About running for the ANA Presidency…

In my blog post “About the ANA Presidency” I said that I would challenge Mike Ellis for the position.While researching what was required to run for President of the American Numismatic Association I discovered that, according to the ANA Bylaws, I would have to have served on the Board of Governors at least one term. Since I ran unsuccessfully in 2013, I am not eligible to run for ANA President.

NEWS UPDATE

I learned that Gary Adkins has announced he will be running for President of the ANA. Having worked with Gary as part of my participation with the Technology Committee, I believe that Gary is looking to improve on the work that has been done that has gone into fixing the ANA. He will not be looking for an unnecessary “fresh start!” While I applaud Gary’s decision to run, it will not affect my decision.

The decision to attempt to run for an ANA office is not made lightly. I continue to believe that Ellis is not the right person to be president of the ANA, especially since he wants a “fresh start.” A fresh start from what, the progress over the last few years from the turmoil and lawsuits that he is a likely contributor?

One of the problems with the governance of the ANA is that there are too many dealers and too many selfish people who run for the Board with a personal agenda and not an agenda that benefits the organization. I have nothing against dealers but I do not think they should dominate ANA governance. As for the others, some who say that are interested in the ANA’s well-being have agendas that are not broad enough to progress in a new environment.

Since my blog post I have heard from dozens of members supporting my decision to run. I am very flattered. Their words of encouragement and support has me thinking about running for the Board of Governors. If I make that run, I will be the voice for the average collector while considering what is necessary to keep the entire association from succumbing to the whims of a potential leader with an agenda that does not coincide with the ANA’s progress and goals.

When the decision is made, I will let you know!

End of the Term, What Now?

January 20, 2017, marks the end of the Presidency of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. At noon the 45th president will be inaugurated.

Also, as of noon, Obama’s appointments to Executive Branch positions will resign from their position to be filled by the new president’s appointment. Of the people resigning are Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew and Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint Matthew Rhett Jeppson. Jeppson was nominated to be the 39th Director but the nomination died with the end of the 114th congress.

Attempts to contact the U.S. Mint to ask them about the bureau’s leadership starting Friday has gone unanswered.

The position of Treasurer of the United States would have also resigned but is currently vacant after the July 2016 resignation of Rosie Rios. Treasurer of the United States is a presidential appointment that does not require Senate confirmation.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is not affected by a change in administrations because the position of the director is a career appointment. Len Olijar will remain Director of the BEP as long as he is a government employee in good standing.

Members of the Federal Reserve Board are appointed but they are not considered part of the Executive Branch. The Fed is independent and the Fed Chair, the Federal Reserve Board, and the president of the regional Federal Reserve Banks are appointed to four-year terms irrespective of political timelines. Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve, has announced she will serve her full her full four-year term that will expire on February 3, 2018.

The Plum Book, which documents more than 9,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the executive and legislative branches, lists quite a number of positions that supports numismatic production. Of course, significant changes will be reported here!

A Skyhook for the CCAC

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The U.S. Mint announced that the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, will be joining the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee as a member representing the interest of the general public. He fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Roach earlier this year.

Born on New York City as Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr., his physical growth and natural basketball abilities outpaced everyone. Playing for Power Memorial in the New York City Catholic League, lead his team to three straight championships while compiling school records in points and a 71-game winning streak. While Alcindor played for Power Memorial they had a 79-2 record.

He was recruited by the legendary John Wooden, Alcindor played his first year on the UCLA freshman team during a period when freshmen were not allowed to play on the varsity team After leading the freshman team in points, his scoring prowess helps lead the Bruins to three NCAA championships (1967, 1968, and 1969) while being twice named Player of the Year. Alcindor earned a Bachelor of Arts in History before being drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA and New York Nets of the ABA.

After declining a $1 million offer to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, his unusual negotiation landed him in Milwaukee as the first pick of the 1969 NBA Draft. He was an instant star ending the season second in scoring and third in rebounding while being named NBA Rookie of the Year. The next year the Bucks acquired All-Star guard Oscar Robertson that helped lead the Bucks to the NBA Championship. Alcindor led the league in scoring, points, and rebounds earning the NBA Most Valuable Player award and was named MVP of the finals.

Following the end of the finals in 1971, he announced he adopted the Muslim name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar converted to Islam while a student at UCLA.

Although he loved Milwaukee, he felt the midwest did not fit his cultural needs. After requesting a trade to New York or Los Angeles, he was traded to the Lakers for the 1975-76 season where he played 14 seasons of dominating basketball.

Even if you are not a fan of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or the teams he played for (says this New York Knicks fan who grew up a New York Nets fan when they played on Long Island), you had to admire his ability to rise to any challenge. Even when a young Bill Walton and his Portland Trail Blazers swept the injury-plagued Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers, he did enough to not make the games easy for the Trail Blazers.

Although being 7-foot-2 was an advantage, Abdul-Jabbar was not a physical center like many of his contemporaries. He was more nimble and moved more like a forward than a center. But he used it to his advantage by creating the nearly impossible to defend skyhook that he could shoot with either hand. If given the ball on either side of the foul line with room to maneuver, Abdul-Jabbar did not even need a dribble, one step and he was in position with his outer arm stretched to hook the ball over the defenders. And because of his height, the ball was always on a downward projection making blocks by the opposition called as goaltending.

The Skyhook was considered the most deadly shot in the NBA. Nobody could defend against it!

Even as he was aging, I was able to see Abdul-Jabbar in Madison Square Garden against a younger Patrick Ewing. Even though Ewing was 2-inches shorter, he had a bigger body and was a more physical player. That did not stop Abdul-Jabbar from frustrating the younger Ewing to lead the Lakers in points. By my recollection, their record was 1-1 watching the matchup between the two at The Garden.

I could go on because it is easy to talk about the basketball prowess of a player who was like no other in NBA history. But he was more than a basketball player.

Abdul-Jabbar is a lover of history. His ability to travel and worldview has provided him a unique perspective regarding how the world works around him. In interviews, Abdul-Jabbar will recognize the evolution of contemporary history but also understand why that evolution has taken the course it has. Over the last few years, Abdul-Jabbar has been criticized by all sides over recent events where he has criticized both the police and the Black Lives Matter groups noting where both sides have misread the history and using the wrong lessons to understand how to make a better future.

He founded the Skyhook Foundation whose mission statement is to “Give kids a shot.” The primary program of the Skyhook Foundation is Camp Skyhook, where each week eighty-five 4th and 5th graders are immersed in a hands-on outdoor program staffed by the Los Angeles Unified School District that engages our young people in science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.

Like many of you, I did not know Abdul-Jabbar was a numismatist. It is not surprising given his talents and intelligence.

After all his accomplishments, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (69) can now add being the most famous person ever to be appointed to the CCAC and the tallest person to serve to his very long list of accomplishments. What is really going to be cool is being able to meet him at one of the shows the CCAC will participate!

Yes, I just geeked-out over the a sports star!

Credits

  • Portrait of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Courtesy of CNN Money
  • Getty Image composite of the Skyhook courtesy of ESPN.
  • Camp Skyhook logo courtesy of the Skyhook Foundation.

The Allegory of Liberty

The latest “controversy” surrounding the U.S. Mint is that the depiction of Lady Liberty on the new U.S. Mint 225th Anniversary 24-karat gold coin is depicted by an African-American woman.

This comes after 225 years of depicting Liberty as a white woman—or is it? (see below) What has caused even a bigger stir in some sectors was in the statement released by the U.S. Mint, they say that this “is the first in a series of 24-karat gold coins that will feature designs which depict an allegorical Liberty in a variety of contemporary forms-including designs representing Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Indian-Americans among others—to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States.”

I saw one blog post ask, “How dare they do this?” Followed by asking, “What’s next, a Mexican?”

If these folks would stop fomenting and learn a bit about history, this is part of the evolution of how we have depicted Liberty since the discovery of the New World

One of the first uses of woman as allegorical figures at back to the goddess of ancient Greece and Rome. Both gods and goddesses were allegorical figures of the power they represented using an exaggerated version of the human forms they knew about. Using woman as strong, matronly-like figures guarding over a country’s sovereignty like a protective figure.

Prior to the discovery of North America, Britain had Britannia. Britannia was the allegorical figure as the protector of the British Empire. Named for the Greek and Roman term for the geographical region, Britannia is usually seated facing the water. Although most images has her seated on a shroud-covered seat, sometimes Britannia is depicted sitting on a horse. She is wearing a helmet, hold a trident and a shield emblazoned with the Union Jack to show she is the protector and ruler of the seas. It is not a coincidence that Christian Gobrecht’s Seated Liberty design is similar to the design used for Britannia.

1672 Britannia copper coin

1854 Seated Liberty Quarter with rays and no arrows

When the first European settlers arrived, they used the image of an “Indian Queen, a voluptuous, but stern Native American woman dressed in little more than head feathers. Portrayed sitting astride a giant armadillo or sporting a tomahawk, the Indian Queen represented exoticism, danger and adventure: attributes that 16th- and 17th-century explorers most associated with their new land.”

As colonization grew and the native American tribes and the settlers were not getting along (you would also be angry if these outsiders were pushing you off your native lands), her looks were softened to look more Anglican in appearance trying to represent what was perceived as a less hostile look.

The look of Liberty has changed with the artist that have designed her image. The most famous image of Liberty is the statue by Frédéric Bartholdi titled “Liberty Enlightening the World,” or more commonly known as the Statue of Liberty. Bartholdi, a French sculptor, reportedly used his mother as the model for the statue’s face. This makes the most famous depiction of Lady Liberty a French woman.

Two of the most famous and different depictions of Liberty were created by George T. Morgan and Anthony de Francisci. Morgan used actress Anna Willess Williams as the model for his design noting that her profiles was the most perfect he had ever seen. For the Peace dollar, de Francisci used the portrait of his wife, Teresa, as the model. With rays instead of a crown or a headdress departing from previous designs, using the image of Teresa de Francisci means that an Italian-born woman was depicted as Lady Liberty since she was born in Naples, Italy.

1879-S Morgan Dollar

1921-D Peace Dollar

Historical Note

Many references claim that Martin Van Buren was the first U.S. born president because he was born in 1782, after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. However, the Treaty of Paris, which established the United States as a new country, was not signed until September 3, 1783. Although the colonies declared itself independent in 1776, the United States was legally not a country until the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

These are also not the first examples of someone not being born in the United States being depicted on U.S. coinage. In 1892 and 1893 the U.S. Mint produced the Columbian half dollars with the image of Italian-born Christopher Columbus. Although these coins were only struck as a commemorative, they were circulated and used in commerce. However, the first coin struck for circulation that included the image of a foreign-born person was the Washington quarter. George Washington was born in the British Colony of Virginia in 1732 as a British subject. In fact, the first nine presidents were born British subjects in the colonies. It was not until John Tyler succeeded William Henry Harrison as president in 1841 when a United States-born citizen became president. Tyler was born in 1790 in the State of Virginia.

Although there are many examples of African-Americans appearing on commemorative coins. In the Classical Commemorative Era, the U.S. Mint issued the 1946-1951 Booker T. Washington and 1951-1954 George Washington Carver/Booker T. Washington Commemorative half-dollars. Modern Era Commemoratives include the 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Dollar featuring the portrait of Crispus Attucks, 1997 Jackie Robinson commemorative coins, and 2007 Little Rock Nine Silver Dollar featuring the legs of the Little Rock Nine being lead to class.

For circulating coins, the reverse of the 2002 Missouri State Quarter features William Clark’s slave York paddling the canoe with both Meriweather Lewis and Clark in the boat. The reverse of the 2009 District of Columbia quarter honors Duke Ellington.

Do not forget that Sacagawea is a non-Anglican being featured on a circulating coin, even though the coin really does not circulate.

But is this the first African-American Lady Liberty?

1933 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle (obverse)

Finally, there is a claim that the model used by Augustus Saint-Gaudens for the design of $20 double-eagle gold coin was Harriette Eugenia “ Hettie” Anderson. Hettie Anderson was an African-American model from South Carolina considered an extraordinary beauty. Anderson was known to pose for Saint-Gaudens and many other artists with connections to Saint-Gaudens, such as Adolph Weinman.

Because of the treatment of blacks in America, Anderson’s part in Saint-Gaudens’ work was kept quiet. After his death, Homer, the artist’s son, edit Anderson out of his father’s unfinished autobiography. This information was later discovered by William E. Hagans. Hagen was researching the Swedish artist Anders Zorn, who worked with Saint-Gaudens. While reviewing Zorn’s work, he found a sketch Zorn made with Saint-Gaudens and a nude Hettie Anderson lying in the background. After further research, Hagen discovered that Anderson was modeling for Saint-Gaudens at the time he was designing the double-eagle. It was later that Homer Saint-Gaudens removed Anderson from the history of this coin’s design.

If this is true (see “Written out of History” on this page), then this is not the first time Lady Liberty was depicted as an African-American Woman!

Anders Zorn’s etching of Augustus Saint-Gaudens taken a break with a nude Hattie Anderson laying behind him.

Credits

  • Composite image of the American Liberty gold coin courtesy of coinews.net.
  • Image of Britannia coin courtesy of the Royal Mint.
  • Seated Liberty quarter image courtesy of Numista
  • Morgan and Peace dollar images courtesy of Wikipedia.
  • Anders Zorn etching of Augustus Saint-Gaudens image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

About the ANA Presidency

Mike Ellis

I was reading Dave Harper’s recent blog post on the Numismatic News website and learned that Mike Ellis announced that he intends to run for president of the American Numismatic Association.

Last we heard from Ellis, he resigned from the Board of Governors during the time the ANA was attempting to reach a settlement with former ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd. According to the quote from ANA President Walt Ostromecki, “[Mike] realized he had made a mistake and chose to step down from the board.”

Not so fast…. Mike made more than just a mistake. In my previous reporting on the matter, I wrote:

A source speaking on the condition of anonymity as reported that Ellis allegedly had worked behind the scenes against Shepherd to rally ANA employees to work against Shepherd in order to create a hostile working environment for Shepherd. The move was allegedly designed to make Shepherd look incompetent in order to get him fired.

According to my notes, following that blog post I was contacted by another source that not only confirmed the story but also said that Ellis did the same thing against Jeff Shevlin.

It has been confirmed by another source that Ellis was approached by the Executive Committee and ANA General Counsel Hollie Wieland about these allegations. The source said that Ellis was presented with evidence of contact with ANA staff which is a violation of ANA policy. Ellis agreed to resign from the ANA Board of Governors rather than face the scrutiny of damaging testimony that would occur during depositions. This opened the door for a settlement with Shepherd.

Although this has been reported in the past it is important to bring all facts to light since Ellis has declared his candidacy to be President of the ANA.

As part of Harper’s reporting, Ellis “objects to the role of the present legal counsel. He wants a new one.” Ellis claims, “She’s making a killing off us breathing down our neck 24/7.”

I have met and spoken with Wieland in the past (not recently). She is an attorney with an attorney’s attitude toward her client, the ANA. While there is not a lot of collective like for attorneys, I am not aware of any problems that she has created for the ANA. In fact, her ability to help unwind the ANA from the legal troubles that Ellis was likely a contributor says more about her competence.

When Ellis cites his troubles with the ANA, he mentions problems with Wieland. Given his history, there is little doubt of his contempt. However, it does not appear to be shared by the rest of the ANA.

Because of his past transgressions while a member of the Board of Governors that required his resignation, Mike Ellis should never be president of the ANA!

I had thought that current Vice President Gary Adkins would run for the president’s position. Adkins has said that he may run but has not decided. While I think Gary Adkins would make a great president for the ANA, something has to be done now.

Therefore, I am preparing to run for President of the American Numismatic Association. Although there are members more qualified than I am, I am more qualified than Ellis especially in the area of ethics and temperament. Should a more qualified candidate submit their paperwork to run for ANA President, I will withdraw from the race.

Image courtesy of Numismatic News.

Certainty

Since the election, there have been a number of stories about the “Trump Effect” on the markets. The narrative is that the economic bounce is tied specifically to the election of Trump.

The premise is that the market is reacting to the election of Donald Trump and is the direct cause for the change in the economic factors in the markets. Unfortunately, the narratives being promoted is shortsighted. Markets are not reacting to the election of Trump. The markets are reacting to the certainty that the election is settled.

Markets hate uncertainty. When there is uncertainty, the markets tend to react to everything and sometimes in an exaggerated manner. Fortunately, the economic indicators have been good and the markets have reacted accordingly with exaggeration.

How the markets have reacted to uncertainty in economic news

When looking at the collecting markets, whether it is numismatics or antiques, you can look at the precious metals markets as a key indicator. In basic terms, the price of precious metals is indirectly proportional to the strength of the markets and economy. It translates to if the economy is strong making investing less of a risk, then the precious metals markets will be weaker. it means there is more cash circulating creating discretionary income that buyers use to spend on non-essentials, like hobbies.

A strong market and economy means that investments in businesses are a better bet. Strong employment numbers and the movement of goods and services mean that there is money to be made by investing in business. If there are good investment opportunities, it does not make sense for investors to tie money up in precious metals.

Investment in metals makes sense when investing in their value is better than the expected rate of return on business investments. Once investors turn to precious metals, the price is based purely on supply and demand. Since the supply stream is relatively constant, demand mostly influences the price of metals. If the demand is high and the supply cannot keep up with the demand, the price will rise. What helps regulate the price is that there continues to be a supply but the demand has been known to outpace the supply.

The fact of the matter is that economic indicators have improved. Prices of metals have been steadily dropping since August as the investment in stocks been going up. Even before the election, the markets were in growth mode but skittish with uncertainty.

All the election brought was a certainty. Markets know who the next president will be, who will be in congress, and who will control the state houses. If markets hate uncertainty then the currency that fueled the rally was the removal of uncertainty.

After the week following the election, the markets leveled off with the next goal to figure out what the Federal Reserve would do. With the uncertainty surrounding the December Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, the drive to record levels stalled. When the FOMC announced the increase in interest rates, rather than reacting negatively, the reactions was as if the markets were saying, “It’s about time.” with the uncertainty of what the FOMC would do, the markets reacted by climbing to record levels.

Market reactions to various news and economic events

In the meantime, the metals markets have been on a steady decline. Since the capital markets are providing a good return on investments, there is no incentive to invest in metals. Although people are buying, the fewer buyers are beating the prices down making bullion-based collectibles cheaper.

Gold free fall began on Election Day 2016

Silver downward trend started on Election Day

What does that have to do with higher end collectibles such as rare coins?

When capital markets are adding to the general wealth of the investor community, they will look for different places to invest their winnings. The new money will start to buy high-end items to supplement their other investments. This is why the collector market thrives during good economic times. Prices of fine art, prime real estate, collector cars, and even rare coins rise.

Rare coins have been resilient since the decline in markets. Rare coins became a safer bet and have attracted new investors which has bucked the trends of the past. This was not lost on the broader investing community who may be looking for diversity in their portfolios.

In review, the markets have been on a six-year rise as the economy has recovered from the Great Recession. Economic indicators are on an extended positive run. The election created certainty in the future of the government and the Federal Reserve created certainty when it raised interest rates. Since markets like certainty, the reaction is not because of the result of the election it is that the election is over.

Certainty is driving the markets, not the details of the results.

Credits

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average charts courtesy of Yahoo! Finance.
  • Gold and silver charts courtesy of Kitco.

Vegans go overboard with polymer notes

Bank of England £5 Polymer note

I have a personal rule that I do not criticize anyone’s lifestyle choices or non-choices. It is not a matter of tolerance but one of respect because if I want acceptance for what I do then it is not my place to judge someone else. But I draw the line where tolerance is pushed beyond acceptance but an insistence that everyone adapt to their ways.

To be a vegan means that you do not use or consume any animal product. It is a movement that began in the 16th century but organized in the 19th century as part of a philosophy to reject the commodity status of animals. In fact, the term “vegan” did not enter the language in 1944 when Donald Watson co-founded the Vegan Society in England. Fundamentally, I do not have a problem with vegans or veganism but it has recently crossed the line where my tolerance is being tested.

In September, the release a new £5 polymer note featuring the portrait of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Even though there were concerns raised at the time of the release, in November, a vegan activist names Steffi Rox asked the Bank of England if the new £5 polymer note contains tallow on Twitter. The Bank of England responded that “there is a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes.”

Which was followed up by Ms. Rox asking “what consideration was given to #vegans & their human rights in the making of these?”

This exchange reverberated around the world to all countries that use polymer notes including Australia that has been circulating polymer notes since 1992.

The Bank of England issued a statement confirming that the pellets used to make the polymer substrate contains trace amounts of tallow.

The new notes are produced on a product called Guardian manufactured by Innovia Security. Innovia is the company formed in Australia following the research and production of the polymer substrate by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Although Innovia has not issued a formal statement, press reports note that the company admits that tallow is used in the resin it sources from a supplier to make the polymer pellets used by the banks in the manufacture for the substrate that is printed for currency.

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 useful 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.

Tallow is part of using the whole animal rather than killing it for parts and discarding the rest. It is the concept that animal rights activists preach. On this, I agree with their position.

But it isn’t like the Bank of England or Innovia is dumping tallow into its manufacturing process. Based on what how it was explained to me by a chemist familiar with polymer manufacturing but not associated with Innovia or the polymer banknote process, tallow is likely used in the resin as part of the pellet manufacturing process. The resin acts as a binder but has to manufactured in a way that prevents it from sticking to everything. Small amounts of tallow are used as a lubricant to make the resin to prevent it from sticking to the machinery. Trace amounts of tallow remain in the resin in the same manner oil would remain on your tires if you rolled over an oil slick on the street.

Just because there is oil on your tires does not mean your tires are made of oil. But the oil remains a trace element on your tires and continues to exist until removed using some type of friction. But it is such a small trace, you never notice.

The same can be said of the tallow. The chemist said that if there are more than 5 parts per million of tallow in the notes then that the manufacturing process should be questioned. Aside from suggesting the process is dirty the proportions may make the polymer unstable and less useful to use as currency. Its 25-year usage in circulation suggests that there are no problems in the manufacturing process.

To understand what 5 parts per million would mean, you can also think of it as one-two thousandth of one percent.

With all due respect to vegans, you are probably breathing more dander in a single day than you are touching tallow in all of the polymer banknotes that cross your paths. For those of us who know that tallow is used in all sorts of lubrication products, especially those used in transportation, you cannot get away from its use. It is everywhere. You need to better educate yourselves before taking a stand against one-two thousandth of one percent because you look like hypocrites.

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

Images courtesy of Innovia Security.

Want the last Weekly Numismatic World News test run?

In October, I asked if there was an interest in receiving a newsletter of containing the coin, currency, and bullion-related stories I find on the Internet that is being reported in the non-numismatic media. With a significant number of you who responded with interest, I decided to move forward to see what I can do.

After a month of collecting stories, editing templates, and making sure as much of the process can be automated as possible, I am almost ready to move forward.

Right now, I am the only subscriber to what I am calling the Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter. There have been two test issues. Since I am happy with the results, I think I am ready for a broader test.

I am opening up the subscription to all of my readers. If you would like to receive the last test issue, you can use the signup form here or click on the “Weekly Newsletter” link on the menu. There is a warning on the page that the newsletter is in Beta Testing. Don’t worry about that. If you want to receive the last test run, then signup.

The last test newsletter will be generated as of Sunday night/Monday morning based on my clock here on the east coast of the United States. When the newsletter is ready for regular production, it will be produced around the same time each week. It will only contain news from the previous seven days.

If there are any comments or questions, you can either post them here or drop me an email note. Let’s see how this goes!

Quick catch up…

Last I reported, I had travelled to Philadelphia to see the students at Juaniata Park Academy that we raised money to visit the U.S. Mint and Federal Reserve. I did make it to the school despite the flat tire and other problems my Chevy Avalanche experienced along the way. We did have a one-hour visit to talk about coins, currency, and the history they reveal. I had a lot of fun. Rather than talk about it in this update, I will write a longer post soon.

Counterfeiting is on the rise. The number of reported arrests for counterfeiters has increased. Some of it may be attributed to the largest seizure of counterfeit currency in Peru. Although not confirmed, there is speculation that the arrests in Peru provided leads into the distribution network. The Peru notes are amongst the best counterfeits produced outside of the United States. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to determine if you have one of these notes. The U.S. Secret Service has been advising cash-related businesses to be wary of people making unusual large cash purchases.

The U.S. Mint is preparing for an increase in sale of bullion American Eagle coins. Gold is down over $230 since its high in July or $151 since the election. Even with the strong dollar, the lower price of gold and the trust in the American Eagle coin is driving buyers to authorized dealers. One dealer said that 2017 pre-orders are their highest in a while.

The market for silver is facing a similar downward slide. From the $20.17 close in the beginning of August, the price as this is being written is $15.90. A 21-percent drop in silver spot prices is quite large over this period and greater than the 17-percent drop in the gold spot price.

Lower spot prices may be driving speculators to the market. Since the Federal Reserve Board increased the discount rate, the rate they charge for overnight loans to their large customers that are required to have a certain amount of liquidity at market close, by 250 basis points (.25 percent), there are some that believe that the markets are getting ready for a shift. Precious metals are always used as a hedge against inflation investments and may be a sign that some are expecting an economic crash.

A future post will discuss the coin-op industry’s reaction (albeit late reaction) to the GAO Report U.S. Coins: Implications of Changing Medal Compositions (GAO-16-177, Dec. 10, 2015). It appears to be an attempt for the coin-op industry to fight composition changes in U.S. coinage. Although most of their argument reads like a complaint that they do not want to undergo the cost of converting machines, they do make a point in that some of the alternatives has the potential to create a market for counterfeiting coins that would hurt the economy. One example they site is that it may be easier to counterfeit plated steel coins because the technology that checks for electromagnetic signatures of the coins would not be able to detect a real coin from a slug.

Following my post about the scrap industry not being able to return mutilated coins to the U.S. Mint I was contacted by someone in the industry who thanked me for the story. I was asked to emphasize that although the current court case involves companies based in China, the problems affect scrap dealers throughout the United States. Following this conversation, I was able to speak with a broker who has been buying scrap coins from smaller companies who said that the U.S. Mint has been discussing a way forward but in a way that makes it sound like they are not happy with having to deal with this situation. The U.S. Mint will not comment as long as there is an active case in federal courts.

The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act is now Public Law 114-282. Although I am not a collector of commemorative coins other than for topics that interest me, I am interested in this topic. Although I am a fan of silver coins, I am going to try to buy the gold Apollo 11 commemorative coin. I have two years to save my pennies!

Finally, I am working on creating a weekly newsletter opt-in containing numismatic-related stories from non-numismatic media sources from around the world. I will curate the news that appears in the newsletter but want to automate some of the processes. Automation of the workflow is in progress. Watch for the signup process to appear here soon!

Correction and Update on Jeppson’s position at the Mint

Rhett Jeppson, Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint

I recently found out that I have been wrong about the employment status of Rhett Jeppson, the current Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint. Previously, I said that Jeppson is a member of the Senior Executive Service, the government executive program. He is not. Jeppson is was appointed by the President of the United States.

When a representative of the U.S. Mint contacted me to clarify the error, it was not clear as to what authority that Jeppson could be appointed as a “Principal Deputy Director” without confirmation by the Senate. A public policy attorney working for a public watchdog group believes that the White House used their discretionary authority to transfer Jeppson’s position from the Small Business Administration to the U.S. Mint. Although this is not confirmed, there was no other logical that could be found based on the law and public filings.

The U.S. Mint has been without a permanent director since Edmund Moy’s resignation became effective in January 2011. When Moy resigned, Richard Peterson became acting director, which he could do for a limited time, then became Deputy Director but in charge of everything. While that is not the technically correct term, essentially, Peterson was the acting director.

In September of 2012, President Obama nominated Bibiana Boerio, the former Managing Director of Jaguar Cars Ltd., for director. Since her nomination had not been acted upon, her nomination died in committee when congress adjourned following the 2012 election.

Peterson remained, essentially, the acting director until January 9, 2015, when it was announced that Jeppson was joining the U.S. Mint as Principal Deputy Director. His formal nomination was announced on Friday, July 9, 2015. Finally, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing for his nomination on the Ides of March, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Since then, as congress has done for most things they did not have to do to prevent a disaster, sat on the nomination.

Essentially, the clock has run out on Jeppson’s nomination. It is likely his appointment will not be reported out of committee and, like Boerio, will see his nomination fade into the ether.

According to the U.S. Mint, Jeppson was asked to tender his resignation effective on January 20, 2017, as have all Obama Administration appointees. It will be up to the next president to determine whether he stays.

Your government at work.

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