In our never-ending quest to convince more people to be interested in coin collecting, this week’s news provided us with another example of “if you do something that people like, they will be interested.”
As the U.S. Mint released the Native American dollar coin with the image of Civil Rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich, Alaskans are clamoring for a wider release of the coin. It is the first time since the early days of the small-dollar programs that there is a broad interest in $1 coins.
Elizabeth Peratrovich was an Alaskan native who was instrumental in having Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law passed by the territorial government. It was the first anti-discrimination law of any type passed in the United States.
Alaskans are asking that the Federal Reserve release 5 million coins into general circulation. The Seattle Branch of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank is responsible for banking in Alaska.
The Alaska State Legislature passed a resolution requesting the Federal Reserve make these coins available to Alaskans.
Although the Federal Reserve has not publically responded, they should be talking with the U.S. Mint to strike the 5 million coins necessary to send to Alaska. The coins may not circulate, but it is an excellent promotion for coin collecting.
Over the last few years, we have learned that interesting themes have sold well. Look at the interest in the American Somoa National Park fruit bat design. It is a well-executed design that is very interesting and has people looking for the coin in change. It will likely be in the one America the Beautiful Quarter in the most demand.
Other commemorative coins did very well when there was an exciting topic. With no offense to the American Legion, an outstanding organization, but what was the difference in the interest between their commemorative coin and the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative?
Remember the Girl Scouts’ commemorative coin fiasco?
You do not have to be a rocket scientist or a marketing guru to understand people will buy what they like. It is why the Royal Canadian Mint and the New Zealand Mint sign deals with entertainment companies to sell coins with movies, comics, and other images. These coins sell.
Unfortunately, we have a congress in the way that prevents the U.S. Mint from expanding its product line. Without being able to create collector coins for a new audience, we will continue to try to figure out ways to do the impossible: get more people interested in collecting coins.
And now the news…
My story of the week comes from England, where a father, separated from the boy’s mother, lives 100 miles away from his son. To maintain their bond, the father and son collect coins.
Aside from using coins as their bond, the video notes that when they are together, the pair looks for coins in Britain’s version of thrift stores. Some of the stores are run by charitable organizations whose inventory relies on donations.
Jacob, 7, and his dad John are not hunting high-end coins. They are looking for interesting pieces, filling holes from pocket change, and anything else they can find. It is father and son time over a shared interest that each can do on their own and talk about later.
Watch the video below. Maybe it will give you an idea as to how to use coins to bond with your children.
And now the news…
News opened for the new year with ancient coins returning to Mexico after previously been legal for trade.According to the story, Mexico requested the return of 3,500 pre-Hispanic copper coins after discovering its existence in 2013. The coins were obtained by Florida collector in the 1960s, long before the UNESCO convention that turned foreign governments into treasure hunters.
After the coins were taken to Spain for auction, the Mexican government contacted the FBI asking for their help. Allegedly, the collector voluntarily turned them over.
Even though the coins were obtained legally and subsequently legislated into chattel, foreign governments continue to attack United States collectors because they can.
Under the UNESCO convention, numismatic items are the most problematic. When so many examples exist, every coin should not be considered cultural property. Countries can be reasonable and hold back a few examples that would help tell their story, but what is wrong with sharing that story with the world? Does 3,500 coins, most that will never see the light of day again, have to be hidden from the public in Mexico? Would it be against Mexico’s interest to share about 85-percent of that hoard with the world?
Watchers of how countries selectively enforce the provisions UNESCO convention will note that the majority of claims on the alleged numismatic cultural property occurs in the United States or against Americans abroad. Why does the Italian government not claim property rights for all the Roman hoards found in the United Kingdom? Why has there not been claims made against hoards found along the path of the Silk Road during the last few decades?
The only time the UNESCO convention is invoked for numismatics is when someone tries to smuggle coins out their countries, which is reasonable, or in the United States. Why?
And now the news…
Coin World wants to join the sticker craze and add one to your NGC or PCGS slabbed coin. PCGS is offering a similar technology under the label.
Both services will use something called Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC is a technology based on low-frequency communications where a transmitter emits a signal when activated by a reader.
Although NFC is not a new technology, it had gained interest when Apple announced that the latest iPhones had programmable NFC hardware. The NFC capabilities built into prior versions of the iPhone were not accessible outside of Apple’s applications running on the phone.
You may have used NFC without your knowledge. All contactless payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and the tap-to-pay credit cards require NFC. Many department stores are using they call smart tags, which are tags with an NFC chip embedded in them. Aside from electronic payment, contactless keycards, sometimes called proximity cards, are used to access restricted areas are NFC-based technologies.Now Coin World and PCGS want to bring it to numismatics.
Like every technology, NFC is not perfect. Its most significant risks come from the use of NFC tags. These low-power devices have limitations that have allowed hackers to defeat whatever features they are supposed to protect.
The security concerns do not consider privacy issues. Do you trust PCGS or Coin World with the data they claim to be keeping? Do you trust that this data will not be for sale under any circumstances? Do you trust that there are sufficient protections in place to prevent others from hacking the NFC antenna that will allow you to be tracked?
In my past life in information security, I had the opportunity to test the security of these wireless communications. As part of the test, I was able to walk out into the parking lot and open car doors without access to the keys. Unfortunately, the principles I used in that demonstration are the same that others have used to hack NFC.
As we head into 2020, I plan to discuss the impact of NFC from the perspective of someone who used to look at this stuff for a living and had to explain it to non-technical people.
And now the news…
May the holidays find you happy, hopeful, and healthy.
Since I missed posting the news from Sunday: and now the news…
The coin, called “Coincryption,” was issued in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The ASIO is equivalent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States.
As part of the contest, the person who cracked the code was eligible to receive a one-of-a-kind coin designed to celebrate the anniversary of the ASIO.
To crack the code, you need to use the one-time pad as a key. A one-time pad (OTP) is randomly generated text that, when you apply a specific formula, will reveal each letter. OTPs can be very secure if used only once, and the equation to decode the message is frequently changed.
For this contest, the Royal Australian Mint published the OTP in the literature sold with the coin (for AU$10) or online. Since the contest is over, the Royal Australian Mint removed the OTP from their website.
UPDATE: I found the OTP on the Royal Mint’s website → here.
According to the press report, the decoded message says:
If you want an encryption challenge, you can try your skills at Kryptos, the copper sculpture that is outside of the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Kryptos contains four messages in the 865 characters carved into the sculpture. Since its installation in 1990, world-wide experts have solved three of the four messages. The last 97 characters, known as K4, remain unsolved.
Since Kryptos is on the CIA grounds, it is off-limits to the public. However, the CIA has made it available on their website. More information about Kryptos, including the messages hidden in the first three panels, is available in this article.
Kryptos might be a good idea for a commemorative coin. Create a clad coin with K4, attach it to a card with information about the sculpture that includes the cipher, and offer a special gold coin to whoever solved the puzzle. Add a $5 surcharge and donate the money to STEM education.
And now the news…