LOOK BACK: Paper v. Coin Dollars

Following the introduction of the Presidential $1 Coin program and the discussion about replacing the Federal Reserve Note with a coin, I wrote an article explaining how the situation will not change. Not much has changed in 10 years!

Whenever a proposal or law that creates a new dollar coin, there is always a discussion as to how to make the program more successful. In the past, the Gallup organization has polled the public on a few occasions asking about the potential acceptance of dollar coins.

Regardless of the questions asked, the only way to increase the circulation of the dollar coin is to stop printing the one-dollar Federal Reserve Note and begin to withhold it from circulation. It is a move that will force the people to use the coin as the population of the paper currency is reduced.

There are many emotional arguments on both sides of the issue. Whether one is for or against the printing of the one-dollar note, the US is one of the extreme few first-world countries issue its unit currency on paper. Looking beyond the emotional arguments, each side has dominant arguments to support their positions.

Those who want to eliminate the one-dollar note use at the cost of is production and the savings to the government as the dominant reasons. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 95-percent of all Federal Reserve Note printed for circulation are used to replace damaged and worn notes that are being taken out of circulation. Using BEP’s 2017 production report, 2,425,600,000 one-dollar notes were printed. With 95-percent being replacement notes, 2,304,320,000 notes were printed just to maintain circulation levels. With it costing 4.385-cents to produce one note of any denomination, the cost to just replace notes removed from circulation was $100,422,265.60 in 2017.

Rather than printing paper dollars, if the US Mint strikes coins the cost to replace those 2.4 billion notes would cost 21-cents per coin (according to the U.S. Mint’s 2014 Annual Report, the last documenting seigniorage for the dollar coin). The total production cost would be $483,907,200.

But do not let the 381-percent increase in cost fool you. For the real picture, the costs have to be predicted over time. According to the BEP and the Federal Reserve, the lifespan of a one-dollar Federal Reserve Note is 5.8 years. When the U.S. Mint makes plans for circulating coinage, they accept that the lifespan of a coin is 30-years. To help with the calculation, it will be assumed that the price of manufacturing coins and currency s will stay constant. In order to keep the $2.4 billion of one dollar notes in circulation for 30 years, it will cost the BEP $522.6 million dollars.

By comparison, since the U.S. Mint will be striking new coins for circulation and (theoretically) not replacement coins (not including the coins already in storage), the U.S. government would save about $117 million over 30 years. The following table illustrates these costs:

Denomination Production Total Number of Replacement Notes Cost of Production for Replacements Cost of Replacements over 30 years
Paper Dollar (2008) 4,147,200,000 3,939,840,000 $177,292,800 $1,772,928,000
Paper Dollar (2018) 2,425,600,000 2,304,320,000 $101,044,432 $522,643,614
Coin Dollar (2008) N/A 3,939,840,000 $626,434,560 $626,434,560
Coin Dollar (2018) N/A 2,425,600,000 $509,376,000 $509,376,000

While this might be a compelling argument to stop printing one dollar notes, such a move has political ramifications for some powerful members of Congress. With over 1500 people working in the Eastern Currency Facility in downtown Washington, DC, they are represented by several leaders of both parties. When it comes to jobs in their districts, members of Congress will not allow anything that will reduce the production capacity of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and where constituents could lose jobs.

Before Congress changes the law to stop the printing of the one-dollar note (31 U.S.C. §5115(a)(2)), the BEP will have to supplement production in order to protect jobs. The way this could be done would be to print foreign currency. However, it seems that the BEP is having problems selling their services to foreign governments.

Although the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has experimented with polymer notes and other printing substrates, the Federal Reserve has said that it does not consider these alternatives viable for United States currency. However, the Federal Reserve and Bureau of Engraving and Printing has been testing rag-based paper from companies that can produce new anti-counterfeiting features.

If there was a change to the supplier of currency paper, that would raise concern by the Massachusetts congressional delegation whose constituents include Crane Currency, the subsidiary of Crane & Company. Crane has been the exclusive supplier of currency paper to BEP since 1879. Although BEP has tried to open the competition for purchasing currency paper (see GAO Report GAO-05-368 [PDF]), the cost of entry into the market has prevented other manufacturers from competing for the business. If BEP would stop printing over 2 million one dollar notes without replacing it with similar paper production, the Massachusetts-based company could lose significant business.

Regardless of the measures taken by the US Mint to increase the circulation of the one-dollar coin, public perception is that the one-dollar paper note is easier to use than the coin. Unless key congressional leaders agree that ending the printing of the one-dollar note is in the best interests of everyone, including their political careers, the political reality is that printing of the one-dollar note is here to stay until a significant event causes a change in policy.

The original post can be read here.

The United States is not going cashless… oh, look at that butterfly!

With the discovery of every new technology, there are the inevitable predictions that it will make the old ways obsolete. Although the automobile reduced the reliance on horses, the basics of the internal combustion engine have not changed in over 100 years. Take away the electronics around the engine, the technology increasing the air intake, and cleaning up the exhaust, and you still have an engine block with pistons that go up and down in the classic suck-bang-blow rhythm that was used in the Model T.

The latest technology that is being touted as being the doom for physical money, which can also be the end of numismatics, is cryptocurrency.

There are two aspects of cryptocurrency that its fans say are its biggest strength. First, it is not bound by the traditional means of generating wealth. You can think of cryptocurrency as digital gold. It is mined using computers and a lot of complex arithmetic to generate one unit of the currency, sometimes referred to as a bitcoin. Like physical gold, there is some work required to mine for these bitcoins. It lies in the ability to create a computing environment capable of performing these intensive mathematical operations. You may not be panning for gold but you might spend as much on equipment and travel.

For a good basic description of the blockchain technology, see the article on Medium.

The other aspect about cryptocurrency is that the blockchain technology allows for both anonymous and secure transactions. Think of the blockchain as a giant ledger that is copied wherever bitcoin is accepted with regular updates. There is no single source that could control the ledger nor is there a single point of failure.

However, both its strengths are its greatest weaknesses.

While the value of money is regulated by their respective government there are no blockchain regulations. There is no regulation on the number of generated bitcoins but is arbitrarily set by the creator of the cryptocurrency. There is no guarantee of value as a state-sponsored currency. Bitcoin investors are betting on the value of electronics and math, something many of these investors does not fully understand.

The blockchain also provides its own problems. In order to use the cryptocurrency, you have to have your own copy of the ledger and be able to pass the information to the party you want to pay. Think about having a checkbook with everyone’s information. You cannot read the information because it is encrypted but you have to have a copy. Then you need to pay someone. You hand over the checkbook in order to complete the transaction.

Think about the amount of data that would be if the blockchain supported 1,000 people. What would it take to support 1 million people? What if the government decided that everyone would do their business in bitcoin and everyone would have to have a way to deal with the blockchain in order to facilitate payments. How cumbersome will that ledger be if all 325.7 million people in the United States had to carry that around?

Each blockchain is its own entity. While you can trade in bitcoins on the same blockchain, you may have to participate in more than one blockchain if you want to accept bitcoins from several different people. It is like different currencies today. I can go anywhere in the United States and use dollars. But if I wanted to go to Canada, I can either arrange an exchange or find someone who will trade.

Cryptocurrency that has to operate across different blockchains is just like going to Europe and having to change your dollars for euros.

1881 Tracy’s Counterfeit Detector and Bank Note Reporter (Image courtesy of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society)

As with anything that is computer-based and managed, there is always the security issues. Blockchains have been hacked. Although most of the hacks are based on compromised passwords, each hack yields millions of dollars in stolen cryptocurrency to the hackers and everyone who then does business with them on the same blockchain.

Eventually, this will lead to a cryptocurrency version of a Bank Note Reporter and Counterfeit Detector as was popular during the broken banknote period. Then it will be followed by a Cryptocurrency Act similar to the Currency Act that ended the broken banknote period proving George Santayana right as we repeat history.

Cryptocurrency is the darling of the technology industry and those in the financial industry that trade in high-risk investments. Even traditional financial services companies are spending a limited amount of risk capital on cryptocurrency investments. However, by all statistics, the number of consumers using cryptocurrency for transactions is less than 1-percent.

If Not Cryptocurrency The What About Credit Cards

Credit and debit cards remain the primary target that proponents of a cashless society use to promote their agenda. However, when faced with the realities of life in the United States, there are three statistics that work against their arguments:

  1. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the printer of United States currency, reports a year-over-year increase in production of just over 4-percent.
  2. The U.S. Mint, the manufacturer of United States coinage, is reporting a year-over-year increase of 6-percent striking circulating coinage.
  3. According to CreditCards.com, “In 2013, 20 percent of whites did not have access to a credit card compared with 47 percent of African-Americans and 30 percent of Latinos.”

The primary customer for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and U.S. Mint is the Federal Reserve. If the Federal Reserve needs the money for its operations, they buy it from these government bureaus. The Federal Reserve only orders what it needs. If it does not need the money, then it is not produced.

Aside from the over 50-percent of the population without access to credit cards, there continues to be a demand for physical currency. Whether the currency is used in a vending machine or to buy other items, cash is still king and shows no sign of slowing.

While there continues to be a demand for the products from the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing, these bureaus will continue to produce coins and currency giving us more opportunity to collect their products.

A LOOK BACK: Evolution of the $20 Bill

Summertime is a busy season for everyone. There is a lot going on. For me, I just opened my new business and have been busy trying to make sure it begins smoothly. So that I have more time to work on the business, once per week I will be looking back at articles I wrote in the past that are still relevant today. I will edit the article but point to the original.

Our first look back returns to April 2006 where I was able to examine the design changes of the $20 Federal Reserve Note following a visit to the ATM.

Money has always been a fascination because the design can reveal something about history. It interesting to look at a series of the same denomination and see the evolution as the times change. I had the chance see the evolution first hand when my bank’s ATM gave me three generations of $20 Federal Reserve Notes (FRN). Although I am not a banknote collector, I find their images and devices interesting.

First, I found is the Series 1990 note with the signature of Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady and Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, the Treasurer of the United States. Both Brady and Villalpando were appointed by President George H. W. Bush and served until the end of his term. Brady also served for six months under President Ronald W. Reagan.

The second is a Series 2001 note with the signatures of Treasury Secretary Paul M. O’Neill and Treasurer Rosario Marin. They were appointed by President George W. Bush during his first term. The third note is from Series 2004 with Marin’s signature along with Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, who succeeded O’Neill.

The $20 FRN was first designed for the Series 1929 small notes as an evolution of earlier designs for large currency. There is a lot of ornate and fine engraving with a green hue. The fine engraving has been a staple of bank notes since their inception as a means to prevent counterfeiting. The “greenback” was used to prevent copying using new photographic technologies which had a difficult time reproducing the green color. Although modern technology does not have the same reproduction issues, the green color remains out of tradition.

The newer notes do not feature a lot of fine engraving. The portrait of President Andrew Jackson appears on all of the notes but was enlarged on the newer notes with the border around the portrait removed on the Series 2004 notes. Another difference is the addition of color with a darker green hue and peach on the front.

The reverse on all of the notes features the White House. The Series 1990 note uses an image taken from the south lawn near the ellipse while the newer notes use an image from the north lawn that could be seen from Pennsylvania Avenue. The engraving of the White House is smaller on the new notes and the borders removed to allow the watermark and security thread to be easily seen.

I like the front of the latest note, but I don’t like the color. I also miss the indication of the Federal Reserve Bank for which the notes were printed. Although the designation of the issuing Federal Reserve Bank is not relevant anymore, it adds to the collecting pursuit for some people.

I like the south lawn portrait better than the one from the north lawn. I am disappointed with the starkness of the reverse. I am not sure that BEP can change this given the nature of the security features.

Finally, the attempt to colorize the notes is not working. It looks cheesy. If BEP colorizes the note, it should be more than just a gradient on the background. Many countries use color in their banknotes as part of the devices, not just to splash some color around to say “look at the color.” I think BEP can do better.

The original article can be read at https://wp.me/p754fH-I

POLL: What do you use for price guides

While shipping several packages of Red Books to customers, I was thinking about the number of people who buy these and other guides. With the state of the industry changing from an IRL (in real life) experience to one more online, I wonder how many people are still using printed guides.

As I thought about doing this as a poll, I started gathering some of the resources that could be considered. That is when I realized that on my overflowing bookshelf I have many of these publications! I never thought I had an extensive numismatic library but the numismatic books outnumber my tech books. Now that I am retired from the tech industry, it might be time to let the tech books go, especially the out of date books.

This list serves two purposes. One is to list the general resources for numismatic pricing of mainly coins and currency. The other purpose is to provide a list of resources that others can use to build their own library. It also will serve as the categories I will use for the poll, below.

Here are is a list of pricing references that I either own or found online:

Annual books for United States coins

Annual books for foreign coins

Periodical Pricing Guides

  • Coin Dealer Newsletter
  • NumisMedia Weekly Market Price Guide

United States Currency Guide Books

Foreign Currency Guide Books

Online Guides

Today’s question is…

What do you use as a price guide when buying your coins or currency?









View Results

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NOTE: The links for all the books (except the Lighthouse Euro Catalog) leads to Abe Books. They are affiliate links. If you buy from Abe Books I make a few cents on the sale. Whatever affiliate money I earn from Abe Books is used to help pay the bills I receive for the blog including hosting and keeping the domain name registered. Of course you can buy your books from any source. However, using the affiliate link would be appreciated.

Weekly World Numismatic News for May 27, 2018

Saudi Arabia to replace the one-riyal note with coins (Image courtesy of Asharq Al-Awsat)

Another country has decided to stop printing its unit currency and will strike coins instead. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority announced that they will be replacing the one-riyal (SR1) notes with coins.

SAMA made the announcement as part of their introduction of new coin designs using modern techniques in coin manufacturing.

Under their transition plan, SAMA will allow the SR1 paper note to circulate alongside the new coin as the notes will be withdrawn from circulation. When the coins become available, the banks will be ordered to replace the SR1 note with a coin based on an availability formula that will be provided when the coins are ready for circulation.

According to Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the company that runs the network that enables the world’s financial institutions to security send financial transactions to each other, the United States dollar makes up 40.86-percent of every transaction in the world (as of February 2017). The United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the measure of an economy’s output, is over $19 trillion (in 2017 according to the International Monetary Fund) more than any country or trading cooperative (such as the European Union). But the United States is the only country ranked in the Top 10 of either of these lists to continue to produce its unit currency in paper form.

For a country that is supposed to be a leader, it looks like the United States has fallen behind the rest of the world. It is time to eliminate the one-dollar Federal Reserve Note.

And now the news…

 May 20, 2018

A new £1 coin could actually end up earning you hundreds thanks to a Royal Mint 'error'. Three examples of the error have already been seen by ChangeChecker – and they are selling for more than £200. → Read more at bristolpost.co.uk


 May 22, 2018

Prosecutors won’t pursue charges against a drummer accused of stealing rare coins and a passport from famed New Orleans musician Fats Domino. → Read more at pagesix.com


 May 22, 2018

The sifting project, which has operated since 2004 in the Emek Tzurim National Park, aims to salvage religious and historical artifacts from the rubble, as well as to educate the public about the veracity of Jewish history on the Mount. → Read more at jns.org


 May 22, 2018

Aaron Judge and Michael Conforto are two of the young stars that New York baseball fans have been buzzing about the past two years. Now fans of the Yankees and Mets outfielders can now get the star… → Read more at nysportsday.com


 May 24, 2018

2018 Baseball Treasure MLB Coins checklist, release date, silver and gold coin info and all you need to know about the officially licensed set of baseball coins. → Read more at beckett.com


 May 25, 2018

The much-ballyhooed summit between the United States and North Korea met its end Thursday. The cancellation, for now, stamps out the prospects for peace, yet does nothing to stop the snazzy coins featuring Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in front of patriotic backdrops surrounded by olive branches → Read more at cnn.com


 May 25, 2018

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) will start withdrawing SR1 banknotes from the market from Thursday, SAMA has said. In a statement, SAMA announced issuing its sixth edition, which was developed during the reign of the Custodian of the Two → Read more at aawsat.com

Coin Collectors News
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I’ll take On Big Money for $200

A few weeks ago while watching Jeopardy!, I noticed they had a category “On Big Money.” The premise was to name the person whose portrait is on high denomination currency—notes with a face value of $500 and greater.

I wrote down the questions and decided to create my own version of Jeopardy! How many can you answer, or ask correctly? Remember, in Jeopardy! you have to answer in the form of a question.

It’s Saturday… let’s have a little fun!

Click on the image to see the question.

$200

Click to Flip
Reference: Marbury v. Madison

$400

Click to Flip
John Marshall, Fourth Chief Justice, 1801-1835

$600

Click to Flip
McKinley was assassinated on September 14, 1901 in Buffalo, NY

$800

Click to Flip
Cleveland is the only president to serve non-consecutive terms.

$1000

Click to Flip
Chase was Treasury Secretary when he was appointed by Lincoln in 1864

How well did you do?

For those unsure of the questions that coincide with the answers, click on the value of the question in the tab to see the explanation.

The $200 Answer

William Marbury

The answer is a reference to the case Marbury v. Madison resulting from a petition to the Supreme Court by William Marbury, who had been appointed Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia by President John Adams but whose commission was not subsequently delivered. Marbury petitioned the Supreme Court to force the new Secretary of State, James Madison, to deliver the documents. The Court, with John Marshall as Chief Justice, found firstly that Madison’s refusal to deliver the commission was both illegal and correctable. The Court stopped short of ordering Madison (by writ of mandamus) to hand over Marbury’s commission, instead holding that the provision of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that enabled Marbury to bring his claim to the Supreme Court was itself unconstitutional, since it purported to extend the Court’s original jurisdiction beyond that which Article III established. The petition was therefore denied. (Wikipedia)

The $400 Answer

Chief Justice John Marshall

John Marshall (1755-1835) was nominated for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President John Adams. Marshall became the fourth Chief Justice on January 31, 1801. He served on the court for 34 years until his death on July 6, 1835. Marshall was Cheif Justice for the landmark cases of Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland.

The $600 Answer

2013 William McKinley Dollar

William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, was shot on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901. He was shaking hands with the public when Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, shot him twice in the abdomen. McKinley died eight days later on September 14 of gangrene caused by the gunshot wounds. (Wikipedia)

Later that day, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th President at the Ansley Wilcox House in Buffalo. This made Roosevelt the youngest person (42 years, 322 days) to be inaugurated as President.

The $800 Answer

2012 Grover Cleveland First Term Dollar

Grover Cleveland was the only person to serve two non-consecutive terms as President of the United States. Cleveland was the 22nd President from 1885 through 1889. In a very contentious campaign where tariffs were the main issue, Benjamin Harrison won by a slim margin. There were accusations of voter fraud and fixed election, particularly in Indiana. Cleveland did not challenge the result and served his full term.

2012 Grover Cleveland Second Term Dollar

Cleveland won back the Presidency in the 1892 election in what was a very calm election for the time period. Cleveland became very vocal during the Harrison administration over monetary policy including opposing the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. He was nominated by the Democrats to run again. Harrison did not campaign opting to be with his wife Caroline who was dying of tuberculosis. Following her death on October 25, 1888, two weeks prior to the election, all candidates suspended campaigning. Cleveland was the 24th President of the United States from 1893 through 1897.

The $1000 Answer

Salmon P. Chase, 6th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Salmon P. Chase (1808 – 1873) was the sixth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Chase was nominated by President Abraham Lincoln while serving as the 25th Secretary of the Treasury. A significant case during his tenure was when he presided at the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. With 27 states and 54 senators, it required 36 (two-thirds) guilty votes to remove Johnson from office. Johnson was acquitted with 35 guilty votes and 19 not-guilty votes. Chase served on the Supreme Court from December 6, 1864, until he died on May 7, 1873.

What do you think? Is this something you would like to see more of? Let me know!

Credits

  • Coin images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.
  • All other images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

When going picking, check the bookcase

When I go picking I look for the unusual. Whenever I walk into an estate sale or any other picking opportunity, I will find the most remote area and work from there. In most homes, I head for the basement and the garage. These are the places that people store things they did not want to throw out, It is where I find the most unusual items.

Lately, I have been finding that buying old books can be just as interesting. Aside from cultivating a small clientele of interested customers, I have found that people hide things in books, especially old books.

Not long ago I visited a difficult to find estate sale hoping to find something interesting. I did not find much but there were some books that had possibilities. At $2 each, I felt I could find a few gems.

Based on the type of books I found, the owner had a passion for European history. In addition to travel books and books about European influence on United States society, there was a two-volume set written in French.

My French is good enough to figure out that the books were published in 1899 Paris and were from the first printing of the first edition. For book collectors, once the book meets the condition test, these are the books they like. Since they were in good condition with nice covers I added them to my pile.

This past week I was going looking through the box of books. As I was cataloging them I will either scan the pages or fan them to see if I find something. Within these two volumes of French language books on European history, I found money.

I was a little surprised to see notes from the Central Bank of Egypt. Seven different Egyptian notes, mostly from the late 1980s. The face value of the notes totals 13 pounds.

Aside from being mostly in horrible condition, I do not recall any indication of books, magazines, or catalogs referencing Egypt of the Middle East or North Africa.

The best-looking note is a 25 piastre note (Pick #57a) but it looks water damaged. It was probably water damaged before being stored between the pages of the book since the book shows no effects from the storage.

Although the notes can be worth $5 for the 25 piastre note to $25 for the 5-pound note, that would be if they were in better condition. I am not sure the entire lot is worth $5!

The moral of this story is that if you go picking at estate sales, check the bookcase. You never know what might fall out when you fan the pages.

Online Research Resources UPDATE: Currency

Last week, I posted an article about online resources that I use when I want to begin research on a numismatic topic. The list provided a number of resources but a reader wrote to me and noted that I forgot to include paper money resources beyond the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Paper Money Sources

When it comes to searching for information on paper money, I always start at one of the following three sites:

The opening line at USPaperMoney.Info says that it is the “home of everything you ever wanted to know about U.S. currency. (Well, almost….)” This is truth in advertising. Even with the page of unanswered questions, the site has everything you could ever want to know about U.S. currency. I just wish the author would organize the site better.

Don and Vic’s World Banknote Gallery is one of those sites that looks like it was created by a seventh grader in 1998 but has a tremendous amount of very useful information. It is one of the best sites I have found to identify world banknotes.

They have a companion site named World Coin Gallery that is similar. I have used this site and have added it to the original bookmarks file. If you downloaded the original bookmarks then right-click (Control-click for Mac users) and select the option to add worldcoingallery.com to your bookmarks.

Last, but definitely not least, is Banknote News by Owen Linzmayer. If you want to know anything about the production of world paper money, this is the site you need to read. In addition to the information, which a lot of it is in blog form and consistently tagged for easy navigation, Linzmayer has also compiled one of the best references on world paper money called The Banknote Book. He said he did this because he and other collectors were frustrated with the “many errors, omissions, and poor-quality images” in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money.

The Banknote Book can be purchased as a physical book as a three-volume set complete through 2014 or you can buy individual chapters corresponding to the country of your interest.

If you want to check it out for yourself, download 17 Free Sample Chapters and judge for yourself.

Currency Bookmarks

Do you want to add these links to your browser’s bookmarks? Right-click (or Mac users can CTRL-Click) on the following button and select whatever option your browser requires to save the file to hard drive. Import the file as an “HTML Bookmark” file to add these links to your bookmarks.

Insight into Online Research Sources

I am often asked what resources I used for online research when writing articles for the Coin Collectors Blog. For more than 12 years of writing this blog, I have found hundreds of websites that I have used to various degrees. However, there are a few that have provided the best information.

No single website can provide all of the information available. This is why I keep many sources at hand. The problem is that I do not keep them in one neat location. Some of them I remember and then there are snippets of text, bookmarks, and even computer code that I refer to when I have to start looking up information. Not only will this provide you with research starting points but it also gives me a chance to organize my bookmarks!

Before I list my sources, there is one tool that must be included in any online reference: Google. Google is a great search tool because it is the only search engine that really tries to add context of the search. For example, if you are searching for something to do with coin dies you will get related items and not information about games with dice or something about death.

When searching for information using Google is to try to be as exact as possible with the search term including using characters with diacritic (accent) marks. Using the proper diacritic marks will help find foreign language sources that could provide additional information not found in English. Also, Google can search using terms that are entered using non-Latin characters including Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Asian languages.

If you find a non-English site or a site in a language you are not familiar with, Google Translate (translate.google.com) is a great tool for translating this information. You can either enter phrases into Google Translate or enter a URL for it to download and translate pages.

Primary Sources

When it is time to find information about modern coins, currency, production totals, and images, the primary source are the government bureaus that manufacture the money.

United States Mint: www.usmint.gov
Bureau of Engraving and Printing: www.moneyfactory.gov

There is a lot that goes into the money manufacturing process in the U.S. An overview of the bureaus and other agencies can be found the U.S. Coin and Currency Production page.

Trusted Sources

Although there is quite a bit of numismatic information available online, one of the biggest benefit of being a member of the American Numismatic Association is to have access to The Numismatist in electronic form. The $28 per year basic membership gives you access to this resource electronically.

The Numismatist

For other historical publication and a lot of information, consider using the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis. Aside from being a rich source of information, many of the publications they index are located in the Internet Archive. Clicking through to the site will allow you to download many of the publications as a PDF or ePub for your tablet reader.

Another archive you may also want to search is Google Books. The advantage of Google Books is that they offer more formats for the books that have been imaged including a version that has been processed using an optical character recognition (OCR) program. While the OCR versions are far from perfect, it is wonderful if you are looking to copy-and-past quotes into your own writing. Google Books may not have the full text of every reference found because of copyright restrictions but once you find the book you can either buy the book or borrow it from a library making it a great for doing index searches.

ANA members can borrow books from the Dwight N. Manley Numismatic Library. There is no cost to borrow books but you will have to pay for shipping. The Library can also provide research and copy services for a fee. Although research services are fee-based and open to anyone, the fees are lower for ANA members.

Archived Publication Sources

Guides

Online guides are resources for individual coins. Each of the resources listed have their strengths and weaknesses making it important that you consult more than one when looking for information. The following list are the guides I consult in alphabetical order:

Price Guides

Whether you are a casual collector, more expert, or someone looking at coins, the one question that is always ask is “What is that coin worth?”

Coin values are subjective and based on a lot of factors. It can be so confusing that I wrote a two part series How Are Coins Priced (Part I and Part II). Even if you understand the principles, there is a need for price guides.

Price guides are not perfect. They have their own formula and their own biases for what makes up prices. For example, the price guides sponsored by the grading services are the prices for coins in their holders. This is why I consult a few price guides when doing research. The following are the price guides I have used:

One of the key aspect of pricing is the level of conservation or the grade of the coin. When it comes to be able to judge the grade of the coin there is only one website I use:

Bullion Values

Another aspect of pricing is the value of the coin’s metals. There are many sites that can provide spot prices, I have found the following very helpful:

Communities

There are quite a few online communities that discuss numismatics. Some of them are very good while others can be a bit harsh for the average collector. For general knowledge and access to a wide range of knowledge I recommend the following:

The E-Sylum has been called the best free numismatic resource on the Internet. After being a subscriber for the last five years, it is difficult to argue with that statement. Many of the contributors are a Who’s Who of the numismatic industry. While you can read the E-Sylum online, you should subscribe. Better yet, if you are an ANA member you will receive a copy in email. Do not delete it! Read it! It gets a PR-70DCAM rating from this reviewer!

Mobile Apps

If we are talking about online access to sources there has to be a mention of mobile apps. Since I am an Apple iPhone user, I use the iOS version of these apps. However, all of them have Android equivalents. Some also have versions the run on Windows Mobile. Here are the apps I have installed on my iOS devices (in alphabetical order):

Universal Apps (iPhone and iPad)
  • Coinflation
  • NGC
  • PCGS Coin Cert Verification
  • PCGS CoinFacts
  • PCGS Photograde
  • PCGS Price Guide
  • XE Currency
iPad Only
  • The Numismatist HD (2009 – present)
  • The Numismatist Magazine (All editions)
  • Kcast Gold Live! (Kitco)
iPhone only
  • CDN Coin & Currency Pricing
  • EyeNote (BEP)
  • Gold Live!+ (Kitco)
  • NantMobile MoneyReader
NOTES:

† Both apps are available for the iPhone
‡ Note that there are different versions for the iPhone and iPad. The “+” is not a typo.
Website Links

Website Links are bookmarks on the phone’s Home Screen. On the iPhone open Safari and go to the page you want to bookmark the press the sharing icon (the box with the arrow pointed up). In the popup select “Add to Home Screen” from the set of icons on the second line.

Bookmarks

Do you want to add these links to your browser’s bookmarks? Right-click (or Mac users can CTRL-Click) on the following button and select whatever option your browser requires to save the file to hard drive. Import the file as an “HTML Bookmark” file to add these links to your book marks.

19th Century Women in Numismatics

As part of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s celebration of Women’s History Month, they posted the following image on Facebook (copied here for those who do not use Facebook):

More than 150 years ago, four-subject sheets of Demand Notes, printed by a private firm, were delivered to the Treasury Department where they were individually signed by clerks, and trimmed and separated with scissors by women.

I thought it was a cool picture and wanted to make sure it is shared in the community!

Image courtey of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

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