Happy Anniversary to Modern Coinage

The dual-dated Bicentennial reverse designs are still very popular amontst collectors

On July 23, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Coinage Act of 1965. Congress passed the bill in response to the coin shortages caused by the rising silver prices. When it was signed, the act eliminated silver from circulating dimes, and quarters while reducing the amount of silver used to strike half-dollars from 90-percent to 40-percent for five years. After five years, the half-dollar would be struck using the same copper-nickel clad composition as the lower denominations.

The act forbade the striking of silver dollars for five years ending an experiment with the striking of Peace Dollars in 1964. There are rumors that at least one 1964-D Peace exists despite the U.S. Mint’s insistence that all of the coins were melted.

Finally, the act made all coins and currency produced in the United States and specific bank issues as legal tender, which reversed the demonetization of the Trade Dollar in 1867.

The Coinage Act of 1965 marks the dividing line between “classic” and “modern” coinage.

After fifty-four years of modern coinage, there continues to be collectors and dealers who turn up their noses at modern coins.

Although the stories behind many of the classic issues are interesting, modern coins provide a diversity that is meaningful and affordable for the average collector.

The first coin of the modern era that had a public impact was the dual-dated coins with the reverses honoring the nation’s bicentennial. The bicentennial was a two-year celebration preceded by three years of hype and prep. When the coins were released, many people searched their change, looking for the coins. It was the first time in many years that half-dollar and large dollar coins circulated in significant numbers since finding them in change was exciting.

The Susan B. Anthony dollar was less than successful because it was confused with a quarter

The modern era also saw a big flop when the Susan B. Anthony small dollar coin entered circulation. Even though the U.S. Mint tried to simulate the 12-sides on the coin’s design, the size and the reeded edge was confused with the quarter. People stopped using the Susie B. thus ending whatever momentum dollar coins had.

The most successful program of the modern era was the 50 State Quarters program. The program started strong with a lot of interest. Unfortunately, a downturn in the economy and the television hucksters overselling the potential value of the series turned away a lot of potential collectors.

As the success of the 50 State Quarters program grew, Congress passed laws to create several other circulating commemoratives. The programs include the Westward Journey Nickels, Abraham Lincon Bicentennial cents, and the Native American $1 coin program using the golden-colored planchets of the Sacagawea dollar.

The modern era saw the return of the commemorative coin programs. Some were very popular, like the 2001 American Buffalo Commemorative Coin and 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin programs. There were less popular coins, but none had flopped as bad as the 2013 Girl Scouts of the USA Centennial Silver Dollar.

Unlike previous commemorative coin laws, modern laws help the U.S. Mint limit the time these coins can remain on sale. It also limits their production to one year.

Finally, the modern era has given us the bullion coin series. It started with the American Silver Eagle program that was created to provide a way for the United States government to sell off silver saved in the Defense National Stockpile. As a result, the U.S. Mint has used the program to experiment with different finishes, including burnished and reverse proof.

Congress passed the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985 a few months later after being lobbied by the gold mining interests. This law created the American Eagle Gold Bullion Program.

2013-W American Buffalo gold reverse proof obverse

Even more significant was Title II of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005. Title II established the American Buffalo 24-Karat Bullion Gold Coins program. The law required the coins struck from .9999 put gold using the design of the 1913 Type 1 Buffalo Nickel as designed by James Earle Fraser. After the first year of issue, the U.S. Mint could change the design after vetting the design with the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. This law allowed the U.S. Mint to produce coins like the 2009 High Relief gold coin and the 100th-anniversary tributes to the Mercury dime in 2016.

After 54 years there are a lot of exciting choices for the modern collector. And this does not consider the collection of errors or varieties, like the three types of 1972 Eisenhower dollars or the wide versus narrow lettering on the reverse of the 1999 Lincoln cent.

It is past the time for the numismatic community to embrace the collection of modern coins more than it has. There may be few modern coins that are worth thousands of dollars, but they are available to capture the interest of potential collectors. After all, how many of us started collecting by searching pocket change.

The Story of Tubman on the $20: a mass of lies, evasions, folly, and hatred

Mockup of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman

When there is a discussion on the design of United States currency, there is no way to avoid politics. Politics drives the designs, composition, and the economic condition that goes behind every coin in your pocket. Politics governs the currency printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, including the overall management of it through the Department of the Treasury.

Aside from my interest in the nuance of politics, beyond reports on cable news, it is why there is a monthly report on legislation that would effect numismatics. Whether it is a proposal for a commemorative coin or the creation of a commission to celebrate something in history, every bill introduced in Congress has the potential to change numismatics.

Paper currency is less regulated than coins. Coining money is mentioned in Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution. The federal regulation of currency began with the National Bank Act of 1863. Whereas the Constitution says, “Congress shall have Power…to coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin,” there is no provision for paper currency.

The Constitution does not say that Congress should design the coins, but they do, sometimes to the detriment of the final result. But the design of the currency is left to the Department of the Treasury.

There is no set process that the Treasury goes through to decide on the design of the nation’s currency. The process changes for each new Secretary that heads the department. In the previous administration, Secretary Jacob “Jack” Lew, went through his version of the process to decide that the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the $20 Federal Reserve Note will be replaced with Harriett Tubman by 2020.

According to sources, although the Bureau of Engraving and Printing would have preferred a little more time to create the master engraving plates to make this change, the timing of the announcement would not present a significant problem.

Lew resigned as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury on January 20, 2017, with the inauguration of a new administration. Steven T. Mnuchin was sworn in as the 77th Secretary of the Treasury on February 13, 2017.

Steven T. Mnuchin, the 77th Secretary of the Treasury

Sources report that Mnuchin did not interfere with the BEP’s efforts to redesign the $20 FRN immediately. As the work continued, the BEP also continued to work on additional anti-counterfeiting measures for U.S. currency. Specifically, the BEP was looking into changes that would first impact the $10 note followed by the $5 bill.

The paper $5 note was a more significant focus for the BEP. In working with the U.S. Secret Service, they were finding that many counterfeiters were using bleaching products to remove the ink from the paper to use it to print higher denominations, predominantly $20 bills. One internal report suggested that the criminal would see a net gain of $14 for each $20 note they could produce.

Although it costs more to counterfeit $20 bills this way, it is a lower risk for the criminal. As we have seen, few people pay attention to the problem and those that do find that the currency passes the iodine pen test. After all, it is currency paper.

Bleached Counterfeit Currency

An example of a $100 Federal Reserve Note printed on a bleached $5 note (Image courtesy of Prescott Police Department via AOL.com)

Interference from Mnuchin came after his first three months in office. It started with a question from a reporter who asked the president about the change. The president’s statement was followed by a cabinet meeting where the president said something to Mnuchin about the change. Then, a source reports that the president said something to Mnuchin who agreed to do something without raising concerns.

Mnuchin did not directly interfere with the process. Instead, he used the budgetary process to direct funds away from the development of the proposed change in portrait.

Mnuchin was able to hide the change from the public because of the nature of Treasury’s budgetary process. Since the BEP is self-funded by the profits (seigniorage) that is deposited in its Public Enterprise Fund, all Treasury had to do was obtain Congress’s permission to use a set amount from the fund without providing details.

Treasury and BEP were able to hide the changes in the CFO’s Annual Report by using internal reorganization to obfuscate where the spending was going.

In short, Mnuchin ordered the BEP, which is lead by a career professional and not a politician, to move the resources away from the redesign and prioritizing other aspects of currency redesign. Mnuchin purposely slowed the redesign process in a way that gives Treasury and the BEP deniability.

A statement published on the BEP website, BEP Director Len Olijar wrote in response to the news reports, “BEP was never going to unveil a note design in 2020.” That was not the policy of the Treasury Department and the BEP when Secretary Lew announced the change. Mnuchin changed it at the request of the president.

The story of the “delay” of the redesign with Tubman’s portrait appeared in The New York Times. In the story, the Times used an image from the original announcement that depicted Tubman superimposed on the $20 bill. Sources suggested that Olijar, under orders from Mnuchin, was to try to discredit the story in any way possible. Rather than continue with the fact, albeit flawed compared to previous reports, the statement went on to pick on an inconsequential aspect of the story, the image published by the Times.

“The illustration published by the New York Times was a copy of an old Series note with the signatures of former officials, with a different image superimposed on it.”

As my source said, “let’s attack the messenger and not the message.”

Unfortunately, Olijar, a career government employee, is caught in the middle having to work with the politicians. He loses credibility by contradicting the previous reporting, which is unfortunate because sources have suggested that some other than Mnuchin “ordered” Olijar to issue the statement.

There is an old expression that one should never discuss politics, religion, and sex/money/pick something in polite company. It is impossible to be polite when talking about coins and currency before their manufacture. It spreads through the entire process. Or as George Orwell aptly said:

In our age, there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.

They will come for you next!

I said that if we do not act that we would become victims!

A man came into my shop the other day. Like all new visitors, my assistant greeted him with her usual charm while he looked at the eclectic inventory in the showroom.

The man was different than others. On a slow morning, he lingered around the set of auction catalogs I have for sale while saying little to my assistant who felt uncomfortable with this man in the shop. Another customer came into the shop and my assistant took care of them while I watched this gentleman.

After a while, he came to me and, in a heavy accent I could not identify, asked if I was the store’s owner. He pulled out a few folded pieces of paper and showed me a sheet with the article “Coin jewelry is not legal everywhere” I wrote on this blog in April 2016.

He pointed to one of the pictures and asked if I knew anything about the coin. I asked why and he said he was interested in purchasing one. For some reason, I had a feeling that he might have had other interests in mind.

Examples of the coin jewelry from the orignal post

I explained to that I do not carry a lot of jewelry since it is not a specialty of my business. When I do have jewelry in stock it does not sell well. He opened the paper and asked if I knew anything about the jewelry on the page.

I explained that the article he is holding is from a blog post I made explaining how some countries have restrictions regarding the usage of their coins for jewelry. When he pressed for more information I said that it was noted in the posting that the images came from Etsy and I do not know any of the sellers. Their goods were used as an example for the posting.

It felt like I was being interrogated. I asked if he was a member of law enforcement or any other government investigative agency, he mumbled something I did not like. I asked him to leave. My assistant had called the police.

The police arrived and escorted the man out of the shop and questioned him before letting him drive away in his own vehicle. I noted the license plate. The officer came inside and said that this will be handled elsewhere and that I was not to report it any further.

About a week later, I was visited by someone representing a federal agency and a member of federal law enforcement who wanted to question me about the incident. After they produced proper identification, we went into my office to discuss the matter.

I was told that the man who came into my shop was an agent for an unnamed foreign government. This government has been visiting collectible stores and shows to intimidate people into “returning cultural items” from that country. The country that this person represents considers this legal even though it violates my Fifth Amendment right of due process.

Apparently, the person that visited my shop is responsible for the “confiscation” of items from more than a dozen antiques and collectibles shops in the mid-Atlantic region.

It is not the first time we have heard the foreign governments have tried to go around the United States’ right of due process by trying to confiscate coins under the guise that they are “national treasures.” In 2013, I wrote “Why you should care about restrictions on collecting ancient coins” sounding an alarm for people to act.

People did not act or act strongly enough. It has allowed a foreign government to pervert the 1970 UNESCO Convention’s intent to steal legally obtained inventory from United States businesses they claim are national treasures.

In the next few weeks, I will be writing a short position paper to present to the American Numismatic Association in order to get them to work to protect collectors. It is time that the ANA and other numismatic organizations work together to protect the hobby and stop kowtowing to every country who wants to retroactively make a claim against United States business because a foreign government said so.

August 2018 Numismatic Legislation Review

John Sidney McCain III (1936-2018)

Although this is a numismatic blog, it is difficult to write about any aspect of Congress without recognizing the service of Senator John Sidney McCain, III. McCain died on August 25, 2018, from complications with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was buried on Sunday, September 2, 2018, next to his friend and mentor in the cemetery at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

McCain’s story of his stay at the infamous Hanoi Hilton has been long discussed and written about in the books he authored. He served as legislative liaison for the Pentagon to Congress before being elected to the House of Representatives from Arizona’s First District in 1982. After two terms in Congress, he ran for the seat that was being vacated by the retiring Barry Goldwater. McCain would go on to win five elections to the Senate before his passing.

John McCain was a true American Hero. What made him a bigger hero was that he was imperfect and stood up when he was wrong and took ownership of his mistakes. Something the colleagues he leaves behind in Congress should learn from.

To add a numismatic theme, military orders and medals are part of exonumia. To honor the late John McCain, here is a list of medals he earned during his service in the U.S. Navy:

  • Silver Star Medal
  • Legion of Merit with Combat “V” device and Star
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Three Bronze Star Medals; all three with Combat “V” device and the second two with stars
  • Two Purple Heart Medals; the second with a star
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Two Navy Air Medals; the first with a bronze star and the second with a Strike/Flight numeral “2” device
  • Two Navy Commendation Medals; both with Combat “V” device
  • Navy Combat Action Ribbon
  • Navy Unit Commendation
  • Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
  • Two National Defense Service Medals; the second with a star
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • Three Vietnam Service Medals; the second and third with stars
  • Republic of Vietnam National Order of Vietnam—Awarded by the South Vietnamese government, it was the highest honor that can be bestowed on a non-military official by South Vietnam
  • Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross—Awarded by the South Vietnamese government for valor in combat
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device—Awarded by the South Vietnamese government for wartime service

A Combat “V” device is an award for Valor. These are given to those who earned the award for their service during battle. Stars are awarded when a medal is awarded more than once. The Strike/Flight numeral “2” device is awarded to service members whose award was earned during aerial combat.

As for the legislative update, August in Washington, D.C. is very hot and humid. Those of us who live in the area dread this month. Aside from the weather, it is the slowest month for everything. On the plus side, it is the month where we see less severe traffic as residents flee the area for their last summer fling. All that ends at the end of the month when it becomes time to get ready for the school year.

Congress usually takes off in August. If they are not campaigning for reelection, they are spending time at home. This year was different. There were a few floor sessions but the committees seemed to have a few hearings. While it is normal for committees to meet when there are no floor sessions, it is unusual for it to happen in August.

Other than having all members of Congress in town for John McCain’s funeral, there was no numismatic legislation to report for this month. With mid-term elections predicted to be contentious, it will be interesting to see if Congress will tackle anything that is not necessary between now and Election Day.

Weekly World Numismatic News for June 3, 2018

Zimbabwe’s 2009 $100 trillion hyperinflation note

For those of you who do not like where politics and policy cross the line into numismatics, this post is not for you. Skip past the beginning into the news section below.

In the news this week was a story about the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe touting the adoption of Chinese currency for general use in the country as circulating currency.

Zimbabwe’s economy has seen wild swings between massive inflation and significant economic stagnation that has caused currency fluctuations so bad that the country has given up managing its own currency. The economic problems have created a hyperinflation currency with notes printed with denominations as high as 100 Trillion Zimbabwean Dollars. So many of these notes were printed that any collector can buy them for $5-10 each.

Because of trade restrictions, Zimbabweans turned to United States currency smuggled from outside of the country. The supply of United States currency was so limited that some had begun the practice of cleaning the paper because people were carrying their currency in their underwear and new notes were difficult to come by.

Following negotiations with the United States, the RBZ was able to obtain new currency notes and offered an exchange to its residents. But that is where the negotiations ended. Upon the change of administrations, the current Department of the Treasury stopped negotiating with Zimbabwe and other African nations to introduce additional trade in United States dollars.

As the United States began to abandon these countries, the Chinese stepped in. The Chinese government has been negotiating with these countries and have made several inroads, especially in Africa. Zimbabwe is just the latest to announce that they could adopt the Yuan as their currency.

Although Zimbabwe is not an influential economy, it expands the Chinese economic base in Africa. By chipping away at the United States economic influence, it reduces the impact of the dollar on the continent that could have an effect on numismatics.

Africa continues to have the largest deposits of precious metals. Southern African regions have the world’s most active gold, silver, and platinum mines that if the United States loses influence in the region could have a negative effect on worldwide precious metals prices.

It is not a matter of the golden rule, “He who has the gold rules,” it is a matter of who controls the flow of gold from those mines. If the Chinese control the economic engine that runs those mines, they can use that influence to make or break the markets as they see fit. The ripple effect could not only bring higher precious metals prices but worldwide economic instability.

History has taught us that market manipulating does not work except if the manipulators have a backup plan. In this case, the Chinese are using their treasury as the backup plan. They are amassing economic power that could manipulate markets to the point that would cause prices to rise.

Currently, precious metals prices are set by arrangement with the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) based on the daily auction prices in London. This is known as the London Fix Price. The market uses United States dollars for its pricing. However, if the dollar loses its economic power because the Chinese are controlling the markets where the metals are mined, it will affect the cost of everything.

In the short term, economic factors will affect the price of bullion being produced by the U.S. Mint since those prices are based on LBMA price averages. Collectors and investors will be hit first. After that, it would be a short time before economic instability hits everyone else.

And now the news…

 May 27, 2018

If you visit Stones River National Battlefield and Cemetery, you'll likely see coins on the top of many tombstones. According to park workers, the small mementos are a way some choose to pay their respects to the fallen soldier, and each kind of coin has a different meaning. → Read more at newschannel5.com


 May 27, 2018

In this edition of East Idaho Newsmakers, Nate Eaton speaks with Randy’L Teton. Teton is a Fort Hall native and is featured on the US Sacagawea dollar gold coin. She is the only living person to currently appear on a United States coin. During their conversation, Teton shares the fascinating story of how she ended … → Read more at eastidahonews.com


 May 28, 2018

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Finance Ministry said Friday that it will issue a silver coin to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1868 start of the country’s Meiji period, which ended in 1912. → Read more at the-japan-news.com


 May 29, 2018

Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy Yousef has spent the last academic year at the University of Colorado conducting research on learning technologies and instructional design in computer science education. → Read more at dailycamera.com


 May 29, 2018

Tawanda Musarurwa, Harare Bureau The adoption of Renmimbi/Yuan as a reserve currency, will help the country repay loans and grants from China, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has said. → Read more at chronicle.co.zw


 June 1, 2018

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed a 2,200-year-old gold coin depicting the ancient King Ptolemy III, an ancestor of the famed Cleopatra. → Read more at foxnews.com


 June 1, 2018

An ancient Egyptian coin discovered in far north Queensland has researchers questioning how it got there. → Read more at abc.net.au


 June 3, 2018

The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled their first-ever panda-themed coin at the Calgary Zoo. → Read more at thestar.com

Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

Ryder nomination on hold

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

On Friday, January 19, 2018, rather than working to prevent the shutdown of the government, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) took to the floor of the Senate and delivered a message that he intends to object to the proceeding to the nomination of David Ryder to be the next Director of the U.S. Mint.

According to the notice filed in the Congressional Record:

Mr. President, I intend to object to any unanimous
consent request at the present time relating to the nomination of David J. Ryder, of New Jersey, to be Director of the Mint, PN1355 .

I will object because the Department of the Treasury has failed to respond to a letter I sent on September 29, 2017, to a bureau within the Department seeking documents relevant to an ongoing investigation by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Despite several phone calls between committee staff and Treasury personnel to prioritize particular requests within that letter, the Treasury Department has to date failed to provide any documents.

My objection is not intended to question the credentials of Mr. Ryder in any way. However, the Department must recognize that it has an ongoing obligation to respond to congressional inquiries in a timely and reasonable manner.

Charles E. Grassley is a seven-term Republican Senator from Iowa. Grassley has a history of abusing the Department of the Treasury to make it look like he’s doing something to keep his seat in the Senate. It is common for Grassley to have something to complain about without substance regardless of the ramifications of his actions.

In the meantime, the U.S. Mint remains without a permanent director while Grassley has his hissy fit.

PN1355: David J. Ryder — Department of the Treasury
Date Received from President: January 8, 2018
Summary: David J. Ryder, of New Jersey, to be Director of the Mint for a term of five years, vice Edmund C. Moy, resigned.
Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jan 8, 2018
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Ordered to be reported favorably. — Jan 17, 2018
Reported by Senator Crapo, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, without printed report. — Jan 17, 2018
Placed on Senate Executive Calendar. Calendar No. 596. Subject to nominee’s commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate. — Jan 17, 2018
This nomination can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-PN1355.
† If you look at Grassley’s record, he has a record of making outlandish claims and using his office against Treasury bureaus regardless of the party in the White House. In 2005, I was involved with a Treasury bureau forced to a hearing in the Senate. Even though the evidence showed the contractor was clearly derelict in the performance of their contract, Grassley did everything except put on knee pads in deference to the contractor. Outside of the hearing room, I had a confrontation with one of his staffers and offered to supply the knee pads so that Grassley could complete the job. Since that hearing, I have held Grassley in contempt for being a bully and not a representative of the interests of his constituents in Iowa.

Money manufacturing continues during a shutdown

The last time the government shutdown, because Congress did not do their job, was on September 30, 2013. Over the weekend, the major impact will be the recreational-based activities including the National Parks and the Smithsonian Museums—although many of these agencies will remain mostly open using what is called “carry-over funding” which are services whose bills are paid but the agencies are owed the services. It is an accounting trick that can help some agencies up to 72-hours during a shutdown depending on the amount of money and to whom it is paid.

Thankfully, the Washington, D.C. government will pick up the trash and provide basic cleanup services on the National Mall and other areas that would normally be taken care of by the National Parks Service.

Should the shutdown last through Monday, both the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing will be operational. Both organizations are funded from their profits (seigniorage) which is held in their respective Public Enterprise Funds. The only responsibility that Congress has in their funding is to authorize the spending of the money. That authorization is not impacted by the shutdown because these are not (technically) taxpayer funds.

Since the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing are self-funded, they are also not subject to the debt ceiling issues.

Although the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing has not made a formal announcement, it is likely that facility tours will be suspended during the shutdown. This is because the security personnel are Treasury employees and not direct employees of the bureaus. Some will be designated as “essential personnel” and continue to work to help maintain security at all U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing facilities.

Security for the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky will not be impacted by the shutdown.

Since the Federal Reserve is an independent organization and not subject to congressional appropriations, they will remain open during a shutdown. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will probably also remain open. OCC is funded by the Federal Reserve to help regulate banks.

All independent government organizations not subject to congressional appropriations will continue to operate including the United States Postal Service.

Representatives of these agencies may contact me to provide additional information. Government employees who work for these agencies that want to provide additional information may also contact me. Please note that I do respect the confidentiality of all sources!

NOTE: Although I no longer work as a contractor to the federal government, my views on the government have changed only in my level of disgust with their practices. I am not a member of any political party. I am a supporter of government employees who makes up a very dedicated workforce and do not deserve the way they are treated by elected and appointed officials.

Image courtesy of Adam Bitely at NetRightDaily.

U.S. Mint to resume Mutilated Coin Redemption Program

Coins found in the recycling stream.

Starting on January 19, 2018, the U.S. Mint will be resuming the Mutilated Coin Redemption program. The program was suspended in December 2015 when the government alleged that a company in New Jersey was importing counterfeit coins from China to redeem as mutilated coins. Formal charges were brought against the persons involved in March 2016 and the U.S. Mint extended the suspension indefinitely in May 2016.

The recycling industry has complained to the Department of the Treasury and their members of Congress over the U.S. Mint’s inaction with providing new rules to restart the program. After publishing two draft rules and making adjustments based on the comments, the Final Rule was published in the Federal Register (82 FR 60309) on December 11, 2017.

The Final Rule that makes adjustments to the regulations for “Exchange of Paper Currency and Coin” (31 CFR Part 100 Subpart C) in order to add additional clarity and oversight to the process. This includes depositing worn or heavily scratch coins in a bank or other authorized depository. Bulk submission over one pound must be separated by denomination and must be identifiable. Each denomination is considered one submission and must be over one pound (e.g., one pound of nickels and one pound of dimes and one pound of quarters, etc.). Dollar coins also have to be separated by type (e.g., Eisenhower, Sacagawea, Presidential, etc.). The updated program restricts the redemption of fused, unsorted, and unidentifiable coins. Coins made of gold and silver are not accepted as part of this program.

Those needing more detailed information should consult the “Mutilated Coin Redemption Program” webpage on the U.S. Mint website (see http://bit.ly/Mutilated-Coin).

Image courtesy of Recycling International.

Senate Rejects Ryder

David J. Ryder at the hearing regarding his nomination to be the 39th Director of the U.S. Mint

With the gaveling in the second session of the 115th Congress, the Senate allows the inaction to the nomination of David Ryder to be the next Director of the U.S. Mint to end without a vote.

Officially, Ryder’s nomination was “[returned] to the President under the provisions of Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6 of the Standing Rules of the Senate.”

Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6 states:

Nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session at which they are made shall not be acted upon at any succeeding session without being again made to the Senate by the President; and if the Senate shall adjourn or take a recess for more than thirty days, all nominations pending and not finally acted upon at the time of taking such adjournment or recess shall be returned by the Secretary to the President, and shall not again be considered unless they shall again be made to the Senate by the President.

However, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS Report RL31980):

The Senate can, however, waive this rule by unanimous consent, and it often does to allow nominations to remain “in status quo” between the first and second sessions of a Congress or during a long recess. The majority leader or his designee also may exempt specific nominees by name from the unanimous consent agreement, allowing them to be returned during the recess or adjournment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Since the Senate calendars are controlled the Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) allowed the nomination to be silently rejected by not exercising his power to exempt Ryder from Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6.

There should be no reason to reject Ryder’s nomination. Aside from being previously confirmed by the Senate, there was no issue with Ryder’s confirmation hearing. In fact, his hearing was considered a pro forma session because of his past experience with the U.S. Mint and commercial Secure Products, a company focused on developing anti-counterfeiting solutions for currency and branded products.

This is clearly a political move by McConnell who has his issues with the president while polls show the popularity of both men is declining. McConnell may be trying to calculate what it will take to hold the Senate this November in an election that is seen to be potentially contentious. McConnell ask has to consider that his term is up in 2020. If he does not retire, he would have to run alongside the president. It might help McConnell to poke the president in the eye when he has the chance.

It has been seven years since Edmund Moy resigned as Director of the U.S. Mint. Since January 2011, there have been three nominations that the Senate has not considered (Bibiana Boerio & Rhett Jeppson by Obama and currently Ryder). At this rate, will anyone accept a nomination given the Senate’s record of inaction? Or will the U.S. Mint have to accept a less than optimal candidate because nobody else will take the job?

Gallery of Rejected Nominees to be Director of the U.S. Mint

December 2017 Numismatic Legislation Review

Each two-year term of congress is marked by sessions that begin every January 3rd at noon. When the House and Senate gavel into session on January 3, 2018, it will be the second session of the 115th Congress.

Political watchers have called the 115th congress everything from contentious to partisan to dysfunctional to names that cannot be repeated to a family audience. One thing they have not called this congress: boring.

For numismatists, Congress did pass The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (Public Law No. 115-65) making it the second commemorative coin program for 2019. The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary commemorative is the other. Also, two bills passed the House and have been sent to the Senate for their consideration:

  • Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park Redesignation Act (H.R. 965)
    This bill redesignates the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, in New Hampshire, as the “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park.”
  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 1235)
    This bill creates the first commemorative coin program in 2020 in recognition and celebration of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In between the partisan wrangling, there were three bills were introduced in Congress last month. They are as follows:

H.R. 4539: Plymouth 400th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act of 2017
Sponsor: Rep. William R. Keating (D-MA)
Introduced: December 4, 2017
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Dec 4, 2017
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR4539.

S. 2189: Plymouth 400th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act of 2017
Sponsor: Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-MA)
Introduced: December 4, 2017
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Dec 4, 2017
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S2189.

H.R. 4732: National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. David G. Reichert (R-WA)
Introduced: December 21, 2017
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Dec 21, 2017
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR4732.

In the meantime, the nomination of David Ryder to be the next Director of the U.S. Mint is now 73rd on the Senate Executive Calendar, down from 70th last month. A few nominations for key administrative positions were added to the calendar in front of Ryder. It is possible that his nomination will be confirmed within the next two months.

PN1082: David J. Ryder — Department of the Treasury
Date Received from President: October 5, 2017
Summary: David J. Ryder, of New Jersey, to be Director of the Mint for a term of five years, vice Edmund C. Moy, resigned.
Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Oct 5, 2017
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Hearings held. — Oct 24, 2017
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Ordered to be reported favorably. — Nov 1, 2017
Reported by Senator Crapo, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, without printed report. — Nov 1, 2017
Placed on Senate Executive Calendar. Calendar No. 458. Subject to nominee’s commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate. — Nov 1, 2017
This nomination can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-PN1082.

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