POLL: What do you use for a price guide?

While thinking about modernizing the hobby it came to me that there is one aspect of the hobby that may still be stuck in the 20th century and that is price guides.

Price guides are supposed to be the guide that tells buyers and sellers the value of a coin. But over the years price guides went from being an art form to a statistical business with many different players vying for your attention.

Some of these guides have a good reputation while others may not be considered the best sources for prices. In either case, collectors have been known to use both the good and not so good to determine the price of their collectible because ultimately, the price is what you are willing to negotiate with the dealer to pay for the item regardless of what the guide says.

I started thinking, what do collectors use as their guide for pricing? Do they use more than one guide? If they buy a hardcopy (“dead tree edition”) do they buy new copies every year?

Today’s poll wants to know what you use to determine the price of your collectible or the acceptable price to buy or sell that special item.
 

What do you use to determine the price of coins and currency?











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Diehl & Moy endorse change

Could the recent cyber attacks and growing severity of cybersecurity issues become the motivation for Congress to vote to reform United States currency?

According to Philip Diehl and Edmund Moy, former Directors of the U.S. Mint, the discussion as to remove the cent and paper dollar from circulation should be part of the current budget and tax overhaul debates.

The discussion is the same as it has been. The cost of zinc has risen causing the manufacturing costs of the Lincoln cent to climb above its face value. Even with operating efficiencies that have brought down the cost of manufacturing to its lowest levels in many years, the price of zinc keeps makes the materials cost more than the coin is worth.

As for the paper dollar, the Government Accountability Office has published several reports over the years that demonstrate the cost savings between using the paper dollar versus a coin dollar. The last GAO report (GAO-13-164T) concluded that using a dollar coin instead of the paper note “could potentially provide $4.4 billion in net benefits to the federal government over 30 years.”

This is not a new discussion. The only change is that this is being suggested by former Directors of the U.S. Mint from both sides of the aisle. Diehl was appointed by Bill Clinton and served from June 1994 through March 2000. Moy was appointed by George W. Bush and served from September 2006 through January 2011.

Earlier this year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act of 2017 (COINS Act) (S. 759). McCain’s bill would require:

  • Suspending the production of the one-cent coin for 10 years except for collectibles. After three years, the GAO would doe a study to determine whether production should remain suspended or should be reinstated. This would not demonetize the cent.
  • Change the composition of the nickel to 80-percent copper and 20-percent nickel. This should bring down the cost of materials used in striking the five-cent coin to be on par with its value. Efficiencies in manufacturing could lower costs further.
  • If the bill becomes law, two years after it is enacted, the Federal Reserve will begin removing $1 Federal Reserve Notes from circulation. This will probably be done by the banks who will take the notes on deposit and send them back to the Federal Reserve where they will be destroyed. Coins would take their place. The $1 FRN could still be produced for the collector market.

Sources report that the chances of McCain’s bill getting a hearing are minuscule. While having lunch with on congressional staffer, I was given three reasons why Congress will not address this issue:

  1. States with a large rural population primarily west of the Mississippi River represented by Republicans are unlikely to support the removal of the one-cent coin. Removal of the coin is viewed as a hidden tax against the people with fear mongering that suggest the government is keeping the extra money that would become on the rounding of prices.
  2. States with large poor populations, primarily in the south, and their advocates who believe that taking away the pennies are a way to separate more money from poor people who can least afford to lose the ability to pay in cents.
  3. Surveys show that most of the people older than Millenials are against removing the paper dollar. Since this population constitutes the majority of the voters and donors, the politicians are not about to make those people upset.

Another issue is that McCain is not popular amongst his fellow Republicans. If the issue is addressed, it is likely to be discussed as part of a bill that does not bear McCain’s sponsorship.

Given the partisan nature of politics and the perceptions of the members of Congress, there is a very little chance of the Coins Act or any similar legislation being enacted during this session of Congress.

Polymer notes in UK will continue to have tallow

Victoria Cleland, Chief Cashier at the Bank of England, presenting the Churchill War Rooms with their New Fiver

Last year, vegan activists in the United Kingdom became apoplectic when they discovered that the manufacture of the pellets used to make the substrate for the polymer banknotes contained trace amounts of tallow.

Tallow is made from suet, the fatty deposits around the organs of cows and sheep. It is a byproduct of the process of butchering a cow for its meat and hides. In its natural form, suet is only used for cooking and some preservation. When it is rendered (by boiling) into tallow, it is used to manufacture soap, candles, and lubricants. The use of tallow in even the most synthetic lubricant is ubiquitous. Machines used to harvest crops or grease moving parts in automobiles have tallow in them.

Since the uproar from vegan activists, the Bank of England spent a lot of time and a lot of money to research the environmental and social impact of tallow in the notes.

The amount of paperwork that was generated for this issue is astounding. They looked at everything from the use of alternative lubricants, like palm oil, to the religious and social impacts to Her Majesty’s loyal subjects. In the final report, the Bank of England even summarized the response when they reached out to “representative groups,” both religious and activists organizations.

All that time and money led to the decision to “ not change the composition of the polymer used for future notes.” Why? Because the costs and environmental impact to using alternatives like palm oil would be more expensive, the notes have such low amounts of tallow, typically less than 0.05-percent (five-one-hundredths of a percent) of derived animal products, and the rest of the community just does not see this as a problem!

It is like I said in my original post, they are probably breathing more dander in a single day than they are touching tallow in all of the polymer banknotes that cross their paths. Tallow is used in all sorts of lubrication products, especially those used in transportation. It is everywhere.

I hope the vegans can either learn to live within society’s decisions or find another way to pay for goods and services, like using credit cards.

Image courtesy of Innovia Security.

A 20 Mark Pick

When you are a picker sometimes a find can be worth more than originally expected.

This past week I was offered a small library of military books from the estate of a former career military officer. Normally, I will not invest too much into books since they are not big sellers. However, if I can find certain military books at a good price, I will buy the entire lot for what I know will sell and take my chances on the rest.

As I was thumbing through the books, I found papers with various notes. The former owner did not like writing in the book. Rather, he would write his notes on papers and leave them between the pages. He would also use different objects as bookmarks. I found everything from business cards to old identification cards. And not just his identification card. There were cards from other people along with a lot of black and white pictures.

Since the books were handed down from his father, there were a number of early editions, especially books about Germany and Europe leading up to World War II. His father may have been an analyst since there were papers with insight beyond the written pages. I will be looking to donate some of this to a university or museum for them to study.

But I did find something numismatic between the pages. A 20 Reichsmark Bank Note from January 22, 1929. In trying to learn more about the note, the front has a portrait of Ernst Werner von Siemens, the founder of the electrical and telecommunications company Siemens.

1929 Nazi Germany 20 Reichsmark banknote (front) — Pick #181a

The back of the note has a worker’s medal with angels surrounding the medal. Written in small letters across the bottom of the note is the following:

WER BANKNOTEN NACHMACHT ODER VERFÄLSCHT ODER NACHGEMACHTE ODER VERFÄLSCHTE SICH VERSCHEFT UND IN VERKEHR BRINGT, WIRD MIT ZUCHTHAUS NICHT UNTER ZWEI JAHREN BESTRAFT

According to Google translate means:

Anyone who imitates or distorts banknotes, or imitates or falsifies himself and puts them into circulation, shall not be punished with brethren under two years

In other words, there is a minimum of a two-year sentence for counterfeiting this note.

1929 Nazi Germany 20 Reichsmark banknote (back)

Although a cool find, this is not the type of item that would fit into my collection. I am likely to sell it to the next collector.

Weekly Numismatic World News for August 20, 2017

Charging Bull by Arturo DiModica is a bronze sculpture that stands in Bowling Green Park just south of the Financial District in lower Manhattan.

In my nearly 12 years of writing this blog and occasionally delving into the reasons for the fluctuating prices of precious metals and their impact on the numismatic market, there have been some fundamentals that have driven that market.

As I was reminded in one of the articles in today’s list, “Is Now The Time To Buy Gold?” predicting the price of gold is as easy as tracking the U.S. dollar and the stock markets. If the dollar weakens or the markets show insecurity, then the price of gold rises. What makes this tricky is that this is an either/or proposition that makes the theory sound easier than it is.

Simply, gold investing is used as a hedge against weakening currencies. If the currency loses its purchasing power, the price of gold rises. When stocks lose their asset values and are not providing returns to investors, currency may be strong but its buying power is not what it used to be, also known as inflation, then gold becomes a safe bet.

Silver is sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s investment” because of its lower price.

The tricky part is trying to predict what the markets are going to do. This is why when something happens that creates uncertainty, the markets react like a scared dog in a thunderstorm (one of my dogs becomes a basket case during thunderstorms).

The biggest problem is that uncertainty can come as quickly as a Tweet. It is amazing how one statement in 140-characters or less could move all of these markets. It is the business version of being scared of their own shadow.

For now, I am just going to stick to collecting coins. Aside from the satisfaction of the chase and accomplishment, my collection is worth more than what I paid. It is more fun and I know that when it is time to sell, I will make a profit.

And now the news…

 August 15, 2017

IT has been the “hardest secret” that Australian children’s book author Mem Fox has had to keep for a year. → Read more at news.com.au


 August 16, 2017

The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a new coin to celebrate a trail that runs through the heart of Saskatoon, along the South Saskatchewan River. → Read more at cbc.ca


 August 16, 2017

It’s a special promotion through one supermarket chain, so you might just end up with these magical $2 coins in your possession. → Read more at startsat60.com


 August 16, 2017

As examples of hubris go, that of Hannibal (the Carthaginian general, not the fictional serial killer) takes some matching. And now German geochemists have added solid science to the evidence of historians and archeologists. → Read more at cosmosmagazine.com


 August 16, 2017

Interesting money can you bring from journey. Disney dollars are traded one-to-one to the American, the Cuban peso is only for local residents, the coin 25 Euro in almost every country you can find unusual currency. Yes, and the usual money that we pay in the supermarkets, are often a pleasant and even beautiful reminder … → Read more at micetimes.asia


 August 18, 2017

With gold climbing to over $1,300 an ounce for the first time this year, should investors consider now the time to buy gold? Or is waiting a better option? → Read more at stockinvestor.com


 August 19, 2017

Readers who know not to take wooden nickels are instead advised to hunt for experimental pennies of the 1940s; some pay off big time. → Read more at tucson.com


 August 19, 2017

The metal detectorist said he had made some finds which were of archaeological interest but this one was "bling". → Read more at bbc.com


 August 19, 2017

Bob Harwell has turned his childhood pastime of collecting coins into a profession, and now coins he collected are on display at a University of Georgia library. The display includes a complete set… → Read more at reporternewspapers.net

Coin Collectors News
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Unlucky at the ATM

You need a quick amount of cash. After all, not every transaction can be made with a credit card. You hop in the car and drive to the bank to use the ATM. Within seconds, the machine spits out money and you drive away.

Early the next morning you look at the bills and notice that not only are they crisp new $20 Federal Reserve Notes but they are in sequence. A closer look and you think that you might have a good Liar’s Poker hand.

An ATM find: A Sequence of $20 Federal Reserve Notes

Then you take a closer look at the serial number and think you might have stumbled on something. That is when you realize that you might need to take that prescription from the ophthalmologist to a store and get your glasses changed!

Eight notes sooner and I would have picked up a $20 Federal Reserve Note with a cool serial Number!

Although a decent Liar’s Poker hand (a full-house), I almost had a repeater. Had I made to the ATM sooner, I could have found the note with a 4-digit serial repeater. Then, if the rest of the notes were in sequence, I would have sacrificed to go back for more money. After all, there would be someone who would be interested in buying serial number “92009200” and maybe the succeeding notes!

Now I am stuck hoping to win the $535 million after spending number “92009212” on Powerball tickets.

A $2 Love Story

Did you know that someone made a movie about the $2 bill?

I was looking for information about early $2 notes and an Internet search discovered the page for The Two Dollar Bill Documentary.

Basically, it is a 1 hour 43 minute documentary about the $2 bill. Written and directed by John Bennardo, who has one other film to his credits, writes on the website that he wanted to learn more about the stack of $2 bills he kept in his desk draw. A year and several interviews later, Bennardo had a documentary.

Amongst the people who appear in the documentary is Charlene Williams, Director of Manufacturing at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility in Fort Worth, Fred Bart, owner of Executive Currency, and Ben Cohen who is the “Ben” in Ben & Jerry’s.

I do not know how I missed this because it was the Kickstarter campaign written about in CoinWeek, and I am a regular reader. Also, filming began at the 2013 FUN Convention, a show I attended.

It does not appear that the documentary had a wide distribution since I did not find anything about its showing. But for the low sales price of $9.99 you can by a DVD through their online store. It might be worth spending the $10 just to check out the documentary.

The Two Dollar Bill Documentary teaser trailer

All images courtesy of “The Two Dollar Bill Documentary.”

Counterfeiting Around the World

As I continue my research into history and technology of counterfeiting, I have been collecting historical statistics as to the problem of counterfeiting. I thought I would share the current statistics I found.

The most common counterfeited denomination is the 20s, be they dollars, pounds, euros, or pesos. For currencies whose values are significantly lower than the dollar, such as the yuan, or whose currencies have no real fractions, like the yen, the most common counterfeited denomination is the 100 unit.

Canada

The top note is a counterfeit $100 note, the bottom is a legitimate note

In the past few years, many countries and central banks have released new currency with additional anti-counterfeiting technologies. Canada is currently in the process to transition to the cotton bond currency to a polymer substrate. Since starting the transition, the Bank of Canada is reporting a decrease of 141,502 notes in 2007 ($3.3 million in value) to 17,492 in 2016 ($900,000 in value). For Canada, this is a decrease in 88-percent of the number of notes passed and a decrease of 73-percent in value.

United Kingdom

Detecting counterfeit £1 coins, the genuine coin has edge lettering (left), the counterfeit does not.

A few months ago, the Royal Mint began the process of issuing a 12-sided pound coin to replace the round-pound because about 2.5 percent of 1.6 billion of 1 pound coins are counterfeit. Although this has been a painful process, the Brits will continue the transition which calls for demonetizing the round-pound by October 15, 2017.

The Bank of England began issuing currency using the polymer substrate starting with the £5 notes. The paper fiver was withdrawn on May 5, 2017 (withdraw the £5 on 5/5… get it?!). Plans continue to issue the £10 note in September.

The move to polymer notes was prompted because of a spike in counterfeiting in 2012. Spiking at more than 746,000 counterfeiting notes with a value of £13.71 million, the Bank of England reports that 347,000 counterfeit notes valued at £7.47 million were confiscated in 2016.

Euro

Eurozone has had more problems with counterfeit €2 coins than currency.

The European Central Bank reports that counterfeiting remains low in the Eurozone and even reduced by 20.7-percent from 2015 to 2016. Of the notes counterfeited, the €20 and €50 notes make up 80.3-percent of the most counterfeited currency. Surprisingly, the €100 (at 9.7-percent) and €500 notes (4.9-percent) are not as widely counterfeited. However, the ECB has other concerns with these high denomination notes since the €500 notes are a favorite amongst the cash-based illegal trade because it takes fewer notes to carry a high-volume of currency. One study noted that the €500 note was referred to as the “Bin-Laden” for its added convenience.

The ECB is in the process of transitioning their currency to the new Europa Series. A new €50 note was issued this past April. Aside from new designs, the Europa series uses some of the advanced technologies to prevent counterfeiting but does so on cotton bond. Currently, there is no plan to use the polymer substrate for the Euro notes.

China

As opposed to other central banks, the People’s Bank of China (PBC) is not as forthcoming with information. But when they do something, news reporters can obtain some nuggets of information from Chinese officials. When the PBC unveiled new 100 yuan notes with additional counterfeiting features, they reported to the Wall Street Journal that police confiscated 532 million yuan ($85.6 million) in counterfeit bills in 2014. The most commonly counterfeited notes were 50 yuan and 100 yuan bills but there have been increases in lower denominations.

Mexico

Click on the image to read a nice description (in English) on identifying genuine Mexican currency

Mexico has been undergoing a slow conversion to polymer notes. Currently, the 20- and 50-peso notes are made using polymer and the new generation of 100-peso notes are made of polymer. Higher denominations continue to be printed on cotton bond but incorporate a number of advanced anti-counterfeiting features other countries are using. The Bank of Mexico has not announced plans to convert higher denominations but a representative reported that the plan is to print future special issues on cotton bond, such as the 100-peso banknote commemorating The 100th Anniversary of The Enactment of the Constitution issued last February.

Statistics published by the Bank of Mexico reports a decrease in the number of counterfeit currency from 70.7 per million issued to 61.8 per million notes issued. This represents a decrease of 12.6-percent. When the Bank of Mexico issued the new polymer 20- and 50-peso notes in 2014, they experienced a drop in 36.9-percent in counterfeiting.

United States

It is not a surprise that the world’s most use currency and the currency that most world trade is based is the most counterfeited currency in the world. There is also more United States currency in circulation that any other, including the Euro. According to ​the Federal Reserve, there is approximately $1.49 trillion in Federal Reserve notes circulation. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco says that 31.1-percent of those notes is the ubiquitous dollar and 26-percent are $100 Federal Reserve Notes mostly held overseas.

Prop Movie Money continues to be a problem because people just do not look!

According to the United States Secret Service in their 2015 Annual Report, the latest available, they prevented the circulation of over $58 million in counterfeit U.S. currency resulting in the arrest of 796 criminals and closing 145 manufacturing operations. Of the $58 million counterfeited, $28 million, about half, of the bogus U.S. currency was seized prior to it being circulated.

The $20 bill is the most commonly counterfeited banknote in the U.S., while overseas counterfeiters are more likely to make fake $100 bills.

In every report downloaded from the various governments and central banks regarding the security of their currency, it is a common theme that the vast majority of counterfeiting would have a minimal impact if people would just look for the anti-counterfeiting measures these entities go through great lengths to add to the currency. Whether it is not looking for the edge lettering on the old round-pound or the recent cut-and-paste of the security features of Canadian currency, there would be few problems if people would just look.

Credits

  • Canada counterfiet currnecy image courtesy of CTV News.
  • Counterfeit round-pound image courtesy of BBC News
  • Counterfeit €2 coins courtesy of The Daily Mail
  • Mexican currency image courtesy of Bajainsider.com.

Beware of counterfeit Canadian currency

Police in Vancouver, British Columbia has discovered that criminals are altering the new polymer notes to create counterfeits that are being passed in the region. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Bank of Canada are warning merchants that criminals are splicing $5 bills to remove the holographic strips and add them to color-copied $100 notes to make them seem less suspicious.

In order to make sure that the clear window in the polymer notes does not raise suspicion, clear packing tape has been used on the altered $5 notes to cover the alteration.

Discovered in Metro Vancouver, police found that a careful examination of the notes shows that the $5 notes can be altered in a way that does not raise suspicion while creating $100 notes that has been passed with little notice, until recently.

A representative from the Bank of Canada says that criminals are preying on the fact that people are not verifying the notes. The Bank of Canada issued a release urging merchants to check the notes for more than one of the security features.

Travelers to Canada and United States dealers that accept Canadian currency as a convenience to their customers from north of the border should learn about the embedded security features before accepting these notes. Visit the Bank of Canada Banknote website for more information as to how to recognize legitimate currency.

Clarification Update: The three lower denomination Canadian notes ($5, $10, and $20) are made using the polymer substrate. The higher denomination note ($50 and $100) are still made with rag bond paper. These notes are scheduled to be converted to polymer in the next few years.
All currency images courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

A Glenn Family Short Snorter

John Herschel Glenn, Jr. is a true American Hero.

I feel so comfortable saying this that I will not qualify that statement with, “few will argue that ….” When you are the first American to strap yourself into a tiny capsule that is forced into space on top of the Atlas LV-3B rocket, essentially a huge Roman candle, there is no argument on his status in history.

Glenn was not only the first American in space but is also the oldest person ever to go to space. In 1998, at the age of 77, Glenn rode on Discovery on STS-95 as part of a study by the National Institute of Aging. Although the study was not criticized, the selection of Glenn was. While there will be an asterisk in history about the criticism, it will not diminish Glenn’s place in history.

While out looking for collectible inventory, I came across an auction of memorabilia from the widow of a crewman that was aboard the ship that picked up Glenn after he splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.

On February 20, 1962, Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Friendship 7 for what ended up being a 4-hour 55-minute flight into history. During the flight, a sensor noted that a heat shield had loosened and could endanger his re-entry. Glenn was ordered to leave a solid-fueled retrorocket pack in place to protect the shield.

Although Glenn’s re-entry was calculated, he carried a note that read, “I am a stranger. I come in peace. Take me to your leader and there will be a massive reward for you in eternity” in several languages, in case he splashed down in an area where the Navy was not positioned.

According to the auction house, two ships were in position based on the projections as to where Friendship 7 was supposed to splash down in the Atlantic. A third was positioned further south and then moved when calculations suggested that the retrorocket pack would change the trajectory of the capsule. When Friendship 7 splashed down further south than expected there was a race amongst the three ships to see who could pick up Glenn and etch their names into history.

The third and most southern positioned ship, the U.S.S. Randolph (CV-15), was in the best position to recover Glenn and the capsule. In the race to the area of the capsule, the Randolph arrived first and pulled Glenn out of the Atlantic. Glenn remained aboard the Randolph where he was medically examined before the aircraft carrier docked in Florida on Friday, February 23, 1962.

Saturday was shore leave for the crew of the Randolph in Key West, Florida. To celebrate, Captain Claude C. (Buddy) Inskeep and select members of his crew were invited for a pleasure cruise aboard The Big Wheel fishing boat where a number of pictures and autographs were offered.

In the auction lot of memorabilia were pictures of John Glenn and his family, a memento picture of some of the people on board The Big Wheel along with a medal featuring John Glenn, and an autographed $1 silver certificate.

It is the silver certificate that makes this lot a very cool find. Technically, we could call this a short snorter since it is a signed piece of paper currency of members together on a trip. But these are not ordinary autographs. From top to bottom the autographs include John Glenn’s wife Annie Glenn; John H. Glenn, Jr.; (John David) Dave Glenn (son, then 17 years old); and (Carolyn Ann) Lyn Glen (daughter, then 15 years old). Below the printed signature of Treasurer Ivy Baker Priest is written “2-24-62.”

I have no doubt that the autographs and the memorabilia are authentic. It is something that you just cannot find every day! Even though I am a dealer and should sell what I purchase, I know that this is a memento from history and of a hero who passed last year. I know I can make a hefty profit from this purchase since I know I vastly underpaid what it is worth, but I am having a hard time considering letting them go.

Glenn family autographed “Short Snorter” dated February 24, 1962, four days after Glenn orbited the earth in Friendship 7

For now, I own them but might entertain offers. But the offers must knock my socks off because this is just too cool to consider anything else!

Note: On the reverse of the picture of Glenn and Gen. McElroy, it does not identify the general by his first name. Based on some reasearch, I believe this is Major General Ivan Wilson McElroy. If someone has different information, please let me know!

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