November 2018 Numismatic Legislation Review–A look forward

Every two years, the United States elects a new Congress to carry on the people’s legislative business. The election last month will have the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans with an additional two seats in the Senate. While this has some profound implications for the political environment of the country, what does it mean for future numismatic-related legislation?

First, we have to conclude the business of the 115th Congress. When it comes to numismatic-related accomplishments, this congressional session yielded only two laws:

  • The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (Public Law No: 115-65)
  • American Innovation $1 Coin Act (Public Law No: 115-97)

The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program will be issued in 2019 along with the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Program. The American Innovation $1 Coin Program will also begin in 2019 that will likely be as successful as the Presidential $1 Coin Program. Someday, Congress will learn that to see any success with the $1 coin that they have to eliminate the $1 paper note.

Through November, Congress has not acted on any numismatic-related legislation. There have been updates on various bills as the current Congress shuffles papers and as others try to attract additional co-sponsors in order to gain notice by the majority leaders.

Given the current state of chaos in Congress, it is difficult to predict what will be passed in December.

The 116th Congress will convene at noon on January 3, 2019, as required by the Constitution. Most of the first day is set aside for procedural issues including the formal election of leadership. Both chambers will then introduce their respective first bills which formalize the budget. This has been a tradition in Congress dating back to the Reagan Administration. It has also been a tradition for these bills be the biggest source of contention between the parties.

For the last three congressional sessions, the Republican-controlled House Financial Services Committee created a rule that required two-thirds of the members to co-sponsor any commemorative coin legislation to be considered. In reality, this has not helped or hurt any potential legislation since many of the bills that have passed have barely been debated in committee and have been passed by unanimous consent.

It is not known if incoming Financial Services Committee Chairperson, Maxine Waters (D-CA), will keep the same rules. Given the recent history of contentious relations between the parties, it would not be surprising for Waters to dust off the rules from the previous Democratically-controlled House for this session.

Congress has not passed a commemorative coin bill for 2020 and later. It could happen in the lame-duck session. Then again, anything is possible!

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 25, 2018

The 2009 Kew Gardens 50p coin is the rarest of post decimalization circulating commemoratives. The Royal Mint plans to reissue the coin as part of a new commemorative set. (Royal Mint image)

Numismatic news coming out of the United Kingdom is that after seeing the collector price of 50 pence circulating commemorative coins rise, the Royal Mint will be reissuing many of those coins.

Using the designs of some of the most popular coins being traded online, the Royal Mint will be issuing two sets of five commemorative coins to celebrate the 50p coin’s 50th anniversary.

The 50p coin was introduced in 1969 as part of the UK’s transition to decimalization following the introduction of new 5p (to replace the shilling) and 10p (to replace the florin) coins. As the coins began to circulate, some of the lower denominations were withdrawn. On February 15, 1971, British merchants stopped issuing coins that were based on the 240 pence-based Pound and issued change using the decimalization currency known as New Pounds.

Although the coins will be issued as part of commemorative sets with 2019 dates, some feel that the Royal Mint is doing this to manipulate the market to reduce the collector value of its coins. Officials of the Royal Mint has denied the accusation.

Could the reissue of coins with previous designs hurt the value of the collectors market? In the United States, collectors demand the use of classic designs and that has had no impact on the collector market. However, the coins were issued as part of precious metals programs that has almost no competition with the collectible coin market. When was the last time someone decided that the Walking Liberty half-dollar was not worth collecting because the American Silver Eagle uses the same design?

If the Royal Mint mint limits the issue of the coins to the sets they announced, then the awareness of the coins could enhance the British collectors market. However, if the Royal Mint changes their mind and issues the coins for circulation, the collector market could be impacted in a manner similar to the general collectibles market of the 1980s where companies overproduced and overhyped their products.

And now the news…

 November 19, 2018

Tap-and-go payments and the decline of coins are hurting the Royal Australian Mint despite its plan to make up lost revenue with a rise in profits from selling collectors' items and manufacturing currencies for countries overseas.  → Read more at smh.com.au


 November 22, 2018

The 50p was first introduced into circulation in October 1969 and since then dozens of designs have entered the market – many of which could soon make a comeback  → Read more at mirror.co.uk


 November 23, 2018

The Spainhowers’ house burned down in Camp Fire but they found some luck when they uncovered a coin from their honeymoon within the rubble.  → Read more at yahoo.com


 November 25, 2018

The South African Mint, a subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank has announced its first ever Natura coin in fine silver.  → Read more at businesstech.co.za


 November 25, 2018

Many precious findings are still hidden under the ground.  → Read more at spectator.sme.sk

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Weekly World Numismatic News for November 18, 2018

Vahid Mazloumin is seen appearing in court for the first time on charges of manipulating the currency market. He was later sentenced to death, in Tehran, Iran. September 8, 2018.Tasnim News Agency /Handout via REUTERS (via ChannelNews Asia)

Coin collecting, whether it would be enjoyment or profit, received a black eye this week as Iran executed Vhid Mazloumin, the man nicknamed the “Sultan of Coins.” Mazloumin and his accomplice, Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi, were hanged in Tehran on the charge of manipulating the coin and currency market in charges that included smuggling.

The charges stem from a new round of sanction by the United States that has Iranians hoarding gold and looking for other safe investments. To serve that market, Mazloumin and his associates began to trade in gold coins and bullion.

Up until the sanctions, Iran did not have many restrictions on the trading of gold and other bullion but found itself in another financial crisis. The Iranian central bank is reporting a reduction of reserves and those with the means to purchase gold have been doing so at a rate higher than in the past.

According to many reports, Mazloumin was caught with non-Iranian coins and bullion including bars made by Swiss and German companies. Amongst the charges included trading in gold American Eagle coins and Krugerrands. As part of this defense, Mazloumin claimed that the coins were imported before the ban.

What is troublesome is that the collecting and investing communities have been silent on the execution of someone whose actions were made retroactively illegal by a panicking government. It is a more extreme version of blaming the collector for the financial crisis, such as the United States did in 1964 over silver coinage.

Although someone will inevitably ask if condemnation will do anything, just remember how an industry condemned the actions in Turkey and the United States over actions against journalists. Communities that do not stand up for itself run the risk of allowing governments to run roughshod over them at their convenience.

Therefore, I CONDEMN IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS THE STATE-SPONSORED MURDER OF A COIN DEALER IN IRAN!

I urge the rest of the numismatic and investment industries to join me before someone comes for you!

And now the news…

 November 12, 2018

Coins from 1930s donated during "Fill the Boot" fundraiser.  → Read more at spectrumlocalnews.com


 November 12, 2018

DHAKA, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) — Shelves and cases in the money museum in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, are filled to the brim with coins and currencies from the barter era to modern times, with the displays attracting many visitors.  → Read more at xinhuanet.com


 November 12, 2018

A local fire department wants the public's help in making the Holidays special for members of The Armed Forces.  → Read more at fourstateshomepage.com


 November 14, 2018

These coins both endangered and saved Optatius Buyssens's life, as he fought as a soldier during World War One  → Read more at bbc.com


 November 14, 2018

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – BOCES Career & Technical Education culinary students hosted a recent Kiwanis Club luncheon where prominent numismatist Anthony Swiatek discussed old coins and currency, which might be worth a great deal more than their owners realize.  → Read more at saratogian.com


 November 14, 2018

Iran has executed two men convicted of manipulating coin and currency markets. Vahid Mazloumin and Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi were hanged on Wednesday after they were found guilty of manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals, Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported.  → Read more at newsweek.com


 November 14, 2018

On November 14 the national Bank put into circulation four commemorative coins of irregular shape. This reports the press service of the regulator on the official page in Facebook, writes the Chronicle.info with reference to epravda.com.ua.  → Read more at bobrtimes.com

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Defining a successful collector

There are times when good people with good intentions do or say something that perpetuates narratives that are more harmful than they think.

Does owning this short snorter autographed by John Glenn and his family make me a successful or unsuccessful collector?

On Friday, November 9, I received the regular mail from Numismatic News with the usual section for questions that editor Dave Harper uses for community input. This week’s question was “Is collecting Standing Liberty quarters mandatory for successful hobbyists?”

The question appears to have been inspired by the article, “Dateless quarter inspired collector” by Ginger Raspus. The article was about how she was inspired to collect Standing Liberty Quarters after finding a dateless version pulled from change. The article then goes on about to describe the series. There was nothing in Ginger’s story that suggested anyone else collect these coins. She was reporting on her experience.

The problem with Dave’s question is a problem with the people who appear to have significant say in this industry. Their problem is that they say, suggest, or infer that if you don’t collect coins or their particular favorite, you are not a “real collector.”

Or in this case, a successful collector.

What defines a successful collector?

Is a successful collector one that fills up a particular folder or album of coins in a series designed by the publisher?

Is a successful collector one that creates a top-ranked registry set?

Is a successful collector defined by whether their collection meets artificial criteria set by an arcane definition of industry norms?

The problem is that these criteria that create these definitions of industry norms are those some consider the elders of the industry, many of who started collecting before most collectors were born. Other definitions of norms are created by the dealers whose input are more self-serving than encouraging.

There is nothing wrong with dealers earning a living. In recent years I have turned away from the convenience of online auctions except if the auction is sponsored by a dealer. I want the dealers to succeed, but not at the expense of chasing away potential collectors.

Although worn almost smooth, does owning this 1789 Draped Bust Large Cent count for anything?

A successful collector is someone who creates a collecting goal based on a personal interest and works to achieve that goal. That goal does not have to include buying published folders or albums and filling holes—but if that gives you pleasure, by all means, go for it!

Someone came into my shop to search the basket of foreign coins I keep on the counter. After a few moments I provided her with a box to place the coins she looked at while digging through the basket. I asked her why she was looking so carefully at the coins and she said that she was looking for coins from the countries her parents and grandparents were from and the years they were born.

After a while, she finshed looking and wanted to pay for the coins she picked. I looked at the coins and found a 1938 Spanish 25-centimos and 1961 Columbian 5-centavos coins. With a smile, she explained that her father was born in Columbia and his father, her grandfather, was from Spain.

When she said that she did not know what coins where minted and when I showed her en.mumista.com, my favorite website for looking up foreign coins. We searched for the countries and years of her family to show her what was available.

The next time she returned to my shop she carried a list of coins with check marks next to some of them. We then talked about how to store the coins and what to use as albums so that she can keep the coins nicely.

I do not know if she will be able to find all of the coins on her list but I know that she found examples of all the coins that she identified as being in circulation in 1961 Columbia because she brought in the album she created to show me.

I would call my new friend a successful collector.

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 11, 2018 — Armistice Day Edition

2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.
—U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaiming November 11, 1919 the national holiday Armistice Day
To all that have served…
To all that have given the ultimate sacrifice…
To the families of these honored service members…
THANK YOU!

And now the news…

 November 5, 2018

On Thursday, 8 November, Latvijas Banka will be issuing a new gold collector coin named "Gold Brooches. The Bubble Fibula" with a face value of 75 euros but which will actually cost you 560 euros. The coin replicating a "bubble fibula" (of which more below) is the last one in the series of euro gold collector coins dedicated to Latvia's centenary.  → Read more at eng.lsm.lv


 November 6, 2018

A collection of three 50p coins were released by the Royal Mint on November 5, including a 22 carat Gold Proof coin, a Silver Proof coin and another Brilliant Uncirculated silver coin.  → Read more at thisismoney.co.uk


 November 6, 2018

OSAKA — A ceremony marking the first minting of special 10,000 yen gold and 500 yen bronze coins commemorating the 30th anniversary of Emperor Akihit  → Read more at mainichi.jp


 November 8, 2018

The White House clearly did not employ the services of a copy editor before releasing commemorative coins from Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, which contain no less than three typos.  → Read more at rt.com


 November 8, 2018

THE Royal Mint has released a special Remembrance Day commemorative £5 coin featuring a colourful red poppy design. The mint releases a new coin every year to remember all those who have fought for this country at war and this year is no different.  → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 November 9, 2018

Israeli guards at the Erez Crossing on the Israel-Gaza border this week apparently foiled an attempt to smuggle out two ancient coins from the period of Alexander the Great out of the coastal enclave, Israeli officials said Friday.  → Read more at timesofisrael.com

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Defining a successful collector

There are times when good people with good intentions do or say something that perpetuates narratives that are more harmful than they think. On Friday, November 9, I received the regular mail from Numismatic News with the usual section for questions that editor Dave...

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