing would have preferred a little more time to create the master engraving plates to make this change, the timing of the announcement would not present a significant problem.

Lew resigned as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury on January 20, 2017, with the inauguration of a new administration. Steven T. Mnuchin was sworn in as the 77th Secretary of the Treasury on February 13, 2017.

Steven T. Mnuchin, the 77th Secretary of the Treasury

Sources report that Mnuchin did not interfere with the BEP’s efforts to redesign the $20 FRN immediately. As the work continued, the BEP also continued to work on additional anti-counterfeiting measures for U.S. currency. Specifically, the BEP was looking into changes that would first impact the $10 note followed by the $5 bill.

The paper $5 note was a more significant focus for the BEP. In working with the U.S. Secret Service, they were finding that many counterfeiters were using bleaching products to remove the ink from the paper to use it to print higher denominations, predominantly $20 bills. One internal report suggested that the criminal would see a net gain of $14 for each $20 note they could produce.

Although it costs more to counterfeit $20 bills this way, it is a lower risk for the criminal. As we have seen, few people pay attention to the problem and those that do find that the currency passes the iodine pen test. After all, it is currency paper.

Bleached Counterfeit Currency

An example of a $100 Federal Reserve Note printed on a bleached $5 note (Image courtesy of Prescott Police Department via AOL.com)

Interference from Mnuchin came after his first three months in office. It started with a question from a reporter who asked the president about the change. The president’s statement was followed by a cabinet meeting where the president said something to Mnuchin about the change. Then, a source reports that the president said something to Mnuchin who agreed to do something without raising concerns.

Mnuchin did not directly interfere with the process. Instead, he used the budgetary process to direct funds away from the development of the proposed change in portrait.

Mnuchin was able to hide the change from the public because of the nature of Treasury’s budgetary process. Since the BEP is self-funded by the profits (seigniorage) that is deposited in its Public Enterprise Fund, all Treasury had to do was obtain Congress’s permission to use a set amount from the fund without providing details.

Treasury and BEP were able to hide the changes in the CFO’s Annual Report by using internal reorganization to obfuscate where the spending was going.

In short, Mnuchin ordered the BEP, which is lead by a career professional and not a politician, to move the resources away from the redesign and prioritizing other aspects of currency redesign. Mnuchin purposely slowed the redesign process in a way that gives Treasury and the BEP deniability.

A statement published on the BEP website, BEP Director Len Olijar wrote in response to the news reports, “BEP was never going to unveil a note design in 2020.” That was not the policy of the Treasury Department and the BEP when Secretary Lew announced the change. Mnuchin changed it at the request of the president.

The story of the “delay” of the redesign with Tubman’s portrait appeared in The New York Times. In the story, the Times used an image from the original announcement that depicted Tubman superimposed on the $20 bill. Sources suggested that Olijar, under orders from Mnuchin, was to try to discredit the story in any way possible. Rather than continue with the fact, albeit flawed compared to previous reports, the statement went on to pick on an inconsequential aspect of the story, the image published by the Times.

“The illustration published by the New York Times was a copy of an old Series note with the signatures of former officials, with a different image superimposed on it.”

As my source said, “let’s attack the messenger and not the message.”

Unfortunately, Olijar, a career government employee, is caught in the middle having to work with the politicians. He loses credibility by contradicting the previous reporting, which is unfortunate because sources have suggested that some other than Mnuchin “ordered” Olijar to issue the statement.

There is an old expression that one should never discuss politics, religion, and sex/money/pick something in polite company. It is impossible to be polite when talking about coins and currency before their manufacture. It spreads through the entire process. Or as George Orwell aptly said:

In our age, there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.

ANA’s 2019 Election Cycle

Members of the American Numismatic Association who opted into online voting should have received the election announcement via email. If you think you did request the electronic voting option and did not receive your notice, check your spam folder.

Those who are not signed up for electronic voting should receive a paper ballot in the mail shortly. Deadline to vote using either method is July 1, 2019.

2019 ANA Election Notice

This year, there are races for president, vice president, and Board of Governors. In addition to the races in all categories, three women are running for the Board of Governors, and five of the candidates are running for the first time. Two are running again after having served in the past.

Three of the current member of the Board of Governors are running for higher office, meaning that there will be at least three new Board members.

Maybe there should be at least four new board members.

It has been a long tradition in United States populist society to “throw the bastards out” dating back to the antebellum South where the southern Democrats ran dirty campaigns and even fixed ballots to weaken the Whig Party that was anti-slavery. Newspapers at the time suggested that if the pols do not protect the southern traditions then vote them out.

Just remember, dirty politics pre-dates the founding of the United States as an independent country. In the 1820s, the movement found a rallying cry.

The ANA has had its “throw the bastards out” situation a few years ago after former ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd file a lawsuit against the ANA and fired Jeff Shevlin as executive director. It was clear that there were problems, which attracted a large field fo candidates for the seven seats on the Board of Governors. I was one of the candidates.

There was quite a change in made in that election. Unfortunately, a few of the members that were voted in during that election remain. As someone who likes to see change and believes in term limit, anyone elected in 2013 should be retired from the Board of Governors. It has nothing to do with their qualifications, but there is a time for new ideas to replace the old.

Numismatics is not a dying hobby. For as long as physical currency is in use, there will be someone to collect those items and the billions of coins already in collections around the world. But there is some trouble in the hobby.

The ANA has to figure out its long-term direction in the context of today’s society. Kids are no longer checking mom and dad’s pocket change looking for coins. They are not encouraged to do so, but there are no incentives for them to begin. There is no long term encouragement.

We have to adapt to a new way of thinking. Unfortunately, very few of the candidates’ statements show that they are seriously thinking about the future.

Change begins with change. It is time for those who have served to retire from the Board and let others step forward. Let’s thank them for their service and allow them to move on.

It may not be a revolution, but evolution is necessary.

In a few weeks, I will post my endorsements.

Until then, I welcome your thoughts.

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