Learning from the news of the day

Although this blog is about numismatics, there are times when the news of the day reminds us that we not perfect beings and there are lessons learned that should apply to the hobby.

For the last few months, there have been reports about how sexual harassment has been pervasive in industries where men hold a great deal of power. Most people are not surprised when politicians are caught up in these types of activities because we do not hold these people in high regard.

Stories out of the entertainment industry should not be surprising either. It is a system where the “talent,” the faces you see on the television or movie screen, are treated better (or worse) than spoiled children. When I worked for NBC in the early 1990s, I saw first-hand how the talent could do no wrong while their behinds were kissed by the production staff. This created an air of omnipotence that also lead to people being treated badly, something I witnessed regularly.

While there are bad actors in every industry, there seems to be a pattern in male-dominated industries. This is why there is an emphasis on teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to girls in order to break the stereotypes. In fact, go to the website of almost any small tech company and look at the list of employees. Not only are most of the employees male, most are white, and what they call diversity includes a male from India or Taiwan. The women listed are in support roles and have no technical responsibility. There are also very few people over 40 years old in most of those companies.

Numismatics is no better. Although the current executive director of the American Numismatic Association is a woman and there quite a few women helping to support the ANA in Colorado Springs, it is not often you see a woman serve on the ANA Board of Governors. The last one was Laura Sperber. While I have disagreed with Sperber, I respect the fact that not only she is a successful business person and had the wherewithal to run for the Board of Governors.

The last time a woman ran for ANA President was in 2009 when Patti Finner, whom I endorsed, lost to Cliff Mishler.

Go to any coin show and count the number of women and minorities behind the tables. A few small shows I have attended were only represented by older white men. At the recent Baltimore Expo although there were a few women, the only one I encountered is one I regularly see who carries foreign currency who is not a native of the United States.

These attitudes are not sustainable for the hobby and society.

Look at the backlash that came when it was announced that the Department of the Treasury wanted to change the portrait on the $20 note to a woman. She would replace Andrew Jackson who ignored treaties and supported the Indian Removal Act that led to the Trail of Tears, an action that is a stain on the nation’s history. There was opposition to these policies during that time. But as Senator William L. Marcy (D-NY) said in defense of Jackson, “To the victor belong the spoils.” One of those spoils is that they get to write the history books and chose figures like Jackson to (dis)honor currency.

But how many people in the numismatic industry stood up for the decision? There were some defenders, but overall there was a deafening silence.

I have complained that the hobby is too white, male, and over the age of 50. I do not think this is sustainable in a changing world, says your blogger who is white, male and over the age of 50. And that can be evident by walking the bourse floor of any coin show.

The old boys club should stop being old and a club of boys. Embracing diversity will only help the hobby because it will bring in new people and new ideas.

Young Numismatist programs help but they should not be the only focus. There is a lack of programs to keep the YN interested and engaged after no longer being YNs. Both male and female YNs become disengaged as they reach young adulthood. I know it is a problem and I keep bringing this up as an issue, it is another time where the silence as to what can be done is defening!

Just because that is the way it has been does not mean it will be the same in the future.

The hobby needs diversity of all types. We need to not only find a way to attract more hobbyists under 50 years old, women, and non-caucasions.

I am open to suggestions!

As society grapples with the news about the dozens of men that have been accused of being general pigs and the far too many more that are not associated with the media and are not reported, this hobby has to look at itself and wonder why the bourse floor looks like an old boys club and is that sustainable.

Maybe it is time for the numismatic-related industries to be a leader and show how we can set the stereotypes aside and encourage diversity. Or as the business adage suggests: Diversify or Die!

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 26, 2017

The reason why I search for news about topics related to numismatics from outside the industry allows me to get an understanding of how others see numismatics. I find even the most innocuous story about a country considering redesigning their currency, a find of a coin thousands of years old, and how pocket change finds can lead to high bids on online auctions to be interesting.

I share these with you to inspire your collection and help promote the hobby.

But as I shared a few weeks ago, searching the news also comes with its distractions. The latest happens this time every year when the stories about a gold coin being dropped in those ubiquitous red kettles become prominent.

I am not against giving to charity. On the contrary, I think more people should be charitable with whatever they could give. If time is money then give your time. In fact, I am one of those people who believe that when someone reaches 18 years old they should be required to do two-years of public service. It does not have to be in the military but something to serve the public good.

However, dropping a gold coin into a red kettle may look good as news headlines but can really be more problems than they are worth.

As we know, selling a coin is not the easiest thing to do and when you do, you do not receive its full value. A dealer may raise the bid price of a coin from a charity to provide some charitable assistance, but most dealers are not going to buy the coin at full value—unless they are charitable. And this does not take into consideration the fluctuating price of the metals. Maybe, by the time the charity sells the coin, the market price drops and the coin is not worth as much as the day it was dropped into the kettle.

Rare coins may be more problematic. For the best value, those have to go to auction and as anyone who has sold merchandise in an auction, you never know what the hammer price will be. Selling anything at an auction is risky. While a quality rare coin may bring in more than the coin is worth, it can also do far worse.

Since gold is currently $1288 per ounce and considering that modern bullion coins have about a 15-percent numismatic premium, rather than buy a bullion coin and drop it into a kettle, take the $1481 in cash and drop that instead. You can do what an acquaintance does and wrap a few $100 notes around a $1 note so it looks like you are giving a few dollars. When they open the kettle and see hundreds of dollars in cash, they will be happy and will be able to use it for their work immediately without having to worry about selling the coin.

If you want to donate the proceeds from the sale of a coin to charity, that is wonderful. But sell the coin yourself. You are more qualified than these charities in obtaining value from the sale. Then donate the cash. It should not be about the ego boost from being written about in the newspapers. It should be about helping the charity. Which is more important?

And now the news…

 November 19, 2017

JAKARTA – Coin rubbing is a form of folk medication practised in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian and East Asian countries, such as Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea and southern China. → Read more at enca.com


 November 19, 2017

Russian artist Roman Booteen is a modern master in the art of the hobo nickel—a term used to describe the 18th century sculptural art form of hand-engraving coins. His latest extraordinary piece—titled Gold Bug—was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short story, The Gold Bug. → Read more at mymodernmet.com


 November 20, 2017

(1) View gallery The Queen and Prince Phillip’s platinum wedding anniversary is being commemorated with a new coin, minted in Banstead. The coin is 130mm in diameter, weighs nearly 2kg and is encrusted with 70 diamonds, and the limited run of 70 coins will be hand-finished by the master craftsman at Pobjoy Mint. → Read more at epsomguardian.co.uk


 November 22, 2017

New coin to be put in circulation from Wednesday November 22 → Read more at gulfnews.com


 November 23, 2017

One of my favourite things is my Dad’s old horseshoe wallet where he kept his spare change and a rolled pipe cleaner or two. I used it for years after he died, packing it with British bronze 12-sided threepenny bits and shillings until I arrived in Australia and stuffed it with dollar coins and 50¢ dustbin lids. → Read more at sheppnews.com.au


 November 23, 2017

A treasure hunter has unearthed a haul of ancient gold coins, thought to have been buried with an Anglo-Saxon King nearly 1,500 years ago. Chris Kutler, 54, stumbled upon the coins after spending four days searching a 1,600 sq metre field in Chelmsford, Essex. → Read more at dailymail.co.uk


 November 24, 2017

After gold coin’s continued rally in the past month, which pushed…. → Read more at financialtribune.com


 November 24, 2017

The Apiary Fund Commemorative coin is a tribute to the traders who put in time, energy, and faith in their efforts to become funded traders. OREM, Utah November 24, 2017 In the spirit of those Amer… → Read more at nbherard.com


 November 25, 2017

One hundred years ago there was a shortage of pennies during WWI. → Read more at qconline.com

Coin Collectors News
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Image courtesy of iSpot.tv, a still frame from a Salvation Army video ad.

Creating a modern typeset

What would it take to put together a modern type set?

How would you define a modern type set?

This is the summary of the email conversation I have been having with someone looking for an interesting challenge to work on with his children.

For new readers and those new to numismatics, a type set is one coin of every type regardless of date or mintmark. Although some coins have one-year types, like the 50 State Quarters, there are others where one coin will represent an entire series, like the Roosevelt Dime.

While there are a lot of interesting coins types we focused on modern coins. Modern coins are those struck since 1965 when coins went from silver to copper-nickel except for the Kennedy half-dollar that was made of 40-percent silver through 1970. To budding young numismatists, modern coins are all they know.

In fact, all they know is that the quarter has a constantly changing reverse and they have seen differences in the Lincoln cent and the Jefferson nickel. They did not go through the fiasco of the Susan B. Anthony dollar or marvel at the first circulating commemoratives of the modern era: the dual-dated bicentennial coins. They were not around to search boxes of Cheerios for the new Sacagawea dollar coin or the millennial cent.

Modern coins do not get the same love as some of the classics. Aside from not containing silver, there have been controversies over designs (see the “spaghetti hair” that George Washington was sporting on the 50 State Quarters) and how the relief on coins has been lowered by the U.S. Mint in an attempt to extend die life.

Some not-so-great designs

Although people love the classic designs two of my favorite designs of the modern era is the Drummer Boy reverse on the Bicentennial quarter and the Thomas Jefferson portrait on the obverse of the 2005 Westward Journey nickels. And even though I have not written much about them, there are some fantastic designs in the America the Beautiful Quarters series. A few that you may want to take a second look at include 2017 Ellis Island, 2017 George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, 2016 Shawnee National Forest, and the 2015 Blue Ridge Parkway quarters just to name a few.

A few of the great America the Beautiful Quaters designs

Sitting with a Red Book, I started to list the coin types that would make up a modern type set. If we limited the set to circulating coins (e.g., not including half-dollars and one-dollar coins) that can be found in pocket change, there would be 128 coins with a face value of $28.97.

Type No. in Series Face Value Series Value
Lincoln Memorial Cents 2 0.01 0.02
Lincoln Bicentennial Cents 4 0.01 0.04
Lincoln Shield Censt 1 0.01 0.01
pre-2004 Jefferson Nickels 1 0.05 0.05
Westward Journey Nickels 4 0.05 0.20
Return to Monticello Nickels 1 0.05 0.05
Roosevelt Dimes 1 0.10 0.10
Washington Quarters 1 0.25 0.25
Bicentennial Quarters 1 0.25 0.25
50 State Quarters 50 0.25 12.50
D.C. and U.S. Territories Quarters 6 0.25 1.50
America the Beautiful Quarters 56 0.25 14.00
Total 128 1.53 28.97

The above table does take into consideration the entire 56 Amercia the Beautiful Quarters series including future issues. The kids have to understand the concept of future issues and maintain space for these coins in their album.

Starting the set with pocket change allows the kids to get used to the concept of looking at the coins to understand what they are looking for. To help with their search each child was given a Red Book and two apps on their iPads: PCGS CoinFacts and PCGS Photograde. They can use the Red Book as a handy off-line reference but use PCGS CoinFacts to learn more when they have access. Photograde is very useful to help them assess the condition of the coins.

While collectors have a basic understanding of coin grading, getting it right can be difficult. These kids were given a basic lesson on things to look for when trying to assess the condition of the coins they find. It will be interesting to see how they interpret this information.

Once we covered coins that can readily be found in circulation, we then discussed the other business strikes that are usually not found in ordinary pocket change.

After an interesting discussion, it was decided to make those a separate collection.

As a separate collection, this will give the kids an opportunity to go to dealers and coin shows to allow the kids to learn about buying coins in this environment. They will learn how to talk with a dealer, gain experience negotiating, and do some comparison shopping. It will let them get the experience and see different coins but maintain a collection discipline that will allow them to learn to collect on a budget.

What are the modern type coins that do not see a lot of circulation? Once again, I sat with the Red Book and came up with the following list:

Type No. in Series Face Value Series Value
Kennedy Half Dollars 1 0.50 0.50
Bicentennial Kennedy Half Dollar 1 0.50 0.50
Eisenhower Dollars 1 1.00 1.00
Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollars 2 1.00 2.00
Susan B. Anthony Dollars 1 1.00 1.00
Sacagawea Dollars 1 1.00 1.00
Native American Dollars 11 1.00 11.00
Presidential Dollars 39 1.00 39.00

To complete the task, I came up with a checklist for all of the modern coins in two formats. One is a printed version that they could keep in their pocket as they go about their day. The other is a spreadsheet that can act as an official record. The paper version is a very basic PDF file that can be used to write notes. The spreadsheet offers more information. It also allows them to come up with their own catalogue.

Both files are attached for you to use (see the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License for text of the permissions granted with this release).

It will be interesting to see what these kids do!

Checklists
 
Modern Coinage Type Set Checklist
Modern Coin Type Set Detailed Checklist

 

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

American Abundance designed by Albert Laessle and issued in 1934

Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621 by the Dutch settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts to celebrate a successful harvest. It was a tradition that the Pilgrims brought with them from Europe. After the birth of the United States, President George Washington issued a proclamation honoring the Thanksgiving harvest during his presidency. The only other president to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation was President James Madison.

As part of his attempt to maintain the union, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863.

After Lincoln’s proclamation, it was traditional to celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. In a move to increase the holiday shopping period to promote more spending, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed to have congress pass a law to move Thanksgiving earlier in the month. In December 1941, Roosevelt signed a bill that set Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November.

Be thankful for your life.
Be thankful for your family.
Be thankful for our hobby.
Be thankful for everything.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Weekly Numismatic World News for November 19, 2017

Sometimes, I find it difficult to keep an open mind with some of the non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins that are on the market.

Some of the themes have started as interesting ideas have turned into blatant commercialism that I am not sure how to interpret its benefits to the hobby.

From superheroes to movie tie-ins to the cartoons, the themes are as varied as the grocery store shelves.

The latest NCLT that has me wondering about the future of the hobby is the 2018 Fiji Coca-Cola Bottle Cap-Shaped Dollar.

Yes, a Coca-Cola bottle cap-shaped coin with a face value of one Fijian dollar. The reverse of the coin is colored the famous Coca-Cola red with the script logo that is familiar to anyone who has passed by a Coca-Cola product. The obverse has the Fijian coat of arms, the date, and the specifications of the coin: 6 grams of .999 fine silver.

After looking at the specifications, the coin is 32.6 mm (1.283 inches) in diameter and I thought that the coins were going to be very thin.

Comparing the specification of this coin to pre-1965 United States coins that were made of .900 silver, the Washington quarter was made of 6.25 grams of silver and copper but was 24.3 mm (.957 inches) in diameter. The quarter is .25 grams heavier but 8.3 mm smaller. My caliper measured a 1960 uncirculated Washington quarter with a thickness of 1.75 mm.

Something closer is the size of the Kennedy half-dollar with a diameter of 30.6 mm (1.204) or 2 mm smaller than the Coco-Cola bottle cap coin. But the Kennedy half-dollar weighs 12.5 grams, more than double the Fijian coin.

To satisfy my curiosity, the caliper said that the uncirculated 1964 Kennedy half-dollar in my collection was 2.15 mm thick.

Not counting for the flare of the edges to resemble a bottle cap, the coin is probably 1 mm thick, less than the 1.35 mm of a 1955 Roosevelt dime I measured.

The coin is available for pre-order only from one company on eBay for $29.95 with free shipping. Expected shipping is on December 8, 2017.

The last time I checked, the listing reported that 1,481 of these coins were sold.

For the record, 6 grams of silver weighs .1929 troy ounces. With the price of silver currently at $17.31 per troy ounce, the coin contains $3.34 worth of silver.

If someone buys one of these coins, feel free to write a review. I will publish it here on the blog!

And now the news…

 November 13, 2017

BRENTWOOD — When milestones are reached in the armed forces, servicemen and women often receive a challenge coin, creating solidarity with others who share the same accomplishment. → Read more at fosters.com


 November 14, 2017

A hoard of 21 Islamic gold dinars, 2,200 silver coins, and gold artifacts dating to the 12th century CE has been unearthed by archaeologists digging at the Abbey of Cluny, a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. → Read more at sci-news.com


 November 14, 2017

IF you've got one of these most sought-after 50p coins then you could be sitting on a tidy profit. The Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin was introduced into circulation in September and Brits are slowly starting to find it in their spare change. → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 November 15, 2017

An "exceptional and rare" medieval treasure trove including more than 2,200 gold and silver coins has been found in France in what has been called a "remarkable" discovery by archaeologists. It's the kind of discovery archaeologists dream of. → Read more at thelocal.fr


 November 15, 2017

It was just a strange old penny, a copper-nickel Indian Head minted in 1859, when the government was trying out different metals for one-cent pieces. A grandfather gave it to Eric Pfeiffer Newman in 1918, when he was 7, a little bonus for his nickel-a-week allowance. → Read more at nytimes.com


 November 16, 2017

A metal detectorist has tracked down a rare gold coin from Richard III's reign near to the site of the Battle of Bosworth. The Half Angel is one of just a handful of such coins that have survived from the king's two-year reign. → Read more at leicestermercury.co.uk


 November 17, 2017

Archaeologists with the National Center for Scientific Research and other institutions in France revealed today that they have unearthed 2,200 silver deniers and oboles, 21 Islamic gold dinars, a very expensive gold signet ring and other objects made of gold from the Abbey of Cluny, located in the department of Saône-et-Loire. → Read more at mining.com

Coin Collectors News
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Images courtesy of Modern Coin Mart on eBay.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621 by the Dutch settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts to celebrate a successful harvest. It was a tradition that the Pilgrims brought with them from Europe. After the birth of the United States, President George Washington issued a...

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