Weekly World Numismatic News for January 19, 2020

Egyptian 9th C Dinar

Abbasid coins of the late ninth century
(via Egypt Today)

A lesson in unintended consequences was filed in an Egyptian court this week. As part of policy disagreements between Egypt and Turkey, the case asks the courts to demand the return of 23 million gold coins taken by the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire was the last of the significant conquering empires of Europe. By the late 19th century, modernization and uprisings forced the Empire to consolidate around the area of modern-day Turkey and the Middle East. Even though the Empire was declining, that did not stop the government from trying to exert influence.

After Great Britain left Egypt in 1914, the Ottomans stepped in and demanded Egypt pay tribute in the form of gold coin to the Empire. After the fall of the Empire and the formation of modern-day Turkey, they continued to demand tribute. Egypt stopped paying the tribute on the establishment of the Republic in 1953.

The lawsuit claims that the Ottomans and Turkey illegally removed the coins from Egypt and demands their return.

In one report, the brief cites the provisions of the UNESCO convention as authority for demanding their return by declaring the coins as cultural property.

If allowed through their courts and if the suit is successful, it becomes precedent for Egypt to claim any item as cultural property and demand their return. Aside from coins, exhibits at museums around the world would have to prepare for similar requests. In the United States, the Brooklyn Museum has one of the most extensive Egyptology collection in North America. Their holding is second to the British Museum, who will also face the same questions.

Ancient Egypt did not have a monetary system as we know it today. Since they did not have silver mines and gold was scarce, they traded goods and services. Taxes were paid by people providing products or working for the government.

There are known bronze coins from early periods, but several references noted that they were used for a limited amount of trade.

The first known coins of Egypt came during the Ptolemaic Empire of ancient Greece. By that time, the Egyptian Empire moved up the Nile River from the area near modern Cairo to modern-day Alexandria. As a weakened Empire, Ptolemy I was able to conquer these areas of the Middle East following the death of Alexander the Great.

It was a time of great fortune that included education, the arts, and modernization of the old Egyptian Empire. Silver and gold were brought as the economy soared. Ptolemaic coins are considered Greek coins for many collectors of ancient coinage.

Those who enjoy collection ancient coins should carefully watch this case as it winds through the Egyptian courts. The wrong outcome will affect collectors and be another attack on the hobby.

And now the news…

 January 13, 2020
…My Proustian moment came when I read Maurer’s comment: “People working on new technologies of money tend to assume that money is just money…  → Read more at frbatlanta.org

 January 15, 2020
14 January 2020 Almost 1,000 coins dating back to the years 1500 – 1600 have been discovered in the locality of Săbieşti, in Dâmboviţa county, some 50 km north of Bucharest.  → Read more at romania-insider.com

 January 15, 2020
It looked, on first examination, like an antique charm bracelet loaded with gold trinkets: a tiny Eiffel Tower and a little bowling pin and iconic images of provincial Italy. The owner thought the family heirloom might fetch $8,000 on the open market.  → Read more at ottawacitizen.com

 January 16, 2020
While first responders in Windsor-Essex save other peoples' lives every day, they're now equipped with a new 'All In Coin' taking aim at their own mental health. Essex-Windsor EMS and Essex Fire are giving out coins to their workers to make it easier for them to talk when needing mental help.  → Read more at cbc.ca

 January 18, 2020
A rare coin featuring Britain's King Edward VIII, who abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, has sold for a record £1 million  → Read more at cnn.com

 January 18, 2020
CAIRO – 18 January 2020: Egypt’s Administrative Court has set February 15, 2020 to consider a lawsuit demanding Turkey to repay Egypt more than 23.1 million gold coins that were taken from Egypt in tribute by Ottoman Empire “illegally.”  → Read more at egypttoday.com

 January 19, 2020
If you’re keen to own a piece of British history, The Royal Mint January sale may have just what you’re looking for.  → Read more at dailyrecord.co.uk
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Weekly World Numismatic News for January 5, 2020

I have been a busy week, month, and year. Many of you have stuck with me while Real Life has taken a lot of my time. I appreciate your support. I have more things to write about and will try to do so in 2020.

Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
— Hellen Keller

News opened for the new year with ancient coins returning to Mexico after previously been legal for trade.

Pre-Hispanic Mexican Coins

Pre-Hispanic Mexican coins that were recently “returned” to Mexico (Image courtesy of Mexico News Daily)

According to the story, Mexico requested the return of 3,500 pre-Hispanic copper coins after discovering its existence in 2013. The coins were obtained by Florida collector in the 1960s, long before the UNESCO convention that turned foreign governments into treasure hunters.

After the coins were taken to Spain for auction, the Mexican government contacted the FBI asking for their help. Allegedly, the collector voluntarily turned them over.

Even though the coins were obtained legally and subsequently legislated into chattel, foreign governments continue to attack United States collectors because they can.

Under the UNESCO convention, numismatic items are the most problematic. When so many examples exist, every coin should not be considered cultural property. Countries can be reasonable and hold back a few examples that would help tell their story, but what is wrong with sharing that story with the world? Does 3,500 coins, most that will never see the light of day again, have to be hidden from the public in Mexico? Would it be against Mexico’s interest to share about 85-percent of that hoard with the world?

Watchers of how countries selectively enforce the provisions UNESCO convention will note that the majority of claims on the alleged numismatic cultural property occurs in the United States or against Americans abroad. Why does the Italian government not claim property rights for all the Roman hoards found in the United Kingdom? Why has there not been claims made against hoards found along the path of the Silk Road during the last few decades?

The only time the UNESCO convention is invoked for numismatics is when someone tries to smuggle coins out their countries, which is reasonable, or in the United States. Why?

And now the news…

 December 31, 2019
The United States returned a collection of over 3,500 pre-Hispanic copper coins to Mexican authorities in a ceremony in Miami on Monday. The coins were used in what are now Michoacán and Guerrero between the years 1200 and 1500, according to Jessica Cascante, spokesperson for the Mexican Consulate in Miami.  → Read more at mexiconewsdaily.com

 December 31, 2019
What I see for them is not yet, What I behold will not be soon: A star rises from Yaakov, A scepter comes forth from Yisrael; It smashes the brow of Moab, The foundation of all children of Shet. Numbers 24:17 (The Israel Bible™)  → Read more at breakingisraelnews.com

 January 1, 2020
Rare gold dinars from Abbasid caliphate period found inside a juglet in Yavneh Liat Nadav-Ziv, Israel Antiquities Authority A hoard including rare gold coins from the early Islamic period about 1,200 years ago was found during a salvage excavation in Yavneh on Thursday.  → Read more at haaretz.com

 January 5, 2020
To take one and two-cent coins from circulation, such is the idea the Bank of Lithuania will start a discussion on. Retailers, however, see risks in consumer mood over rounding sums up.  → Read more at bnn-news.com

 January 5, 2020
Today when authorities warn of bad bills or counterfeit money it's usually 20 dollar bills. In 1908 the problem was bogus coins — silver dollars, dimes and quarters. While it might seem not worth the trouble to create, such a coin could purchase much more than today.  → Read more at whig.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for December 15, 2019 +2

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… especially if you are in retail and your sales are tripling! I hope to be on time with next week’s news report. Until then, here is what I had planned to say on Sunday.

2019 Australian Coincryption

“Coincryption” from the Royal Australian Mint (Image via news.com.au)

The old information security geek became excited when I found out that the Royal Australian Mint issued a coin that had an encrypted message. They also held a contest to see who could decrypt the message.

The coin, called “Coincryption,” was issued in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The ASIO is equivalent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States.

As part of the contest, the person who cracked the code was eligible to receive a one-of-a-kind coin designed to celebrate the anniversary of the ASIO.

To crack the code, you need to use the one-time pad as a key. A one-time pad (OTP) is randomly generated text that, when you apply a specific formula, will reveal each letter. OTPs can be very secure if used only once, and the equation to decode the message is frequently changed.

For this contest, the Royal Australian Mint published the OTP in the literature sold with the coin (for AU$10) or online. Since the contest is over, the Royal Australian Mint removed the OTP from their website.

UPDATE: I found the OTP on the Royal Mint’s website → here.

According to the press report, the decoded message says:

There is no greater honour than the trust of the Australian people or weightier burden than protecting the security of Australia and its people.

If you want an encryption challenge, you can try your skills at Kryptos, the copper sculpture that is outside of the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Kryptos contains four messages in the 865 characters carved into the sculpture. Since its installation in 1990, world-wide experts have solved three of the four messages. The last 97 characters, known as K4, remain unsolved.

Since Kryptos is on the CIA grounds, it is off-limits to the public. However, the CIA has made it available on their website. More information about Kryptos, including the messages hidden in the first three panels, is available in this article.

Kryptos might be a good idea for a commemorative coin. Create a clad coin with K4, attach it to a card with information about the sculpture that includes the cipher, and offer a special gold coin to whoever solved the puzzle. Add a $5 surcharge and donate the money to STEM education.

And now the news…

 December 3, 2019
A metal detectorist has said he was "amazed" as a hoard of 99 silver Anglo-Saxon coins that he found in a farmer's field sold at auction for £90,000. The proceeds will be split 50/50 between builder Don Crawley, who unearthed the pennies at the site of a forgotten Saxon church in Suffolk, and the landowner.  → Read more at scotsman.com

 December 9, 2019
Nine silver quarters recovered from the wreck of a sunken ship carrying tonnes of treasure during the California Gold Rush are ready for auction. The rare quarters were recovered in 2014 from the wreck of SS Central America, a steamship that sank on September 12, 1857, while carrying gold and other treasure from San Francisco to New York.  → Read more at 9news.com.au

 December 10, 2019
Belgium did it earlier this month, following Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Italy Making cash payments is gradually getting easier in Western Europe. As of the beginning of December, it is no longer possible to pay cash amounts like 3,22 or 5,99 euros when you shop in Belgium.  → Read more at themayor.eu

 December 14, 2019
Magill, 55, from Newry in Northern Ireland, gets a 50-month sentence for conspiring to import fake currency.  → Read more at news.sky.com

 December 14, 2019
The Royal Australian Mint has finally revealed the secret message hidden on a “unique and exciting” Aussie coin. In September this year, the Mint made history after releasing the first Aussie coin featuring a secret code.  → Read more at news.com.au

 December 14, 2019
Sackers scrap metal and waste recycling The haul was made up of some legal tender and some old notes Staff at a scrap metal dealer who found about £20,000 as they cut up a safe to be recycled will donate the money to charity after no-one claimed it.  → Read more at bbc.co.uk

 December 14, 2019
Swissmint’s retail website buckled under pressure as demand soared for a commemorative coin featuring the country’s tennis star Roger Federer. A look at some old coins that are worth a fortune today:  → Read more at economictimes.com
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November 2019 Numismatic Legislation

Seal of the United States CongressRather than celebrate the centennial of Women’s Suffrage on a $20 note, congress passed the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2423, Public Law No. 116-71).

In 2020, the U.S. Mint will strike no more than 400,000 silver dollars with a design that is “emblematic of the women who played a vital role in rallying support for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Each coin will include a $10 surcharge that will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative.

H.R. 2423: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Elise M. Stefanik (R-NY)
Introduced: April 30, 2019
Summary: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act(Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 400,000 $1 silver coins that are emblematic of the women who played a vital role in rallying support for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.(Sec. 5) Such coins may be issued during the period beginning on January 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020.(Sec. 7) All surcharges received from the sales of such coins shall be paid to the American Women’s History Initiative of the Smithsonian Institution.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Apr 30, 2019
Mr. Scott, David moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. — Oct 28, 2019
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Oct 28, 2019
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 2423. — Oct 28, 2019
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. — Oct 28, 2019
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Oct 28, 2019
Received in the Senate. — Oct 29, 2019
Received in the Senate, read twice. — Oct 29, 2019
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Oct 31, 2019
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Nov 4, 2019
Pursuant to the provisions of H. Con. Res. 72, enrollment corrections on H.R. 2423 have been made. — Nov 14, 2019
Presented to President. — Nov 18, 2019
Signed by President. — Nov 25, 2019
Became Public Law No: 116-71. — Nov 25, 2019
This law can be viewed at http://bit.ly/116-HR2423.

Currently sitting in limbo is the National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 1865). After the bill passed the House, it was sent to the Senate who made a technical change. By law, the bill is sent to a conference committee that irons out the differences. Once completed, the bill is sent back to both chambers for an up-or-down vote.

The Senate passed the bill by Unanimous Consent. In the House of Representatives, it was a different matter. The passage of this bill was bundled with other legislation that was rejected by the House, mainly on procedural grounds. Because the resolution to pass the bill failed, it was tabled to be considered again at another time. At that time, the House Rules Committee can unbundle the bills and try again.

Now you know why Otto Von Bismark compared the making of laws to that of sausages!

H.R. 1865: National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. William J. Pascrell (D-NJ)
Introduced: March 25, 2019
Summary: (Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins, and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins that are emblematic of the National Law Enforcement Museum in the District of Columbia and the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers throughout the history of the United States.(Sec. 5) Treasury may issue such coins only during a one-year period beginning on January 1, 2021.(Sec. 7) All sales of such coins shall include specified surcharges, which shall be distributed to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Inc., for educational and outreach programs and exhibits.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 25, 2019
Mr. Scott, David moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. — Oct 28, 2019
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Oct 28, 2019
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 1865. — Oct 28, 2019
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. — Oct 28, 2019
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Oct 28, 2019
Received in the Senate. — Oct 29, 2019
Received in the Senate, read twice. — Oct 29, 2019
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Nov 12, 2019
Measure laid before Senate by unanimous consent. — Nov 12, 2019
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Nov 13, 2019
ORDER OF BUSINESS – Mr. McGovern asked unanimous consent that it be in order at any time to take from the Speaker’s table the bill H.R. 1865, with the Senate amendment thereto, and to consider in the House, without intervention of any point of order, a motion offered by the chair of the Committee on Appropriations or her designee that the House concur in the Senate amendment submitted for printing by Representative Lowey of New York in the portion of the Congressional Record designated for that purpose in clause 8 of rule XVIII; that the Senate amendment and the motion be considered as read; that the motion be debatable for one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Appropriations; that the previous question be considered as ordered on the motion to adoption without intervening motion or demand for division of the question; and that House Resolution 708 be laid on the table. Objection was heard. — Nov 19, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1865.

Finally, there was one bill added to the virtual hopper by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

S. 2815: National Purple Heart Honor Mission Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)
Introduced: November 7, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Nov 7, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S2815.

Would You Encase a Lincoln or an Almond

Two weeks ago, my crew and I emptied a 20×10 storage room. The co-owner was a picker and a dealer who had been buying and selling for many years. I met his former partner at the storage facility with a large rental truck to move everything to my warehouse.

Before leaving the storage facility, boxes filled the entire truck about two-thirds of the way high. It is our largest consignment.

In those boxes are political memorabilia, Star Trek collectibles, collectible plates, antique photos, newspapers, other memorabilia, posters, and so much more. We are creating an inventory so that they can be sold at auction.

Amongst the campaign material for many different candidates, both winners and losers, we found medals and other numismatic-related items associated with candidates.

We found a few inaugural medals, which I expected, but I also found many other numismatic-related items that I want to share.

Lincoln for Congress Encased Cent

The item of today is an encased 1965 Lincoln Cent with a chain through a hole to make it into a key ring. On the obverse of the aluminum ring, it reads, “Lincoln for Congress / He Makes Sense.” On the reverse, the ring says, “Lincoln / The Key To Effective Representation.”

I found hundreds of these coins in plastic bags! All were the same, including the uncirculated 1965 Lincoln Cent.

Who was this person and did he or she win their election?

After searching records from congressional elections from 1966-1976, the only Lincoln that ran for congress is Lincoln Almond. Almond, a Republican from Rhode Island, ran for Rhode Island’s First District seat against the incumbent Fernand St. Germain in 1968. St. Germain won the election with 60.4% of the vote.

Almond later was appointed by Nixon and Ford to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island (1969-78) then again by Reagan and Bush (1981-1993). Almond ran for governor of Rhode Island in 1978 but lost in the primaries. He was more successful when he was elected governor in 1994.

As I type this, I began to think that basing a campaign on his first name was a good idea. Otherwise, that would be nuts! (insert rim-shot here)

An Interesting Pocket Change Find

1971 Mexican Peso Pocket Change FindAfter a busy and short week, I finally had a moment to empty my pockets and examine the week’s change. Even after all of these years, I continue to search through my pocket change to try to find something interesting. These days I most look at the quarters trying to find an elusive W mintmark.

As I looked at the pile, I was drawn to something very different. It was larger than a quarter. When I picked it up, I noticed that it was a 1971 Mexican one peso coin.

Thinking back from when I last emptied my pockets on Saturday to yesterday, I cannot remember when I could have received the coin. At the grocery store, I tend to use the self-service checkout lane, especially at night, when I am too tired to attempt a coherent conversation. Coin-op devices will not accept or dispense foreign coins.

I tried playing MegaMillions and Powerball. Most stores now have automated machines that only accept credit cards and paper money.

During my periodic coffee stops, I use the app to make those purchases with no chance to gather more coins.

If I received the peso instead of a quarter, I lost 20-cents in the transaction. At current market rates, the peso is only worth 5-cents. The coin might have a numismatic value of about 20-40 cents.

Regardless of the net results, it is a fun pocket change find.

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 24, 2019

Maine Troop Greeters Coin

Maine Troop Greeters Coin – Created to commemorate the 3,000th flight greeted, March 22, 2008 (Image courtesy of the Maine Troop Greeters)

Although there is a lot written about numismatics, there are areas that are missing reliable information. This week, it was announced that the Maine Troop Greeters created a database to help identify Military Challenge Coins.

As part of their work greeting service members coming home from the world outpost, the service members leave their challenge coins with the greeters as a token of appreciation. Within the last few years, the organization created a museum within the Bangor International Airport for these challenge coins. With over 6,000 in their collection, they have documented their holdings, making it available for all collectors.

The database provides color images of each of the challenge coins with a description of size, shape, and devices. If you have a challenge coin you cannot identify, you can search the database for keywords found on the coin. It is a simple yet effective idea.

According to their website, the Main Troop Greeters are slowing their growth and winding down operations as the number of troops overseas decreases. They have done a great service welcoming back soldiers returning from overseas wars. Hopefully, their work will not have to be duplicated in the future.

And now the news…

 November 15, 2019
BANGOR, Maine (WABI) – The Maine Troop Greeters have a new, easier way for people to search through their collection of military challenge coins.  → Read more at wabi.tv

 November 15, 2019
Video An extremely rare half-dollar coin from 1838 has been sold at auction for $504,000. The coin was auctioned Friday at the Whitman Baltimore Winter Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center.  → Read more at foxnews.com

 November 18, 2019
One expensive coin A rare British gold coin from 1703 made from gold seized from a Spanish galleon just sold for over a million dollars.  → Read more at thevintagenews.com

 November 20, 2019
Prominent Russian billionaire entrepreneurs spend their time and money not only on entrepreneurial activities. There are dedicated collectors among them, too. Some of them approach their hobby as professionals, rather than enthusiastic amateurs.  → Read more at pravdareport.com

 November 23, 2019
Remember the times when our mothers used to sell old newspapers and old magazines to the scrap dealers? Maybe this woman got a little carried away or didn't realise in time what she was doing, but she accidentally ended up handing over 15 gold coins to a scrap dealer.  → Read more at indiatimes.com

 November 24, 2019
November 20, 2019 5 Comments Ireland's Central Bank will honor THIN LIZZY's Phil Lynott with a limited-edition commemorative coin, marking 70 years since his birth.  → Read more at blabbermouth.net

 November 24, 2019
Video Two amateur treasure hunters were sentenced Friday to lengthy prison terms for stealing millions of dollars worth of 1,100-year-old coins. The coins date back to the period when the Anglo-Saxons were battling Vikings for control of England.  → Read more at foxnews.com

 November 24, 2019
The coins were found under a hedge by a member of the public A stash of rare coins which were found hidden under a hedge at an allotment have been reunited with their owner.  → Read more at bbc.com
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DON’T BUY COINS ON TELEVISION!

Over the years, I have heard from many people regarding the problems with mailorder numismatics. Every few months, someone writes and asks about the value of something they bought from a non-numismatic magazine or from something they saw on television.

My answers tend to be upsetting because the market does not value these items as the television hucksters do.

Recently, I wrote about the experience with someone who brought in a box of coins he bought from television and magazines. I described his reaction as “The look on his face when I told him was as if I kicked his dog.” Then I was provided an example of why my words land very hard.

Sunday’s are my day off. Even though I have personal work to catch up on, I will play couch potato and watch television. This past Sunday, I entered the wrong number in the remote and landed on the Fox Business channel.

On the weekend, when the markets are not open, the business channels broadcast other programming. At this time, Fox Business was airing an infomercial for Coins TV.

When I tuned in, the camera was panning a display with graded American Silver Eagle coins. Of course, I stopped to stare at the shiny silver coins. Then I heard the pitch.

The pitchman is Rick Tomaska, owner of Rare Collectibles TV. Tomaska seemed pleasant and appeared knowledgable. His pitch was selling a date run of American Silver Eagle graded MS-69 by NGC for $1,995.00. It almost seemed reasonable until it was made clear that the pitch was for a date run of 31 coins from 1986-2016.

Is $1,995.00 a good deal for the 31 coins? My first instinct was to check the price guides. Since the online Greysheet does not include the retail price for graded bullion coins (why?), I used two other guides: Numismedia Fair Market Value Price Guide and the price guide from NGC. Based on a grade of MS-69, the guides provided the following information based on prices for the 1986-2016 34-coin set:

  Numismedia FMV
34 coins @ MS-69
NGC Price Guide
34 coins @ MS-69
RCTV Infomercial
31 coins @ MS-69
Total $1,240.00 $1,679.00 $1,995.00
Average $40.00 $54.16 $64.35

But Numismedia and NGC are price guides. Guides are not the retail prices a collector would pay. So we turn to the interwebs to search for “date run American Silver Eagle coins.” The search returned several entries on the first page that was not RCTV.

Taking the top three entries from the search, only one dealer was sold out. The others offered a complete set of 34 coins, 1986-2019, graded MS-69 by NGC for considerably less than Tomaska’s price. To be fair, where there was a difference between the cash and credit prices, I used the credit card price, which is usually higher. Then I searched eBay and sorted for the lowest price. The following is what I found:

Company Date Run Coins in Set Advertised Price Shipping Average per coin
RCTVcoins.com 1986‑2016 31 $1995.00   $64.35
JM Bullion 1986‑2019 34 $1541.70   $45.34
Mint Products.com 1986‑2019 34 $1399.99   $41.18
eBay Seller constitutionclct 1986‑2019 34 $1299.00 $14.95 $38.65

For the eBay dealer who was charging for shipping, the cost per coin was the lowest even after adding the shipping costs to the total price.

JM Bullion and Mint Products.com are reputable companies. Both firms are worth considering if you do not feel comfortable making this purchase from an eBay seller. Note that these companies will base the price of their bullion coins on the current spot price of silver. Their retail prices may fluctuate.

When you buy from these television advertisements, you will overpay.

To help enforce the issue, the JM Bullion website said that they would buy a complete date set of American Silver Eagle bullion coins for $1,094.12 when I looked up the price. If you purchased the set advertised on television, you would be LOSING $900!

As part of the pitch, if you ordered the set, Tomaska would send a copy of the 4th Edition of American Silver Eagle: A Guide to the U.S. Bullion Coin Program autographed by Miles Standish, the book’s co-author, who was present with Tomaska.

What is sad is that Miles Standish joined Tomaska as part of this infomercial. Although Standish did not assist Tomaska in his pitch for the set, his presence is an appearance of legitimacy. It is similar to the appearance of past ANA President David Ganz on an infomercial. Neither endorsed the product that was being sold, but their presence was used to suggest otherwise.

I would not recommend buying coins or any collectible from a television show. Every collectible I have seen being hawked on television was 45-60 percent over what might be considered wholesale value for its market.

As a small business owner, I would be foolish to criticize someone for making a profit. It’s the Ameican way. However, there is a difference between making a profit and price gouging. It is why I am warning you against purchasing collectibles from a pitch on television.

All images are screen shots taken using an external camera. Use of images are permitted and protected under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.Code §107).

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 17, 2019

American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof CoinThe biggest numismatic-related news of the week that not reported in many media outlets. It was the failure of the U.S. Mint to deal with a high volume of orders for what everyone anticipated would be a popular product.

On November 14, 2019, the numismatic community rushed to the U.S. Mint website. It flooded their call center attempting to purchase the 2019 American Eagle One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin. As with almost all of their past launches, the U.S. Mint e-commerce systems failed the collecting community.

Collectors reported web failures, outages, and disconnection on the telephone trying to order the product. I was first alerted of a problem by a family member and my mailbox filled with readers who experienced similar issues.

After hearing the criticism, the U.S. Mint issued the following statement:

At the moment of launch, there were 99,000 people online and 4700 callers waiting to purchase the American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin (19XE). Completed orders were processed until all inventory was sold. We are constantly seeking feedback from our customers, and rest assured your voice is being heard.

To try to spin this further, on Friday, the U.S. Mint issued the following statement:

Yesterday, the Mint catalog website had more than 150,000 unique visitors and 1.6 million page views in the first hour of sales of the American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin (19XE). For context, the catalog website’s previous highest traffic and page views were for the Apollo 11 product launch, when we had 124,000 visitors in one day and 863,000 page views in one hour. We are pleased with the numismatic community’s response to this product. The volume of traffic did briefly slow down our site response. However, after the first two minutes we were able to process over 1800 orders per minute on average. Completed orders were processed until all inventory was sold. Additionally, we identified approximately 5% of traffic as coming from bots, including 3% of traffic from a single IP address, of which zero orders were processed.

With all due respect to the U.S. Mint, if this is beyond your capacity, then the competence of the Mint and their contractor (aren’t they contracted with Pitney-Bowes?) are in question. There are e-commerce systems that have higher capacity requirements and service their customers better.

The failure of their e-commerce system is not a new problem for the U.S. Mint. We can go back through the history of this blog to note how badly they have implemented their e-commerce systems.

Frankly, I am not surprised. Years ago, when I was a contractor within the Department of the Treasury, I had to listen to how the U.S. Mint’s systems were built to be greater and better than anyone else in the department. Their technology directors touted their capacity and their capabilities over all the other bureaus. They used these reasons to allow them to separate themselves and to avoid integration with other systems, even suggesting that they be the central integrators for the department.

Even though I have not worked within the Treasury Department in many years, the results and the spin published by their public relations department demonstrates that the chutzpah continues.

For four years, the U.S. Mint has been holding forums to try to learn from collectors what they expect. One thing they have not learned is to fix the mechanisms that provide collector access to U.S. Mint products. It is time for the U.S. Mint to stop talking and do something. Their problems have surpassed annoying and are bordering on malfeasance!

And now the news…

 November 12, 2019
We all have them, worth almost nothing, but still can be useful. They are the little button-sized ¢5 coins that fill up your pockets or coin jar, that the Banco Central (Central Bank) will stop minting starting January 1, 2020.  → Read more at qcostarica.com

 November 12, 2019
LOWELL, Mich. — When 43-year-old Jason Faraj entered Collector’s Korner in Lowell, the smooth-talking antiques aficionado gained the trust of the store owner and left with more than $5,700 in merchandise.  → Read more at wzzm13.com
Coin Collectors News
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The Sad State of Television Numismatics

Someone walked into my shop today with a box full of items he said that he wanted to consign to one of our auctions. He said that someone mentioned that I was knowledgeable about coins and wanted me to help liquidate his collection.

I have to admit I was excited as he held a box that you would pack books in and not carry coins. We put the box down and opened the box and was instantly disappointed.

On the top was a complete set of the State Quarter packages from one of the television shopping networks. It was the type of stuff that was over-hyped by touting their “limited production” by the U.S. Mint.

Looking at a few of the packs, they contained two quarters for each state on a card. They appear that if they were graded, they would probably average MS-64 and be worth $5-7 each. If they grade higher, the coins could be worth more. It is not worth my time and money to have them graded. Further, in the liquidation auction business, I would doubt these would sell for more than $5 per card.

The look on his face when I told him was as if I kicked his dog. He then gave me the same familiar story: they cost so much; the guy on television said they were a limited run; they should be worth more; and many other tales as seen on TV.

Anyone who has worked in a coin shop or handled second-hand property has heard the stories. Someone with a slick marketing presence appears on television and spins the tale to sound better than it is. Sure, the State Quarter was a limited production, but the Mint produced hundreds of millions of each of those coins.

In addition to the State Quarters, he had coin sets produced by companies like the Franklin Mint and the National Collectors Mint. While I try not to promise what could happen in an auction and avoid asking how much they paid, he pulls out a Buffalo Nickel display still offered by one of these companies.

The display is a round wooden stand that can rotate on a base. Around the edges is a space for 25 Buffalo Nickels. The nickels on his stand looked to be in extra fine (XF) to almost uncirculated (AU) condition. On top of the stand is a pewter figure of a buffalo (bison) modeled after James Earle Fraser’s image.

It is a lovely display, but one that is not popular. A previous consignor had the display without the coins. We finally were able to sell it for $1.00 to someone who was going to take it apart and repurpose the wooden stand. Selling the nickels in today’s market should allow him to break even.

For the last 25 years, this gentleman bought these coins and medals at a premium above their value. The box had gold plated medals with micrograms of gold that are nearly worthless in the collector market. He did have some older sterling silver sets that he bought when silver was under $8 per ounce. He can make money on those items to make up with some of the losses.

After going through the box, I said that he would be lucky if I can get $500 for everything. That lead to the look as if I kicked his other dog.

He asked how these people get away with overcharging for their merchandise. Unfortunately, there are few laws regarding price gouging except in an emergency (like overcharging for gas during a crisis) or if done fraudulently. But these television hucksters are practiced and can afford the lawyers to tell them how far they can go before they cross the line.

There are no laws to prevent companies from calling themselves a mint. There are credible companies that use “Mint” as part of their business name (e.g., I have been a customer of Miller’s Mint from Long Island and highly recommend them). Others use the moniker to make their products sound more official than they are.

If you like the packaging and are willing to pay the premium for it, then enjoy your collectible. While the Buffalo Nickel stand is not my style, I can understand the appeal. But when it comes time to sell, the packaging has little to do with the numismatic value of the coins or medals.

Anything plated has less than a gram of the metal. There is so little plating that it is not worth the cost for someone to have melted.

Which reminds me, the “1933 Double Eagle Tribute Proof” plated with 14 micrograms of 24 karat gold is not worth the $19.95 they charge on television. Even at the current price of gold, the item contains less than 1-cent worth of gold ($0.00047).

It bothers me that I have to disappoint people like this. It is worse when I have to tell an older person, like the octogenarian gentlemen who was in my shop this week, that the collection he thought was an investment is not worth a lot.

I am not sure what can the industry can do to prevent this from happening. These are legitimate businesses whose marketing practices may be less than ethical but are legal.

Some might suggest that this is something the American Numismatic Association should try to deal with. The ANA may not be the right organization for this. Maybe a consortium that includes the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG), the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA), and the ANA could work together to find a solution.

Until then, I am open to suggestions!

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