ANA: January is National Hobby Month

Did you know that January is National Hobby Month?

Letter from the ANA received in February.

After reading that, you are now saying, “But Scott, it’s February!”

Yes, but I did not know that January is National Hobby Month until I received a letter in the mail from the American Numismatic Association informing me of this fact.

The ANA, like other non-profit organizations, periodically send out what I like to call “beg letters” to members and those who have previously donated in order to solicit donations. There is nothing wrong with these letters. In fact, when I can I do respond to the organizations I regularly contribute to including the ANA.

What is unusual about this letter is that across the top, it tells me that January is National Hobby Month after being sent and received in February.

Since this came on a Friday and it was not opened until after hours, I have not attempted to contact the ANA to ask about this letter. However, if the ANA wants to tell me that January is National Hobby Month, maybe they should do it in January.

POLL: What do you think about Presidential Silver Medals

Silver Medal from the 2013 Theodore Roosevelt Coins and Chronicles Set

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Mint announced to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee that they would be producing silver medals based on the design of previous presidential medals. These medals would be struck using the same .999 silver planchets that are used for the American Silver Eagle coins.

The U.S. Mint thinks that the silver medals would be a popular seller since silver coinage sells well. Using existing designs, the U.S. Mint hopes to be able to save time and money by removing the process of creating new images and not having to undergo the onerous review process of the CCAC and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

I think the U.S. Mint is missing a point. Collecting commemorative silver and American Silver Eagle coins have the cache of being legal tender coins.

Although there are some very dedicated collectors of medals and other exonumia, the vast majority numismatics collectors are collecting legal tender coins.

If you look at the offering of some of the most prolific world mints like the Royal Canadian Mint, New Zealand Mint, and the Perth Mint, they offer a wide variety of offerings as legal tender coins. Countries like Niue and Somalia contract with other world mints to produce non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins to sell to the public.

Many of these programs are a success because they are legal tender coins. It is a mindset that the coins are worth more because they are legal tender. Even coins advertised as being legal tender from Native American Nations (tribes) gain attention.

People are drawn to the concept of collecting and/or investing in real money.

Medals are not money.

Although it sounds like a harsh assessment of the concept, the only downside that can be foreseen is if the U.S. Mint faces a planchet shortage like it did in 2009. Otherwise, I am not sure it will sell like I think the U.S. Mint is portraying.

For the first poll of 2018:
 

Are you interested in a Presidential Silver Medal Program






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Ryder nomination on hold

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

On Friday, January 19, 2018, rather than working to prevent the shutdown of the government, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) took to the floor of the Senate and delivered a message that he intends to object to the proceeding to the nomination of David Ryder to be the next Director of the U.S. Mint.

According to the notice filed in the Congressional Record:

Mr. President, I intend to object to any unanimous
consent request at the present time relating to the nomination of David J. Ryder, of New Jersey, to be Director of the Mint, PN1355 .

I will object because the Department of the Treasury has failed to respond to a letter I sent on September 29, 2017, to a bureau within the Department seeking documents relevant to an ongoing investigation by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Despite several phone calls between committee staff and Treasury personnel to prioritize particular requests within that letter, the Treasury Department has to date failed to provide any documents.

My objection is not intended to question the credentials of Mr. Ryder in any way. However, the Department must recognize that it has an ongoing obligation to respond to congressional inquiries in a timely and reasonable manner.

Charles E. Grassley is a seven-term Republican Senator from Iowa. Grassley has a history of abusing the Department of the Treasury to make it look like he’s doing something to keep his seat in the Senate. It is common for Grassley to have something to complain about without substance regardless of the ramifications of his actions.

In the meantime, the U.S. Mint remains without a permanent director while Grassley has his hissy fit.

PN1355: David J. Ryder — Department of the Treasury
Date Received from President: January 8, 2018
Summary: David J. Ryder, of New Jersey, to be Director of the Mint for a term of five years, vice Edmund C. Moy, resigned.
Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jan 8, 2018
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Ordered to be reported favorably. — Jan 17, 2018
Reported by Senator Crapo, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, without printed report. — Jan 17, 2018
Placed on Senate Executive Calendar. Calendar No. 596. Subject to nominee’s commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate. — Jan 17, 2018
This nomination can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-PN1355.
† If you look at Grassley’s record, he has a record of making outlandish claims and using his office against Treasury bureaus regardless of the party in the White House. In 2005, I was involved with a Treasury bureau forced to a hearing in the Senate. Even though the evidence showed the contractor was clearly derelict in the performance of their contract, Grassley did everything except put on knee pads in deference to the contractor. Outside of the hearing room, I had a confrontation with one of his staffers and offered to supply the knee pads so that Grassley could complete the job. Since that hearing, I have held Grassley in contempt for being a bully and not a representative of the interests of his constituents in Iowa.

Weekly World Numismatic News for January 21, 2018

One of the more interesting news items is that the Royal Canadian Mint is suing the Royal Australian Mint.

The Royal Canadian Mint alleges the Royal Australian Mint infringed on its patents when creating the 2012 Remembrance Day $2 coin.

Apparently, the Royal Canadian Mint alleges that the process used by the Royal Australian Mint to produce the 2012 $2 Remembrance Day Poppy coin used a process that was patented by the Royal Canadian Mint. The Royal Australian Mint says the process is substantially different that it does not infringe on the Royal Canadian Mint’s intellectual property.

Reports state that the two sides have tried to discuss the matter over the last two years. When no agreement had been reached, the Royal Canadian Mint decided to sue for relief. The Royal Canadian Mint is demanding that Australia hand over all 500,000 of the Remembrance Day coins struck or “destroyed under supervision.”

Since the Royal Canadian Mint is a crown corporation, it is an independent entity of the Canadian government. It has its own corporate and governance structure mandated by law. For those in the United States, it is similar to the relationship that Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac have with the United States government. On the other hand, the Royal Australian Mint is an agency in the Australian government in the same manner that the U.S. Mint is an agency in the United States government. Therefore, the Royal Canadian Mint is suing the Commonwealth of Australia.

“The applicant has suffered, and will continue to suffer, loss and damage by reason of the acts of the respondent pleaded above,” the statement of claim filed by the Royal Canadian Mint reads. Really? The Royal Canadian Mint has suffered because the Royal Australian Mint created a coin with a colored poppy for sale and distribution in Australia?

If the Royal Australian Mint infringed on the Royal Canadian Mint patent then there may be a case for relief owed for using the technology. But if the Royal Canadian Mint is trying to make a case based on the suffering of damages from sales of circulating versus commemorative coins, I think that the Royal Canadian Mint may be royally going in the wrong direction.

And now the news…

 January 15, 2018

“At a time when our national debt is over $20 trillion, it is more and more difficult to find money for important things like cancer research,” – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. → Read more at womensenews.org


 January 17, 2018

Online dealer sold 30kg of gold Tuesday, worth more than $1m Bitcoin tumbles below $10,000 for first time since December Amid the wild Bitcoin ride that’s wiped more than 40 percent off the cryptocurrency’s price in a month, a pattern may be emerging: sellers are switching out of digital gold and into the real thing. → Read more at bloomberg.com


 January 17, 2018

Gold’s liquidity and stability have made it an attractive option for investors in recent years. There are many ways to invest in gold. Investopedia lists gold futures, investing in old companies, gold EFTs, gold mutual funds, gold bullion, gold jewelry, and, of course, gold coins. → Read more at newsmax.com


 January 17, 2018

After more than a year, visitors to the Nevada State Museum can watch the museum's historic Coin Press No. 1 carry on a mission it started nearly 150 year ago in the same building. The venerable press — which churned out millions of dollars in silver and gold coins during stints at U.S. → Read more at nevadaappeal.com


 January 18, 2018

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Mint is suing its Australian counterpart over the way it prints red poppies on its commemorative Remembrance Day coins. Documents filed in Australia’s Federal Court in December allege The Royal Australian Mint used without permission a printing method patented by the Canadian mint — which is now demanding that Australia’s 500,000 commemorative $2 coins, in circulation since 2012, either be turned over to them or “destroy(ed) under supervision.” → Read more at nationalpost.com

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Image courtesy of the Royal Australian Mint and had to be downloaded from Internet archives since it was deleted from their website.

Weekly World Numismatic News for January 14, 2018

One of my favorite quotes is from philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist George Santayana who wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I was reminded about this quote while reading the news and stumbling over a story “Stamp Out the Sexist Legacy of the Dollar Coin” by Addison Nugent.

The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was introduced in 1979 with much fanfare for being the first coin to honor a woman. The coin was a failure because it was confused with a quarter

Ms. Nugent, who revealed that she is distantly related to suffragette Susan B. Anthony, laments the lack of women on United States coins and currency. She rightly points out that Susan B. Anthony was “the first nonfictional woman to grace the face of the dollar coin” only to complain later that the coin was removed later.

Nugent complains that the design of the coins and the fact that they use the visage of a female as the reason these dollar coins have not been successful. What Nugent failed to do is learn from history and the facts.

The failure of the Susan B. Anthony dollar was not because the coin depicted a woman or was called the “Agony Dollars” (I had never heard this term before reading the article). The coin failed because of the decision to make it too close to the size to the Washington quarter, had reeded edges like the Washington quarter, and on a simple glance was consistently confused with the Washington quarter. The confusion made the coin very unpopular in the United States but continues to find usage in other countries whose currency is based on the U.S. dollar.

The unveiling of the Sacagawea Dollar design at the White House with (L-R) First Lady Hillary Clinton, Sacagawea Model Randy’L He-dow Teton, and Designer Glenna Goodacre.

When it came time for Congress to recognize the failure of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, Congress approved a new design and went out of their way to select another historic woman to feature on the coin. After several suggestions, Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide of the Lewis and Clark expedition, was eventually chosen to appear on a coin that was to be golden in color and a smooth edge. When the designs were reviewed, Treasury picked Glenna Goodacre’s design with the profile of Sacagawea in three-quarter view and her infant son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, carried on her back. It is considered one of the best circulating coin designs of the modern era.

Nugent then wrongly notes that “Sacagawea coins were pulled from circulation from 2002-2008 and from 2012 onward.” I do not know where she gets her facts from, but the reality is that the U.S. Mint, Department of the Treasury, and Federal Reserve does not recall paper currency or coins from circulation. What happens is that when there is no demand for a coin the Federal Reserve stops ordering them from the U.S. Mint.

The reason that the dollar coin does not circulate is not that it depicts a woman. The dollar coin does not circulate because the public has chosen paper over a coin. Even though studies have shown that the public can adopt and that there would be a savings to the government if the paper dollar was no longer printed (see the Government Accountability report GAO-13-164T), Congress does not have the intestinal fortitude to eliminate the paper dollar.

To add insult to the facts, Nugent does not take into consideration that the Sacagawea dollar was changed starting in 2009 to the Native American $1 Coin Program. While Sacagawea continues to appear on the obverse, the reverse honors Native American history. The last I looked the Native American population has undergone a significant negative history in the United States.

Another fact that Nugent does not acknowledge is that even though the U.S. Mint does not produce these coins for circulation they are produced for the collector market. In addition to being included in mint and proof sets, there have been special sets created with Native American coin honoring their accomplishments. Aside from being able to purchase these coins at face value in any U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility open to the public, you can also go to any bank and request they obtain a roll for you from the Federal Reserve.

Series 1886 $1 Silver Certificate featuring Martha Washington (Fr #217)

Nugent’s complaints also do not consider the appearance of women and minorities on commemorative coins or that the first woman to appear on circulating currency was Martha Washington. Our first First Lady’s portrait appeared on the $1 Silver Certificate between 1891 and 1896.

Although I agree with Nugent that United States coins and currency should be more diverse and I am in favor of removing Andrew Jackson, who was responsible for the Trail of Tears, from the $20 note, it is difficult to side with any argument whose purpose is based on factual errors.

And now the news…

 January 7, 2018

Popular online magazine Atlas Obscura recently became the latest to probe the question of how an 11th century Viking penny came to rest on the coast of Maine. In the decades since the 1957 discovery by amateur archaeologists, it’s been denounced as a hoax, validated by scholars, denounced as a hoax again and — as recently as this past November — validated by scholars again. → Read more at thinkmaine.bangordailynews.com


 January 8, 2018

A similar coin sold for more than £4,000 in a 2011 auction, but Jason has gone down the correct route of declaring it as treasure → Read more at plymouthherald.co.uk


 January 8, 2018

The U.S. dollar coin has been the only American currency to regularly feature women. With these leading ladies now ousted, it's time to toss the coin. → Read more at ozy.com


 January 8, 2018

The United Kingdom’s round pound coin will no longer be accepted as a form of payment for services and retail purchases in shops after February 28. → Read more at iomtoday.co.im


 January 8, 2018

When Eric Lawes set off for a field in Hoxne village, Suffolk on November 16, 1992, it wasn’t on a treasure hunt. The metal detector he’d received as a retirement gift was meant to find a hammer lost on the farmland. → Read more at smithsonianmag.com


 January 9, 2018

JAMES Grear started selling coins with his best mate Henry when they were just 18. The pair were fed up with working as labourers on a building site in Bristol earning up to £9 per hour and decided… → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 January 10, 2018

State Police are working to find the owners of a large bicentennial medallion coin. It was recovered months ago, but no one has stepped up to claim it. → Read more at mpnnow.com


 January 10, 2018

Colonial Williamsburg has acquired a rare and iconic Danish abolitionist medal that commemorates a royal edict to end the slave trade. The bronze medal was struck in 1792 and is one of only a handful known to exist, according to a Colonial Williamsburg Foundation press release. → Read more at wydaily.com


 January 10, 2018

By Baek Byung-yeul Organizers for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics unveiled a new limited coin set for the Winter Games, Wednesday. At the building of Poongsan Corporation in Seoul, the maker of the PyeongChang Olympics commemorative bill, the organizing committee made public the new package. → Read more at m.koreatimes.co.kr


 January 12, 2018

Grip the handle and turn the crank. Watch the roller turn. Wait for that clink, reach into the little door. → Read more at stltoday.com

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U.S. Mint Bombs on WWI Commem Sets

World War I Centennial 2018 Silver Dollar

The U.S. Mint just announced the availability of the World War I Centennial Silver Dollar and the World War I Centennial Silver Dollar and Medal Sets will begin on January 17, 2018. But what they announced does not make sense for collectors.

Of course, the U.S. Mint will sell an uncirculated and proof silver dollar that will come in their usual display cases with a Certificate of Authenticity. These are the coins that are required under the authorizing law (World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, Public Law 113-212) that were designed by LeRoy Transfield.

The U.S. Mint will also be selling five silver medals that will be issued in conjunction with the 2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar. Each medal, composed of 90 percent silver, pays homage to branches of the U.S. Armed Forces that were active in World War I: Army, Marine Corps, Air Service, Navy, and Coast Guard. Medal designs were announced last October. However, the U.S. Mint will only be selling the medals as part of a set with the silver dollar.

World War I Centennial 2018 Silver Dollar and Army Medal Set

By not selling the silver medals individually or as a set, if a collector wants to add all five to a collection, it will cost $99.95 per set ($499.75 total) and will require the purchase of five commemorative silver dollars.

Since there are no more surviving veterans of World War I, one can only assume that the commemorative coin and medal sets are being marketed to those that want to remember the service of those veterans. Creating these sets in this context makes sense. It does not make sense for the collector or for someone whose family did not serve in World War I or wants to just collect the medals.

This short-sightedness by the U.S. Mint may hinder potential sales of the commemorative coin whose proceeds are to benefit the United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars, an organization responsible for making sure we do not forget those who served.

With the decline in silver prices and the market interest in investing in silver at its lowest since before the Great Recession, a short-sighted decision like this will limit the sale of silver medals. This will lower the income and seigniorage the U.S. Mint will collect after seeing a decline in the sales of bullion-related products.

If the U.S. Mint cannot get this right, then maybe they should have a more broad community discussion so they can better understand the potential collector market because on this, they bombed!

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Learning from the news of the day

Although this blog is about numismatics, there are times when the news of the day reminds us that we not perfect beings and there are lessons learned that should apply to the hobby.

For the last few months, there have been reports about how sexual harassment has been pervasive in industries where men hold a great deal of power. Most people are not surprised when politicians are caught up in these types of activities because we do not hold these people in high regard.

Stories out of the entertainment industry should not be surprising either. It is a system where the “talent,” the faces you see on the television or movie screen, are treated better (or worse) than spoiled children. When I worked for NBC in the early 1990s, I saw first-hand how the talent could do no wrong while their behinds were kissed by the production staff. This created an air of omnipotence that also lead to people being treated badly, something I witnessed regularly.

While there are bad actors in every industry, there seems to be a pattern in male-dominated industries. This is why there is an emphasis on teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to girls in order to break the stereotypes. In fact, go to the website of almost any small tech company and look at the list of employees. Not only are most of the employees male, most are white, and what they call diversity includes a male from India or Taiwan. The women listed are in support roles and have no technical responsibility. There are also very few people over 40 years old in most of those companies.

Numismatics is no better. Although the current executive director of the American Numismatic Association is a woman and there quite a few women helping to support the ANA in Colorado Springs, it is not often you see a woman serve on the ANA Board of Governors. The last one was Laura Sperber. While I have disagreed with Sperber, I respect the fact that not only she is a successful business person and had the wherewithal to run for the Board of Governors.

The last time a woman ran for ANA President was in 2009 when Patti Finner, whom I endorsed, lost to Cliff Mishler.

Go to any coin show and count the number of women and minorities behind the tables. A few small shows I have attended were only represented by older white men. At the recent Baltimore Expo although there were a few women, the only one I encountered is one I regularly see who carries foreign currency who is not a native of the United States.

These attitudes are not sustainable for the hobby and society.

Look at the backlash that came when it was announced that the Department of the Treasury wanted to change the portrait on the $20 note to a woman. She would replace Andrew Jackson who ignored treaties and supported the Indian Removal Act that led to the Trail of Tears, an action that is a stain on the nation’s history. There was opposition to these policies during that time. But as Senator William L. Marcy (D-NY) said in defense of Jackson, “To the victor belong the spoils.” One of those spoils is that they get to write the history books and chose figures like Jackson to (dis)honor currency.

But how many people in the numismatic industry stood up for the decision? There were some defenders, but overall there was a deafening silence.

I have complained that the hobby is too white, male, and over the age of 50. I do not think this is sustainable in a changing world, says your blogger who is white, male and over the age of 50. And that can be evident by walking the bourse floor of any coin show.

The old boys club should stop being old and a club of boys. Embracing diversity will only help the hobby because it will bring in new people and new ideas.

Young Numismatist programs help but they should not be the only focus. There is a lack of programs to keep the YN interested and engaged after no longer being YNs. Both male and female YNs become disengaged as they reach young adulthood. I know it is a problem and I keep bringing this up as an issue, it is another time where the silence as to what can be done is defening!

Just because that is the way it has been does not mean it will be the same in the future.

The hobby needs diversity of all types. We need to not only find a way to attract more hobbyists under 50 years old, women, and non-caucasions.

I am open to suggestions!

As society grapples with the news about the dozens of men that have been accused of being general pigs and the far too many more that are not associated with the media and are not reported, this hobby has to look at itself and wonder why the bourse floor looks like an old boys club and is that sustainable.

Maybe it is time for the numismatic-related industries to be a leader and show how we can set the stereotypes aside and encourage diversity. Or as the business adage suggests: Diversify or Die!

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 26, 2017

The reason why I search for news about topics related to numismatics from outside the industry allows me to get an understanding of how others see numismatics. I find even the most innocuous story about a country considering redesigning their currency, a find of a coin thousands of years old, and how pocket change finds can lead to high bids on online auctions to be interesting.

I share these with you to inspire your collection and help promote the hobby.

But as I shared a few weeks ago, searching the news also comes with its distractions. The latest happens this time every year when the stories about a gold coin being dropped in those ubiquitous red kettles become prominent.

I am not against giving to charity. On the contrary, I think more people should be charitable with whatever they could give. If time is money then give your time. In fact, I am one of those people who believe that when someone reaches 18 years old they should be required to do two-years of public service. It does not have to be in the military but something to serve the public good.

However, dropping a gold coin into a red kettle may look good as news headlines but can really be more problems than they are worth.

As we know, selling a coin is not the easiest thing to do and when you do, you do not receive its full value. A dealer may raise the bid price of a coin from a charity to provide some charitable assistance, but most dealers are not going to buy the coin at full value—unless they are charitable. And this does not take into consideration the fluctuating price of the metals. Maybe, by the time the charity sells the coin, the market price drops and the coin is not worth as much as the day it was dropped into the kettle.

Rare coins may be more problematic. For the best value, those have to go to auction and as anyone who has sold merchandise in an auction, you never know what the hammer price will be. Selling anything at an auction is risky. While a quality rare coin may bring in more than the coin is worth, it can also do far worse.

Since gold is currently $1288 per ounce and considering that modern bullion coins have about a 15-percent numismatic premium, rather than buy a bullion coin and drop it into a kettle, take the $1481 in cash and drop that instead. You can do what an acquaintance does and wrap a few $100 notes around a $1 note so it looks like you are giving a few dollars. When they open the kettle and see hundreds of dollars in cash, they will be happy and will be able to use it for their work immediately without having to worry about selling the coin.

If you want to donate the proceeds from the sale of a coin to charity, that is wonderful. But sell the coin yourself. You are more qualified than these charities in obtaining value from the sale. Then donate the cash. It should not be about the ego boost from being written about in the newspapers. It should be about helping the charity. Which is more important?

And now the news…

 November 19, 2017

JAKARTA – Coin rubbing is a form of folk medication practised in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian and East Asian countries, such as Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea and southern China. → Read more at enca.com


 November 19, 2017

Russian artist Roman Booteen is a modern master in the art of the hobo nickel—a term used to describe the 18th century sculptural art form of hand-engraving coins. His latest extraordinary piece—titled Gold Bug—was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short story, The Gold Bug. → Read more at mymodernmet.com


 November 20, 2017

(1) View gallery The Queen and Prince Phillip’s platinum wedding anniversary is being commemorated with a new coin, minted in Banstead. The coin is 130mm in diameter, weighs nearly 2kg and is encrusted with 70 diamonds, and the limited run of 70 coins will be hand-finished by the master craftsman at Pobjoy Mint. → Read more at epsomguardian.co.uk


 November 22, 2017

New coin to be put in circulation from Wednesday November 22 → Read more at gulfnews.com


 November 23, 2017

One of my favourite things is my Dad’s old horseshoe wallet where he kept his spare change and a rolled pipe cleaner or two. I used it for years after he died, packing it with British bronze 12-sided threepenny bits and shillings until I arrived in Australia and stuffed it with dollar coins and 50¢ dustbin lids. → Read more at sheppnews.com.au


 November 23, 2017

A treasure hunter has unearthed a haul of ancient gold coins, thought to have been buried with an Anglo-Saxon King nearly 1,500 years ago. Chris Kutler, 54, stumbled upon the coins after spending four days searching a 1,600 sq metre field in Chelmsford, Essex. → Read more at dailymail.co.uk


 November 24, 2017

After gold coin’s continued rally in the past month, which pushed…. → Read more at financialtribune.com


 November 24, 2017

The Apiary Fund Commemorative coin is a tribute to the traders who put in time, energy, and faith in their efforts to become funded traders. OREM, Utah November 24, 2017 In the spirit of those Amer… → Read more at nbherard.com


 November 25, 2017

One hundred years ago there was a shortage of pennies during WWI. → Read more at qconline.com

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Image courtesy of iSpot.tv, a still frame from a Salvation Army video ad.

Weekly Numismatic World News for November 19, 2017

Sometimes, I find it difficult to keep an open mind with some of the non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins that are on the market.

Some of the themes have started as interesting ideas have turned into blatant commercialism that I am not sure how to interpret its benefits to the hobby.

From superheroes to movie tie-ins to the cartoons, the themes are as varied as the grocery store shelves.

The latest NCLT that has me wondering about the future of the hobby is the 2018 Fiji Coca-Cola Bottle Cap-Shaped Dollar.

Yes, a Coca-Cola bottle cap-shaped coin with a face value of one Fijian dollar. The reverse of the coin is colored the famous Coca-Cola red with the script logo that is familiar to anyone who has passed by a Coca-Cola product. The obverse has the Fijian coat of arms, the date, and the specifications of the coin: 6 grams of .999 fine silver.

After looking at the specifications, the coin is 32.6 mm (1.283 inches) in diameter and I thought that the coins were going to be very thin.

Comparing the specification of this coin to pre-1965 United States coins that were made of .900 silver, the Washington quarter was made of 6.25 grams of silver and copper but was 24.3 mm (.957 inches) in diameter. The quarter is .25 grams heavier but 8.3 mm smaller. My caliper measured a 1960 uncirculated Washington quarter with a thickness of 1.75 mm.

Something closer is the size of the Kennedy half-dollar with a diameter of 30.6 mm (1.204) or 2 mm smaller than the Coco-Cola bottle cap coin. But the Kennedy half-dollar weighs 12.5 grams, more than double the Fijian coin.

To satisfy my curiosity, the caliper said that the uncirculated 1964 Kennedy half-dollar in my collection was 2.15 mm thick.

Not counting for the flare of the edges to resemble a bottle cap, the coin is probably 1 mm thick, less than the 1.35 mm of a 1955 Roosevelt dime I measured.

The coin is available for pre-order only from one company on eBay for $29.95 with free shipping. Expected shipping is on December 8, 2017.

The last time I checked, the listing reported that 1,481 of these coins were sold.

For the record, 6 grams of silver weighs .1929 troy ounces. With the price of silver currently at $17.31 per troy ounce, the coin contains $3.34 worth of silver.

If someone buys one of these coins, feel free to write a review. I will publish it here on the blog!

And now the news…

 November 13, 2017

BRENTWOOD — When milestones are reached in the armed forces, servicemen and women often receive a challenge coin, creating solidarity with others who share the same accomplishment. → Read more at fosters.com


 November 14, 2017

A hoard of 21 Islamic gold dinars, 2,200 silver coins, and gold artifacts dating to the 12th century CE has been unearthed by archaeologists digging at the Abbey of Cluny, a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. → Read more at sci-news.com


 November 14, 2017

IF you've got one of these most sought-after 50p coins then you could be sitting on a tidy profit. The Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin was introduced into circulation in September and Brits are slowly starting to find it in their spare change. → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 November 15, 2017

An "exceptional and rare" medieval treasure trove including more than 2,200 gold and silver coins has been found in France in what has been called a "remarkable" discovery by archaeologists. It's the kind of discovery archaeologists dream of. → Read more at thelocal.fr


 November 15, 2017

It was just a strange old penny, a copper-nickel Indian Head minted in 1859, when the government was trying out different metals for one-cent pieces. A grandfather gave it to Eric Pfeiffer Newman in 1918, when he was 7, a little bonus for his nickel-a-week allowance. → Read more at nytimes.com


 November 16, 2017

A metal detectorist has tracked down a rare gold coin from Richard III's reign near to the site of the Battle of Bosworth. The Half Angel is one of just a handful of such coins that have survived from the king's two-year reign. → Read more at leicestermercury.co.uk


 November 17, 2017

Archaeologists with the National Center for Scientific Research and other institutions in France revealed today that they have unearthed 2,200 silver deniers and oboles, 21 Islamic gold dinars, a very expensive gold signet ring and other objects made of gold from the Abbey of Cluny, located in the department of Saône-et-Loire. → Read more at mining.com

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Images courtesy of Modern Coin Mart on eBay.

How the new tax bill will hurt numismatic businesses

The Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) issued an alert warning that a provision on the House of Representatives’s tax plan has the potential to hurt the numismatic industry and asked its members to contact their representatives to let them know of the issue.

Like many legislative actions, the bill was probably not targeted at the numismatic industry but at others where alleged abuses have allowed some to avoid paying taxes or reducing their tax burden. Some suggest that it is aimed at the burgeoning crypto-currency or Bitcoin economy.

In a bill that is supposed to be business-friendly, under Title III, Subtitle D (Reform of Business-Related Exclusions, Deductions, Etc.), Section. 3303 (Like-Kind Exchanges of Real Property) has an innocuous statement that says:

Section 1031(a)(1) is amended by striking “property” each place it appears and inserting “real property”.

Section 1301(a)(1) refers to 26 U.S.C. §1301(a)(1) that currently says:

No gain or loss shall be recognized on the exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment if such property is exchanged solely for property of like kind which is to be held either for productive use in a trade or business or for investment.

In plain English, this is the basis of the bartering economy. If I trade goods and services for goods and services, they are assumed to be a trade of even value and no taxes are paid on the transaction. The new bill (H.R. 1) will tax the barter economy.

In numismatic terms, a collector walks into to a coin shop with 10 Mercury dimes graded by one of the third-party grading services worth about $475 on the retail market. While talking to a dealer you see a nice 1928 Peace Dollar that he has marked $460 rather than selling the Mercury dimes for cash, you work out a trade with the dealer for the Peace Dollar. You make the trade and everyone is happy.

Under the current tax law, that is a “like kind” trade of items of value and not taxed as income.

If the bill that just passed the House is enacted, the dealer will be required to pay a tax on that that transaction.

The amount of the tax will be based on an interpretation of the law by the IRS which is where this could get very tricky.

If the dealer is taxed on the retail value of the trade, the dealer could be taxed on $15 of income if based on the dealer’s valuation of the transaction.

If the IRS requires the dealer to make a valuation based on prevailing market values, who sets those market values? Can the dealer use any price guide to determine the value of the coins? For example, if a price guide determines the Mercury dimes are worth $475 on the retail market as we assumed earlier, but the Peace dollar is worth $450 on one price guide but $480 on another, which guide does the dealer use? The dealer will either make $25 on the transaction, which is subject to taxation or lose $5 that will lower the dealer’s overall tax liability.

But the dealer does not buy at retail valuation. The cost of the inventory would be based on market values of the coins. Does the IRS allow the dealer to base the transaction on the “buy” cost of the coins? Based on the “buy” valuation the transaction may be closer to break-even.

The result will be more bookkeeping for the dealer and a tougher set of accounting rules when managing inventory. Managing inventory for a coin dealer is not like a regular retail store. Each coin is its only item and may be given its own identification (stock keeping unit, or SKU).

Most coin dealers are small businesses that are either sole proprietors or have a few employees. They either work at coin shows or have a few thousand square feet of retail space. Some are family operated business while others hire from the local community. Dealers make a living but it may not be enough to support the necessary change to their inventory management under the new tax law.

Eventually, this will make you, the collector, the loser.

First, it will eliminate the possibility of a trading because of the accounting problems. The dealer who has the Peace dollar in inventory that is not selling but can trade it for Mercury dimes that will sell quicker will not be able to happen. Of course, the dealer could buy the Mercury dimes for the same price as you buy the Peace dollars. The dealer could also be accused of a tax avoidance scheme which will make matters worse. Even if the accusation is not true, the IRS is notorious for treating these cases as “guilty until proven innocent.”

This can also drive dealers out of business.

If this drives small dealers out of business, then there will be no dealers to participate in local, small coin shows. With no dealers, those shows will end and so will your access to dealers to help you with your collection. With no smaller shows, you will have to travel further to find shows or will have lesser access to quality collectibles. Sure, you can purchase coins and currency online, but who will be there to answer questions? What happens if you are not happy with the purchase and you have to ship the coin back to the seller?

Ironically, the change proposed in H.R. 1 strengthens the trading of real estate and real property as “like kind” transaction.

This change in the tax law is not good for small business or the numismatic industry. Please contact your member of the House and Senators to let them know that the side effects of Title III Section 3303 will hurt the hobby we love!

If you do not know your member of Congress, you can call the Capitol switchboard operator at (202) 224-3121. They can transfer you to the appropriate representative.

If you are not sure what to say to the staffer who answers the phone, try the following:

Please tell the Representative/Senator that in H.R. 1, the new tax bill, Section 3303 of Title III may have the unintended consequences of hurting the barter economy and the numismatic industry. It will place a heavy accounting burden on coin dealers who are mostly small businesses that will damage the industry. I cannot express in any stronger terms how this change in the tax law will hurt this sector of the small business economy. Thank you for passing this message along.

Please call! Make your voice heard!

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