Mint is Not for Sale!

No, the U.S. Mint is not being privatized or sold to anyone. Given the significance of the date, I thought I would add to the fun.

If you read the post carefully, you would have noticed:

  • The “Poboy Mint” was a play on Pobjoy Mint, the private mint based on Surrey, England. While the Pobjoy Mint strikes coins for other governments, particularly smaller members of the Commonwealth Realm, I don’t think they would be a candidate to buy U.S. government assets. Besides, they probably won’t make a good Po’ Boy sandwich!
  • The Chairman of the House Financial Committee is Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). I don’t know who Jed Harding is or if that is the name of a real person.
  • Similarly, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee is Richard Shelby (R-AL). In trying to come up with a translated name, all I could think about was Carroll Shelby, the man who created the AC Cobra and later the Ford Mustang Cobra.
  • Brad Hoyle sounds like he should be a card game inventor but he is not Brendan Boyle (D-PA) who represents the Philadelphia district where the U.S. Mint is located.
  • While Dana Gillette sounds like she might be a top sports broadcaster or spokesperson, Diana DeGette (D-CO) represents the fine people of Denver.
  • MUSC doesn’t exist but musk is a substance secreted from a gland under the skin of a male musk deer that is used in perfumery. Without being mixed with other scents, musk does not smell good!
  • Finally, congress is on spring break and (thankfully) not in Washington!

In short:

Like the Orson Well’s broadcast of The War of the Worlds, all you had to do is change the channel (or check another source).

That was fun!

Stand by for more on the Whitman Baltimore Spring Expo.

Congress Votes to Privatize the Mint

In what is seen as an election year move during a late night session, congress voted mostly along party lines to sell the U.S. Mint and its assets to a private corporation headed by the founders of the Poboy Mint.

The measure moved quickly through congress after the bill was introduced by House Banking Committee Chairman Jed Harding. In his floor statement, Harding said that he and his senate counterpart Carroll Cobra have been discussing this with interested companies and other members for more than a year. They see it as a way to make money without making money.

Under the terms of the agreement, the current U.S. Mint properties will be leased to the Mint of the United States Corporation (MUSC), the new entity being created for this venture. They are required to use these facilities for 50 years at which time either party can end the agreement with 120-days notice.

Rep. Brad Hoyle said that he worked hard to ensure that the facility in Philadelphia remained. “The Mint employs a lot of people in Philadelphia,” Hoyle said. “We just couldn’t see all those jobs leaving.”

“Besides,” Hoyle continued, “how would it look if the city where the Mint started would lose the Mint after all these years? It would be devastating to our local economy.”

Dana Gillette, who represents Denver was note as upbeat. Gillette disagrees with the privatization efforts saying, “I know the constitution does not say that the government doesn’t have to own the Mint, but this is a bit too far.”

The transfer to MUSC will begin immediately, ending 224 years of operating as a government entity.

Board games going cashless! What’s this world coming to?!

Monopoly Ultimate Banking, a cashless version of the famous board game.

Monopoly Ultimate Banking, a cashless version of the famous board game.

Could toy maker Hasbro be projecting the future of money?

At the 2016 New York Toy Fair, Hasbro announced that it will release an “update” the famedMonopoly game creating the Monopoly Ultimate Banking Game where the cash has been eliminated for electronic bank cards. The bank is now a hand-held unit that will scan the bank cards to make transactions.

As part of the game, the bank card is used to pay rent, taxes from the cards, and buy property. The new property cards will now have bar codes for the players to scan in order to make the purchase or mortgage their property.

This version of Monopoly will still have Chance cards. Previews suggest that the Community Chest cards have been eliminated. Chance cards will now allow for market crashes, fluctuations in rent, and other “real life” scenarios faced in the modern age.

Hasbro does have an Electronic Banking edition that uses a similar hand-held device. A Hasbro representative said that the Electronic Banking edition is the traditional Monopoly game using the bank card technology. It does not have the ability to scan property cards for transactions and requires more manual input than will be allowed for the Ultimate Banking Game.

Recently, the advocates for a cashless society or one that uses a limited amount of physical currency have been on their virtual soapboxes trying to find every reason to eliminate cash. One story that appeared on the CNBC website reported about a San Francisco-area restauranteur who tried to accept only credit cards had to reverse the decision because of backlash from customers.

There are segments of our culture who do not trust banks. There are industries that work better when the transactions are made in cash. There are some of us who do not like the electronic trail non-cash transactions create. These are only some of the reason cash will continue to live on.

Hasbro said that the Monopoly Ultimate Banking Game will be released later this summer. My only question is will it support house rules like double payment for landing on Go or having the taxes paid to the Free Parking pool for the next player that lands there?

All images courtesy of Mashable.

It escaped from Canada!

1966 Canadian one-cent found in pocket change

1966 Canadian one-cent found in pocket change

How could it have escaped from Canada?

We need to build a wall!

We know that the Royal Canadian Mint struck their last 1-cent coin in 2012. During the six-month transition, Canadian banks were helping recall 1-cent coins while cash sales began to be rounded up or down to the nearest 5-cents.

But when I made a purchase at a local convenience store, my change included a 1966 Canadian 1-cent coin. Even though the coin is still legal tender it is not usable. I can visit an agent for the Bank of Canada or the Royal Canadian Mint to turn it in for updated coins. I was told that the minimum they will take for exchange is 100 coins. If I can scrape together 99 more coins I can trade it for a Loonie.

At the current exchange rate, the coin is worth only 0.0074 U.S. cents. Someone owes me 0.0026 cents!

Maybe I should go back to that store and see if they would give me a Canadian 5-cents coin and I would give them four U.S. cents. That would make it even.

It’s Friday. Why not have a little fun after finding a Canadian cent in my change!

Powerball and my numismatic fantasy

PowerBallAs I write this the current estimated jackpot for Powerball on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 is $1.4 billion. It is the largest lottery jackpot in history.

If you win the jackpot and elect to be paid out over 30 years, you will receive $46,666,666.66 per year, less taxes.

The cash-out option, where you take all of the cash up front, is estimated to be “only” $868 million, less taxes.

As for the taxes, the lottery takes 25-percent off the top but you will still be required to pay the federal rate of 39.6-percent and your state tax. In places like New York City there is also a city tax. While I love New York, I would move before collecting the prize!

If you were wondering, the best place to move because of the taxes would be to California. California does not tax lottery winnings. But you will be subject to the federal income taxes at the highest rates.

For discussion, let’s imagine that you won and decided on the cash-out option. If you consider your state tax is the average of 7-percent, you will be left with $747.6 million. After you pay the bills, buy the new dream home, cars, vacations, etc., most of my readers should consider what you are going to do with your numismatic collection. You can build a great collection or purchase just about any coin with what is left.

What is your numismatic fantasy?

If I win Powerball, I will put up a $15 million reward for the owner of a surviving 1964-D Peace dollar to sell this special coin to me. The coin must be able to be certified as legitimate by experts in a manner that the Walton Liberty Head Nickel was certified. The reward will be paid only if the coin can be certified.

Why did I choose $15 million? Because I wanted to ensure that it was the most expensive coin on record. For a coin this special and this unique, it should be an appropriate price.

You know mine, what is yours?

Artist's conception of a 1964-D Peace dollar.

PCGS is offering a $10,000 reward to verify a genuine 1964-D Peace dollar, the number one coin on the new PCGS Top 100 Modern U.S. Coins list. This image is a PCGS artist’s conception of a 1964-D Peace dollar.

UPDATE: I didn’t win the $1.5 billion jackpot. Sorry, no reward for a 1964-D Peace Dollar at this time!
Powerball logo courtesy of the Multi-State Lottery Association.
Fantasy image of the 1964-D Peace dollar courtesy of PCGS.

A Perfect 10!

Coin Collectors BlogSometime in 2005 I began to search the Internet for information about coins. The two major publications, Coin World and Numismatic News, were not quite fully engaged online at that time. There were other online services but there was not something that would be the voice of a collector. Chat boards are nice but they are fractured. I wanted to have a conversation with the community.

Although I have a technical background, I did not know how to create and run a blog. After doing some research I discovered Blogger, Google’s blogging platform. After playing with the administration and learning how to create a blog post, I wrote my first post on October 29, 2005.

In my first post, I said that the coins I like include “Adolph A. Weinman’s Walking Liberty Half-Dollar and Liberty Head “Mercury” Dime, James Earl Fraser’s Buffalo Nickel, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ $20 Double Eagle, and Bela Lyon Pratt $5 Half-Eagle.” Not much has changed except for my interest in exonumia, especially those pieces with ties to New York City, and the addition of Canadian coins to my collection

The blog has changed, or I would like to think it has evolved over the years. The biggest change was moving away from Blogger to my own domain. As part of the move I decided to create a logo using the allegedly non-existent 1964-D Peace Dollar, and I now participate social media specifically Twitter and Pinterest. What has not changed is the amazed and humbling experience I feel when I look at the server logs to see that more than 1,000 people read my posts—even with the recent slowdown in writing.

To all my readers, past, present and future, THANK YOU for being part of my numismatic adventure!

Stay tune… more to come!

A story that will not go away

Movie IdeaThe other day I walked into the office of a big-shot producer and pitched a story for a movie that had the possibilities of a sequel. Here is the story I pitched:

Our story opens in Philadelphia where the U.S. Mint is striking 445,500 double eagle coins bearing the design by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

Flash to Washington where President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 6102 that banned the private use of gold for currency.

Transition back to Philadelphia where a shadowy figure, presumably the U.S. Mint’s cashier, is locking the doors of the coin room but is clearly clanking coins in his pocket.

Watch as the cashier grabs his coat, hat, a small bag and leaves the Mint. He walks to the Philadelphia’s diamond district where he knocks on the backdoor of jeweler Israel Switt. Switt opens the door and the two men talk. Switt hands the cashier a bag and the cashier hands the bag he was carrying to Switt then leaves.

Fast forward to 1944. An emissary for King Farouk of Egypt is meeting with someone at the State Department to obtain permission to export a 1933 double eagle to Egypt for his vast collection. Not knowing whom to call, the State Department worker calls the Smithsonian who verifies the coin that leads to an export permit.

Next, a series of investigations and stories about the seizing of 10 double eagle coins that the Secret Service says should not have left the U.S. Mint. This part of the story goes to 1952.

Scene is the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in 1996. British coin dealer Stephen Fenton is attempting to buy a 1933 double eagle when the Secret Service interrupts the transaction and arrests him.

Attorney Barry Berke helps get Fenton out of jail and begins to build a case against the government. The defense claims that King Farouk of Egypt legally exported the coin. Some court drama and negotiations lead to charges against Fenton being dropped but the coin not returned to Fenton.

The scene is Federal Court in Manhattan where Berke is negotiating a settlement with federal attorneys. Finally, in July 2001, both sides agree that the coin would become federal property and sold at auction. The Fenton and the government would split the proceeds of the auction. The government required the buyer pay an extra $20 to officially monetize the coin.

Flash to the World Trade Center where the coin is removed from a safe and transferred to the government.

Brief pause for a scene about the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Fade to Southeby’s Auction on July 30, 2002 where the coin sells for $6.6 million plus a 15-percent buyer’s premium. After the auction Stephen Fenton received $3.3 million. Another $3.3 million was deposited in the federal treasury. Southeby’s and their auction partner Stack’s earned $990,000. The president of Southeby’s will pull $20 out of his pocket and hand it to the government’s representative to monetize the coin.

New scene is in a dark basement in Philadelphia. Joan Langbord, Israel Switt’s surviving daughter, will be opening boxes as if she was looking for something. Soon she would find a bag with ten 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle coins.

Langbord contacts the U.S. Mint and hands the coins over for authentication. In July 2005 they determine the coins are real and confiscates them.

Langboad contacts Berke to help recover the coins.

First trial occurs in July 2011, which leads to a unanimous decision against Langbord who was joined by her sons in the lawsuit. The elderly Langbord did this to protect the family’s interest.

Scene changes to the transfer of the ten coins to the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Langbord appeals and a three-judge panel will vacate the forfeiture and order the government to return the coins.

The government appeals and asks that the return order be vacated in order to appeal the decision. Rather, the Chief Judge of the Third Circuit will stay the order and ruled that the appeal will be en banc, meaning that the appeal will be heard before the entire bench of judges this year.

Fade to the image of the ten coins in Fort Knox with the lettering “To be continued…” overlaying the screen.

The producer found the story so unbelievable that he threw me out of his office.

Just goes to prove that reality is weirder than fiction!

Image courtesy of Film Making Stuff

Hometown collecting

Inwood Country ClubIn the 1960s when my parents’ first child was becoming old enough to be enrolled in school, they decided it was time to move out of Brooklyn for the better schools of Long Island. One day, my father found an advertisement in the newspaper for some new homes being built in an old hamlet on Long Island called Inwood. In New York-speak, a hamlet is not an official location but a section of a larger village or township named for jurisdictional purposes. Hamlets are very much like any other area but without its own formal government.

Inwood was one of the Five Towns along with Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, and Hewlett. Each had its own character, divisions, points of interest but were together geographically, socially, and and as a larger community. Some of that has changed over the years, but the Five Towns still exists as a central part of life in that area. Although identified as a hamlet, Inwood had its own identity from the rest of the Five Towns. Inwood was more working class than the rest of the Five Towns. It is the home to two schools that were part of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Public Schools (now just the Lawrence Public Schools), P.S. #4 was the kindergarten and P.S. #2 was the elementary school (then Grades 1-6). There was some industry in an area we called “the factories” and some offices. Not too far was a bowling alley, a few gas stations, and the A&P. A few churches, a synagogue (that no longer exists), the VFW Hall, and the volunteer fire department was all part of daily life.

Many of us have gone in own directions but we cannot forget what made Inwood home for us. One of the ubiquitous parts of Inwood was the golf course. Officially, it is called the Inwood Country Club. Aside from being a private club where many of us were not allowed to enter, it dominated the entire length of Donahue Avenue that was our major route when we walked to school. There were no sidewalks on that side of the street. Trees hung over the shoulder and in the spring and fall you can see and hear the men playing golf.

The last time I visited Inwood, I noticed that the road was better paved and the shoulder that we walked along was no longer available. The fence line came to the edge of the road and a distinct curb was added. The trees were thinner and he shrubbery that dominated the fence when I walked that road was gone. You can now see the golf course from the street.

Although I never went into the Inwood Country Club until I found someone to invite me in the 1980s, its presence looms large in my memory. Our backyard backed up into a swamp-like area owned by the club that would flood when Jamaica Bay overflowed. It was a buffer between the bay and the golf course. The only other landmark in the area that dominated as much as the Inwood Country Club was Kennedy Airport across the bay.

Inwood Country Club was opened in 1901 by Jacob Wertheim because there were few places to play golf on Long Island. Its claim to fame for the golf world is that it was the host to the 1921 PGA Championship that was won by Walter Hagen and the 1923 U.S. Open Championship won by Bobby Jones. The 1923 U.S. Open was Jonse’s first major championship of his professional career. Jones won with what was then considered one of the finest shots on the 18th hole of the playoff that was then called “the shot heard around the world.”

Whenever I find something about Inwood that finds its way for sale I usually try to buy it. Souvenirs from Inwood are not plentiful and numismatic-related souvenirs are even rarer. But when a token honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Inwood Country Club came along, I was a strong bidder. I might have overbid, but I had to make this token part of my collection.

1951-Inwood-CC-50th-Anniversary

It looks like it is made of a white metal, maybe zinc, coated with copper based on the wearing on the reverse. It is 16.75 mm in diameter making it smaller than a dime, which is 17.9 mm in diameter. But it has survived well for being that small and 64 years old.

This goes to show that you do not have to collect coins to have fun in numismatics!

Inwood Country Club clubhouse image courtesy of the Inwood Country Club.

Interesting reads in the mean time…

When I discussed the American Numismatic Association election, I noted that my posting has been more sporadic because of a business I started. This will continue at least for the next few months.

coinsblog-TwitterHowever, if you are looking for different types of coin news and information, I invite you to follow me on Twitter. You can find me @coinsblog. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, it is a social media site where users post information using 140 characters or less. This makes it difficult to post long diatribes of extensive notes. What it is good for is to post short messages with a link to longer stories.

Those who either follow my Twitter feed on the web, using their favorite app, or the the box on the sidebar of this page will note that I will post links to coin, currency, and bullion-related stories from around the web. These stories are not from the usual set of numismatic-related websites like CoinNews.net, CoinWeek, Coin World, Numismatic News, etc. I figure that many of you would read these sites without my prompting. If you are not reading the articles on those sites, here is my endorsement for all of them. I read them all regularly.

Items I do post are from other news sources from around the web. Most of the articles are from media outlets but there are some financial blogs that make it into the mix.

The stories I post are about coins that have been about issued or planned to be issued coins and currency; news about bullion; some economic news that will affect circulating coins and currency; stories about shows where ever they appear; stories about collectors and collecting; or anything else that catches my eye.

The stories that end up in my Twitter stream are “hand selected.” This means I have a few saved searches and I periodically read through them looking for something interesting. Sometimes there are a lot of stories on one topic, such as the recent stories about France being upset with Belgium for striking a Waterloo commemorative. Other times it could be serious but amusing items like Zimbabwe phasing out its inflation currency at the rate of on U.S. dollar for ever Z$35 Quadrillion (that’s Z$35,000,000,000,000,000 or Z$35 thousand million) of inflation currency.

Similarly, I will post interesting pictures I find onto Pinterest. Pinterest is social media for pictures. Pictures are pinned to Pinterest like a bulletin board. You can follow those who pin on Pinterest (pinners) or their individual pin boards. I keep a few boards on Pinterest that I pin to as I look at the various articles. I try to pin something different than the usual coins. Most comes from the articles I find as I search for news stories.

Unless I find something different, most of the items from the news I post to my “In The News” board. One of my popular boards is “Coin & Currency Art” where I post items made from coins or currency or items made to look like coins and currency (that are not or intended to be counterfeit). If you like looking at interesting items, you might want to join Pinterest and start to follow many of the numismatic-related pinners already on the site.

 
I will try to finish some posts I started shortly. Until then, stay tuned and watch social media for my take on the on-going news.

Always trust but verify sources… or check the date!

Did you get it? Did you figure it out? If you read yesterday’s post you would have discovered:

  • H.R. 1776 has not been introduced in the 114th congress and there is no such bill as the U.S. Mint Restoration Act. But it sounded good!
  • Even if the House of Representatives passed such a bill, it would still have to be voted on by the Senate and signed by the president.
  • As for some of the actors in this play, House Financial Committee Chairman is Jeb Hensarling, not “Jim Hensling.” I don’t think they are related.
  • anking member of the House Financial Committee is Maxine Waters, not Max Waterston. Max is not related to Sam
  • Janet Yellen is a home girl (Brooklyn born, like your blog host) and Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. I’m sure Jan Yelling is a nice person, but she’s not running the Fed.
  • In an attempt not to use “Rhett Butler,” Rhett Jepson is the U.S. Mint’s Principal Deputy Director. I don’t know who Jett Butler is—but he sounds like he should be a kicker or something.
  • Rosie Rios is a very nice person and is the Treasurer of the United States. Rosalind Rio could be her evil twin, but that is not confirmed.
  • Finally, Jake Lou sounds like a good-ol’ boy, but he is not the Secretary of the Treasury. Jacob “Jack” Lew is the man in that job probably way too busy for this stuff.

In short:

APRIL FOOLS!

Like the Orson Well’s broadcast of The War of the Worlds, all you had to do is change the channel (or check another source).

That was fun!

Now back to our regular numismatic content.

Pin It on Pinterest