Weekly World Numismatic News for August 2, 2020

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Half Dollar Clad Coin

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Half Dollar Clad Coin (Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint)

Tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs passed from one generation to another. Traditions are not laws or rules.

People invested in a tradition are afraid to change. It has always been that way and was successful, then why change?

At some point, change is necessary, or the tradition will stifle growth. Two areas where tradition is holding back activities are baseball and numismatics.

Hardcore baseball fans are the most traditional fans. They are the people who can tell you who was on deck when Bobby Thompson hit “the shot heard around the world,”† the nuance of the double switch, or why on-base percentage is a better statistic than batting average.

While trying to have a season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, baseball had to look tradition in the face and calmly walk in another direction. Aside from adding the designated hitter (DH) in the National League was placing a runner on second base when the games go into extra innings. The purpose is to shorten games, especially those that go to extra innings.

We are used to the DH. When games are played in an American League Park, all teams use the DH. But putting the runner on second base who did not get a hit to be there is very different.

But the move seems to be working. In the first week of the new season, four games went to extra innings, and all of the games ended in the 10th inning. It is an unorthodox move for a sport bound in tradition.

Numismatics is the same in many respects. The U.S. Mint strikes real coins, not trinkets. To be a real collector, you have to collect all of the best stuff, including the highest grade versions of the most popular coins. Finally, coins have to be a good value.

A “real coin” is money that an issuing authority legally monetizes for a market. The market may be for collecting purposes, but the issuer has assigned a face value. Even though the U.S. Mint has issued commemorative coins that are not intended to circulate, the traditionalists have determined the new colorized coin is something less than a real coin.

Traditionalists may not want to hear that a general collector community has reacted favorably to the colorized Naismith Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins. On message boards where collectors discuss their collections, they are now beginning to realize that the U.S. Mint has issued other sports-related commemorative coins. In a recent discussion, some started to ask about the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins.

These collectors are not interested in Morgan Dollars, Standing Liberty Quarters, or Buffalo Nickels. They want the coins to add to their sports collections. A fan of Dr. J, Julius Erving, said that he plans to buy the colored and non-colored coins for his collection.

When it comes to numismatics, what defines a good value? How does one tell a person who may have inherited coins why a dealer would buy a coin for $20 but sell it for $45 or $50?

This past week, Michael Taylor, a financial writer for mysanantoinio.com, wrote the article, “Coin collecting a fine hobby, but not a good investment.” His fundamental question was, why is the spread between the bid and ask prices of coins so vast.

Briefly, Taylor acquired coins from his elderly father and tried to figure out their value. His mother had taken the small hoard to a coin shop and was offered about half of their retail value. As part of Taylor’s investigation, he used the Red Book (A Guide Book of United States Coins) and the Blue Book (Handbook of United States Coins) to understand pricing.

Taylor concluded that coins were not a good investment based on his analysis of the pricing differences found in both books.

Taylor is a published financial professional with many years of understanding markets. Most markets are very understandable that professionals who predict markets can do so with reasonable certainty. They can mitigate risks for wrong predictions and still make a good living.

Based on analyzing the Red and Blue books, how does one do that in the coin market? The problem is that there is so much more to the market that these books do not cover. A lot is based on tradition, unwritten lore, and irresponsible perceptions.

The general public has a better understanding of the automobile market than they do of the numismatic markets.

If you want to fix the hobby, it is time to look at these traditions, lore, and perceptions and act responsibly. Otherwise, the collectors may only be one-time coin buyers, and the hobby will continue to stagnate.

And now the news…

 July 26, 2020
CINCINNATI, Ohio — It's been more than a month since the Federal Reserve declared a coin shortage in the U.S. Businesses like banks, grocery stores and laundromats have had to change their practices to keep change on hand, but one private mint based in Cincinnati is in a unique position to cash in.
  → Read more at spectrumnews1.com

 July 28, 2020
The U.S. Mint has reduced the volume of gold and silver coins it’s distributing to authorized purchasers as the coronavirus pandemic slows production, a document seen by Bloomberg shows.  → Read more at bloomberg.com

 July 29, 2020
Coins don’t work well as investments, but they are OK as collectibles, according to columnist Michael Taylor.  → Read more at mysanantonio.com

 July 30, 2020
South Carolina, introduced in 2000, was the eighth state quarter brought into circulation. Growing up in San Diego in the early 2000s, Kelsey Fehlberg proudly displayed her state quarters in a map with inserts for each coin.  → Read more at nytimes.com

 August 1, 2020
The US Mint is slowing the production of gold and silver coins and limiting supply to authorized distributors – a sign that the pandemic is hampering the supply of physical money in the US.  → Read more at markets.businessinsider.com

 August 1, 2020
The price of gold hit record highs earlier in the week, Friday morning the price was at about $1.957 per ounce. From gold rings, necklaces and bracelets, people have been bringing in their jewelry to Emerald Coast Coins in Pensacola wit hopes of getting some cash and they're walking out with a lot more than expected.  → Read more at weartv.com

 August 1, 2020
The round £1 coin was demonetised at midnight on 15 October 2017 About 122m round £1 coins have not been returned to the Royal Mint, nearly three years after they stopped being legal tender.  → Read more at bbc.com
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† For the non-baseball die-hards, the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was a game-winning home run by New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca at the Polo Grounds in New York City on October 3, 1951, to win the National League pennant. You might have heard the famous call by Giants Broadcaster Russ Hodges. Since there was one out when Thompson was at-bat, the next batter would have been a Giants rookie named Willie Mays.

Weekly World Numismatic News for July 12, 2020

2020 Elton John Uncirculated Coin

Reverse of the 2020 Elton John Uncirculated Coin (Courtesy of the Royal Mint)

This past week, the Royal Mint announced the next coin release in their Music Legends series to honor Sir Elton John. He is an international legend coming out of the British music scene who made his mark with talent and flamboyance. His long-time partnership with Bernie Taupin has entertained us since the 1960s.

Coins are available from the Royal Mint in gold, silver, and uncirculated. Uncirculated coins come in a special folder honoring Elton John.

There will be those that will complain that these coins hurt the hobby. To borrow a term from our British friends: RUBBISH! If these coins bring people into the hobby, then they are great.

What is bad for the hobby is buying surplus coins from the U.S. Mint and calling it a hoard! For years, the U.S. Mint has been selling off its excess inventory or melting precious metals. This time, someone bought them, sent them to be slabbed, and would jack up the prices under the guise of something special. When the buyer goes to sell them and finds out that they are not worth what they paid, that will have people running away from the hobby. It is similar to the overpriced crap sold on television during the 50 State Quarters program.

Even GovMint.com is getting into the junk selling hype. They have been on satellite radio hawking the emergency production bullion coins struck at Philadelphia after COVID-19 temporarily closed the West Point Mint. Their ad for “P-Mint designated” coins touts them as something special. They are not unique or rare, as the commercial insinuates. Bullion coins are struck at Philadelphia. The difference is that there was a way to determine which mint struck these coins.

What is more damaging to the hobby, selling over-priced bullion or common leftover coins or non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins with themes that some old-timers do not seem to like?

Here, let me make some of you upset. I visited the website for the Royal Mint and found something that I will add to my collection:

Queen Coin Cover

Queen Coin Cover is created in cooperation with the Royal Mint and Royal Mail (Image courtesy of the Royal Mint).

If that makes you upset, then you need to rethink your attitude on the hobby!

And now the news…

 July 2, 2020
A flag flies in front of the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News  → Read more at deseret.com

 July 6, 2020
Connor Shumate holding his metal detector and treasure. Photo: Malcolm Andrews. Rising Brownsville second grader Connor Shumate may have found pirate treasure right in his own yard!  → Read more at crozetgazette.com

 July 7, 2020
Treasure hunters hit the jackpot as they discover Roman coins at racecourse  → Read more at gazette-news.co.uk

 July 8, 2020
Royal Mint The coin depicts Sir Elton John's trademark glasses as musical notes Rock legend Elton John is to be commemorated on a £1,000 gold coin celebrating his musical legacy.  → Read more at bbc.com

 July 8, 2020
The design for the new gold $1 Elizabeth Peratrovich coin was on display during the Elizabeth Peratrovich Day celebration at the Tlingit and Haida Community Council on Feb. 16, 2020.  → Read more at juneauempire.com

 July 10, 2020
CRANSTON — Just weeks after being granted compassionate release from federal prison, the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest counterfeiter,” Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio, died Monday at age 78. He was in hospice care after struggling with dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension and other ailments.  → Read more at providencejournal.com

 July 10, 2020
In the summer of 2020, we received multiple inquiries from readers about the accuracy of news reports and social media posts that referred to an ongoing shortage of coins across the United States.  → Read more at snopes.com
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James Earle Fraser and A Controversial Statue

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall entrance

Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. (Wikipedia)

Last week, the American Museum of Natural History requested that New York City remove the Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt at its front door. James Earle Fraser designed the statue.

Since Roosevelt’s death, Fraser was asked to design three different statues honoring the 26th President with themes picked by the sponsors. The theme was chosen for this statue by the Roosevelt Memorial Association. The statue would honor Roosevelt and the indigenous people in the Badlands of South Dakota and the Africans he met during his post-presidency safari. They were meant to be allegorical figures, not real people.

Theodore Roosevelt was a fascinating personality. TR was fond of the Badlands area, the area of the Dakota territory around the Little Missouri River. In his autobiography, Roosevelt admitted that he used his trips to the Badlands as an escape. The trips started after the death of his first wife, Alice, who died within days of giving birth to their only child.

Roosevelt stopped talking about Alice after her death. Until he wrote his autobiography, the last statement Roosevelt made about Alice was in his diary, where he wrote, “The light has gone out of my life.” Some scholars believe that Roosevelt’s trips to the Badlands were his attempt to combat depression or post-traumatic stress following Alice’s death.

Following his presidency, Roosevelt went on a safari in Africa and a trip through Europe. In Africa, Roosevelt’s safari was a research project sponsored by Andrew Carnegie that would bring back specimens for the Smithsonian Institue and the American Museum of Natural History.

His guide through Africa was a British national RJ Cunninghame. Aside from his knowledge of the region, Cunninghame knew many natives who can lead them around the land. In each of the countries, the local guides were natives.

In his autobiography, Roosevelt would credit the native people for helping on his trips. It was clear that Theodore Roosevelt would not have been associated with these people in other areas of his life. Still, his writing demonstrated a lot of respect for their guidance.

James Earle Fraser

James Earle Fraser, ca. 1920 (Wikipedia)

Fraser was consulted many times by the Roosevelt Memorial Association. It was due to his being an accomplice to Roosevelt’s “pet crime,” the redesign of the nation’s coinage. Fraser, who was an assistant to Augustus Saint-Gaudens, understood the imagery the President wanted that became the inspiration for the Buffalo Nickel.

Frasier’s style was called Beaux-Arts, which relied on neoclassical-like images. Frasier was the designer of the Buffalo Nickel and other commemorative coins. Frasier’s style was called Beaux-Arts, which relied on neoclassical-like images. Frasier took Beaux-Arts to a new level by studying his subjects’ history and incorporating them into the imagery.

All of Frasier’s work has many elements that have to be studied to be appreciated. Numismatists can see his attention to detail by studying a Type 1 Buffalo Nickel with a loupe. The detail gives the coin a lot of character that makes it an appealing collectible. When the U.S. Mint tried to recreate the design for the 2001 commemorative coin, collectors were not satisfied with the flatter image.

The 24-karat Gold Buffalo coin is a good representation of Frasier’s Type 1 Buffalo Nickel design. John Mercanti’s execution of Fraser’s design is phenomenal.

Many of the statues in tribute to the 26th President show Roosevelt on a horse. Fraser was consulted about two other Roosevelt memorial statues. The statue Fraser proposed that is now on Roosevelt Island in New York’s East River was similar in design to the Equestrian Statue at the Museum of Natural History. The other was a statue to be part of the Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River near Georgetown. It depicted Roosevelt on a horse without the guides. Fraser died before funding for the statue was realized.

Fraser’s image for the statue was clear. It was the two indigenous people working to support Roosevelt’s adventures. These are not racist images, even when it has been badly misinterpreted by some media who call the person to Roosevelt’s left an African-American.

Unfortunately, the current society has lost the ability to reason beyond the surface at allegorical symbols that are supposed to honor rather than demean. It takes a higher sense of forethought to understand what is being depicted. A value that is lacking today. Understanding the history of the man and the imagery offered by Fraser something to be admired. It is a work of art that needs to be preserved and not run over by a politically correct freight train.

Recognizing History on United States Currency

Mockup of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman

Five years ago, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew announced that the Treasury was redesigning the $10 Federal Reserve Note and that the portrait was to feature a woman. Treasury planned to release the new note in 2020 to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women suffrage.

The Treasury Department said that the $10 note was next on its schedule to update the currency to add Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD). The ACD Steering Committee, an inter-agency group that monitors several factors that go into the maintenance of U.S. currency, suggested the change. The committee also wanted to add features that will help increase accessibility for the visually impaired as part of the court-mandated Meaningful Access Program. Treasury reports that the new note “will include a tactile feature that increases accessibility for the visually impaired.”

Others had recommended replacing the portrait of President Andrew Jackson on the $20 note with a woman. Aside from 20 being a significant number in this celebration, the groups targeted Jackson because of his history of wanton disregard for life and liberty. During the War of 1812, Jackson led U.S. Army troops against native tribes working with the British against the United States to regain the lands taken following the colonies’ independence. History records that Jackson’s troops were brutal against the native tribes on his orders, killing them rather than taking prisoners.

After beating back the British in the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson declared martial law in New Orleans and used his troops to enforce martial law. Jackson ordered his troops to arrest a local magistrate because he sided with a newspaper reporter who wrote negatively about Jackson’s rule. Jackson also had members of the local militia who sided with the British executed without trial.

As president, Jackson’s lobbied Congress passed the Indian Removal Act because he wanted the Native American tribes to relocate to the western side of the Mississippi River. Jackson disregarded the letter of the law and ratified treaties to uproot tribes and march them away. It was called “Trail of Tears.” It forced the relocation of Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations from their ancestral homelands in the southeast to an area west of the Mississippi River. It is considered the most violent and brutal act against the native tribes in United States history.

To have Jackson’sJackson’s portrait on the United States currency is also a bit ironic. Jackson was against the concept of a central bank and refused to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. He vetoed the bill to continue its charter. After winning the election in 1833, Jackson withdrew all of the country’s funds from the bank, limiting its ability to conduct business. He gave power to local banks to lend money and issued the Specie Circular, an executive order requiring government transactions in gold and silver coins (specie).

Although all of the men whose portraits appear on United States currency are very flawed people, Jackson is the worst.

Eventually, Secretary Lew sided with the activists and announced that Harriett Tubman would replace Jackson on the $20 Federal Reserve Note.

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

Mnuchin did not immediately interfere with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s efforts to redesign the $20 FRN. 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. Few people pay attention to the problem, and those that do find that the currency passes the iodine pen test.

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. During a subsequent cabinet meeting, the president said something to Mnuchin about the change. Mnuchin agreed to do something without raising concerns.

Rather than stopping the process, Mnuchin diverted funds from the development of the proposed change in portrait. He was able to hide the change from the public because of the nature of the Treasury’s budgetary process.

In response to news reports, BEP Director Len Olijar issued the following statement via the bureau’s website saying that “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.

Without interference from the current administration, Andrew Jackson, whose policies and actions led to the murder of many Native Americans, would have been replaced by Harriett Tubman. An honor to someone who saved lives and a tribute to 100 years of Women’s Suffrage.

World’s Fair of Money “Suspended,” Should ANA leadership be, too?

The ANA announced today that the 2020 World’s Fair of Money scheduled for August in Pittsburgh has been “Suspended.” The announcement recognized that the “Current State of Pennsylvania guidelines restrict indoor gatherings to a maximum of 250 people at any one time.”

Of course, I noted that almost three weeks ago, but who listens to me.

By suspension, this means that the ANA will scurry around and try to do something. Like the “something” that is planned for the virtual Summar Seminar, it is so much less than what it could be.

For years, I have been pushing for the broadcasting of the events from the show. I have been saying that the use of video can be a great recruiting tool. A few have even suggested doing a virtual bourse. Although I have not advocated one, I think I have an idea as to how to implement this.

All that is needed is the hardware and services to do this.

All that the ANA needed is for the current president to continue the efforts of the past. But that would require a president with an open mind who thought better of the ANA and its members.

The actions taken by the ANA president and Board of Governors show that they are not leaders. Leaders are proactive in the organization’s best interest. If you are reactive, then you are not a leader. Or as it was once said, you are leading from behind.

I wish the ANA was more proactive with the modern needs of a collecting public. As it is said, elections have their consequences. Rather than having the leadership the ANA needs (with all due respect to Joseph de Maistre), the association has the leadership it deserves.

Weekly World Numismatic News for May 31, 2020

Watching the news has been an experience. As a news junkie, I have found myself turning away from all news outlets to maintain a little sanity.

In television news terms, the “A Block” is the news at the beginning of the broadcast until the first commercial. It is where the most important stories are broadcast. Typically, a major derailment of a freight train in Northern Virginia would be an A Block story. On Friday, the 30-second mention was the lead-in to the weather report at 18 minutes after the hour.

The news of the week affects everything, including numismatics. Although the events in Minneapolis, Louisville, and Brunswick, Georgia, have their analogies to problems in the numismatic community, that will be left to another commentary. This week, I want to concentrate on the coronavirus:

  • The pandemic is real and will be around for a while. It is not a government conspiracy. It is not overblown. And stop comparing the numbers of deaths to the flu. The flu kills 56,000 people annually, a 12-month statistic. COVID-19 has killed 104,217 (as of this writing) since FEBRUARY!
  • COVID-19 does not care who you are, your political affiliation, or what you worship. You can be infected. Once infected, you can spread the virus even if you show no symptoms of the disease. History shows us this is possible. Look up the biography of Mary Mallon, better known as “Typhoid Mary.”
  • The more scientists research the disease, the more they realize a lot is unknown. Last week, a preliminary report from a peer-reviewed medical journal revealed that people infected with COVID-19 are showing damage in their lungs. The study included people who did not show symptoms of the disease.
  • Wearing a mask is not infringing on your rights and not a sign of tyranny. It is to protect everyone in the name of public health in the same manner that you are required to wear shirts and shoes when going to a restaurant. Your decision to not wear a mask infringes on my rights not to get infected since the masks are to prevent you from spreading potentially infected droplets from your lungs. If you want to make a statement, get a personalized mask with your message. Wear a t-shirt with your message. But wear the damned mask!
  • And stay six-feet away from me. I would rather be six-feet away from you than six-feet underground!

Although Florida is open and the governor is lifting many restrictions, the Florida United Numismatists canceled the Summer FUN show.

Even though the ANA announced that they continue to plan to hold the World’s Fair of Money in August, sources report that Pittsburgh may not be fully open by then. Even if Pittsburgh is allowed to be in the “Green Phase,” according to the Pennsylvania governor’s plan, “Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited.”

Also, “All businesses must follow CDC and DOH guidance for social distancing and cleaning” includes dealers at their tables. Some dealers need a lesson in cleanliness and upgrading their people skills making this a barrier to holding the World’s Fair of Money.

Even if the ANA tries to hold the World’s Fair of Money, how many will attend? Are you going to travel in a closed metal tube to a show required to limit attendance? How many ANA members over 60 will attend? How many ANA members are over 60? I am 60 and 4½ hours away by car with friends in Pittsburgh that I would love to visit. I am considering not going under today’s circumstances.

Let’s do the right thing and cancel the World’s Fair of Money before going further embarrasses the organization.

Finally:

WEAR YOUR MASK!
KEEP YOUR SOCIALLY SAFE DISTANCE!
BE SAFE AND HEALTHY!

And now the news…

 May 25, 2020
MLB Legend Walter "Big Train" Johnson recreated a famous myth associated with George Washington  → Read more at medium.com

 May 26, 2020
Australians have been hoarding banknotes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Australians weren't just stockpiling toilet paper during the COVID-19 crisis – they have also been hoarding crisp new banknotes.  → Read more at bellingencourier.com.au

 May 30, 2020
AN NHS worker was left stunned after he discovered a 670-year-old coin which was made shortly after the Black Death in a farmer’s muddy field. Amateur metal detectorist David Lowe, 55, stumbled across the ‘weirdly relevant’ find among a pile of rubbish while searching land near Rothbury, Northumberland.  → Read more at metro.news
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 PCGS & Basketball HOF coins (May 31, 2020)
 2020 SUMMER FUN SHOW CANCELLED (May 26, 2020)

 

With the ANA, History Ain’t Changed

Steve Ellsworth

ANA President Steve Ellsworth (Image courtesy of the ANA.)

After I wrote yesterday’s post criticizing the ANA President and Board of Governors for inaction during the pandemic, I received an email asking for a comment about the President’s column in June’s The Numismatist.

Admittedly, I had not downloaded the June issue as I am still reading stories from May. After downloading the issue, I turned to page 9 to read the message. To my surprise, I found this passage:

First, ANA Governor Rob Oberth promises to transform our IT and social-outreach programs in a significant way. Our previous progress has been too slow for far too many years. This is not the time for armchair quarterbacks. The days of those who think their role is to sit on the sidelines and give opinions and “sharp shoot” others is over. Rob pledges to engage those naysayers to lead, follow or get out of the way. He is uniquely qualified to gather the necessary support to push the programs through and expedite their success.

OPEN MESSAGE TO ROB OBERTH: Been there. Done that. Got the award to prove it.

I was once an armchair quarterback. Then I was invited to be part of the solution. After six years, I learned more about the ANA’s intricacies than someone with one-year on the Board of Governors could fathom. I know the history, which is very important because it looks like we are going backward. Remember, George Santayana once opined that if you do not learn from history, then you are destined to repeat it.

It is no secret that I am not a fan of Steve Ellsworth. Aside from his previous actions with me, other things bother me about Steve.

  1. If you go back to Steve’s first run for the Board of Governors about eight years ago, his candidate statements mention his interest in certain aspects of history and the “War of Northern Aggression.” Sorry folks. I have a difficult time embracing this type of attitude about the side the LOST a war only to glorify in later years. And the last I looked, it was the Confederacy that started the shooting at Fort Sumter. Time to get over it and move on.
  2. In Steve’s current tome, he says, “Not since our Civil War 160 years ago have we dealt with such adversity.” A statement like this is from someone who is stuck in a historical time warp. All we have to do is look at the effects on numismatics to debunk that view of history. The desire to create the Peace Dollar, the ending of gold coinage in 1933, the necessity to produce steel cents, and remove copper from nickels are just a few examples of adapting to more difficult times.

I am not trying to minimize the worldwide effect of this pandemic. My business is closed as being “nonessential,” according to the government. My livelihood is on the line. As someone very close to being of Medicare age, this is not the time to start over. However, the U.S. Mint continues to strike coins. It was considered a market catastrophe when the West Point Mint closed for a short period.

Compassion and understanding is one thing. Leadership and being levelheaded is another. Skipping over World War I, Great Depression, World War II, and 9/11 dismisses other lessons from history. Remember the warning from George Santayana.

Although Steve has not said it in so many words, his actions prove that I will not be on his Christmas card list.

But that is not what bothers me. What bothers me is that after six years of helping with the ANA’s technology, bringing it up from the virtual stone age, and working to prevent the ANA from making a multi-million dollar mistake, Steve will not ask me to help on behalf of the ANA.

I came out against him in the election. Big deal! This type of thing happens all of the time, and Steve should know better. He once lived in the shadows of Washington, DC. Opponents work with each other after the elections are over.

I did not respond in his timeframe for input to his strategic plan. Well, Steve forgot that exercise, too. I have not seen anything about this “strategic plan,” nor has anyone else I asked.

If Steve is such a student of history with a fixation on the Civil War, he would recognize how President Abraham Lincoln included those who were opposed to his presidency in his cabinet. It was a move that was uncommon in the 19th century as it is today. I recommend reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin if you want to learn more about a real profile in courage. I can lend my copy!

As a numismatic historical reference, Lincoln appointed primary rival Salmon P. Chase as the Secretary of the Treasury. Chase was considered more radical than Lincoln. The former Whigs did not trust the one-time Democrat after he joined the new Republican Party. As Treasury Secretary, Chase created the paper currency system, which led to his portrait appearing on the first $1 Demand Notes. Later, his portrait would appear on the $10,000 gold certificate.

I do not know Ron Oberth. However, I am sure the reason he has not contacted his immediate predecessor is that Steve said something. I know Steve will respond along the lines of, “I did not tell Ron not to talk to you.” I know, Steve. But you are the type that I would have to check for the knife if you pat me on the back. I am willing to bet that Steve said something like, “I don’t think he would have anything to offer.”

I do not expect to be contacted by the Ellsworth, Oberth, or anyone with the Board of Governors. Too bad, because I would have agreed to work with the ANA regardless of these opinions. I would do it for the benefit of the Association.

I expect to hear from Steve’s fans!

His fans are a fiery bunch. Anytime I criticize Steve, my inbox gets scorched with the same type of vitriol that makes the evening news after a presidential rally. However, the difference is that I can work for the benefit of the whole while I can disagree with someone.

Yes, Steve, I am going to be an armchair quarterback because you took me out of the game and cut me from the team. I know what the ANA needs and why it has not made progress. I will use that knowledge to make sure that membership dues benefit the members.

Sun Tzu did not write, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” That was from The Godfather Part II. But it was Machiavelli who wrote, “It is easier for the prince to make friends of those men who were contented under the former government, and are therefore his enemies, than of those who, being discontented with it, were favourable to him and encouraged him to seize it.”

Gotta love Santayana’s wisdom!

Double extra brownie points to anyone who can guess from which song the title of this post was adapted from!

WFM Planning Continues but will the ANA?

Earlier today, the American Numismatic Association published a press release announcing that planning is continuing for the World’s Fair of Money this August in Pittsburgh.

Whatever happens, will depend on the state of the pandemic and the restrictions set by Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh. It will also depend on how the David L. Lawrence Convention Center can help stage the show to keep all participants safe.

I have confidence that the ANA staff will do the best job they can so that the show can go on.

The leadership is challenging my confidence in the ANA.

It has been more than two months since the ANA Headquarters had to close because of the pandemic, but we have not heard from the ANA president.

On April 8, 2020, the ANA canceled Summer Seminar, but we have not heard from the ANA president.

On April 10, 2020, I explained that the ANA did not have online education because the ANA president killed the process.

On April 16, 2020, I provided several ideas as to how the ANA could provide stop-gap processes to expand online education in the short term.

But we have not heard from the ANA president.

As the country begins to reopen, the ANA has missed a golden opportunity to put itself online to attract an audience. Using a professional staff who could probably use a break from the mundane, the ANA could have created great content to attract people surfing the web looking for something different.

The ANA has many brilliant members with knowledge they can share with the public under the ANA’s banner. Others can generate content for the more serious collectors.

Since the ANA staff is already on the payroll, the costs would be whatever cost production and communications. All it would take is a commitment from the ANA to do this.

Where was the ANA’s commitment?

Where was the Board of Governors to push this?

Where was ANA President Steve Ellsworth?

Weekly World Numismatic News for May 3, 2020

This past week has been interesting for the precious metals markets. When the market seems like it will take off, prices modulate and lay flatter than a pancake. Predictions as what the markets will do are all over the place without a consensus answer from analysts.

It reminds me of the quote attributed to President Harry S. Truman, “Give me a one-handed Economist. All my economists say; ‘on one hand…,’ then ‘but on the other….’”

This past week, the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation (ACEF) weighed in with another problem in this market: COUNTERFEITING!

Counterfeiting is not a new problem. What makes the problem more pronounced is that with much of the country staying home and Internet usage increasing, the number of websites trying to scam people out of money has risen. ACEF has been monitoring the problem and has reported over 100 websites selling counterfeit coins and bullion to government enforcement agencies.

Many of these counterfeiters create slick websites. Not only is it easy to create professional-looking sites with modern tools, but it is easy to copy information from one website to another. Once the scammer has the information they want, it is easy to repurpose it to scam people. They also copy the text from legitimate websites, especially if English is not their first language. It is easier to steal the text than have to create their own.

  1. If the price is too good to be true, it is probably a scam. Check a site like kitco.com for the current Bid/Sell price. If the offer price is below the current Bid, be wary of the seller.
  2. Many scammers do not include real information about their location. Beware of the seller if they do not have a physical address. I know that there are exclusively online dealers that work from home but use post office boxes, so they do not publicize their home address. For those dealers, you will have to do more investigations. However, if the dealer is using a private postal box, you may want to avoid their offers. Private postal box services have fewer verification checks than the Post Office. Also, if something happens with a Post Office Box, you will have a stronger case when you complain to the Postal Inspection Service.
  3. Nearly everything said about addresses can apply to telephone numbers. Telephone numbers can be faked, rerouted, sent to a pay-as-you-go phone that some people call a “burner phone,” and so many more options. The problem also exists for toll-free telephone numbers but with an additional issue: when you call a toll-free telephone number, the owner of the number will get the phone number of the telephone you used to call. Since the recipient is paying for the call, they have the right to know where the call originated.

“But Scott,” you ask. “How do I figure out if this information is real?”

Let your favorite search engine be your friend.

Use your favorite search engine and type the address into the search bar. What information comes up for that address? Is the address a business? A private home? A private mailbox service?

Use an online map service that shows street views, like Google Maps. Search for the address found on the website. What can you learn from looking at the street view?

You can also enter the telephone number as a search term. In many cases, you will find one of the many “is it a scam” websites. These sites rely on users to enter data about their experiences with the telephone number. Click on a few to see what others have said about the telephone number in question.

With those essential tools, you should be able to avoid most scammers. Unfortunately, the professional scammers know their way around these issues. Then again, some of those scammers work out in the open. They run legally but use emotion, patriotic-sounding buzzwords, and extremist rhetoric to convince buyers to overpay for their products.

If you think you have been scammed or there is a question about a dealer, contact the ACEF (www.acefonline.org) and ask for assistance.

Finally, if you are in the market to buy precious metals, you should consider working with a member of the Accredited Precious Metals Dealer program (www.APMDdealers.org).

And now the news…

 April 27, 2020
Retail investors can’t seem to get enough of gold during the coronavirus crisis, and they are willing to pay staggering amounts to get their hands on it. Consumers who want to buy gold coins typically have to pay more than the per-ounce prices quoted on financial markets in London and New York.  → Read more at bloomberg.com

 April 29, 2020
Our guest column this week is a report on a study done by accessibility consulting and assistive technology firm BarrierBreak on the new currency coins launched by the Reserve Bank of India that claim to be accessible to people with visual impairments.  → Read more at newzhook.com

 April 29, 2020
Australia’s largest gold refinery has ramped up production of one kilogram bars to ease the supply squeeze in the U.S. that helped propel a surge in the premium for New York futures.  → Read more at finance.yahoo.com

 May 1, 2020
With central banks spraying unprecedented amounts of printed money at the global economic system, it’s little wonder the gold price soared by 18% in the six weeks following the stockmarket meltdown. All the extra money sloshing around means the chances that consumer price inflation will take off and erode the value of your cash have risen sharply.  → Read more at moneyweek.com
Coin Collectors News
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Follow up: FAQ on ANA’s Online Education #Fail

The feedback from my post, “Why the ANA does not have online education,” was interesting. About 10-percent of the readers (based on collected statistics) commented to me via email. That is a lot of feedback for one post! The comments ranged from a virtual headshake to anger for being “disrespectful” to the ANA president.

Unfortunately, nobody will go on the record with their comments. Please remember that I welcome all comments and will allow you to post any criticism you want. I accept and post all feedback, especially if you disagree with me. All I ask is that you keep it clean.

I want to answer two questions publically:

1. You’re the head of the IT Committee, why don’t you do something about the situation?

I am not longer the chairman of the IT committee, and I am no longer a member of the committee.

In late November 2019, ANA President Steve Ellsworth removed me from the committee after seven years of service.

When Ellsworth called to tell me, he did not give the exact reason. His statements as to why he made the decision were vague and ambiguous. Later that same day, I had to send him an email for clarification.

I assume that he did not want me around. After all, I came out against his candidacy before the end of the last election. But Ellsworth had a problem. How could he remove a recipient of the Glenn Smedley Award from the position that was the reason for the honor?

Unfortunately, I gave Ellsworth a way out. After he took office, Ellsworth changed a few things, including wanting status reports and a strategic plan. When he told me about the strategic plan, Ellsworth said that the ANA did not have one in many years and should come up with one.

At the same time, my business picked up. I was working 18 hour days, instead of my usual 14 hours, and had to hire more people. While my business was good, it did not provide enough time to devote to the ANA. I was hoping to catch up in late October, but that did not happen.

With the ANA not being a priority and my inability to deliver whatever Ellsworth wanted, I gave him the excuse to get rid of me.

Ellsworth’s move was a bit punitive, but it pales in comparison to what he hass done to the Exhibition Committee. That is a story for another time.

2. Can’t the ANA use something like Zoom to create classes?

YES!

They can also use software like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, WebEx, and Skype. Any video conferencing software and presentation slides that can be shared can create an instant class environment.

Google Hangouts and Skype are suitable for small classes. Although both are known to have bandwidth issues, keeping the courses between 7-10 people make these an inexpensive option.

Zoom is the current darling of the industry since they have a free tier. While Zoom has some excellent features, its security issues have shown they are going through significant growing pains. It is like watching your teenage son grow six inches in two months while his voice is changing. Eventually, he will evolve, and so will Zoom.

WebEx and GoToMeeting are the old stalwarts of the industry. Both have the advantage of being mature and familiar to many in the business world. The significant difference between these services and Zoom is that Zoom makes it easier to connect to a meeting.

Another option is YouTube Live. Classes can be live streamed with any number of people tuning in. Interacting with a YouTube Live stream is via comments only, similar to Facebook Live, but it is something that the ANA can use.

Here is an idea: How about a YouTube Live class for Numismatics 101? After the live class, leave the video online with an email link to allow future viewers to send questions.

There are better ways to hold online classes. Blackboard and similar software have better options. But to start, do something!

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