A Call to Veto Quarters Bill

Apparently, I an not the only one who would like to see the president veto the recently passed H.R. 6184, America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. Eric Lurio, blogger at The Huffington Post, also thinks this is a bad idea.

Lurio, who admits to purchasing annual sets, compares the excessive coin issues to the excessive stamp issues that helped kill philatelics. “The thing that destroyed philately was too much product,” writes Lurio. “Back in the day you’d have at most ten to fifteen commemoratives and some “regular” issues with weird denominations. That was cheap. It was fun. Not any more it’s not. There are fifty commemoratives, all expensive.”

Readers have sent quite a few private messages admitting to what I called “collector fatique.” Someone also suggested that congress has “Jumped the Shark” with this measure.

Today is the tenth day (not including Sundays) since the bill has been received by the president. Although the Senate will convene for a pro forma session—a session just to say congress was in session—the president could still not sign the bill today. With no session scheduled for tomorrow, it is possible that the result will be a pocket veto.

“Coins are a medium of exchange, not advertising. Sure the designs should be pleasing, if not beautiful, but don’t do tourist traps,” concludes Lurio, “It’s just not right.”

I cannot imagine what Teddy Roosevelt would say about this!

2009 Will Be Quite A Year

As we end 2008 and look to 2009, numismatists are going to have a lot of options to add to their collections. There will be quite a number of coins that will excite many. But the shear numbers may be overwhelming to others. However you feel, the US Mint will have a very busy year. Let’s look at what is coming up in the new year.

First, three coins will not see any changes. The “Return to Monticello” Jefferson Nickel introduced in 2006 will not be changed. Neither will the Roosevelt Dime, in circulation since 1946, and the Kennedy Half Dollar, as it has been since 1964 except for the Bicentennial issues.

For 2009, we will celebrate the bicentennial birthday of Abraham Lincoln. In celebration, congress has authorized the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent Program as part of Public Law 105-145. As part of this program, the Mint will issue four reverse design representing Lincoln’s birth and early childhood in Kentucky (1809-1816), his formative years in Indiana (1816-1830), his professional Life in Illinois (1830-1861), and an extraordinary presidency in Washington, DC (1861-1865).

As part of the Lincoln Cent program, the US Mint will issue a 2009-S VDB non-circulating coin that will be struck in the .950 copper alloy used when the 1909-S VDB was first struck. Also, Public Law 109-285 was passed earlier this year that created Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar to round out the celebration of our 16th president.

To round out the State Quarter program, 2009 will issue quarters to honor the District of Columbia and five US territories: Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The DC and US Territories Quarter Program authorized by congress in an amendment as part of an omnibus budget bill at the end of 2007.

The same omnibus budget bill also removed the motto “IN G-D WE TRUST” from the edge of the dollar coins. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) who was defeated for re-election.

The Presidential $1 Coin Program continues in 2009 to honor presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, and Zachary Taylor. Harrison had the shortest term when he died one month into office after contracting the flu following his refusal to wear an overcoat during his two-hour inaugural address on a cold day in March, 1841. All of the packaging options with Presidential $1 Coins will not be offered in 2009 after not selling well the last two years.

Along with the presidents, the First Spouse Gold Coins will be issued for Anna Harrison, Letitia Tyler, Julia Tyler, Sarah Polk and Margaret Taylor. Letitia Tyler was the first President’s wife to die in the White House. Julia Tyler became First Lady after marrying John Tyler in 1844.

Native American $1 Coins program will begin in 2009 with a design honoring the “Three Sisters’ agriculture, in which corn, beans and squash growing in the same mound enhanced the productivity of each plant. It was a unique program that lead to the concept of crop rotation we know today. This change was authorized by Public Law 110-82 and add edge lettering to these coins.

That brings the total number of circulating coins to 18! Proof sets will have 18 coins and the uncirculated Mint Sets will have 36 coins. Although the Mint has not announced pricing, it would be fair to guess that the prices will raise with more coins in the set. Clad and Mint sets should see a modest price increase. Silver proof sets will add an additional silver quarter and is likely to see a $10-15 rise in price.

Beyond circulating coinage, the Mint will produce the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar to honor the 200th anniversary of Braille’s birth. It is being touted by the Mint as being the first coin with readable Braille.

Precious metals programs will change in 2009. First, only the bullion issues of the American Eagle coins will be strucl. The Mint has discontinued the collector’s uncirculated coin program, eliminating the W mintmark from their portfolio. American Eagles will be available in proof and bullion coins in one-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and tenth-ounce denominations.

American Buffalo 24-Karat Gold Coins will also continue in 2009 but without fractional issues. The Mint will offer only one-ounce proof and investor bullion coins.

Last, but certainly not least, is probably the most intriguing coin that will be issued in 2009: the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin. The coin’s design will be a high-relief $20 gold piece on a double-thick, 24-karat gold planchet (sometimes called a piefort) 27 millimeters in diameter. The design will feature Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ original 1907 design where the date will be in roman numerals (MMIX). The inspiration for this coin came from 1907 when the Mint tried to strike an experimental double eagle coins using two stacked $10 eagle planchets. When the Mint’s management realized that congress would have to approve the striking of the coin for circulation, the project was abandoned and the test pieces were melted. Aside from the date, the only difference between the 1907 test pieces and the 2009 bullion issue is that the the motto “In G-D We Trust” will be added over the rising sun as it appeared in 1908. It is expected that these coins will be struck in proof-only varieties.

It will be quite a year!

US Virgin Islands Selects Quarter Design

Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. of the U.S. Virgin Islands announce the results of the people’s vote to choose the design of their quarter that will be released in 2009. The design chosen was Virgin Islands Beauty, Yellow Breast, Yellow Cedar Tyre Palm. The governor’s website describes the coin as:

A geographical rendition of the Virgin Islands, which includes the 3 major islands, and the official bird of the Virgin Islands (the Yellow Breast or Banana Quit (Coreba Flaveola) and the official flower of the Virgin Islands (Yellow Cedar or Yellow Elder (Tacoma Stans)) representing the natural wonder and beauty of our islands. These are placed on the background of a beach with the Tyre Palm (coccothrinax alta) native to the Virgin Islands, and the inscription “United in Pride and Hope” the Official Motto of the Territory found on the Virgin Islands Territorial Seal.

“I am proud to forward a recommendation to The United States Mint for the Virgin Islands Commemorative Quarter design. After a three week-long voting period, Virgin Islanders have collectively selected an overall favorite design, and I thank the community for its participation in this truly historic process,” deJongh said.

Three more territories to go!

The Duke To Represent DC

On June 19, the District of Columbia Office of the Secretary announced that the design for the DC quarter will feature Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. The design will include the official District motto, “Justice For All.”

Ellington beat out designs honoring Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Banneker by a margin of 36-percent to 33-percent for Douglass and 31-percent for Banneker. Ellington was the only native of Washington, DC of the group.

As with most decisions in the nation’s capital, the design of the DC quarter was not without controversy. First, the DC government submitted a narration with the unofficial motto “Taxation Without Representation” to raise the awareness that the District of Columbia is the only national capital that does not have representation its government legislative body. The US Mint rejected the design as “controversial.”

Then it was questioned as to who should appear on the quarter to represent the District of Columbia. While Ellington, Douglass, and Banneker have various ties to the District, none could have been said to have really defined the District. In reality, Ellington’s major accomplishments occurred in New York, Banneker was from Maryland, and while Douglass’s work was important, it had nothing to do with the District itself.

Over the last few months, I have been trying to convince anyone who would listen to me to change the design to honor Walter E. Washington. Washington was the first Mayor of the consolidated District of Columbia (Georgetown had its own mayor at one time) under the DC Home Rule Act of 1973.

As the last appointed commissioner of the DC, Washington faced the rioters following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. refusing to shoot them, as recommended by FBI director J. Edger Hoover. Washington worked with city leaders in their push for home rule.

If the DC activists, including Mayor Adrian Fenty, wanted to make a statement, placing Mayor Washington on the quarter would have given them the opportunity to speak about Home Rule and the problems the city has faced since.

I love Duke’s music, but I think Walter E. Washington would have been a better choice.

Do We Need Another Quarter Series?

In a grand announcement, Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) announced that he introduced H.R. 6184, America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 that would change the reverse of the quarter dollar coins to be “emblematic of a national park or other historic site in each State, the District of Columbia, and each territory of the United States.”

Castle, who authored the 50 State Commemorative Coin Act, noted that the program will make more than $6.2 billion in revenue, which will be $3.7 billion more than non-state quarters.

Note to Rep. Castle: ENOUGH!

We know that the 50 State Quarter program was a success. Aside from the income, it helped introduce more people to collecting. The process brought good designs and bad designs. It introduced the coin making process to the public while allowing the states to create designs to allow them show off. After the states are completed, the District of Columbia and territories are get their turns next year.

During that time, we celebrated the Westward Journey by redesigning the nickel and started honoring our past presidents with a one dollar coin. Next year, we honor Abraham Lincoln with four different Lincoln Cents reverses and a special 2009-S VDB collectible. Even the reverse of the Sacagawea Dollar will undergo a change to honor Native American heritage.

Note to Rep. Castle: ENOUGH!

These programs have been nice. But maybe it is time for a break.

The Presidential Dollar program has waned, mainly because the coins are not circulating. Coins are not circulating because there is a perception that the paper Federal Reserve Note is easier to deal with. But it is known that congress will not change the law to end the one dollar note until the Bureau of Engraving and Printing can make up for the lost production. One way to do that is to print currency for other countries.

Note to Rep. Castle: what about helping BEP find foreign customers so that they are not relying on the printing of $1 FRN? Why not provide the environment so that BEP can bring in new business? Can you help the BEP do what it takes to print the polymer notes that many foreign countries are demanding?

Are you doing what is right or are you looking for a few dollars? Is there a call for this series or are you looking for a few dollars? Are you afraid that there may be some fatigue in this idea, or are you looking for a few dollars?

There seems to be a “collectors’ fatigue” with the number of offerings from the US Mint. It is time to give the collecting community a small break and allow congress to fix some of the other issues that fact the Mint.

James Monroe and Planchet Errors

James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States. Monroe, a Democrat-Republican (the forerunner of the modern Democratic Party) and former governor of Virginia, believed in the Jeffersonian principle of a stronger federal government who would look out for the welfare of the states. He was opposed to the colonization of the Western Hemisphere by foreign powers and worked to have them withdraw from the hemisphere.

Monroe was elected during a time of good feeling after the War of 1812 where Great Brittan tried to prevent the US to trade with France while they were at war with Napoleon. Monroe worked to set the US place in the world, first by convincing Spain to cede Florida to the United States in 1821. Subsequently, Great Brittan, weary of war, wanted the US to oppose the reconquest of Latin America.

Monroe consulted ex-presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison who agreed with the concept. Monroe then consulted with Secretary of State John Qunicy Adams. Adams was not only concerned about British meddling in the region, but there was a concern about France and Russia also meddling in the Americas. Adams suggested making it US policy against nation trying to recolonize the west.

Monroe accepted Adams’ suggestion. In a message delivered to congress on December 2, 1823, Monroe say “… the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.“ Twenty years after Monroe died, this became known as the Monroe Doctrine.

The James Monroe $1 coin was released to the public on February 14, 2008. However, prior to the coin’s release, there was a report that a number of “irregular” coins were returned to the Mint by the contractor hired to wrap coins.

It was reported that between 70,000 and 100,000 Monroe Dollars were struck on quarter planchets at the Philadelphia Mint. When questions, the US Mint issued the following statement:

In mid-January, the United States Mint’s coin-wrapping contractor alerted the agency when it found some irregular James Monroe Presidential $1 coins. The coins in question were immediately returned to the United States Mint. The United States Mint has performed an internal inquiry and presently has no evidence to indicate that any irregular James Monroe Presidential $1 Coins have been sent to the nation’s banks. The United States Mint expects to make an estimated 103 million James Monroe Presidential $1 Coins.

When I go to the bank tomorrow to pick up some rolls, I will be buying a few extra rolls to check for these wrong planchet errors because I do not believe that all of these “irregular” coins have been found.

DC & Territories Own Program

While checking the US Mint website about the outage of the online catalog, I noticed that the D.C. & U.S. Territories Quarters will be treated as their own program. According to the program fact sheet, the new “program immediately follows the 50 State Quarters® Program, which ends in 2008.”

The D.C. & U.S. Territories Quarter program will feature six coins released in equal intervals during 2009. The Mint has set the order of release as: The District of Columbia, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, The United States Virgin Islands, and The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The design process will be run in the same manner as the Mint has run the 50 State Quarters program.

With the addition of the D.C. & U.S. Territories Quarter program, 2009 will also see the Native American $1 Coins and the redesign of the Lincoln Cent for the Lincoln Bicentennial. Although it is only January 2008, this makes it fun to anticipate 2009!

Pocket Change Is Still Fun

Many collectors are cherrypickers. We search change, dealer junk boxes, and other places for bargains. Then there are those hardcore cherrypickers who look for slight errors, die varieties, and other subtle features missed by the casual onlooker. I am not a hardcore cherrypicker. But I do search pocket change to see what I find.

After returning home from dealing with family business, my wife left a sandwich bag full of change and later told me she needed soda money. That means pick out the quarters, see if there is anything interesting, and fill up the quarter tube so she can buy her daily Coca-Cola. I started picking out the quarters and one caught my eye. It was worn but it had a distinct color. I dropped the coins on the desk and heard a distinct “ting.” It was the sound of days gone by. It was the sound of a silver quarter!

Somewhere, my wife received a 1964 Washington Quarter in change. If I was to have it grade, it would probably be slabbed in Extra Fine condition. There is some slight luster and it shows the signs of once being in someone’s collection. According to coinflation.com, the coin is worth about $2.85 in metals (as I type this), which is probably more than its numismatic value. But that does not matter… it was fun to find!!

2008 Quarter Designs Finalized

The US Mint announced the final designs for the 2008 50 State Quarters Program. If the Senate does not pass District of Columbia and United States Territories Circulating Quarter Dollar Program Act (H.R. 392), 2008 will be the last year of this program. H.R. 392 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Contact the committee if you want to see this bill passed.

The following text and images are from the US Mint:

Oklahoma: “Scissortail Flycatcher,” features an image of the State bird, the Scissortail Flycatcher, in flight with its distinctive tail feathers spread. The bird is soaring over the State wildflower, the Indian Blanket, backed by a field of similar wildflowers. Engraver: Phebe Hemphill.

New Mexico: “Land of Enchantment,” features a Zia sun symbol over a topographical outline of the State with the inscription “Land of Enchantment.” Engraver: Don Everhart.

Arizona: “Grand Canyon State,” features an image of the Grand Canyon with a Saguaro cactus, Arizona’s state flower, in the foreground. A banner reading “Grand Canyon State&lrquo; separates the two images to signify that the Saguaro cactus does not grow in the Grand Canyon. Engraver: Joseph Menna.

Alaska: “The Great Land,” features a grizzly bear emerging from the waters clutching a salmon in its jaw. The coin’s design includes the North Star displayed above the inscription “The Great Land.” Engraver: Charles Vickers.

Hawaii: “King Kamehameha I,” features Hawaiian monarch King Kamehameha I stretching his hand toward the eight major Hawaiian Islands. The design includes the state motto “UA MAU KE EA O KA ‘AINA I KA PONO” (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness). Engraver: Don Everhart.

Weekend Coin Finds Part I

I know there has been a lot of news on the numismatic front. I know the spot price of gold closed at over $800 per ounce. But it is the weekend and it is time for some fun. Since this is my blog, I want to show off some recent finds—especially since I have not done that in a while.

In a previous post, I discussed competitive collecting 1976 coinage. These are the Washington Quarters, Kennedy Halves, and Eisenhower Dollars with the special reverse to commemorate the American Revolution Bicentennial. These coins are of great interest because they are the first change in coinage following my interest in collecting. In fact, I continue to search change looking for the Jack Ahr Drummer Boy design on the reverse of the Washington Quarter. Not including commemorative coinage, the change in location of mint marks, or a change in alloys, this was the first temporary change in coin design on a continuing series.

Aside from competitive collecting, I would like to put together a competitive exhibit for an ANA convention about the 1976 coinage. In order to do that, I need a few “wow” items. Sure, I have the history—including copies of the laws that authorized that various coins—but there has to be a real eye catcher. I think I found it. How about three PCGS slabbed, gem proof coins with the labels autographed by the artists who designed the reverses!

These are three beautiful coins with very deep cameos placed in the slabs with the reverse facing the front and the autograph of the artists on the label. After winning the quarter and half-dollar very easily in a Teletrade online auction, it had taken another three months to win the Dennis Williams designed dollar. But looking at this set, it was worth the wait!

This is the first coin find posts of this weekend. Have a good weekend and stay tuned for a few other items that fit my “oh neat” criteria.

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