While we cannot tour or see inside the Bullion Repository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the U.S. Mint just released a B-Roll video of scenes inside the gold repository at the West Point Mint.
Gold stored at West Point is called “working stock.” This is the gold that the U.S. Mint uses for striking coins. Depending on the demand, the gold you will see in the video will not be there in a year. It will be used for American Gold Eagles, gold commemoratives, and gold medals cast for congress and the president.
West Point has been called “The Fort Knox of Silver” because it is where the U.S. silver reserve is located. It is also the location for the working stock of silver used by the U.S. Mint. All of the U.S. Mint facilities have working stock of silver used to strike silver coinage. However, since most gold production is struck out of West Point and Philadelphia, most of the working stock of gold is in those facilities.
West Point is the primary manufacturer of gold bullion coins.
In the video at the 50-second mark, someone is weighing a bar of gold. He says the manufacturer claim is that it weighs 400.100 (troy ounces) but actually weighs 400.096. A gold bar weighing 400.096 troy ounces is 12.444 kilograms or 27.435 pounds. With the price of gold currently $1,176.60 per troy ounce (as this is being written), the melt value of that gold bar, which is .9999 fine looking at the stamp on the bar, is $470,752.95.
Finding coins in pocket change can be a lot of fun. Then there are those who find hoards of coins buried in the ground or just stored somewhere that people forgot. From shipwrecks to treasure hunts, we all dream of finding the next jackpot somewhere.
On your great grandfather’s farm, a worker was plowing the field and found a silver medal. It has the image of President James Madison on one side and what looks like a peace medal on the other. Rather than letting go, great grandpa traded three hogs for the medal.
The medal gets handed down from generation to generation until one of his ancestors takes the medal to Antiques Roadshow to find out what it is worth.
You are told that it is a silver James Madison Indian Peace Medal. The 1809 medal was designed by assistant engraver John Reich and struck at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. It is not the largest of the medals but at 2½-inches, it is a fairly significant medal.
We have seen the many packages of shredded currency. From the little packages with $5.00 of shredded currency to 5 pound bags filled with approximately $10,000 shredded money, this was the primary way currency did not just get thrown away. Since 2014, the Federal Reserve has been working with recyclers across the country to turn that shredded cash into something else useful.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Federal Reserve pushed for more recycling of currency in 2011. Since each Federal Reserve bank manages its own cash operations each works with local recyclers to provide the cash. In most cases, the recycler hauls away the shredded cash for no charge to the bank and turns it into other products.
When I am in the mood for the mental chewing gum that is television, I love to watch what I like to call documentary entertainment. The pros call it infotainment, information entertainment. These are cooking shows or a car-related show that takes a car with a problem and shows us how to fix them. Whether I am watching Chopped, Wheeler Dealers, or All Girls Garage I can find enough interesting watching.
Another of my guilty pleasures is How It’s Made on the Science Channel. How It’s Made is simply a show that will demonstrate how every day and other items are manufactured. I am fascinated by seeing the process of manufacturing. Some of the machines that are created to make our everyday items is fascinating. Take something simple as a pencil and think about how a company makes thousands over the course of a day and the non-standard machines required to do this.
The U.S. Mint infrequently posts videos about their coins, people and operations. What I find fascinating is the How It»s Made like videos that shows how they deal with the basic manufacturing process. In the latest video, the U.S. Mint shows how they package American Silver Eagle bullion coins into tubes for shipping to dealer.
The machine is called an Auto Tuber and can be found at the West Point branch mint where bullion coins are struck. After the coins are struck, they are laid flat on trays with the trays being stacked on a rack. From the rack, a machine takes one of the trays, places it next to the Auto Tuber, and pours the coins into the tracks. Using a suction cup fingers, the machine lifts the coins and places them into tube. The tubes are capped, weighed, packaged, inventoried, and sent for shipping.
At the end of the line is a human worker who picks up the packed green boxes you might have seen some dealers advertise for sale as “Monster Boxes” and places them on a pallet for shipping. That is where the one-minute journey ends.
Similar to the standard production videos is the proof set production video from the U.S. Mint in San Francisco that includes a similar machine that places the coins in the holders.
Watchers of the @coinsblog Twitter feed have seen that I post storied of robberies of coin collections. These are heart breaking stories not because the owner lost something of value. They lost something of emotional value.
I have seen stories of a stash of mostly Morgan silver dollars that have been stolen from a dresser draw that the owner either has saved all of these years or were from a relative who saved them as part of a hedge from a depression. There was a story that a young single mother found gold coins in her late father’s house and was going to use the coins to care for her children only to have someone she trusted later steal the coins. Then the story of the Flying Eagle and Indian Head cent collection with most coins in almost uncirculated quality including a 1909-S coin put together by a late grandparent that was stolen while the family was on vacation.
While these are heartbreaking, it is great to hear about the community working together to capture a thief.
Two thieves went to the Long Beach Expo looking to cash in on their ill-gotten gain when a dealer thought he recognized the coins as described from an earlier robbery. The dealer notified on-site security who apprehended the criminals. They were handed over the Long Beach police.
It is wonderful that the community will pay attention to these unfortunate incidents and help law enforcement recover these coins!
(Long Beach, California) — A suspected thief was tackled by a Positive Protection, Inc. (www.ppius.com) security guard as he tried to escape at the Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo (www.LongBeachExpo.com) on Friday, June 10, 2016. An alleged accomplice with a backpack containing more than $300,000 of rare coins was also taken into custody.
Both suspects were turned over to Long Beach police on suspicion of burglary, robbery and possession of stolen property. Two other suspects were arrested the next day and more stolen coins were recovered.
“They reportedly were trying to sell coins at the Long Beach Expo in the Long Beach Convention Center. One dealer they approached, Karl Stephens, thought the coins they were offering had been stolen earlier in a robbery in the San Bernardino, California area,” said Patrick Coward, a guard for Positive Protection of Temecula, California, a company that provides security services for coin and jewelry dealers.
“When the suspects tried to leave, the dealer shouted out to stop them. I was nearby and when one suspect started to run I chased him and tackled him at the door. Additional security personnel from the show helped subdue him. The second suspect was stopped without a problem at the door as he tried leave. His backpack was filled with more than 100 ancient coins and other gold and silver coins worth more than $300,000,” explained Coward, a former New York City homicide detective.
The brief chase and the tackle were captured on surveillance video at the booth of Stack’s Bowers Galleries (www.stacksbowers.com) of Santa Ana, California and New York City.
“With the help of a knowledgeable dealer and the fast action of trained security professionals, two suspected thieves were caught and valuable, stolen rare coins have been recovered,” said Robert Brueggeman, President of Positive Protection which provides on-site security for all the Whitman Expo and American Numismatic Association convention shows. “We always want a safe, enjoyable environment for dealers and the public at these collectible shows, but we also must always be on alert.”
A day after the capture of the two suspects at the coin show, Long Beach Police arrested two more suspects who reportedly came to retrieve the car of the first two suspects. Investigators recovered from the car what is believed to be the remainder of the stolen rare coins.
This surveillance video shows Positive Protection, Inc. security guard and former New York City Police homicide detective Patrick Coward on the left as he immediately chased and tackled a suspected coin thief when the suspect tried to flee from a coin show in Long Beach, California on Friday, June 10, 2016. His alleged accomplice is then stopped at the door while carrying a backpack with a reported $300,000 in rare coins believed stolen in an earlier theft in the San Bernardino, California area.
Stacks Bowers Long Beach Surveillance Video [KGVID width=”320″ height=”240″]http://coinsblog.ws/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Stacks-Bowers_Long-Beach_video.mov[/KGVID]
Obverse of the 2009-present Native American Dollar featuring the portrait of Sacagawea
Last month, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew announced a series of design changes that will occur on United States currency. These changes will be phased in over 10 years to coincide with the production schedules in place currency redesign.
I will go into the more details of the changes at a later date, but during my travels around the interwebs I came across a television news report from KIFI, the ABC affiliate in Fort Hall, Idaho. Although it is like every other news story it has one feature that no other news outlet was able to add to their story: an interview with Randy’L Teton.
Randy’L Teton is a member of the Shoshone-Cree tribe who was the model for Glenna Goodacre’s design for the Sacagawea dollar coin. Teton was a student at the University of New Mexico majoring in art history and was working for the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe when Goodacre visited looking for Shoshone woman to be her model since no images of Sacagawea exist. Teton was chosen for as the model.
For anyone who has not seen or heard Ms. Teton, here is the video of KIFI’s report:
If you missed the news, a few days ago President Barak Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act (Pub. L. 114-152) that names the “North American Bison” the national mammal. The bison does not replace the Bald Eagle as the national animal or the national emblem.
The bison is an iconic animal unique to North America. Discovered by the European settlers as the country expanded west, the bison was significant to the economic and spiritual lives of the native tribes throughout the Great Plains areas.
Photo from the 1870s of a pile of American bison skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer.
Bison is important to the ecology of the landscapes where they are located. Bison eat a certain type of grasses that are said to be difficult to control. The bison act as a natural “ predator” and not only consumes these grasses but also helps maintain control over the vegetation through consumption and feeding what is left through their waste.
Although conservation efforts began in the late 19th century, a bison population that used to number in the millions the 2012 Department of Agriculture census said that there were 162,110 heads. Up until the last 50 years, we have done a bad job of taking care of this national resource, now national treasure.
When numismatist thinks of the American Bison, the thought turns to the Indian Head “ Buffalo” Nickel designed by James Earle Fraser. Fraser, a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, continued the path of Theodore Roosevelt’s “pet crime” to design a coin that screams America.
The reverse of the coin is an American Bison that we erroneous call a buffalo. According to legend, Black Diamond was Fraser’s model for the reverse of the Buffalo nickel. Black Diamond was a North American bison that was living in the Central Park Zoo. He was donated to the zoo by Barnum and Bailey and lived his life there until he was auctioned in 1915 to a game and poultry dealer who was later sold as steaks for $2 a pound.
2013-W American Buffalo gold reverse proof obverse
1913 Buffalo Nickel Type 1 Reverse
When asked about the model for the coin, Fraser said it was Black Diamond and found him in the Bronx Zoo. At one time Fraser was not sure of the name of the animal but insisted his influence was at the Bronx Zoo. Black Diamond was never at the Bronx Zoo. But like the story of who was the model for the Indian on the obverse, why should facts spoil a good story!
With the signing of the National Bison Legacy Act there are groups that wants to bring back the Buffalo nickel. Someone started a petition at the online petition website Change.org to convince the U.S. Mint to return to bring back the buffalo nickel.
Even though the U.S. Mint is the wrong agency to address this petition to since it would require an act of congress, the Fraser Buffalo design is still used on the 24-karat gold bullion coin. In fact, not counting varieties, mintmarks and strike types, the bison has appeared on eight different coins and one Legal Tender Note. If you want to put together a nice type set, it would require 22 different coins and the 1901 $10 Legal Tender Note (see “Collecting a Herd of Buffaloes” for this discussion).
I do not know if returning the Buffalo nickel is a good idea. While it was an iconic design, it was one that saw considerable wearing while in circulation. If someone wants to bring the buffalo back to United States coins, maybe we could consider the 2005 Westward Journey nickel with the American Bison reverse. It also has a better portrait of Thomas Jefferson than is currently used.
If you would like to virtually sign the partition, visit Change.org and register your vote.
The Washington Post produced an interesting video with facts about the bison. If you want to see the video without visiting the Post’s website, you can watch it here:
Bison images and the Type 1 Buffalo nickel reverse courtesy of Wikipedia.
As opposed to prior videos, rather than have the entire video animated, it uses a combination of animation and the B-Roll video the U.S. Mint published last month. It is done in a way that tells a very coherent story without being cheesy. Everyone will enjoy this video, even if they are just a kid at heart.
“B-Roll” is a television term for background video that is interspersed within a story. It received its name from the days of editing video segments on film where the primary film that contained the story with the reporter talking was on the “A” or primary roll of film. During the story, there would be other elements cut in with background and other video that was on another reel called the B-Roll. The term has survived through the video and now digital era. Modern B-Roll is now called stock footage.
So far, I have stayed away from strictly screen printed and lenticular printed coins but I have lauded some painted coins and added them to my collection.
If there is something that I prefer over everything else is a coin whose design is based on the engraving. For that reason, I have complemented and purchased $20 for $20 coins from the Royal Canadian Mint. Their $20 for $20 program produces .9999 pure silver coins sold with the face value of $20 (in Canadian funds). They are available directly from the RCM to Canadian and United States buyers only.
Last year, I purchased the Bugs Bunny and the Superman “Man of Steel” coins directly from the Royal Canadian Mint. My final price was $16.46 each in U.S. dollars after the exchange rate and the credit card company’s conversion fee. Sure these are gimmick coins, but I like the themes.
This year, the RCM has issued a Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice $20 for $20 coin. With a mintage of 300,000 coins, numismatists who are also fans of the movie can add this silver coin to their collection. Based on the image, it appears that Superman is overpowering Batman.
Looking at the coin’s aesthetics, it is a good looking coin. The artists at the RCM are very capable and have come up with really nice designs. While the concept of the $20 for $20 (US$15.14 as I type this) may be somewhat of a gimmick for a coin with 7.96 grams of silver ($3.90 when silver is $15.32 per ounce), the design is engraved art struck into a silver planchet that is affordable for many collectors.
I have not had the opportunity to see the movie. I do enjoy comics and comic-related stories, but I am not a hardcore fan. I like both characters and have always been a fan of Wonder Woman now played by Gal Godot. But the coin intrigues me. I might buy the coin before seeing the movie!
Like any good movie, here is the “trailer” the Royal Canadian Mint produced for the coin:
While looking at my timeline on Twitter, I found a tweet from what could be classified as the public relations office of Banco de México (Bank of Mexico), the Mexican central bank. Although my Spanish is barely above what I remembered from two semesters as an undergrad, I know enough that if I had any question to call up Google Translate for a fairly good translation.
This one was pretty easy and I understood it before asking for help. It asks “Do you know how banknotes are made in Mexico?” Looking at the question, I shrugged and thought they were made the same way they were made in the United States. While that is pretty much the case, seeing the process from another country’s perspective, especially a neighbor, could be interesting.
While the tweet was easy, the video is all in Spanish which really tested my translation skills. After I figured out that the first part talked about the early history of Mexican money and how it was initially produced by the American Banknote Company, I stopped thinking about the translation and just watched. I picked up a few things in context and liked the presentation. I like the scenes where they test the durability of the banknotes. I do not know if the Bureau of Engraving and Printing does that, but it is an interesting concept!
See the video for yourself:
Thanks to Coin Collectors Blog reader Rombat Stephan, he found that the Bank of Mexico published an English version of the video on YouTube: