Weekly World Numismatic News for November 29, 2020

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…

 November 22, 2020
Time to stop worrying about Covid, the election, rising sea level, murder hornets, the end of the world, etc. etc. Time instead to focus on the immediate problem, i.e. why we’re not using dollar coins?  → Read more at lostcoastoutpost.com

 November 24, 2020
We used to carry and trade bits of metal everywhere, but a pandemic shortage and the rise of digital money are making jingly pockets a distant memory for many.  → Read more at nytimes.com

 November 24, 2020
Ron Kerridge They will be offered by international coins, medals, banknotes and jewellery specialists Dix Noonan Webb via their website www.dnw.co.uk.  → Read more at worthingherald.co.uk

 November 24, 2020
IRMO, S.C. — An Irmo couple made a remarkable discovery after moving into their dream home.  James Mumford and his wife Clarissa recently moved to Irmo and when settling in, found quite a collection in one of the built-in dressers.   → Read more at wltx.com

 November 25, 2020
"Brother, can you spare a dime?" That question became famous in the Great Depression. In 2020, with the pandemic raging, the answer could be, "Maybe, but they're hard to find."  → Read more at newsweek.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for November 22, 2020

CDC COVID-19 InfoThis news update is a warning that if you want coin shows and other events to continue, you better start taking COVID-19 more seriously.

I do not care about your politics, who you voted for, or where you live. If you do not take the efforts to stop the spread seriously, there will be few shows in 2021 without relief until 2022.

Sure, vaccines are around the corner, but how long do you think it will take to deliver almost 660 million doses? Think about it: the U.S. Census estimates the population at the end of 2019 at 328.2 million people. If the pharmaceutical companies are saying every vaccine requires a booster within three weeks, that will require the manufacture, delivery, and administration of nearly 660 million doses of the vaccine. You have to wait on long lines to get tested, and that has covered less than 40% of the population.

If you think this is not real because some politician or pundit has said it to you, remember that they do not care about you. They care about their power, money, and an ego trip for the ability to make you do their bidding. The more they control you to do their bidding, the more they gain. They will gain. You will suffer.

Facts are facts. As I type this, the straight facts are that the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center confirms that 58,082,876 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 worldwide. There are 12,085,386 confirmed cases in the United States. That means the U.S. has 20.8% of the world’s coronavirus cases while only having 4.25% of the world’s population. Johns Hopkins is also reporting that there have been 255,823 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., representing 18.5 percent of global deaths.

Only ONE country in the world has a faster infection rate, and only Sweden, who tried the herd immunity course of action, is having a faster death rate over the last three months than the U.S.

Why am I bringing this up in this forum? I want the shows back. I want to be able to go to Baltimore for the Whitman Show. I want to be able to go to the World’s Fair of Money. But at this rate, it is not going to happen.

The reality is that the National Money Show next March in Phoenix is likely going to be canceled. Arizona is a significant hot spot, and it will not get better before the ANA is forced to make a decision. And with the infection rate in the upper-midwest growing faster than anywhere else in the nation, I would not be surprised to see the World’s Fair of Money canceled or moved from Rosemont.

This week, I returned from the funeral of a second family member that died of COVID-19. One died early during the pandemic when our understanding of the virus was minimal. The most recent one was likely because of an infection at a place that should have known better.

The virus is real. It is not a hoax. It is not a government conspiracy. Nobody will use it against you, and it is not an infringement on any rights to require you to wear a mask for public safety. In fact, it is an infringement on my rights for putting me in danger. It is not a political statement. It’s only a mask!

Stay six feet apart.
Wash your hands, especially after exposure to the environment.
AND WEAR YOUR DAMNED MASK!

And now the news…

 November 15, 2020
Gold tends to perform well in times of high inflation and financial market turmoil. I consider gold a core portfolio holding. PHYS is a closed end fund that invests all of its assets into physical gold.  → Read more at seekingalpha.com

 November 16, 2020
The biggest factor in whether your metals investment will make money will often be whether or not you purchase your metal at a fair price. It is easy to compare prices and avoid getting ripped off, but investors must take the time to do it.  → Read more at fxstreet.com

 November 17, 2020
An Indigenous organisation is questioning how the Royal Australian Mint can issue coins featuring the Aboriginal flag at the same time as the Australian Senate is investigating the flag’s copyright issues.  → Read more at indaily.com.au

 November 17, 2020
Measuring nearly 7 centimetres in diameter and weighing a hefty 174.9 grams, the 50 duct gold coin from 1621 is masterpiece of baroque engraving and a pearl of Polish coinage. DESA Unicum  → Read more at thefirstnews.com

 November 18, 2020
James and Clarrisa Munford say they never considered keeping the dozens of gold and silver coins they found in a drawer in their new house. (CNN) — A South Carolina couple found a forgotten treasure while settling into their new home — dozens of gold and silver coins worth thousands of dollars.  → Read more at cnn.com

 November 19, 2020
Bullion coins and bars are the "purest" way to invest in gold, but can be costly to own and slow to sell. lionvision/Getty Images  → Read more at businessinsider.com
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2022 Commemorative Coin Programs Pass the Senate

Two commemorative coin bills introduced and passed in the House of Representatives were passed by the Senate this week. Both bills will create commemorative coin programs for 2022.

H.R. 1830: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act

Purple Heart

Purple Heart Medal (image courtesy of Stars and Stripes)

H.R. 1830 passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The resulting law will create gold $5, silver dollar, and clad half-dollar commemorative coins in honor of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, NY. Surcharges will be paid “to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc., to support the mission of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc., including capital improvements to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor facilities.”

It would have been interesting to require this coin to be in the shape of a heart. The obverse design could be similar to that of the Purple Heart medal. The reverse could be about the Hall of Honor or the sacrifice made by those awarded the Purple Heart.

I will likely purchase this commemorative coin in honor of my grandfather, a recipient of the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in Europe during World War I.

H. R. 4104: Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act

(From Twitter)

H. R. 4104 passed the Senate by unanimous consent will create gold $5, silver dollar, and clad half-dollar commemorative coins in honor of the centennial of the Negro Leagues. Although the centennial would be in 2020, the first available commemorative slot will be in 2022. Surcharges will be paid “to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for educational and outreach programs and exhibits.” The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is located in Kansas City, MO.

Although the law will not require these coins to be curved, there is an opportunity for judicious use of color and selective highlights, such as those used for the enhanced strikes.

Both bills will become law when signed by the president.

Now that Congress has begun its Lame Duck session stay tuned for more numismatic bills to pass by unanimous consent.

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Weekly World Numismatic News for November 15, 2020

Any time news is published about someone finding a hoard that has been buried for centuries, it is guaranteed that I will read the story. If coins are history in your hand, then buried treasure is history speaking to us.

In some areas of the world, there are active archeological digs to discover the past. According to reports, there are a dozen or more archeological in and around Jerusalem. If the Middle East is the cradle of civilization, then the capital appears to be around Jerusalem.

In other areas, treasure hunters use metal detectors for hunting the countrysides looking for something to make them rich. Hunting treasure using metal detectors is a popular hobby in Great Britain. Hobbyists have uncovered coins and other artifacts dating back to the Roman conquest of Britain. More recent finds led to new information about the Viking conquest of the British Isles.

While the knowledge gained from these finds provides insight into history, the treasure hunters find themselves in trouble.

In places where archeological digs are sanctioned, there are no controversies. The finds in those digs are the property of the country. However, in Great Britain, where people hunt without government sanction, the finds are becoming controversial.

Although the United Kingdom has some of the most comprehensive laws that help private citizens protect their finds, other laws like property rights and antiquities laws can turn euphoria into an instant headache.

Coins featuring Anglo-Saxon Kings Ceolwulf II, of Mercia, and Alfred, of Wessex

Ninth-century coins found by metal detectorists in the UK feature a representation of two contemporary Anglo-Saxon kings—Ceolwulf II, of Mercia, and Alfred, of Wessex—sitting side by side. The discovery that Alfred and Ceolwulf minted coins in the same style offered surprising evidence of an alliance between them—one that Alfred had sought to whitewash in an official chronicle of the period. As Gareth Williams, a curator at the British Museum, explains, “It’s like Stalin airbrushing Trotsky out.” The coins have caused a controversy over where and how it was found.
(Photograph courtesy © the Trustees of the British Museum via The New Yorker, whose caption was used here)

The laws are different in the United States. If you have permission to hunt with a metal detector and dig on the property, whatever you find is yours. The history of archeological policy in the United States recognizes that North America’s colonization is around 400 years old. Policymakers recognized that settlement history was very well documented compared to other countries, making it unlikely for anyone to make significant finds.

There are exceptions to the basic finder’s keepers rule regarding finding Native American artifacts and evidence of past civilizations. Otherwise, as long as you have permission to search the area, you can keep what you find.

These post-find issues can turn the story of these finds into fodder for a true-crime story.

And now the news…

 November 9, 2020
Vikings plundering Anglo-Saxon Britain often buried treasure for safekeeping.  → Read more at newyorker.com

 November 10, 2020
South Korea is working on replacing its frequently used 100-won coins as the design includes a portrait drawn by an artist who was pro-Japanese during the colonial period, the country’s central bank said Tuesday.  → Read more at koreaherald.com

 November 11, 2020
Four gold coins were recently discovered inside a pottery jar found during an excavation in the Western Wall Plaza of Jerusalem's Old City. The precious 1,000-year-old coins reflect the political and historical shift of power between the two Muslim dynasties that ruled the city at the time.  → Read more at haaretz.com

 November 11, 2020
Valley, Ala. (WTVY) -An Alabama lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would force merchants to return coins to customers. Rep.  → Read more at wtvy.com

 November 14, 2020
A recent discovery on the season 8 premiere of the History Channel series The Curse of Oak Island could provide a significant clue to what's hidden on the island. So what’s the discovery?  → Read more at menshealth.com
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The U.S. Mint Responds… YAWN!

U.S. MintFollowing the debacle that became of the online ordering process for the End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle Coins, the U.S. Mint issued a statement on social media. On Twitter, the U.S. Mint posted in a series of tweets that read:

When people complained, whoever is posting on their social media platforms commented:

The problem is that there have been problems for many years. Every time the U.S. Mint offers a limited edition coin, their website has problems meeting the demand, leading to an apology and a promise that they will resolve the system issues.

Searching this blog, you can find problems with the ordering process for:

What you will not find is a story where the ordering process went smoothly. You will not find a story where the U.S. Mint claims that they have fixed their ordering problems. And you will be able to find a story where the U.S. Mint explains how they plan to fix the problems.

From 2016 through 2019, the U.S. Mint has held a collecting forum in Philadelphia. Each year, the U.S. Mint has invited people from all areas of the industry to meet with them and discuss the future of the U.S. Mint’s products. The coronavirus pandemic prevented them from holding this year’s forum. After every forum, the U.S. Mint thanks the participants and promises to do better.

David J. Ryder at the hearing regarding his nomination to be the 39th Director of the U.S. Mint

Unfortunately, politics have hurt the U.S. Mint. Since the resignation of Ed Moy in December 2010, they had been without a director until the appointment of David J. Ryder in April 2018. During the time between appointments, the Senate refused to confirm three nominations made by President Barack Obama to fill the position. Instead, there was an endless line of acting directors, which the law limits the term to 210 days.

Ryder is not a stranger to the U.S. Mint or the federal government. Besides working at the Commerce Department, he served in the Office of the Vice President for George H.W. Bush. Bush appointed Ryder as the 34th Mint Director during a Senate recess in 1992.

Before joining the U.S. Mint, Ryder worked for the Secure Products division of the Sarnoff Corporation. After purchased by Honeywell in 2007, he was Director of Currency for Honeywell Authentication Technologies. Ryder can lead an organization looking in the critical security of currency handling with worldwide influence, but he cannot manage the U.S. Mint out a technological paper bag.

As a former federal contractor, I understand that the contracting process is slow. The federal government acquisition process is fraught with checks, rechecks, oversight, and investigations that drive up a hammer’s price to thousands of dollars. But it is the same process to purchase a tool as it is to make a change to a fighter jet costing tens of millions of dollars.

The U.S. Mint has done some work on the website. Aside from changing the look, they replaced the content management system which manages the site. For the technologically savvy, they migrated from the original Drupal implementation to WordPress. The Coin Collectors Blog uses WordPress.

Although the transition to WordPress may provide the flexibility the U.S. Mint needs to manage the website, they have not met the critical need for customer engagement. Fixing customer engagement in a government agency requires the head of the agency to initiate that change. What has Ryder been doing?

Although the pandemic caused significant interruptions in everything, developers do not have to be on-site to develop software. A program can write programs from just about anywhere. Why were these processes not managed in the subsequent months?

I am asking Ryder to step up to his role and better manage the situation. I am not calling for the removal of Ryder. (POLITICAL ANALYSIS ALERT: Don’t read the rest of the paragraph if you do not like a frank discussion of politics as it affects the U.S. Mint). If Ryder leaves his position, President-elect Biden will likely never have an appointment voted on by the Republican-controlled Senate. We will be back to the nearly eight years of Acting Directors who do not have the authority to make necessary changes as the appointed director could.

Please, Director Ryder, fix the problem. Maybe you can listen to the collecting community. We have good ideas, and we are willing to help.

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Weekly World Numismatic News for November 8, 2020

2020 American Eagle Silver One Ounce Proof Coin Obverse Privy MarkSome of you may have noticed that the Coin Collectors Blog and Coin Collectors News sites have been down for a few days. I apologize. There have been technical issues that were resolved (obviously).

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.

And now the news…

 October 31, 2020
TEHRAN – A total of 5,000 historical coins being kept at Rasht Museum of Anthropology in northern Gilan province have been documented. “5,000 coins dating back to different historical epochs including Achaemenid, Parthian, Elamite, Sassanid, Umayyad, Al-Buwayh, Seljuks and Mongol ilkhans, and Elymais, have been documented,” the provincial tourism chief Masoud Hallajpour announced on Saturday.  → Read more at tehrantimes.com

 November 3, 2020
CHICAGO — Coins were in short supply last month at El Nopal Bakery in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood as the coronavirus pandemic and statewide shutdowns stymied the flow of coins through the economy.  → Read more at seattletimes.com

 November 3, 2020
 An incredibly rare 900-year-old coin unearthed by a metal detectorist has sold for almost £30,000 at auction. The silver penny issued by a Yorkshire landowner was found by Rob Brown in two inches of mud in a stubble field near Pickering.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 November 5, 2020
 → Read more at news.bitcoin.com

 November 7, 2020
The coins date from between 1657 and 1667, pointing to their minting shortly after the Deluge, a series of wars with Sweden throughout the 17th century which wreaked havoc and destruction throughout the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  → Read more at thefirstnews.com
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