SCAM ALERT: Beware of Cheap Silver Eagles

If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

Device that could metallic analysis of a coin below the surface

Facebook users might have seen an advertisement trying to sell American Silver Eagle bullion coins for $9.99. DO NOT BUY FROM THAT ADVERTISEMENT. IT IS A SCAM!

The company is named LIACOO. Please note the two “ohs” because there is a legitimate company spelled with a single “oh.” LIACOO appears to be selling knock-off products made in China and representing them as genuine for less than market value.

A reader purchased five of these coins. After they arrived, this person said that something looked wrong and asked for help. The images that were sent makes the coins appear to be cast copies of American Silver Eagle coins. COUNTERFEITS!

First, you will NEVER find a legitimate seller sell American Silver Eagle for less than the wholesale price. You may be able to find someone who will round down your cost to the nearest dollar as a loss leader, but the price will never be more than 1-2% less than the spot price. The current spot price of silver is $17.84. If you find someone selling legitimate American Silver Eagle for $17.00-17.50, they will probably sell the coins to convince you to do further business with them. Otherwise, you may want to check the company further.

In this case, an examination of their website has no information about who they are.

  • There was no physical address.
  • There was no telephone number listed.
  • The site did not have a privacy policy required to do business with most of the world.
  • The site did not have any policies for shipping, returns, or customer service.
  • The pictures of legitimate monster boxes and roll containers were “borrowed” from another site.

There are two places where they provide contact information. On their FAQ page is an email address that uses a different domain. Contact information for the company’s domain name appears on one page that listed an email address, and that customer service was available between 9a and 5p HKT. HKT is the time zone abbreviation for Hong Kong Time.

If that was not enough to convince you that this deal is too good to be true, further research went into their Internet presence.

Their domain name registration shows that the name was purchased from a company in Guangdong, China, that appears to service small businesses. This service provider is reselling the services offered by Baidu. Baidu is a Chinese state-controlled search engine, sometimes called the Google of China. The Chinese government heavily regulates Baidu.

The website is hosted on servers owned by Alibaba. Alibaba is a China-based e-commerce conglomerate whose ties with the Chinese government is uncertain. Although founder Jack Ma has claimed to have no government ties, it is essential to remember that the Chinese government regulates everything and censor Internet traffic inside its borders.

Everything regarding their Internet presence confirms that they are a China-based company. Remember, many of the worst counterfeit coins have origins in China.

I provided the details of the clues I was looking for to help you understand how to spot a scammer. I went further by looking into their Internet presence since I have the background to understand the under-the-hood workings of the Internet. However, my examination of the website was enough to convince me not to buy the coins.

If anything about the offer makes you uneasy, then do not buy the coins. If you want me to look at the site, leave a message in the comment section below, or send me a note. “Let’s be careful out there.”

A Look at the American Eagles: The American Silver Eagles (UPDATED)

This is first article of a 4 part series:

NOTE: This is an updated article that was first published on September 18, 2018.

After the Coinage Act of 1965 removed silver from United States coinage, the federal government held the silver in the national stockpile. By the 1980s, the supply that far exceeded the needs of the national stockpile. Following several years of discussion that almost led to the bulk auction and sale of the silver, congress decided to use the silver to create a silver investment coin, the American Silver Eagle.

The American Silver Eagle program was so successful that following the depletion of the Defense National Stockpile in 2002, the original law was changed to continue the program by purchasing silver from U.S.-based mines at market prices to be used for future production.

American Silver Eagle Design

The obverse of the coin is the much-beloved design that was used on the Walking Liberty Half-Dollar coin from 1916 to 1947, designed by Adolph A. Weinman, a former student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The reverse features a heraldic eagle using a design by John Mercanti. Mercanti engraved both sides of the coin that including copying Weinman’s original design. Mercanti would later become the 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.

American Silver Eagle Specifications
 Composition .999 Fine Silver
 Weight One Troy Ounce (31.103 grams)
 Diameter 40.6 mm (1.598 inches)
 Thickness 2.98 mm (0.1173 inches)
 Edge Reeded
 Face Value $1.00
 Designers Adolph A. Weinman (obverse), John Mercanti (reverse)
 Engraver John Mercanti

Bullion American Silver Eagle Coins

The American Silver Eagle program produces bullion coins for the investment market and collectible versions of these coins. As bullion coins, the U.S. Mint tries to eliminate the factors that drive the price of collectible coins (mintage, rarity, and condition) by making each coin the same. The U.S. Mint strikes American Silver Eagle to meet the market demand and can be stuck at any branch mint. Bullion coins do not have a mintmark.

The U.S. Mint does not sell bullion coins directly to the public. They sell the coins to “Authorized Purchasers,” who then resell the coins to the market. Although the American Silver Eagle bullion coins are produced for the investment market, some people collect these coins.

As with other investments, American Silver Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold. Please consult with a financial advisor or tax professional for any tax implications.

Mint of Origin for Bullion Coins

The U.S. Mint branch facility in West Point, New York, has been the primary manufacturer of American Silver Eagle bullion coins. Over the years, the mint facilities in San Francisco and Philadelphia have supplemented production.

Following an investigation, researchers learned that the U.S. Mint struck American Silver Eagle bullion coins at San Francisco and Philadelphia from 2011-2017. Some have tried to use shipping records from the U.S. Mint, shipping labels, packaging materials, and other means to try to investigate the origin of the coins.

In 2015, the industry thought they understand how to tell which Mint struck the coins. According to a statement issued by the U.S. Mint in 2018, the Philadelphia Mint produced 79,640 bullion coins. However, 140 coins were “condemned” and not issued. They shipped 79,500 coins to West Point for distribution to authorized purchasers. Although the boxes contain labels and serial numbers, there was no attempt made to separate the coins by Mint. Further, the U.S. Mint acknowledges that they identified cases of duplicate labels and tracking numbers written on the box. The information creates a reasonable doubt as to determine the manufacturer of the coins.

The third-party grading services believe they identified strike characteristics of the 2015 bullion coins that occurred at the Philadelphia Mint. They have encased American Silver Eagle bullion coins with labels noting their Philadelphia pedigree with no additional evidence.

In 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused the U.S. Mint branch at West Point to close temporarily. In order to keep up with production, the U.S. Mint struck 240,000 bullion coins in Philadelphia.

The third-party grading services asked the U.S. Mint about the production of these coins. Rather than leave the industry guessing, the U.S. Mint identified which boxes contained American Silver Eagle bullion coins struck in Philadelphia. The grading services are noting the origin of the bullion coin on the label of their slab.

Unlike the 2015(-P) coins, the 2020(-P) coins have an identifiable trail that leaves little doubt to the origin of the coins.

Collector American Silver Eagle Coins

The U.S. Mint produces collector versions of the American Silver Eagle are sold directly to the public in specialty packaging. The U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins in a specially made capsule stored in a blue velvet-covered case in a blue box with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Beginning in 2006, the U.S. Mint has produced an uncirculated business strike coin for the collector market. Most uncirculated American Silver Eagle collector coins are struck in West Point and bear the “W” mintmark. Uncirculated coins are burnished, a process by treating the surface with fine particles to give the surface a smooth, satin finish. The U.S. Mint sells these coins in a capsule with packaging that varies from year to year.

The U.S. Mint has produced coins with reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated finishes. A reverse proof coin is when the elements show a mirror-like appearance and the fields have a matte finish.

In 2009, the U.S. Mint was unprepared for the financial collapse that increased the demand for silver bullion coins. So that the U.S. Mint could produce the coins to meet the investor demand, the U.S. Mint did not produce collector American Silver Eagle coins. Although the American Silver Eagle proof coin returned to the market in 2010, the U.S. Mint did not produce uncirculated burnished coins.

American Silver Eagle collector coins returned in 2011.

OGP vs. GRADED

2018-W American Silver Eagle Proof in Original Government Package

Collector American Silver Eagle coins can be purchased either in their original government package or graded. When searching for coins that are in their original government packaging on most online auction sites, it is recommended that you add “OGP” as part of the search.

Dealers and collectors will remove the collector American Silver Eagle coins from their original government package in order to submit them to a third-party grading service for grading. Collectors who prefer the encapsulated coins are not concerned with the package. Some dealers will sell the package without the coin for a few dollars, but for collectors of graded coins, this is not a priority.

2007 Reverse Variety

In 2008, the U.S. Mint updated the reverse dies of the American Silver Eagle, giving it a slightly different appearance. The reverse die was only supposed to be used on collector American Silver Eagle coins in 2008 before being used for bullion coins in 2009.

As a result of the human factor required with operating the minting equipment at the West Point Mint, the reverse dies used for the 2007 American Silver Eagle coins were mated with 2008 collector coins creating a new variety for collectors. These coins are known as a 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety.

2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety
(Image courtesy of the Silver Eagle Guide)

The 1995-W

Tenth Anniversary American Eagle Set

In 1995, the U.S. Mint created the 10th Anniversary American Eagle set to celebrate the program’s decade. The set contained a 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin that was made available only to collectors buying the set. Collectors wanting to add the 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin to their collection had to purchase the entire five-coin set that included four American Gold Eagle proof coins ($5, $10, $25, and $50 gold American Eagles). The $999 price for the set helped limit the number of coins sold.

As gold prices have risen, collectors sold the gold coins separately. However, the limited availability has caused the 1995-W American Silver Eagle to rise significantly on the secondary market. Cost to purchase this coin averages about $5,000-6, depending on the grade and finding the entire set with the American Gold Eagle coins in their original government package averages over $8,000.

Special Sets

The Philadelphia SetIn 1993, the U.S. Mint offered The Philadelphia Set, which was issued to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the striking of the first official U.S. coins at the Philadelphia Mint. This set included each of the Proof American Gold and Silver Eagles struck at the Philadelphia Mint and containing the “P” mintmark. The set included a 1993-P Proof Silver Eagle along with the one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce 1993-P Proof Gold Eagles. Also included was a silver Philadelphia Bicentennial Medal, which specially produced for this numismatic product.

To mark the launch of the new American Platinum Eagle bullion and collector coin series, the U.S. Mint offered the 1997 Impressions of Liberty Set. This set contained the one ounce 1997-W Proof Platinum Eagle, one ounce 1997-W Proof Gold Eagle, and one ounce 1997-P Proof Silver Eagle. Production was limited to 5,000 individually numbered units. The serial number for each set was engraved on a brass plate affixed to the wooden display case.

In 2004, the U.S. Mint worked with the United Kingdom’s Royal Mint to create a numismatic product containing the silver bullion coins from each country. The Legacies of Freedom Set contained one 2003 American Silver Eagle bullion coin and one 2002 British Silver Britannia bullion coin. The special packaging highlighted the importance of the two national icons.

To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the 220th Anniversary of the United States Mint, the two bureaus joined together to release the 2012 Making American History Coin and Currency Set. The set contained a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a $5 note with a serial number beginning in “150.”

As part of the 2016 Ronald Reagan Coin and Chronicles Set the U.S. Mint included a 2016 Proof American Silver Eagle along with a 2016 Ronald Reagan Presidential reverse proof dollar, and a Nancy Reagan Bronze Medal. To complete the set, it included a presidential portrait produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an informational booklet about President Reagan.

In 2019, the U.S. Mint partnered with the Royal Canadian Mint to issue the Pride of Two Nations silver coin set. The set contained a reverse proof American Silver Eagle struck at West Point and a reverse proof Silver Maple Leaf struck at the Royal Canadian Mint’s facility in Ottawa, Ontario. Production was limited to 100,000 sets in the United States and 10,000 sets in Canada.

Later in 2019, the U.S. Mint released an Enhanced Reverse Proof coin struck at the San Francisco Mint. Its mintage limit of 30,000 coins is less than the number of 1995-W coins issued.

Annual Sets

To extend the product line, the U.S. Mint began to create special annual issue sets to entice people to collect U.S. Mint products. The first annual set containing an American Silver Eagle coin was the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set. First offered in 2007, the set includes the issued uncirculated Presidential dollar coins, an uncirculated Native American dollar coin, and an uncirculated American Silver Eagle. Since the Presidential Dollar Program ended in 2016, it is unclear whether the U.S. Mint will issue the set in 2017.

Since 2012, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Limited Edition Silver Proof Set that contains 90% silver versions of the year’s five America the Beautiful Quarters, Kennedy Half Dollar, and Roosevelt Dime, along with the standard annual Proof American Silver Eagle. Sets are limited to 50,000 units annually.

Starting in 2013, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Congratulations Set as part of a new line of products targeted towards gift-giving occasions. The set includes the standard annual Proof Silver Eagle within specially designed packaging that allows the gift giver to add a personalized message.

Anniversary Sets

2011 American Silver Eagle 25th Anniversary Set

Since the American Eagle Program has been one of the most successful programs in the history of the U.S. Mint, they have used its popularity to extend the product line. Aside from celebrating the anniversary of the program, the U.S. Mint has produced anniversary sets to celebrate Mint facilities.

The Anniversary sets issued are as follows:

  • 1995 American Eagle 10th Anniversary Set included a 1995-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin and four American Gold Eagle coins.
  • 2006 20th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a special three-coin box set included a 2006-W American Silver Eagle with a burnished (satin) finish, a 2006-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin, and a 2006-P American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin.
  • 2011 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a five-coin box set that contained five different coins. The U.S. Mint produced only 100,000 sets that sold out within the first 10 minutes they were offered online. This extremely popular set is averaging $800 on the secondary market in the original government package. The set includes the following coins:
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-S (San Francisco) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Proof coin
    • 2011-P (Philadelphia) American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin
    • 2011 (no mintmark) American Silver Eagle Bullion coin
  • 2012 American Eagle San Francisco Two Coin Silver Proof Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the current San Francisco Mint. The set included a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof Coin.
  • 2013 West Point American Silver Eagle Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the facility in West Point, New York. The set included a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin and a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Enhanced Uncirculated coin. The set was instantly popular with collectors since it was the first appearance of the Enhanced Uncirculated finishing process.

Although the U.S. Mint did not issue a set to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the American Silver Eagle in 2016, West Point struck proof and burnished uncirculated collector coins with edge lettering that read “30TH ANNIVERSARY.”

Rolls and the Green Monster Box

Bullion coins are packaged in 20-coin hard plastic rolls with 25 rolls packed in a specially designed green box that contains 500 troy ounces of silver. The U.S. Mint seals the box before shipping them to authorized purchasers. The term Green Monster Box refers to the green box with 500 silver coins.

Resellers sell Green Monster Boxes with the intent of selling to investors. Resellers also sell unopened rolls from the Monster Box.

Sealed Green Monster Boxes have the benefit of being unsearched and unhandled since leaving the U.S. Mint. These boxes are usually offered for sale by bullion dealers at a small premium over the current market (spot) price of silver. Unsealed Monster Boxes with the U.S. Mint’s labels intact can attest to the authenticity of the coins.

In the next installment, we look at the American Gold Eagle coins.

All images courtesy of the U.S. Mint unless otherwise noted.

Weekly World Numismatic News for May 10, 2020

2020 American Eagle Silver Bullion CoinIs it Sunday already?

This past week, the numismatic world was greeted with the news that the Philidelphia Mint struck a limited number of American Silver Eagle bullion coins to help fill the demand.

Most of the production of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins are in the West Point Mint. Sometimes, the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints add capacity when necessary, with San Francisco being the priority. Since the West Point and San Francisco Mints temporarily closed because of the effects of COVID-19, Philadelphia picked up the slack.

The U.S. Mint produces all bullion coins without mintmarks. In most cases, it is impossible to tell which mint struck the coins. An exception is the 2015 (P) American Silver Eagles. Collectors and the grading services have been trying to figure out where the green monster boxes came from by examining the serial number and other clues. In 2015, Philadelphia struck just under 80,000 bullion coins. Those handling monster boxes noticed a difference in the packaging and quality.

According to the U.S. Mint, “Monster boxes of 2020 American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins minted in Philadelphia were affixed with a typed label containing the box tracking number; additionally, box tracking numbers were handwritten directly on the boxes. Box tracking numbers 400,000 through and including 400,479 were used on boxes of coins minted in Philadelphia.”

The 480 monster boxes translate into about 240,000 coins.

With that knowledge, the third-party grading services will add a special label noting that the coins were struck at Philidelphia only if the monster box sent for grading has the proper label and seal.

Of course, the price gougers are out in force. Most reputable companies are selling MS-70 graded “emergency” coins at around $250. That is about $200 over a “First Strike” or “Early Release” graded coins. One online seller is offering a pre-sale of the “emergency release” coins in MS-70 PCGS slabs with John Mercanti autographs for $595.

Coins graded MS-69 are selling for $75-80, which is $40-45 over other MS-69 graded coins.

Remember, if the listing says “pre-sale” it means that the seller does not have the coins in inventory.

And now the news…

 May 6, 2020
With central banks spraying unprecedented amounts of printed money at the global economic system, it’s little wonder the gold price soared by 18% in the six weeks following the stockmarket meltdown. All the extra money sloshing around means the chances that consumer price inflation will take off and erode the value of your cash have risen sharply.  → Read more at theweek.co.uk

 May 6, 2020
(Kitco News) – The last time the U.S. Mint sold this many platinum coins, President Bill Clinton was being tried by the U.S. Senate and Spongebob SquarePants was premiering on Nickelodeon. As of last month, the U.S. Mint said sales of the 1 oz platinum Eagle in 2020 reached 56,500 oz.  → Read more at kitco.com

 May 8, 2020
A veritable gold mine of silver coins which had been hastily stashed inside a church in a ceramic jug hidden by a blind Polish priest over 300 years ago has been unearthed by workers removing rotting floorboards in the blind priest’s former church.  → Read more at thevintagenews.com
Coin Collectors News
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Weekly World Numismatic News for April 26, 2020

As the stay or safe at home orders continue, news in the investing world around coins and bullion is whether there will be a recovery and what will happen.

While investors are turning to gold as the equity markets are less than stable, reports that bullion and bullion-related warrants are outselling all coin offerings. Even though the West Point Mint briefly paused coin production, the markets have not felt the impact.

Silver prices are faring as well as gold. The area that silver is gaining strength is in the industrial markets. Driving the price is the demand for electronics. The primary use of silver is in the braising that ensures the connections between the chips are secure and with the production of LEDs.

Industrial silver is in more demand than industrial gold. As Asian electronics production begins to ramp up, some investors feel that there may be a temporary shortage of silver. One analyst suggested that silver prices could climb to $18 per ounce. Silver is currently $15.26 per troy ounce.

On the other hand, the reports of economic contraction have suggested that bullion prices will collapse. If this is the case, then there will be more to worry about than the market price of bullion.

And now the news…

 April 22, 2020
People have been collecting coins for about as long as coins have been made. That’s a passion that has endured for centuries, since roughly 600 to 800 BC. Coin collecting is a worthwhile hobby and can sometimes be a financially savvy investment.  → Read more at washtimesherald.com

 April 23, 2020
Gold coin demand makes up a small part of total demand, and thus doesn’t have much impact on the gold price. Demand for gold coins must be seen as a retail sentiment indicator.  → Read more at seekingalpha.com

 April 25, 2020
Copper is well documented for its impressive antibacterial properties. Even Ancient Egyptians used bronze filings (an alloy of copper and tin) from their freshly sharpened swords to treat their wounds.  → Read more at iflscience.com

 April 25, 2020
What's True The reverse of a U.S. quarter issued in 2020 honoring the National Park of American Samoa features a pair of fruit bats.  → Read more at snopes.com
Coin Collectors News
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Weekly World Numismatic News for April 5, 2020

I know it is difficult to turn away from the news. It is like watching an automobile accident in slow motion. Every day it seems like there is something else. Unfortunately, this is true about the precious metals market.

Europe, which appears to be taking the closings and stay-at-home orders better than the United States, is trying to figure out what will happen to the economy after everything reopens. That is wreaking havoc with the market.

In one story, Germany is beginning to buy gold in preparation for future spending while institutions in Italy are selling gold to stay afloat. While African mines continue to bring metals to the market, investors are buying gold as a hedge for an uncertain future.

In the last 30-days, the price of gold has bounced back almost to pre-market shaking announcements about COVID-19 in the United States. Other metals have not been as active. According to a source, the only thing keeping the price of silver somewhat stable is its industrial use.

Coins and other collectibles that are sensitive to the precious metals market will begin to see a disparity in prices. Common gold coins whose price is tied to the metals market will rise. Silver coins will likely not move on the metals market.

During a conversation with a professional metals trader, I asked what is next for the market. A person who usually has an answer said that he did not know. He said that most traders are not trying to predict the market but react to whatever happens. One of the problems is that the computer models are wrong. In many cases, firms have halted automated metals trading. He said that the situation is so fluid that some of the computer models were buying from themselves.

If you watch the business news on cable television, you will hear a different opinion from every guest. I plan to use the advice given to me: prepare for the worst and turn off the television.

And now the news…

 April 1, 2020
On that day, men shall fling away, To the flying foxes and the bats, The idols of silver And the idols of gold Which they made for worshiping. Isaiah 2:20  → Read more at breakingisraelnews.com

 April 2, 2020
When people are worried about the future they turn to gold to protect their savings. That’s rarely been more true than today.  → Read more at finance.yahoo.com

 April 2, 2020
I estimate that the Germans own 9000 tonnes in private gold-nearly as much gold as the French and Italians have combined. The World Gold Council (WGC) states there are roughly 198,000 tonnes of gold above ground, of which 35,000 tonnes is held by central banks.  → Read more at seekingalpha.com

 April 3, 2020
Polish archaeologists have uncovered a treasure trove of Roman denarii coins. They date from the first and the second century BC, and they probably belonged to a member of a Germanic people who lived in the area at the time.  → Read more at ancient-origins.net

 April 3, 2020
While removing the floor of the church in Obišovce near Košice, the foundations of the old church were uncovered. After this discovery, the archaeological company Triglav conducted research that took place at the beginning of February 2020, the Regional Monuments Board Košice reported.  → Read more at spectator.sme.sk
Coin Collectors News
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March 2020 Numismatic Legislation Review

Seal of the United States CongressAs part of an action-filled month, there was one numismatic-related bill introduced in congress. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) introduced the 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act (H.R. 6192) to allow the U.S. Mint to strike tributes to the 1921 Morgan and Peace Dollars.

H.R. 6192 is a replacement for the 1921 Silver Dollar Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 3757). That bill will die in committee because two commemorative coin bills are already the law. The Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 (Public Law No. 116-65) and the National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act (as part of Public Law No. 116-94) will appear in 2021.

The new bill is different in that it is not a commemorative coin bill. It was introduced is a bullion bill, which means that the government will keep all of the seigniorage. It would have been nice to have a commemorative bill that would raise money for the ANA.

The bill also does not have an end date. If passed, the U.S. Mint can strike bullion Morgan and Peace silver dollars starting in 2021 and into eternity. Although reports claim that the U.S. Mint “does not currently have any intention of creating an ongoing program and issuing coins after 2021,” does not mean they will not change their mind.

The only change I would recommend is to amend the bill to be like the 24-karat gold bullion bill. Allow the U.S. Mint to use the Morgan and Peace dollar designs the first year but allow the U.S. Mint to come up with new designs every year. Consider how much more successful the 2017 Centennial Coins would have been if they were struck in silver.

H.R. 6192: 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act
Sponsor: Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
Introduced: March 11, 2020
Introduced in House — Mar 11, 2020
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 11, 2020
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR6192.

DON’T BUY COINS ON TELEVISION!

Over the years, I have heard from many people regarding the problems with mailorder numismatics. Every few months, someone writes and asks about the value of something they bought from a non-numismatic magazine or from something they saw on television.

My answers tend to be upsetting because the market does not value these items as the television hucksters do.

Recently, I wrote about the experience with someone who brought in a box of coins he bought from television and magazines. I described his reaction as “The look on his face when I told him was as if I kicked his dog.” Then I was provided an example of why my words land very hard.

Sunday’s are my day off. Even though I have personal work to catch up on, I will play couch potato and watch television. This past Sunday, I entered the wrong number in the remote and landed on the Fox Business channel.

On the weekend, when the markets are not open, the business channels broadcast other programming. At this time, Fox Business was airing an infomercial for Coins TV.

When I tuned in, the camera was panning a display with graded American Silver Eagle coins. Of course, I stopped to stare at the shiny silver coins. Then I heard the pitch.

The pitchman is Rick Tomaska, owner of Rare Collectibles TV. Tomaska seemed pleasant and appeared knowledgable. His pitch was selling a date run of American Silver Eagle graded MS-69 by NGC for $1,995.00. It almost seemed reasonable until it was made clear that the pitch was for a date run of 31 coins from 1986-2016.

Is $1,995.00 a good deal for the 31 coins? My first instinct was to check the price guides. Since the online Greysheet does not include the retail price for graded bullion coins (why?), I used two other guides: Numismedia Fair Market Value Price Guide and the price guide from NGC. Based on a grade of MS-69, the guides provided the following information based on prices for the 1986-2016 34-coin set:

  Numismedia FMV
34 coins @ MS-69
NGC Price Guide
34 coins @ MS-69
RCTV Infomercial
31 coins @ MS-69
Total $1,240.00 $1,679.00 $1,995.00
Average $40.00 $54.16 $64.35

But Numismedia and NGC are price guides. Guides are not the retail prices a collector would pay. So we turn to the interwebs to search for “date run American Silver Eagle coins.” The search returned several entries on the first page that was not RCTV.

Taking the top three entries from the search, only one dealer was sold out. The others offered a complete set of 34 coins, 1986-2019, graded MS-69 by NGC for considerably less than Tomaska’s price. To be fair, where there was a difference between the cash and credit prices, I used the credit card price, which is usually higher. Then I searched eBay and sorted for the lowest price. The following is what I found:

Company Date Run Coins in Set Advertised Price Shipping Average per coin
RCTVcoins.com 1986‑2016 31 $1995.00   $64.35
JM Bullion 1986‑2019 34 $1541.70   $45.34
Mint Products.com 1986‑2019 34 $1399.99   $41.18
eBay Seller constitutionclct 1986‑2019 34 $1299.00 $14.95 $38.65

For the eBay dealer who was charging for shipping, the cost per coin was the lowest even after adding the shipping costs to the total price.

JM Bullion and Mint Products.com are reputable companies. Both firms are worth considering if you do not feel comfortable making this purchase from an eBay seller. Note that these companies will base the price of their bullion coins on the current spot price of silver. Their retail prices may fluctuate.

When you buy from these television advertisements, you will overpay.

To help enforce the issue, the JM Bullion website said that they would buy a complete date set of American Silver Eagle bullion coins for $1,094.12 when I looked up the price. If you purchased the set advertised on television, you would be LOSING $900!

As part of the pitch, if you ordered the set, Tomaska would send a copy of the 4th Edition of American Silver Eagle: A Guide to the U.S. Bullion Coin Program autographed by Miles Standish, the book’s co-author, who was present with Tomaska.

What is sad is that Miles Standish joined Tomaska as part of this infomercial. Although Standish did not assist Tomaska in his pitch for the set, his presence is an appearance of legitimacy. It is similar to the appearance of past ANA President David Ganz on an infomercial. Neither endorsed the product that was being sold, but their presence was used to suggest otherwise.

I would not recommend buying coins or any collectible from a television show. Every collectible I have seen being hawked on television was 45-60 percent over what might be considered wholesale value for its market.

As a small business owner, I would be foolish to criticize someone for making a profit. It’s the Ameican way. However, there is a difference between making a profit and price gouging. It is why I am warning you against purchasing collectibles from a pitch on television.

All images are screen shots taken using an external camera. Use of images are permitted and protected under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.Code §107).

Weekly World Numismatic News for July 28, 2019

One of the indicators as to how the markets view the economy is the price of precious metals. When there is uncertainty in the markets, investors leave the equity markets and buy precious metals. When that happens, it will have an impact on most pre-1965 coins.

Marketwatch reported that silver hit a 13-month high about the same time Iran captured a Britsh tanker. Since then, the silver market leveled out with few signs of dropping. Silver is not selling for at the same level as seen during the economic crisis in as it approached 2011, there continues to be upward pressure on its price.

Silver investing is sometimes called the “poor man’s gold.” When the average investor is uncertain and looks for a safer investment, they will buy silver while the wealthier investors will buy gold. Palladium has emerged as the new investment vehicle for investors with means.

Gold has been more erratic with wild swings in both directions depending on the news of the day. A precious metals fund manager who manages several diverse portfolios called the divergence of the markets curious. There is not a clear explanation for the current rise of silver. If someone were trying to manipulate the market, the prices would climb faster. All she could tell was there were a lot of low-end investors buying into silver.

30-day Gold Chart (will not update—Courtesy of Kitco)

For numismatics, the rising price of silver can be problematics. As the price of silver rises, the value of your coins will increase. However, adding to your collection will cost more, especially on those collectible coins whose value is tied to the price of silver.

Those responsible for investing in these markets are beginning to worry. If investors are buying silver as a safe haven, there could be a feeling of a pending economic crisis. Only time will tell if they are right.

And now the news…

 July 24, 2019

Present-day tenants of home owned by Jewish family before the Holocaust find jars containing 2,800 coins from as far back as the Roman Empire and as far away as India  → Read more at timesofisrael.com


 July 24, 2019

A hoard of Roman coins dating from the time of Queen Boudicca have been found by a metal detectorist in a field. What makes this find especially fascinating is that they may have been hidden there during one of the most interesting periods in Britain’s early history, the revolt against Rome led by the Celtic Queen Boudicca.  → Read more at thevintagenews.com


 July 24, 2019

Silver futures settle at a 13-month high on Monday, outpacing strength in gold, which saw prices eke out only a modest gain despite rising tensions between…  → Read more at marketwatch.com

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Weekly World Numismatic News for June 2, 2019

The most interesting news of the week was not printed by a media outlet but by the Government Printing Office. On May 23, 2019, the GPO published an entry in the Federal Register saying that the U.S. Mint has priced the Pride of Two Nations Limited Edition Two-Coin Set at $139.95.

Which two nations? Of course, if this is coming from the U.S. Mint, one of the countries is the United States. However, several reports claim that the second nation is Canada.

According to a source, the set will include a proof one-ounce American Silver Eagle coin and a proof one-ounce silver Canada Maple Leaf with a unique privy mark. There was no further information as to what the privy mark will be.

Production will be limited to 250,000 sets, according to the source.

The coins will be packaged and marketed by the U.S. Mint. The Royal Canadian Mint will also take orders for the set that will be fulfilled by the logistics contractor working for the U.S. Mint.

The source did not have information about the packaging.

The set will go on sale at the beginning of the World’s Fair of Money via Internet and telephone ordering only. Falling under the category that we can no longer have nice things, the U.S. Mint’s reticence to open sales at shows is a result of the fiasco that occurred when they released the 2014 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half-Dollar Gold Proof coin at that year’s World’s Fair of Money.

Of course, no dealer was penalized by the American Numismatic Association for disrupting the World’s Fair of Money or setting the conditions that disrupted the distription outside of the Denver Mint.

And now the news…

 May 28, 2019

ST. GEORGE — Glen Canyon National Recreation Area’s investigation of centuries-old Spanish coins that were turned into the park has provisionally concluded the coins are authentic. However, according to a news release from the National Park Service, the two small coins were probably part of a modern coin collection, perhaps accidentally or intentionally dropped by a visitor to Lake Powell.  → Read more at stgeorgeutah.com


 May 29, 2019

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the newest mock-up of the Harriet Tubman currency from the advocacy group Women on 20s. WASHINGTON – The Trump administration says it needs until 2028 to release a new $20 bill featuring abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman.  → Read more at usatoday.com


 June 1, 2019

The coins and a silver ingot, believed to be worth £500,000, were seized in Durham and Lancashire.  → Read more at bbc.com


 June 1, 2019

Is the current 1p piece the least valuable British coin since the currency was unified in 1707?  → Read more at bbc.com

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Weekly World Numismatic News for December 9, 2018

Each week I look at the news from the week in order to highlight something interesting. With the holiday season upon us, I was hoping to find something nice to write about. Instead, Kitco’s story about the increasing sales of silver and a marketplace that is now moving is more concerning than positive.

Precious metals are the investment of last resort. While some portfolios will diversify into metals for a safe haven, metals become active when there is uncertainty in the market. The trade wars between the United States and China have caused market players to reduce their risk by investing in silver.

Although most prefer gold, silver has been the metal of choice for the Chinese for hundreds of years. It has been the benchmark of their trade and the basis for their monetary system prior to all countries moving off precious metals standards. It was the basis of trade that the United States thought would be resolved by creating the Trade Dollar coin in 1873.

The rise in silver sales from the U.S. Mint is good in that it will increase seigniorage. It is not so good in that it indicates there is the potential for the markets to change course. Markets hate uncertainty and this could be their answer to the uncertainty brewing in trade between China and the United States.

And now the news…

 November 28, 2018

Currencies / Fiat Currency The first gold coins appeared around 560 B.C. Over time it became a practice to store larger amounts of gold in warehouses.  → Read more at marketoracle.co.uk


 November 29, 2018

These days, you can't buy much with 5¢ – including the cost of making one. That's right, the cost of producing a 5¢ piece is about 5.059¢, and this is about the cheapest it's been in recent years. In 2015, the cost of producing a 5¢ piece hit a high of 7¢ due to the fluctuating cost of nickel and copper.  → Read more at smh.com.au


 November 29, 2018

Inmates in a Bulgarian prison were in for a shock when they stumbled across an enormous hoard of silver coins from the Ottoman Empire. The incredible haul was discovered alongside two broken treasure pots in a prison in the Bulgarian city of Pleven.  → Read more at mirror.co.uk


 December 2, 2018

The National Bank of Romania (BNR) has put into circulation, for numismatic purposes, a commemorative collector banknote with face value of lei 100 dedicated to the anniversary of 100 years since the Great Union on December 1, 1918.  → Read more at romania-insider.com


 December 3, 2018

Correcton:The U.S. Mint provided incorrect information on its website Monday morning, misstating the number of ounces sold in December. In an update of its sales data the U.S.  → Read more at kitco.com


 December 4, 2018

Rare gold coins and a golden earring have been discovered in the ancient Mediterranean port of Caesarea in northern Israel—possibly left and never recovered as Crusaders conquered the area 900 years ago.  → Read more at phys.org


 December 6, 2018

It was 150 years ago this month when one of Nevada's most treasured artifacts first arrived in Carson City.  → Read more at carsonnow.org


 December 6, 2018

Lianna Spurrier has the tooth fairy to thank for a hobby that transformed into sudden job opportunities.   → Read more at thetrailblazeronline.net


 December 8, 2018

This article first appeared in the Nevada Appeal on July 20, 2014. Abe Curry received papers on July 16, 1866, approving the start of construction on the Carson Mint.On  → Read more at nevadaappeal.com

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