Life in the United States is coming back. Although COVID-19 continues to be a concern, the vaccines seem to be mitigating many of the issues that closed down the country last year. According to many reports, the United States is doing better than other countries with vaccinations. The result is a decrease in the number of infections and deaths.
COVID-19 will change how we live life, at least for the next few years. Aside from the loss of family members, I am no longer shaking hands. I will fist-bump with someone. Maybe we should learn from the Japanese and bow in respect.
Another change is the reduction in handling items. When I go to a store, I continue to wear nitrile gloves. Even though science has proven that COVID-19 cannot live on surfaces for long times, studies have shown that a dollar bill can have more bacteria than a toilet seat.
The next question is what will happen at coin shows. When we go to shows, people will examine coins, currency, and exonumia before they purchase. Collectors will be digging through junk boxes, those long storage boxes, and flipping pages in notebooks. Collectors will handle slabs and flip through pages of the available books. While this is no different from shows in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic scared everyone. A result of the heightened awareness of viruses was a significant reduction in flu cases.
People traveling to long-distance shows will be required to wear masks in the airport and on airplanes. Show venues will continue to require people to wear masks and social distancing that will reduce dealer participation.
COVID-19 restrictions require the ANA to reduce the number of dealers to maintain social distancing. What we do not know are the other restrictions that the ANA will have to follow. Will there be restrictions on the number of people on the bourse floor? What about attendance restrictions on the peripheral sessions like Money Talks and the auctions? How will the exhibits be handled? What other restrictions will the ANA be required to follow?
It is good that life is resuming, but there are more questions than answers. Get vaccinated and stay safe.
And now the news…
Earlier this month, the ANA announced that the World’s Fair of Money will be held as scheduled. As part of the announcement, the ANA said that the show would be limited to 300 dealer tables to configured the bourse floor to allow for social distancing. Those attending the show will be asked to maintain social distancing, and masks will be required.
There are no indications as to whether there will be capacity or other limits. Other questions include how are they handling exhibits, room configuration for meetings and talks, and seating for the auctions? How will the banquet be handled?
I am not questioning the ANA’s commitment to health and safety. But I have personal concerns there. There are members with age-related health issues that have to consider their situation before attending. It would be nice if the ANA were more forthcoming about how the World’s Fair of Money will operate.
As we know of the situation today…
The United States Mint, a federal bureau in the United States Department of the Treasury, issued a statement via social media regarding the failure of their systems to handle the ordering load for their most recent release:
COMMENTARY: Wash, rinse, and repeat.
We have heard this in the past and they have done nothing.
If the U.S. Mint is using a contractor to maintain their ordering system, the contractor must be terminated for cause.
Has the U.S. Mint addressed the failure of the Contracting Officer (CO) or Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR)?
It is time to address these failures to the Treasury Office of the Inspector General and other government oversight organizations.
I had logged in on three browsers on my computer.
I had logged in on the browser on my iPhone.
I had verified that my credit card was entered correctly in my account.
When I tried to purchase the 2021 Morgan Dollar with the CC privy mark, I was logged out, the system kept trying to verify my browser, their Cloudflare front end choked several times, and when I finally was able to order, I had to try the credit card process several times.
In short, business as usual for the United States Mint.
Bad gateway? When a website uses a content delivery network (CDN), such as Cloudflare, you receive the Bad Gateway (503) error when the CDN cannot refresh information from the server. In other words, the U.S. Mint’s servers were not able to keep up with the orders.
This was a hopeful sign!
I could not use my card on file. The system had problems processing. I have a password manager where I have my credit card entered and filled in the details. I entered the correct CVV TWICE! There should be no reason for the U.S. Mint to reject the proper CVV.
What? After eight minutes of trying to check out, at 12:18, I received a message that the system could not process my order. Why?
IT WAS SOLD OUT!
Open message to the U.S. Mint: Your incompetence is wearing on your customer’s nerves. It is time to contact the Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General, the House Financial Services Committee, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development, and my representatives on the failure of a government agency to work in the public interest.
This past week, I had to make a trip to Georgia for business. The trip required a flight from Baltimore to Atlanta. Travelers must follow TSA and the FAA rules for safety, including masks in the airport and on planes.
Unfortunately, the wearing of masks became a political issue. It’s not. It’s a mask. The idea of the mask is to protect you and to protect others. Masks are an inexpensive tool to reduce the spread of the virus. Nothing else!
During this trip, I learned the difference in attitudes with different people in Baltimore and Georgia. While at BWI Airport, the less than the capacity crowd was very diligent with their masks. Very few people were leaving noses uncovered, and one person politely asked me to replace my mask after taking a sip from my water bottle. It was a sense of community caring, not punitive.
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport was a different story. The number of people prevented moderate social distancing. Everyone packed into the transport trains, and the mask-wearing varied from covering the chin to uncovering the nose.
Arriving in Athens, Georgia, home of my alma mater, the University of Georgia, the scene was different. Walking the streets and the time I spent on campus, you can tell the difference between the students and everyone else. The students were wearing masks and keeping distances. Students working in local businesses were more diligent than the parents that were in town for commencements.
I had the opportunity to discuss the situation with some of the students. They relayed stories about how the students did not take the pandemic seriously until it spread on campus.
The problems are not with the students and those concerned about public health. The problems are with those who see masks as a conspiracy. Many numismatic dealers have indicated they are on the side of the conspiracy theorists.
The attitude of these dealers, mostly older and obstinant, can turn the re-opening of the hobby into a disaster.
The World’s Fair of Money will be limited to 300 tables to comply with Illinois Health Department rules. Currently, there has been no announcement regarding attendance limited. Given the attitudes of the anti-maskers, especially amongst the dealer population, I am afraid that the World’s Fair of Money will become a super spreader event.
You might want to question my assertion because of the presence of the vaccines. While the vaccines provide immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has plagued the United States for more than a year, combating the variants is uncertain. Research has shown that the vaccines will fight some of the variants, but not all of them.
As people travel, the variants will spread with the people that will carry them. The only way to prevent the variants from ruining the re-opening is to get serious about wearing masks.
Yes, wearing masks suck. As someone with allergy and respiratory issues, wearing a mask is very uncomfortable. During the workday, I will take my dog for a walk when I need to take off my mask. I know that for a year or two discomfort, we can re-open society and hold shows again.
We need to come together as a community and be leaders for the country. Numismatics has the chance to lead. By leading and acting as we care for one another, we can look like heroes to the rest of the world and possibly attract new members.
Care for your fellow numismatist and potential new numismatists. Wear a mask!
And now the news…
The evolution of coin collecting is here. It is all around you, and if you are collecting using blue and brown folders or plastic holders, you are not part of the evolution or at the periphery of the evolution.
New collectors are collecting based on a coin’s theme. They are not interested in date or mintmark series of coins but want a connection to their collectible. The coins must have a meaning.
A midwest club of sports collectors invited me to speak about coins with sports themes. They had heard of the Basketball Hall of Fame coin but wanted to know more. I gathered my information and joined them via Zoom.
For this talk, I made a list of commemorative coins celebrating sports. This list includes the Baseball Hall of Fame coins, the many Olympic commemorative coins, and the Jackie Robinson commemorative coins.
As part of the discussion, they asked why collectors did not like the colorized Basketball Hall of Fame coins. One club member tried to buy the colorized clad proof from a local coin shop and was shamed by the shop’s owner for wanting this coin. The shop owner said that it was a damaged coin and that it will not be worth much in the future. Rather than selling the collector the colorized coin, he tried to sell a regular proof.
Unfortunately, the “traditional” numismatic feeling is that a coin is a legal tender flat metal disc with a denomination with a date, and some have mintmarks. Within the collection of the flat discs, there may be variation in how the coin was struck, changes in dies, and other unintended alterations the hobby calls errors. But that is not what interests today’s collectors.
One of the club members has been collecting the Super Bowl coins from the Highland Mint. He loves football, and the Highland Mint produces the coins for the Super Bowl coin toss. They sell replicas to collectors. The Highland Mint also sells commemorative replica sets for all of the Super Bowls’ coins. For the years before the Highland Mint’s involvement, they created a coin that may have been appropriate for the game.
After listening to the story and the information about the coins, I called him a numismatist. I told him that he did not have to collect legal tender coins to be a numismatist. By having a niche collection of numismatic-related items and learning everything about them, I said that is what numismatics is all about.
In the process, club members told me about coins that Topps made as a promotion in 2020. Inside special packs, there was a thicker card with a coin inserted honoring the player. Following a quick search, I purchased the two versions of the coin card with New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom and slugger Pete Alonso.
I also found a few 1964 and 1971 aluminum coins, sometimes referred to as pogs, for a few previous members of the Mets, including “The Franchise,” the late Tom Seaver. I think I just started a new collection!
Towards the end of the meeting, someone asked if I knew anything about the new Rolling Stones Coin. The Crown Mint produces a silver 10 gram, 1-ounce silver, and 12-gram gold coin using the tongue and lips logo for Gibraltar. The silver coins feature colorized highlights.
As we talked about the coins, I picked up my philatelic numismatic cover (PNC) with the Queen coin from the Royal Mint and put it in front of the camera. I also mentioned that the Royal Mint produced a commemorative for Elton John. Although the coin covers are sold out at the Royal Mint, I went to the Royal Mail website and found Elton John and other commemoratives, including coin covers for James Bond.
After the meeting, I was thinking about themed coins and wondered if the numismatic community can partner with other collectibles to create a more dynamic show.
For example, why not partner with the New Zealand Mint, Perth Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, and others that produce licensed comic-related coins and the publishers to create a Coin and ComicCon. The coins will be the centerpiece of the event but invite the fans to add a different flair.
There are so many themed coins that the hobby can set up CoinCons that bring in different themes with the coins as the centerpiece. A Sports CoinCon would feature sports on coins, and the grading services can sponsor autograph signings of the labels. Coin dealers could set up next to sports dealers to sell coins. And the coins do not have to be limited to a sports theme. If the dealer can sell investor coins or other themed coins, they can gain from the experience.
Outside of numismatic circles, silver and mixed metal non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins are popular. The mixed metals are not limited to ringed coins. Using metals like gold and niobium to highlight features is as popular as colorized coins.
Other possible CoinCon themes include advertising, art, nature, history, science, and almost anything else. An International CoinCon could set up conference rooms with different themes connected by a single hall to allow collectors to go between rooms to experience other collectibles. The CoinCon can invite auctioneers of each theme to hold auctions during the show, especially if their lots have coins to feature. How much fun could it be to have a science and technology theme in a CoinCon and hold an auction with space-related coins and souvenirs?
A CoinCon is not collecting as we knew it yesterday. Today’s collectors want a connection to what they collect. All hobby businesses must understand that this is the present and future of collecting.