I forgot the comedian’s name who had about depicting the cost of things in old movies. He explained that in old western movies, a man would dismount from his horse, amble up to the bar for a drink and throw down a coin for the libation. It did not matter what the drink cost. The drinker paid one large silver coin with a loud ping.
The silver dollar was the coin of the realm for the old west. It was hard money to go along with the hard times. Paper money had questionable value and could not be as trusted as a silver coin. Settling in the territories and building new lives on untamed land was risky and the feel of a metal coin was less risky than paper.
After the last Peace Dollar was struck in 1935, the U.S. Mint never minted another silver dollar for circulation again. The return of the large dollar coin came in 1971 with the copper-nickel Eisenhower Dollar. The coin was popular as a curiosity but waned until the bicentennial redesign. After the bicentennial, it seemed that the dollar coin had returned.
Then came the biggest failure of the modern coin era: Susan B. Anthony dollar.
Although the idea to honor suffragette Susan B. Anthony was sound, the rest of the coin’s design led to the long term rejection of dollar coins. The coin was smaller than the Eisenhower dollar but only slightly larger than a quarter. It was made using copper-nickel clad planchette and reeded edges that made it too similar to a quarter. Rather than being an 11- or 12-sided coin, it was round with a design that included a border to simulate the edges.
Many people tried to embrace the coin, but the confusion with the quarter was too costly. As college students, we abandoned the coin early. When the coin was spent as a quarter, we poor college students lost 75-cents per transaction or three cups of late-night coffee from the vending machine.
The introduction of the Sacagawea dollar in 1999 saw the basic planchet changed to fix all of the problems found in the Susie B. With the color change and the smooth edges, it was unlikely to be confused for another coin. Unfortunately, the Susie B. was such a failure that the coin has never gained traction in commerce.
The dollar coin programs of the 21st century have not been appreciated the way they should be. What better way to celebrate the republic’s longevity and the concept of the peaceful transfer of power than a celebration of the presidents? Since 2009, the coins celebrate the history of the Native American contributions with underappreciated designs.
Although some complain about a new series of coins, the American Innovation Dollar celebrates great inventions that have made life better. The coin is a better representation of the American spirit than a static design.
But there is no incentive to wean the country off of the paper dollar and embrace the coin. Even though Congress passed the laws to create these coins, they do not have the intestinal fortitude to eliminate the dollar note, as almost every first-world country has done. Instead, they pass laws creating coin series and wonder why they are not successful.
One of their alleged reason is that people do not want to change. But they are asking people who give specious reasons for resisting as “would you rather carry around 20 dollar coins or 20 $1 bills.” My response is, “neither. I would rather carry a $20 bill!”
It would be nice to join the civilized world and remove the $1 Federal Reserve Note from circulation. The coins have such exciting designs that they deserve circulation. Maybe someday the do-nothing Congress will figure it out–likely when its members’ average age dips below 60 years old!
And now the news…
It shows that even for a retired expert, this computer stuff can be complicated. But for a government agency with a full-time professional staff and contractors with alleged expertise, the ordering experience of last week’s End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle Proof Coins coins was not an acceptable situation.
My issue was coordinating a response with a hosting company to resolve my issues. The U.S. Mint should not have the same issues. They should have control over the systems and manage the contractor that is providing their service.
Unfortunately, I learned that government agencies do not manage contractors well. Contracts officers (CO) do not show the willingness to make contractors take responsibility for their work. Their technical representatives (Contract Officer Technical Representatives or COTR, pronounced CO-TAR) are ineffective since they tend to serve two bosses, the CO and the project leader.
When I worked for one of the bureaus in the Treasury Department, efforts to consolidate information technology functions did not end well. Each bureau had their reasons for the others not to play in their sandbox. However, the U.S. Mint’s network was a candidate for expanding Internet-related connectivity for applications. Their systems and network could handle more Internet traffic at the time than any other bureau. The U.S. Mint’s IT staff pushed back on the attempt to consolidate with them.
It appears that little has changed with the U.S. Mint. They seem to be circling their proverbial wagons to protect themselves while only tacitly recognizing a problem. After recognizing the problem, then they have to figure out how to fix it.
One of the most significant mistakes government agencies make is not producing proper requirements that contractors can answer. How do they know if the contractor can do the work if you have not told them exactly what to do? The biggest failure of government projects is the lack of appropriate requirements analysis. So far, it looks like attempts to update their web-based services were incomplete and may be a victim of this failure.
Let’s hope that the U.S. Mint will figure it out and make the necessary changes because it is frustrating for the numismatic industry.
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Very upset collectors
Voting is so important to how this country operates that the U.S. Constitution was amended four times to ensure every vote is represented. In addition to the Civil Rights Act, Congress passed six significant voting acts to protect everyone’s vote by making voting accessible to the handicapped and elderly to empowering military and other overseas workers.
The bottom line is that it is your right and duty to vote.
If you did not vote early or by absentee/mail-in ballot, go to your polling location and vote.
Do not let anyone stop you or intimidate you. VOTE!
Although many as said a lot about what Congress is doing, numismatically, there is nothing to report. It is typical for Congress to adjourn during October to allow members to campaign. If Congress takes up any business, they believe that it is beneficial to their campaign. Numismatic-related legislation does not make for compelling campaign ads.
The slowdown in paperwork for the Government Printing Office, who is responsible for publishing Congress’s documentation, uses the time to catch up. Several bills whose text was not posted to the Library of Congress’s website are available for review. As a result, the updates from October are adjusting titles and summaries based on the publishing of the bills’ text.
The 2020 Lame Duck session will be interesting. I do not expect any numismatic legislation to be considered until clean-up sessions in December.
H.R. 8242: National Women’s Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act of 2020
S. 4663: Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020
- reduce costs incurred by.taxpayers;
- be seamless, which shall be determined by verifying that the coins will work interchangeably in most coin acceptors using electromagnetic signature technology; and
- have as minimal an adverse impact as possible on the public and stakeholders.
The Mint must notify Congress before making the modification and provide a justification for the modification.
Here we are with the election on Tuesday. The numismatic-related news has some stories but nothing of significance. For bullion buyers, the metals market has been active. One analyst called the market schizophrenic while trying to figure out what economic conditions will be.
Another analyst that follows the silver market noted the decline of silver prices since September. Among the reasons is that early buyers of silver are looking to cash in on their holdings. Those who bought last year when the average price was around $18 per ozt have been looking to profit from the spot being over $22. When asked if the price of silver will decline, the response was to ask after the election.
Gold prices have been steadier but have shown a gradual decline since August. A gold analyst reminded me that gold is a safe haven for investors when markets are uncertain. This analyst did not think the markets will see certainty after the election. Their firm is telling clients that regardless of the outcome of the election, the lame-duck Congress will create a lot of infighting that will spill over into the markets.
The value of many modern collector coins is dependent on the value of the metals. Those coins will see their values fluctuate with the market. Unfortunately, none of the analysts consulted predicted stability in the market. They suggested that unless you had to sell that you might wait. One recommended setting a high and low price for buying and selling but would not recommend the spread.
Regardless of what you choose to do with your investment coin, be prepared for a bumpy ride because none of the analysts would predict any stability for the next six months.
And now the news…