Weekly Numismatic World News for October 15, 2017

The old Round Pound and the new 12-sided £1 coin

As you read this, the old round £1 coins have ceased to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.

British news outlets are reporting that millions of the old round pounds are still in circulation but that might not be bad news for many Britons. There are reports that many coin-operated systems have not been converted to take the new 12-sided £1 coin including supermarkets, where a £1 pound coin is necessary to “rent” a trolley, what the British call their shopping cart.

Two of the U.K.’s largest grocery store chains have announced they will continue to accept the round pound through the end of October because their trolley systems are not ready.

Charities are getting into the act by accepting the old round pound as donations. Many charities will continue to accept the coin through the final redemption period in March 2018 as donations. The charities are working with banks to deposit the coins.

It has been fascinating to read the news of how the U.K. has tried to adapt to the new coin. The biggest issue has been with the use of coin-operated equipment like trolley rentals and parking meters. It is a lesson to any active economy, such as her in the United States, as to what could happen should the composition of U.S. coins change.

Although there have been discussions as to whether to change the composition of United States coinage, it is not likely to happen for many reasons. What may be gaining support is dropping the $1 Federal Reserve Note in favor of a dollar coin. This would not require changes in coin-operated systems but a change in attitudes. Given how resilient Americans can be, it would be possible to end production of the $1 FRN and just endure the kvetching that will ensue. That will end when people get used the coin.

And now the news…

 October 9, 2017

LeRoy Transfield A photo of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Native Contingent. Utah sculptor LeRoy Transfield had two uncles who served in the unit during World War I. → Read more at deseretnews.com


 October 11, 2017

The discovery of gold rings and coins on a Swedish island sheds new light on the history of the area, and could give insight into the motives for a massacre which took place in the fifth century, archaeologists told The Local on Wednesday. → Read more at thelocal.se


 October 12, 2017

Share → Read more at adweek.com


 October 12, 2017

People buy gold in various forms like jewellery, coins etc. Here are 7 things to know if you are buying gold coins this Diwali. → Read more at economictimes.indiatimes.com


 October 13, 2017

The Carl Brashear Foundation wants to bring its namesake’s legacy home to the veterans center that soon will bear his name. → Read more at thenewsenterprise.com


 October 14, 2017

By Katie Lange Defense Media Activity → Read more at dodlive.mil


 October 15, 2017

Shoppers have one day left to spend their old round £1 coins before they cease to become legal tender at midnight. Hundreds of millions of round pounds are yet to be handed in, as only hours remain before the coin drops out of general circulation.  However, major banks and building societies have said they will continue to accept the old coins after the deadline on Sunday.  They can also be deposited into any of the usual high street banks or through the Post Office. → Read more at independent.co.uk


 October 15, 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017 → Read more at jamaicaobserver.com


 October 15, 2017

Currency modernization will help secure our financial futures and save billions of dollars for taxpayers. → Read more at cnbc.com

Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws
Image courtesy of the Royal Mint.

As round pound winds down the number of fake errors are rising

As the British are winding down the use of the Round Pound, stories are once again popping up about errors of the new 12-sided pound coin being sold for high prices on eBay.

Although the Royal Mint has admitted to manufacturing issues in trying to produce enough new pound coins to satisfy circulation requirements, their claim that the number of errors where the center are missing of the bi-metallic coins is likely post-minting errors.

A weak strike can prevent the two metals from fusing properly allowing them to separate

In other words, they are suggesting that people are removing the centers of the coin to claim they are errors.

To better understand why it is being claimed these are post-mint errors, I contacted a European-based dealer who has relationships with many of the continent’s mints. What follows is a summary of his explanation.

The Royal Mint coins money in a process similar to any other mint. Planchets are prepared, sent the coining press, stamped, dumped into a hopper, and sent down a conveyor where they are bagged. The bags are weight to a precise weight before the bags are accepted. Along the way, there are cameras and other sensors to detect errors.

All of the checks and sensors, including the weight of the coin, would be caught long before reaching the bagging section. Aside from the dimensions not being correct, the weight of the ring or center by themselves would not be up to the standard.

It is possible that the coins could separate in the bags during transport. However, these coins are transported to government authorized handlers. Some of them are similar to the companies that drive armored trucks here in the United States. They take the coins and prepare them for delivery to the banks.

The preparation process requires coins to be counted, rolled, and bagged. As part of the process, the coins are loaded into a system that transfers them to an automated line that brings the coins by conveyor to a machine that will either roll them or dump them in a bag. In both cases, the contents are limited by the amount they hold.

As part of the automated system, the coins are counted and check for size and weight so that if there are any coins that do not meet the Royal Mint’s standards are removed. The automated system would catch the ring and the center if they separated before the process.

Coins that are to be rolled are sent to a machine to roll them where they are counted and placed in rolls of £25 each. Those rolls are for bank and retail use and handled accordingly.

Bagged coins are used by bulk handlers such as the coin-op industry. Bags with £100 of coins are counted before being placed in the bag. If the coin cannot be verified before it is placed in the bag then the coin is rejected.

Is it possible for the coin to separate in the £100 pound bag prior to circulation? Of course, it is. However, there is one more check before the coins reach the consumer, and that is the coin-op machine itself.

Coin-op machines have mechanisms to try to prevent accepting counterfeit money and to ensure it is giving the proper change. Machines just do not eject any coin in its hopper. These checks include the weight, dimensions, and magnetic signature. The magnetic signature measures what happens after magnetic energy is flashed on the coin. Think about it as measuring how the coin would reflect light but use magnetism instead.

A pound coin that had separated would not pass the magnetic signature test and be rejected.

Although there are a number of points along the process that could fail, the number of checks between the Royal Mint and the consumer, it is highly unlikely that all of these separated pound coins exist.

It is possible that the coins being sold are from the reject bins of coin-op machines. However, the dealer I spoke with is suspicious of the number of coins being sold.

Trial strikes found without the effigy of Queen Elizabeth, II

This dealer told me that he will not buy 12-sided pound coins dated 2016 without their centers. Technically, they are not coins because they originally did not have the portrait of Queen Elizabeth on the front. Under British law, all legal tender coins must have the image of the monarch on the front. In 2016, the Royal Mint created about 2000 of these 12-sided test slugs for businesses to test coin-op systems ahead of the conversion. The dealer community has serious doubts that the test slugs had these errors and believes that people separated the centers from the rings.

My dealer contact said that nobody should pay more than “three-and-a-half quid” (£3.50 or $4.64 at the current exchange rate) for just a 12-sided pound outer ring. Even if it is not a legitimate Royal Mint error it is a nice conversation piece.

Examples of legitimate 12-sided £1 coin errors
Credits

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.

2018 Winter Olympics Medals Unveiled

On Thursday, September 21, 2017, the PyeongChang Olympic Committee unveiled the design of the medals that will be awarded during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Medals

According to the PyeonChang Olympic Committee, the design of the metals is inspired by Korean culture and traditions. The texture of the metals are intended to symbolize tree trunks representing the trees symbolizes the work that has gone into developing Korean culture. Edge lettering includes did the games in both English and Korean.

The ribbon that will be used on the medals has been created using Gapsa, a traditional Korean fabric that is used to make Hanbok. Hanbok is a type of traditional Korean dress.

The medals were designed by Lee Suk–woo, serves as a Director of Dongwon Metal Co., Ltd. Lee is the company’s General Manager and creative director. He is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University.

Medal Specifications

  • GOLD: 586 grams made from .999 silver and plated with 6 grams of gold
    $566.55 melt value with a silver spot price of $16.87 and gold spot price of $1289.30
  • SILVER: 580 grams made from .999 silver
    $317.84 melt value with a silver spot price of $16.87
  • BRONZE: 493 grams made from .900 copper and .100 zinc
    $2.97 melt value with a copper price of $2.8837 per pound and zinc price of $1.3932 per pound
  • All medals are 92.5 mm in diameter period
  • Medals range in thickness from 4.4 mm at its thinest to 9.42 mm at its thickest

Medal Design

Uses consonants of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet system extended across the face of the medal from its side

  • Obverse: Olympic rings
  • Reverse: Discipline, event, and PyeongChang 2018 emblem
  • Edge: Official title of the PyeongChang 2018 Games in the Korean consonants

Medal Case

  • Wooden cased designed with curves witnessed in Korean traditional architecture as the motif translated into a modern concept
  • Contains the medal, medal description, the IOC badge, and medallist note

Wooden case given to 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics medalists

Medal Production

Quantity: total 259 sets

  • 222 to be awarded to athletes (102 medal events)
  • 5 sets as contingency in case of tie
  • 25 sets to be submitted to the IOC
  • 7 sets for display in Korea

Produced by the Korea Minting, Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corporation (KOMSCO)

All images courtesy of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Committee.

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.

Numismatic Eclipse

As we wait for the shadow of the moon to trek across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina, I was curious as to whether there were coins ever created to commemorate any of the past eclipses regardless of location.

Allowing an online search engine to help, I was able to find a few coins.

I am sure there may be a few more, but I need to run out to pick up a pair of those funky glasses!

Credits

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 fake British pound errors

On the left is an altered British £1 coin. The coin on the right is a legitimate coin.

As the British public transitions to the new £1 coin, the finding of errors in the minting process by the Royal Mint have led to a new phenomenon, the counterfeiting of those errors.

According to media reports confirmed by the Royal Mint, the three significant errors found are when the thistle on the reverse did not strike properly is produced as a smooth blob, the copper-nickel center of the bimetallic planchet appears to have melted across the coin, and the inner disc and outer ring did not fuse properly. Coins with legitimate errors have been sold on eBay (U.K. and U.S.) for significant premiums.

Unfortunately, scammers have picked up on these problems and have been selling altered coins on eBay as errors. Common alterations are based on removing the silver-colored center and create error-like coins by making different alterations. Amongst the tries to create something that looks like an error includes the Queen’s portrait appearing on the wrong side of the coin and facing the wrong direction which is impossible because of the how these coins are struck, the center of the obverse lacking the Queen’s portrait, and gouges removed from the center.

Both the errors and fakes are being sold for an average of £300 (approx. $386.13) on eBay.

If you want to purchase a British £1 error coin carefully examine the image and the image of a legitimate coin from the Royal Mint’s website. Make sure the person you are buying from has a return policy or buy from a dealer. Of course, it is easier to be careful buying from the U.K. on that side of the Atlantic, but for those U.S.-based error enthusiasts, you have to do your due diligence. Otherwise, you may get stuck with a fake!

Known legitimate errors
Image of counterfeit courtesy of AOL (UK) Money.

Using coins to spread protest messages

As I am working on a manuscript about counterfeiting coins and currency, I started to search the internet for the location of some information when I stumbled on The British Museum’s website. Rather than find something about counterfeiting, searching the term “defacing coins” lead me to the most recent Curator’s Corner blog entry by Thomas Hockenhull, the curator of Modern Money for The British Museum.

For this entry, Hockenhull found a 1903 large penny with the words “VOTES FOR WOMEN” engraved over the head of King Edward III. It was done as part of the suffragist protests in England prior to World War I. Although not much of a presenter, The British Museum recorded a video featuring Hockenhull describing the coin and his research into how it might have come into existence. Rather than rehash what he said, you can watch the video here:

I have not to been to London for many years, but I remember spending a day at The British Museum was a highlight of the trip. It is one of the great museums of the world and worth setting at least one day touring the museum. There is so much to see that if you love to see the living embodiment of history, consider spending more than a day.

Flea market coin hunting

A glance into my booth at DC Big Flea

Welcome to my first 100-percent blog post by iPhone. I am sitting in my booth at DC Big Flea on Sunday waiting for the afternoon crowd and decided to share pictures of some of the coins I found during my Saturday afternoon walk around the show floor. Considering how long it takes to type on the iPhone, and taking care of business, it might take most of the day to finish this post!

One thing I like about this business is the variety of items that you can find. Aside from the various antiques and collectibles, there are a lot of interesting numismatic items that you may not find at a coin dealer’s table at almost any show. Most of these are not high priced items but are very interesting. For example, while Love Tokens can bring a nice premium, only a few specialized dealers would carry them. Since most of the dealers are also pickers. They will buy all of this stuff and bring it to a show like this.

A couple of smamples that I missed taking pictures of includes someone who had a coffee cup full of buffalo nickels for 25-cents a coin. After searching through most of the coins, all of them had at least a partial date. Not a dateless coin to be found. Another dealer was selling circulated Morgan dollars in VG-to-XF condition for $20 a coin, which is pretty good since the catalog value of most of these coins are $25-45 each. Current melt value of Morgan dollars is a little more than $14.

Although I do not have coins in my inventory at this show, you could have come by and bought a Red Book from one of the contributors, cheap!

Here are the pictures uploaded directly from my iPhone:

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