As this is being posted I am packing up after working this past weekend at the DC Big Flea Market and Antique Show in Chantilly, Virginia. Since I have been working in the collectibles business, I have been trying to sell at one show a month with DC Big Flea being the show I work every other month. Aside from this show is close to home, I think I have found the right mix of items to be successful.
My booth at DC Big Flea after setup. At least half of what you see was sold on 9/16!
Working shows in the collectibles and antiques market is no different from a numismatic dealer on the bourse floor. Each dealer specializes in an area and tries to find the right mix of inventory and prices to make the show a success.
Although this sounds like common business sense, there are times when I go to shows and ask the dealers how they are doing I get grumbles from many and smiles from the rest. What I am guessing is that the grumblers have not adapted to the market trends.
I learned that turning over my inventory, regardless of the cost, is very important. Having stale inventory means that my money is tied up in that inventory and does not do me any good invested in that inventory. I have to find fresh items and make sure that those who are regulars and those who want to be regulars know that the next time they see me that I will have something new, even if it is in the category of merchandise I sell.
There are two lessons I have learned in the last few years. First, it is not going to hurt my bottom line if a customer asks for an additional discount such as another $5 or 10-percent off. It makes them feel like they found a bargain and I move the inventory. But that lesson is not possible without my second lesson is to treat the entire inventory as a single unit. By treating the inventory as a single unit, if I sell something at full price to someone who does not want to negotiate but sell the next item for a deeper discount, I am no better off than I thought I would have been.
With some exceptions, I think that many numismatic dealers get stuck with the idea, “this is what I paid so I have the get this price to at least break even.” If I worked that way my truck would come home loaded with inventory and more work to do. However, with the inventory sold, I now have the money to find something fresh for the next show.
Just something for the dealers to think about.
Now for this week’s news:
September 11, 2017
The value of modern currency comes not from what it's made of, but what we all agree it's worth. → Read more at bbc.com
September 11, 2017
The notion of money has been an important part of the human way of life for more than 2,900 years. When looking back at its origins, there is no doubt that the trade system has evolved considerably. As we mentioned before, bartering was used as the main system for the exchange of all kinds of goods and products. → Read more at thecostaricanews.com
September 11, 2017
If anyone should not be on money, it’s Andrew Jackson. The 7th President of the United States hated paper money. He also hated Native Americans and loved having slaves, but for now, let’s focus on how he believed that the United States should only have gold and silver coins as currency. → Read more at harpersbazaar.com
September 12, 2017
Ever throw in your two cents? Probably not like a visitor did recently at the Peoria County Courthouse. At the security checkpoint Aug. 31, someone left → Read more at pjstar.com
September 12, 2017
In February of 1870, a sparkling new steam-powered coin press inside the United States Mint in Carson City struck its first coin, a Seated Liberty silver dollar with a crisp → Read more at elkodaily.com
September 12, 2017
From Viking silver to Roman bronze, amateur treasure hunters in Europe locate all kinds of buried treasures with their metal detectors. Now, a new hoard is making headlines: As the ChronicleLive reports, the caretaker of a primary school in Northumberland, England used his own electronic device to find a stash of Medieval-era silver coins buried underneath the school's playground. → Read more at mentalfloss.com
September 12, 2017
My friend Hugo Salinas Price, a tireless promoter of sound money, offers a Primer on the Mexican ‘Libertad’ Silver Ounce as a Vehicle for Savings of the Common Folk. This is a guest post by Hugo Salinas Price. → Read more at fxstreet.com
September 13, 2017
India issued its first commemorative coin series back in 1964 in the honour of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It was the same year of Nehru’s passing away. Over the last 53 years, commemorative coins have been issued for various reasons — some as uncirculated collectors items and others for mass circulation. → Read more at indianexpress.com
September 14, 2017
One-cent coins as well as 10-cent and 25-cent coins will soon no longer be legal tender in Jamaica. (Photo: Jamaica Gleaner) → Read more at caribbean360.com
September 16, 2017
The Big Maple Leaf was named the largest coin in the world by the Guinness World Records in 2007. But a group of thieves ensured its life in the public spotlight would be brief. → Read more at thedailybeast.com
On September 12, Apple opened the Steve Jobs Theater on their new campus in Cupertino with an announcement of new hardware. There was the new Apple Watch 3, Apple TV-4K, and two new iPhones.
Outside of the tech press, everyone is focused on the iPhone X, “X” for the Roman numeral 10, a marvel of engineering but will cost $1,000. Breaking that $1,000 barrier is a big thing because it makes the iPhone X the most expensive smartphone on the market.
But I see another story that can be more important to a lot of other markets than the price of the device. It is the technology that can be industry altering.
Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X have dual-lens cameras that are designed to enhance the use of photography. The new cameras have larger sensors that pick up more pixels of information with a processor that can better process the image.
It is the image processing and the iPhone’s ability to use the detailed images to map the terrain, textures, and to use augmented reality (AR) to enhance what the camera sees.
An area where this technology can help numismatics is with computer-based grading.
Computer-based grading was first tried in 1991 using the technology of the day. While it was a good start, the technology was just not ready for the ability to grade coins.
Apple proved that the technology is ready to try again.
Human-based grading has led to an environment of mistrust amongst the grading services. It is the failure of humans to be consistent in grading that leads to religious-like arguments as to which grading service is better. These failures have led the creation of verification services to check up on the ability of grading services to do their job.
The ability for the imaging process to visualize and analyze thousands of polygons on an image, the way imaging technology visualizes the three-dimensional surface, in such a way to allow for real-time expression processing and rendering can be used to assess the surface of a coin.
Another problem that can be resolved is the crack out game. Some people will crack coins out of their slabs to submit them to the grading services multiple times to play on the failure of humans to be consistent to try to have the coins graded higher. The information created based on the surface analysis of the coin will result in digital data that should be unique to each coin. Minute scratches and other environmental factors can help distinguish one coin from another in the same manner that there are subtle differences that can detect on identical twin from another.
Creating a digital signature for each coin will help prevent theft or help law enforcement use the information to track stolen items.
Imaging analysis can look at the surface to find alterations like the use of a chemical that would change the surface. Rather than using the “sniffing” technology that Professional Coin Grading Service has pioneered to find chemical additives, a surface analysis can detect chemical-based alterations to the surface.
Altered surface detection can also be used to detect unnatural toning. It will require teaching the imaging systems to detect the differences between natural and unnatural toning, but the long-term benefits to the hobby will be tremendous.
Aside from grading consistency and the ability detect altered surface, it is possible to expand current technologies that will help detect the use of plated or other metal counterfeits. Devices that are able to visualize a few microns under the surface of the coin to detect the metal content along with the new visualization technologies will make it more difficult to pass counterfeit coins.
Device that could metallic analysis of a coin below the surface
In the short term, this will not put the third-party grading services out of business but it will change their business. They will not be grading and regrading coins. The computer will analyze the coin, provide the owner with a report, and that report will be consistent regardless of the imaging process used. Otherwise, the coin was altered and you would know about it.
Eventually, this could eliminate the plastic slab that has been counterfeited. The coin itself becomes its own identifier and reduces the reliance on the slab.
Counterfeit U.S. coins in counterfeit PCGS holders (Photo courtesy of PCGS.)
This technology will eliminate the verification services. There will no need for a human to verify the human-based grading. After all, the fourth-party verification process is artificially driving up the costs of collector coins because of blind trust placed in humans verifying humans.
Although I spent nearly all of my adult life in the technology industry, I am not for technology completely taking over all aspects of our lives. There is a level of trust in the hardware and software that must be earned to have me feel comfortable with things like self-driving cars or even maintaining personal information (see the recent Equifax breach).
However, I am for the use of technology where it can solve a problem. Technology can solve the problem of inconsistent grading. Technology can solve the problem of coin identification. Technology can solve the problems with counterfeiting. Why not use technology to increase the trust in the numismatic market by fixing these problems?
It is now time that technology was put to use in the numismatic and collecting industries in order to create a level of assurance for the collector that their item is genuine and the condition is what the collectible is being represented as.
- iPhone X image courtesy of Apple.
- Niton scanner image by the author.
- Counterfiet PCGS slabs courtesy of PCGS
Storms of all type are hitting the shores of the United States. Nearly two weeks after Harvey did his damage in southeast Texas, Irma is north of the Florida Keys and heading towards Naples as I type this.
And don’t get me started on the devastation that Equifax will bring to all of us!
While Irma is now attacking Florida, Hurricane Jose is hanging out about 300 miles northwest of the northern Leeward Islands. Some forecasts have Jose stalling out over the Atlantic Ocean. However, its movement shows is on a very slow track that if it keeps going will land on the shores of the Carolinas.
Forget the suggestion to keep your valuables in your dishwasher or washing machine. If the electricity flashes or surges, it could trigger the appliance to turn on. If the storm rips apart your house, your appliance can find itself miles away with your valuables still inside.
In the days to come, I will have information about protecting your collectibles in case of a disaster.
It is too late to plan now. Your primary concern should be to the lives of you and your family, relatives, friends, and neighbors. If you were told to evacuate, get the heck out! Material items can be repaired and replaced. Once you die there is no coming back.
For everyone else not in the path of the storms, please consider helping. If you cannot work in the affected area, you can donate money and blood. Money is more flexible than donating goods because it allows relief workers to buy what is necessary instead of warehousing surplus.
Blood is needed to help the injured and sick during this time.
Blood has a shelf-life of around four weeks. It constantly needs renewal. You can donate whole blood every 56 days!
To find a blood drive near you visit redcrossblood.org.
The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) works with credible agencies to help people during domestic disasters. You can donate to any of the members listed on their website at nvoad.org.
This week, the BBC reported about Toby Robyns, a 52-year-old ambulance driver from the U.K., who may be facing an up to three-year prison sentence for trying to take home ancient coins he found on a beach in Turkey.
Immediately, my thoughts turned to a story I wrote about my friends in a similar situation. While sitting on a beach, they found several ancient coins. Just like the British man, they threw their finds in their luggage and proceeded with their vacation.
When airport security found the coins in the luggage they detained Robyns, just like what happened to my friends.
One of the differences between the two stories is that the U.K. news outlets are reporting about this state sanctioned abduction. It was confirmed that when the family that returned to the U.K. they contacted the media to tell the story.
In the U.S., my friend’s family was asked by the government representatives not to talk about the case with the media. Part of the reason was that my friend was working for the U.S. federal government at the time and had clearances. Although it cannot be confirmed, I am sure that this is why his story ended quickly.
Regardless of the disposition of Mr. Robyns’ case, the damage has been done. The coins are likely not valuable and this is nothing more than harassing a foreign national because they can. And given some of the rhetoric between Turkey, Europe, and the U.K., especially over Brexit and the Middle East refugee situation, it will be unfortunate if Mr. Robyns is made to pay for the politics.
And now the news…
August 21, 2017
Priceless collection of 75 gold Roman coins depicts evolution of propaganda and portraiture over 300 years → Read more at timesofisrael.com
August 21, 2017
The Treasury Department will accept orders for special coins commemorating King Rama IX’s cremation at banks and state financial institutions from Aug 22 to Sept 30. → Read more at bangkokpost.com
August 22, 2017
"We don’t give away keys to the city, John. Too many people breaking in." → Read more at denverite.com
August 23, 2017
It's a challenge coins for veterans to be given out by police officers → Read more at wbay.com
August 23, 2017
The pair had been sweeping a recently ploughed field with metal detectors when they discovered the buried hoard → Read more at cornwalllive.com
August 23, 2017
A Government push to phase out the old pound coin is being hampered by firms mistakenly returning its 12-sided replacement. Around half of the coins being delivered to cash centres have turned out to be the new pound coin, slowing efforts to remove the round pound from circulation. → Read more at helensburghadvertiser.co.uk
August 24, 2017
Ambulance driver Toby Robyns was arrested as he prepared to fly home with his family. → Read more at bbc.com
August 24, 2017
The Cairo International Airport antiques’ unit blocked an attempt by an Egyptian passenger to smuggle a collection of Khedival-era coins, paper currency, contracts, and bonds to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, the unit head said in a statement. → Read more at egyptindependent.com
August 26, 2017
(JTA) — An 8-year-old Israeli girl found a rare coin from the Second Temple period. The half-shekel coin dates from a time when it was used to pay a yearly Temple tax, archaeologist Zachi Dvira told The Times of Israel. The custom is prescribed in the Torah (Exodus 30:11-16). Hallel Halevy discovered the coin in… → Read more at jta.org
As we wait for the shadow of the moon to trek across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina, I was curious as to whether there were coins ever created to commemorate any of the past eclipses regardless of location.
Allowing an online search engine to help, I was able to find a few coins.
1999 Alderny Total Eclipse of the Sun Commemorative Five Pound Coin
1999 Romanian Eclipse 500 lei bi-metalic commemorative coin
1961 Italy Total Eclipse of the Sun Gold Medallion (Image courtesy of Chard)
Minting of these coins in Nikopolis could indicate an eclipse focused on that region
I am sure there may be a few more, but I need to run out to pick up a pair of those funky glasses!
One of the most popular aphorisms was written by philosopher and essayist George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Although it was one line in Volume 1 of his five volume The Life of Reason, the statement is so profound that it stands out as a seminal statement.
Portrait of George Santayana by Samuel Johnson Woolf (1880-1948)
Events this past week in Charlottesville, Virginia are forcing us to heed Santayana’s warning and look at our history to understand how we got here and why. Regardless of how anyone feels about the issues behind the divisions we cannot condone the use of violence to try to force opinions on others. This is what was tried in the past, which is why we have to learn from it because it seems to repeat itself time and again.
We should not hide our history behind political correctness. We need to put both the good and the bad out front for all to see. We need to learn from both and improve going forward. And this is not only about the Civil War. The United States has had a long record of abuses to the native tribes in the 19th century that we should be ashamed of. In fact, this country continues to abuse the native tribes and violate treaties that were designed to protect both sides. For an example, see the Dakota Pipeline project.
Americans want to celebrate their past and learn from the mistakes but are we continuing to make the same mistake? For every Civil Rights Act of 1964 Silver Dollar (2014), there are stories of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II whose only “crime” was to have Japanese ancestry.
Commemorative coins have always been used to help raise money for one cause or another. Members of Congress would bring the request to Washington from their home state and use the support of these bills to bargain with their fellow members to support other bills. It became so bad that the commemorative coins programs were ended following the 1954 release of the George Washington Carver Half Dollar.
During the early period of commemorative coins, Congress authorized the issuance of three commemoratives with themes tied to the Civil War. Two were created to memorialize battlefields and the other a memorial that is causing controversy today.
Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar
Stone Mountain Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Year Issued: 1925
Designer: Gutzon Borglum
Composition: .900 Silver, .100 Copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 68-46
Mintage: 1,314,709 in Philadelphia
The 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar features the images of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The monument was commissioned by the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association to create a monument to the leaders of the south on the large granite face of the mountain. Both the coin and the monument was designed by Gutzon Borglum. Borglum was the same designer of Mount Rushmore.
The project began in 1916 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They were deeded the side of the mountain by the Venable Brothers, who used to mine the stones. Sam Venable used Stone Mountain as a central meeting place as part of the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.
The carved memorial was supposed to be a 12-year project. Aside from funding issues, Borglum, who was known to associate with the Ku Klux Klan, quit the project in 1925. That lead to having many problems with funding and maintaining sculptors throughout the years. After the mountain was purchased by the State of Georgia in 1958, there were two attempts to complete the memorial. It was finally completed in 1970.
Congress authorized a production of 5 million coins. These coins were struck in batches of 500,000 at a time in Philadelphia. The coins were sent to the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association which offered them for sale. Despite brisk sales, they only sold about 1.3 million coins. The balance of the last run was returned to the U.S. Mint to be melted.
Battle of Gettysburg Half Dollar
Gettysburg Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Year Issued: 1936
Designer: Frank Vittor
Composition: .900 Silver, .100 Copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 74-91
Mintage: 26,928 in Philadelphia
The 1936 Battle of Gettysburg Half Dollar issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle. The obverse features generic the profiles of Union and Confederate soldiers with the words “Blue and Gray Reunion” under the portraits.
During this time, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association had been transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service for administration. But the area needed additional infrastructure and support. As part of the plans to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the commemorative coin was used to Pennsylvania the necessary money. As with many of the commemorative coins issued during The Great Depression, the program fell short.
Congress authorized a production of 50,000 coins. These coins were struck at Philadelphia and sent to the Pennsylvania State Commission which offered them at $1.65 each. They sold just under 27,000 coins. The rest were returned to the U.S. Mint to be melted.
Battle of Antietam Half Dollar
Antietam Half Dollar Coin Specifications
Year Issued: 1936
Designer: William Marks Simpson
Composition: .900 silver, .100 copper
Weight: 12.50 grams
Diameter: 30.6 mm
Authorization: Public Law 75-160
Mintage: 18,028 at Philidelphia
The 1937 Battle of Antietam Half Dollar was issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle which General Geroge B. McClellan preventing the invasion of Maryland by General Robert E. Lee’s Army of the Potomac near Antietam Creek. Although Lee’s army was able to withdraw back to Virginia, President Abraham Lincoln relieve McClellan because it was felt that the battle did not defeat Lee’s army.
Similar to the Gettysburg Half Dollar, Maryland proposed a commemorative half dollar in order to improve the infrastructure around the battlefield and cemetery. One of the differences between Antietam and Gettysburg was the network of roads built around the battlefield area that Sharpsburg, the main city along Antietam Creek, was a gateway across the Potomac River into these western areas even before the Civil War. As a natural crossing point, Lee’s army was going to use it to attack the Union from the west.
Congress authorized a production of 50,000 coins. These coins were struck at Philadelphia and sent to the Washington County (Maryland) Historical Society which offered them at $1.65 each. They sold about 18,000 coins. The rest were returned to the U.S. Mint to be melted.
Learning from History
During the times that these commemorative coins were proposed, the commemoratives were met with little interest and even with some disdain that the U.S. Mint would be required to produce so many commemoratives.
Specifically, regarding the Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar, a review of newspaper archives does not mention an outrage over the production of the coin. However, there was plenty of stories about the Jim Crow laws. Predictably, northern newspapers were against them and southern newspapers defended them.
Stone Mountain itself has had an interesting history even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. In the 1980s, Daniel Carver, former Grand Dragon of the “Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” donated money to the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to upgrade the park. In return, the organization was going to rename the park in his honor until protests convinced the organization otherwise. Carver would go on to make a spectacle at the park during the week before the 1988 Democratic National Convention that was held in Atlanta.
History is addressed to understand the context. It is easy to look back and ask, “What were they thinking?” By understanding the history, it does provide an insight into that answer.
But Continue to Collect History
History is a great teacher but it is not enough to have the words. We build museums with artifacts of history so that we can learn from the past. We collect artifacts of history so that we can preserve the past. We study these artifacts to understand “What were they thinking” because it is important to the context of history.
Whether it is for curiosity, pride, interest in the subject, or the thrill of the chase, collecting historical artifacts is not only educational but also vital to ensure we do not forget the history regardless of whether it is good or bad.
If your passion is classic commemoratives, make sure you include a Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar in your collection.
If your passion is Confederate currency, some were well made and will make for an interesting collection.
If your passion is military medals and awards of the Civil War or of the Confederacy, make sure you find as many as possible. Document what your find. Research their provenance. Understand what they mean because it is important that history is remembered.
Whatever you collect, share it with the rest of us because we all need to learn about history so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.
All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Ancient Romans used to measure time by the position of the stars. One of the stars they observed was Sirius because it was the brightest star in the sky. During their observations, they found that starting about 20 days prior to its apex and 20 days that follow, the temperatures would be its hottest. This coincidence suggested to that Sirius was the cause of the heat and humidity.
Sirius is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (big dog). Because ancient Romans thought Sirius contributed to the heat and humidity, this period would be called the Dog Days.
Astrologically, the Dog Days begins on July 3 and runs through August 11.
Today’s society has attached many meanings to the Dog Days of Summer. Usually, it is associated with the time following July 4 through whenever school starts. In baseball, it is the jockeying for position to get ready for the pennant races. Football begins training camps, politicians warm up to run for office (sometimes a year early), and the temperatures are rising with the east getting too wet and the west not getting wet enough.
On the numismatic calendar, the Dog Days begin after the World’s Fair of Money and leads up to the start of school. Although this period is changing as some school districts are now starting earlier in an attempt to hedge against the potential for weather-related closings during the winter months.
With Congress on vacation, it also means that any numismatic-related legislation will remain in committee until they return.
Leading into the fall season, some mints will release some new coins, but these will be non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins. Very few significant releases will be made in the next few weeks leaving some of us to clean off the top of our desks and organize the collection (guilty as charged).
But your intrepid numismatic blogger is here ready to comment on whatever comes to mind… or a topic you suggest. I do take requests!
Going through my email, I found a note from Numismatic Guarantee Corporation announcing a new label for the 10-coin 225th Anniversary Enhanced Uncirculated Coin Set. The label has the image of “Ye Olde Mint,” the mid-19th century picture of the original U.S. Mint building in Philadelphia.
NGC slab featuring the U.S. Mint 225th Anniversary Label
Funny thing is that the outrage of putting a building that has been long demolished on the label of a slab is non-existent.
I wonder why?
I am not begrudging NGC for creating new labels for their products or anybody buying them. But the argument about the subject matter of one label versus another shows the hypocrisy by some of the people in this hobby.
When NGC announced that reality television star Rick Harrison would be featured on an NGC label, the umbrage by some was deafening. Notes that I received about the Harrison numismentos were so profane that I had to force a few people to apologize under the threat that I would publish their uncensored words and email addresses!
Don’t I own slabs?
Yes, I own coins entombed in slabs. I own a modest registry set and higher priced coins (e.g., 1955 DDO) that I had encapsulated to protect my family if something should happen to me. The number of slabbed coins I own does not fit into two 20-slab cases. The vast majority of my collection is not slabbed.
It is not a secret that I am not a fan of slabs. To me, there is something antiseptic about a coin entombed in a slab.
It is also not a secret that I am not a fan of these special labels. They are a gimmick to make you buy the slab and not the coin.
I am not going to argue with anyone who likes the labels, slabs or anything I am against. No! If this is what drives you to collect, then have fun. I welcome those who enter the hobby to collect whatever they like.
HOWEVER, I am not a fan of inconsistent arguments. If you are in favor of these labels, then you have to take what you like with what you perceive as the bad. If you want NGC, Professional Coin Grading Service or any other grading service to use special labels, then you have to accept all of the labels these companies produce regardless of the subject.
I am not saying you have to add one to your collection. You can ignore the ones you do not like. But if you are in favor of the grading services creating the labels you like, then you have to accept the ones you do not like, too.
But don’t you own signed slabs?
Yes, I do. This is why I am not criticizing those who buy these items. It is not the label or autograph that bothers me. It is the hypocricy of the argument about who could or should autograph slab labels.
As an aside, NGC produced a label autographed by former U.S. Mint Director Edmund Moy. The same person who was in charge of the U.S. Mint when they were caught flat-footed when there was run on American Eagle coins, especially the silver coins. This caused the U.S. Mint to have to break the American Silver Eagle Proof series in 2009 because of his incompetent leadership.
If you are going to get upset that a reality television star was added to a label, I am going to call having a label that features an incompetent politician even worse for the hobby.
Of course, this does not include my feelings about the “Early Releases” and “First Strike” designations. These bogus designations are far worse for the hobby than who is featured on the label.
Slab image courtesy of NGC
Ribbon cutting at the opening of the 2017 ANA World’s Fair of Money.
(L-R) Acting Director of the U.S. Mint Dave Motl, Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Len Olijar, (HELP I FORGOT HIS NAME), ANA President-Elect Gary Adkins, current ANA President Jeff Garrett
Since the World’s Fair of Money has opened let me get into my annual rant:
Why isn’t the show broadcast for those of us who cannot attend?
Once again, work obligations have prevented me from traveling to attend the World’s Fair of Money. Unfortunately, it has been a few years since I was able to attend. I want to go. I want to be there. But since I am not a dealer, Real Life becomes a deterrent.
Since the American Numismatic Association Technology Committee was formed and I was asked to be a member, I have been calling for some way to bring parts of the show to the public that cannot attend.
It is not like there is a big technological barrier anymore!
Twitter has the capability to allow for streaming but I have been told that there are some technical issues that make streaming for a long time a little difficult. Minimally, a standard smartphone could be used to stream videos.
Instagram videos have a one-minute time limit that could also be used those quick hit items.
YouTube has a streaming service but there is a question about accessibility. Google makes YouTube unlimited streaming available through YouTube Red service, their paid service. There is a way to add shorter streaming content on YouTube but it is not as easy.
But if you want easy, there is always Facebook!
The easiest way to stream video on Facebook is the open the Facebook app on your favorite smart phone, go to your timeline, the press the button that says “Live” where it allows you to send an update. The app lets you adjust the camera before you press the button to go live!
Someone does not have to hold a camera. There are adapters for any smart phone that will allow one to attach the camera to a tripod.
For a little more money, a used 720p high definition camera could be purchased, interfaced with a computer, and the video streamed to both Facebook and Twitter. There is switcher-like software that will take the audio and video from the camera and broadcast it using both sites.
Someone could have broadcast the opening ceremonies.
There could be on the bourse floor interviews including at the Whitman booth where famous numismatic authors will be there for autographs.
The U.S. Mint has introduced the 225th Anniversary Enhanced Uncirculated Set. A camera could be brought to their booth to show the set.
Every Money Talks presentation can be live streamed.
Award ceremonies could also be live streamed!
For those of us who cannot attend, having access to video of the show may not be as good as being there but is a darn good substitute.
And the best thing about these videos is that they can live on forever! The broadcasts on Facebook and Twitter will remain on those sites for those who cannot watch live. The videos can be captured and posted on YouTube.
Basically, it is requesting that the ANA being accessible to everyone. It is the ANA being the numismatic resource.
Videos can be sponsored.
[FADE FROM BLACK] “We are here on the bourse floor with Joe Dealer to talk about the show.” But what you did not see is that Joe Dealer donated money to the ANA for that access. Remember, the ANA is a not for profit organization and needs the funds to do this.
Larger corporate sponsors could participate.
It is not like some of them are video streaming virgins. Both Heritage and Stacks-Bowers will be live streaming their auctions at the show. This is not the first time either company has provided these types of auctions.
Live streaming can benefit everyone. The ability to introduce more people to the hobby is invaluable. You can promote the ANA, dealers, and the hobby. If you like what you see, come join us. The more people who become interested can become members.
A while ago, I received the following question from a reader:
Why do coins that were made NOT for circulation, like Silver Eagles, Commemoratives Productions, etc have any value other than their face value? I do not see the value of collecting something that was never meant for circulation.
Starting with the first question, the face value of any coin is assigned by the legal authority that produces the coin. In the United States, the face value of any coin is determined by Congress. In other countries, the central bank or the treasury ministry makes the determination.
2013 American Eagle West Point Two-Coin Silver Set with reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated coins.
The American Silver Eagle Program was the result of the Reagan Administration wanting to sell the silver that was part of the Defense National Stockpile to balance the budget. Originally, the plan was to auction the bullion. After intense lobbying by the mining industry warning that such an auction would damage their industry, the concept was changed to selling the silver as coinage.
Changing the sales to coinage allowed for market diversification. Rather than a few people attempting to corner the market at an auction, selling coins on the open market allows more people to have access to the silver as an investment vehicle.
As codified in Title II of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Commemorative Coin Act (Public Law 99-61, 99 Stat. 113), the “Liberty Coin Act” defines the program as we know it today including the phrase “The coins issued under this title shall be legal tender as provided in section 5103 of title 31, United States Code.”
As a legal tender item, the coin’s basic value has the backing of the full faith and credit of the United States government. Regardless of what happens in politics and world events, the coin will be worth at least its face value. Being minted by the U.S. Mint is a guarantee of quality that is recognized around the world making worth its weight in silver plus a numismatic premium.
Coins are perceived by the market as being more desirable than medals. Medals have no monetary value except as an art object. When it comes to investments, they do not hold a value similar to that of a legal tender coin. This is because medals are not guaranteed by the United States government, a key factor in determining its aftermarket value.
Once the coin has been sold by the U.S. Mint, its value is determined by various market forces. For more on how coins are priced, see my two-part explanation: Part I and Part II.
Why do American Silver Eagles have a One Dollar face value? Because the law (31 U.S.C. Sect. 5112(e)(4)) sets this as a requirement.
Why are the coins worth more than their face value? Because the law (31 U.S.C. Sect. 5112(f)(1)) says that “The Secretary shall sell the coins minted under subsection (e) to the public at a price equal to the market value of the bullion at the time of sale, plus the cost of minting, marketing, and distributing such coins (including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and promotional and overhead expenses).”
Can you spend the American Silver Eagle as any other legal tender coin? In the United States, you can use any legal tender coin in commerce at its face value. This means that if you can find someone to accept an American Silver Eagle, it is worth one dollar in commerce. However, it would be foolish to trade one-ounce of silver for one dollar of goods and services.
Commemorative programs are different in that the authorizing laws add a surcharge to the price of the coin to raise money for some organization. Using the 2017 Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coin Program (Public Law 114-30) as an example, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) introduced a bill (H.R. 893 in the 114th Congress) to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Boys Town. As with all other commemorative bills, the bill specified the number, type, composition, and denomination of each coin.
For example, the law says that the U.S. Mint will issue no more than 50,000 $5 gold coins that weighs 8.359 grams, have a diameter of 0.850 inches, and contains 90-percent gold. The law also has design requirements including being “emblematic of the 100 years of Boys Town.” The sale price of the coin will have “a price equal to the sum of” “the face value of the coins; and, the cost of designing and issuing the coins (including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses, marketing, and shipping).”
The Boys Town Centennial Commemorative coin features Fr. Edward Flanagan, founder of Boys Town
As with other commemorative, the coins will include a surcharge. Each gold coin will include a $35 surcharge, $10 for a silver dollar, and $5 for each clad half-dollar coin. When the program is over, the surcharges “shall be paid to Boys Town to carry out Boys Town’s cause of caring for and assisting children and families in underserved communities across America.”
The 2017 Boys Town Centennial Uncirculated $5 Gold Commemorative Coin is selling for $400.45 and the proof coin is selling for $405.45 suggesting that the process of producing a proof coin costs the U.S. Mint $5 more than the uncirculated coin.
What goes into the price of the coin? After the face value of $5, there is a $35 surcharge added that will be paid to Boys Town, there is the cost of the metals used. Here is a workup of the cost of the gold planchet using current melt values:
||Metals Base Rate
|Total metal value
Even though the melt value of the coin is $304.79, there is a service charge the U.S. Mint has to pay the company that creates the planchets. Thus, before the labor, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses, and marketing is calculated into the price, the coin will cost $344.79 even though the legal tender face value of the coin is $5.
Taking it a step further, the average profit the U.S. Mint makes from gold commemorative coins is 8-percent (based on the 2015 Annual Report). If they are charging $400.45 for the uncirculated gold coin, the coin costs $368.41 to manufacture, $373.41 for the proof version.
Why collect these coins?
American Silver Eagle bullion coins were created for the investment market even though the authorizing law saw the benefit of allowing the U.S. Mint to sell a collector version. All of the Eagle coins are sold for investment or because people want to collect them for their own reasons. Some collect the collector version as an investment.
Commemorative coins are collected for their design or the buyer’s affinity for the subject and to support the cause which is being sponsored by the sale of the coin. Some collect commemorative coins like others collect series of coins.
Even though modern commemorative coins are sold for more than their face value, that does not mean they are not worth collecting. After all, can you buy a Morgan Dollar, Peace Dollar, Walking Liberty Half-Dollar, or a Buffalo Nickel for its face value?
Collecting bullion, commemorative, and other non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins is a matter of choice. If you choose to collect these coins, know that they will be worth more than their face value. And while they are legal tender coins, they are not meant for circulation. They are collectibles.
If you like these collectibles, enjoy your collection. Along with coins produced for circulation, I own American Silver Eagle coins, commemoratives, and other NCLT because I like them.
Some of the NCLT coins in my collection
2013 American Eagle West Point Two-Coin Silver Set with reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated coins.
2015 March of Dimes Commemorative Proof set
2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative proof dollar graded by PCGS PR70
2012 Star-Spangled Banner Silver Commemorative Obverse depicts Lady Liberty waving the 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner flag with Fort McHenry in the background. Designed by Joel Iskowitz and engraved by Phebe Hemphill.
1936 Long Island Tercentenary Half Dollar
Reverse of the 2016 Chinese Silver Panda coin
2006 Canada silver $5 Breast Cancer Commemorative Coin
2007 Somalia Motorcycle Coins
2010 Somalia Sports Cars
Boys Town commemorative coin image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.