Collectors are upset with the Mint but there may be a solution

2019 American Silver Eagle Enhance Revers Proof obverseThe result of the sale of the Enhanced Reverse Proof 2019-S American Eagle continues to reverberate through the hobby. Industry reporters continue to hear from collectors that they feel like the U.S. Mint is taking them for granted.

The biggest question is, how did all of these dealers get these coins in inventory? How did others find the stock to flip on sites like eBay?

Dealers and speculators are at it again. It is similar to the chaos they caused for the opening of the 2014 JFK 50th Anniversary Gold Proof Coin. They hired people to shand in line for them who caused a near riot. Now, they have taken these manners to cyberspace.

How can the U.S. Mint fix the issue?

The best answer I have heard came from William T. Gibbs at Coin World, who suggested a dedicated sales window for established customers. Gibbs wrote:

For popular limited edition coins like this one, the Mint should open the sales first to established customers — those individuals who qualify in some definable way as being loyal Mint customers. That could be based on such factors as dollars spent on Mint products over a period of time, or total years that a customer has bought items from the Mint. Open a 24-hour window catering to these customers only and then, if any coins remain, open sales to new customers.

What an excellent idea!

The U.S. Mint can create a “Collector’s Club” where non-commercial customers can earn points. The more points, the closer to the front of the line you get to access limited edition items. They can slowly add perqs for better customers, including levels for reduced and free shipping.

There is no reason to prevent the U.S. Mint from making the Collector’s Club a policy. The only question is whether they have the wherewithal to implement something like this. I do not think they do, but I hope they prove me wrong!

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
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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!

Weekly World Numismatic News for October 20, 2019

2019 American Innovaation $1 - DelawarePerusing the wide world of coins, I noticed that it is only here in the United States that collectors complain about modern coinage. Why?

My Twitter followers (@coinsblog) have seen the articles coming from the United Kingdom. U.K. news outlets have staff that follows the special issues from the Royal Mint that are selling for hundreds of times over their face value in online auctions. These coins have a limited run and are issued as circulating commemorative coins.

Similarly, the Royal Australian Mint recently released an alphabet series, similar to what the Royal Mint did in 2018. As part of the series, they created a stir when they used the letter “X” to highlight a small village in Western Australia. Aussies learned something about their own country.

In the United States, we bemoan new issues by the U.S. Mint. We look at the coins and come up with some reason to dislike them. Many of the reasons range from the parochial to the absurd.

Dealers do not like them because they make more money on selling you what they think are “better” coins. Rather than try to use the opportunity to get people interested and into their shop, they would rather sell a more expensive coin. Note to dealer: selling 100 coins at a $1 profit is the same as selling one coin for a $100 profit except that you now have 100 new customers rather than recycling old ones.

Another reason I hear is that modern coins are not worth the money and, therefore, not worth the time. Really? Are you collecting or investing? Are you enjoying your collection, or is it something to do?

Recently, I sold off my Morgan Dollar collection. I started the collection many years ago and realized that I did not have the eye for coins that I have today. I also lost interest.

2019 Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Quarter - IdahoSomeone asked what am I collecting today. I respond with modern circulating commemoratives. When I get a strange look, I have been responding with, “do you know what the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is?”

Who is Frank Church, and what is the River of No Return? If you paid attention to the American the Beautiful Quarters program, you would learn more about your own country. I did not know about this wilderness area in Idaho until I looked at the quarter.

I also learned that the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, both United States territories, have beautiful memorials to those who gave their lives in World War II.

Now collectors are lamenting the new American Innovation $1 coins. Why? Because they do not circulate? Then go pick up a roll and start spending them! You can show people the series that is beginning with honoring Annie Jump Cannon, who invented a system for classifying the stars still used today. Aside from being a Delaware native, Cannon was a suffragist and hearing impaired.

Stop being so stuck up about modern coins, buy a roll, and give someone a William Henry Harrison dollar. Then ask them why Harrison is so important to U.S. history? Pick a president who is not famous and do the same exercise.

If you have children, why not plan a trip based on the quarter that has been released. If you cannot travel to Guam to see the War in the Pacific National Park, then a trip to San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. You can also Remember the Alamo and visit a fascinating area of the country.

Collecting modern coins may not make the dealers rich or be a great investment. But there is enough material to have fun beyond just accumulating metal discs.

And now the news…

 October 10, 2019
Weet-Bix is given the “W” in an A-to-Z collection depicting “all things Australian.” Weet-Bix, a breakfast cereal manufactured by a Seventh-day Adventist health food company in Australia, is set to cement its icon status.  → Read more at adventistreview.org

 October 11, 2019
Finance minister Tito Mboweni on Friday finalised the designs for the 2020 silver Kruger Rand and the R25 Natura Series collectable coin due next year. He also gazetted an update to a coin design that makes a leopard featured in a Big 5 collectable coin series somewhat less angry.  → Read more at businessinsider.co.za

 October 12, 2019
As many as 96 varieties of coins used during the period of the Western Ganga dynasty, which ruled Karnataka, are among the attractions at the three-day philately and numismatic exhibition here. Among the other exhibits at the 12th State Level Philately Exhibition organised by the Karnataka Postal Circle are commemorative coins, Chinese gold panda coins, stamps on 100 years of Indian cinema.  → Read more at thehindu.com

 October 12, 2019
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A young Alaska Native woman left an impression on Alaska’s territorial Senate in 1945, delivering a speech that led to the passage of the nation’s first anti-discrimination law.  → Read more at seattletimes.com

 October 15, 2019
MURRELLS INLET — The ship owned by the richest man in America is giving up its gold, again. The North Carolina was a side-wheeled steam packet, a coastal transport that carried mail and was owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt.  → Read more at postandcourier.com

 October 16, 2019
One of the rarest coins in the world is set to sell at auction for an incredible £1.6million. The Umayyad gold dinar dates back to 723AD and was made from gold mined at a location owned by the Caliph – one of the successors to the Prophet Muhammad.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 October 16, 2019
A Bunbury businessman has unearthed one of Australia’s rarest coins — worth more than $10,000 in mint condition —while birdwatching in the Goldfields outback. Mick Cross was photographing birds at Malcolm Dam near Leonora when he picked up a small coin sitting in the dirt metres from the popular camp site.  → Read more at thewest.com.au

 October 16, 2019
Calling all Antique Roadshow enthusiasts. Have you ever seen a large metal coin featuring an old lamp with the number 60 on it? After discovering this mysterious-looking coin among her Grandmmother’s collection, a woman from Chilliwack is asking the public if they have any idea what it is.  → Read more at coastmountainnews.com

 October 18, 2019
Nowadays, having savings and investments both have equal weight in importance and necessity as well. In terms of investments, there are a lot of options for you to choose from. These options range from stock investments to mutual funds to cryptocurrency.  → Read more at nuwireinvestor.com

 October 19, 2019
Binyamin Elkin, the six-year-old son of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Ze'ev Elkin discovered a 2,000-year-old coin from the City of David excavations at the President's Residence on Thursday.  → Read more at israelnationalnews.com
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Canadian Bank Refused Deposit of Coins

The Canadian Broadcast Company reported that a bank in Montreal refused the deposit of $800 in rolled coins.

Julien Perrotte saves the coins he receives in change. Every year he will sort and roll the coins so that he can deposit them into his account at Laurentian Bank. This year, the bank told Perrotte that it was a new policy not to accept coins.

Canadian laws do not require banks to accept all legal tender coins or currencies. They can refuse to take any form of specie and only operate using electronic funds.

Laurentian Bank has taken advantage of these laws and no longer employ human tellers to accept cash. Customers can deposit currency and checks in their automated banking machines. The machines do not accept coins.

Before people begin to criticize Laurentian, this is starting to occur in the United States. Banks and other financial institutions are beginning to offer checking and other consumer banking services accessible online. They do not have branch offices.

The largest and most successful of the online banks is Ally. Anyone can open an Ally account and have access to the full line of banking services except you cannot deposit cash.

Then there are banks with physical presences that are transitioning to a model like Laurentian. Capital One Bank entered the consumer banking business when it started buying smaller banks in 2005. Today, Capital One is closing branches and consolidating teller operations in Capital One Cafes. Customers that do not live near Capital One Cafes can deposit currency and checks via an ATM but cannot deposit coins.

Does this mean we are heading toward a cashless society?

No! It means that the United States has an economy diverse enough to support new ideas in banking services while maintaining traditional banking operation. It is because the United States has a diverse economy that includes a cash-based transaction (see here and here) that will prevent our society from going cashless.

Rather than try to deal with Laurentian Bank’s new policy, Perrotte said he will be taking his business elsewhere.

Weekly World Numismatic News for September 22, 2019

While perusing the news sources looking for numismatic-related news in the general media, I am noticing that there is an increase in crimes involving coin dealers. Between robberies or scams against dealers, the escalation of crime is noticeable and concerning.

Any business that handles money is a potential target for criminals. Even with the policies of dropping excess cash into time-locked safes, criminals will rob any store where they can easily take a few dollars.

What makes robberies from coin dealers concerning is that these types of crimes increase when the criminals are looking for a more significant take when their economic situation appears to be getting worse.

Although the markets may be up and the unemployment numbers are low, the indications are that the economy has some soft spots that should be concerning to everyone. The number of people taking contingent and alternative employment arrangement, sometimes called the gig economy, has risen in the last year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that much of the rise in the gig economy is being used to supplement regular income.

In the last month, silver has been a rise of nearly $2 since the beginning of August. Even though silver has dropped to $17.88 from a $19.30 high in September, economic indicators suggest that global affairs will prevent the price from falling. These investors will be affected by a potential oil crisis following the bombing of Saudia Arabian oil fields and the trade war caused by tariffs.

Gold has been relatively flat over the last few months although up for the year. As an investment instrument, gold is favored by large and institutional investors. What is preventing their rise is that on a larger scale, they are not as worried by global affairs. The investments they are involved with are not as affected by a potential oil crisis and a Chinese trade war. Many have isolated themselves from these issues.

The concern is that the split in the economic effect will cause those at the lower ends to try to find some relief by turning to crime. A stolen American Gold Eagle coin has the potential to yield a better return than robbing a convenience store.

As some dealers are pushing the sales of gold, think about what they are saying about the economy.

And now the news…

 September 12, 2019

OYSTER BAY, NY — A Fort Salonga coin dealer has been accused in a $330,000 coin consignment and sales scheme in which he bilked several coin dealers and private collectors out of money, gold and collectible coins under the guise of legitimate coin deals, prosecutors said.  → Read more at patch.com


 September 13, 2019

Photographer: Ted Aljibe/AFP via Getty Images Congestion and constant flooding in the Philippine capital are prompting the central bank to move its mint away from the city. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas signed a deal Friday to relocate its production facility for coins and bank notes to New Clark City, a former U.S. air base where the government is building a back-up capital.  → Read more at bloomberg.com


 September 16, 2019

Julien Perrotte stood in front of the representative at his local bank last week, unsure he properly understood what she was telling him. He was carrying about $800 worth of coins, sorted and rolled, that he had collected over the past year.  → Read more at cbc.ca


 September 17, 2019

September 18, 2019 – Sibenik was the first city in Croatia to mint its own money during the Venetian period. Today, the city has released a new sweet souvenir in its honor. HRTurizam writes that back in 1485, the Venice Council of Nine approved the minting and use of Sibenik's coins – known as the bagatin, which was a means of payment in the city for more than two centuries.  → Read more at total-croatia-news.com


 September 17, 2019

Break-in happened Aug. 30 in Silver Spring Montgomery County police released surveillance video Tuesday of a man stealing what they estimate to be $6,500 in property from a downtown Silver Spring rare-coin store on Aug.  → Read more at bethesdamagazine.com


 September 17, 2019

More and more people are swapping cash for contactless payments – which means fewer coins are being made. That means the Royal Mint, the company which produces coins for the UK, don't make as many anymore.  → Read more at bbc.co.uk

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Weekly World Numismatic News for September 15, 2019

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin reverseThe U.S. Mint unveiled the design of the Basketball Hall of Fame coin at the induction ceremony in Springfield. I found the story on NBA.com, created a post that was later picked up by the rest of the numismatic community.

A day later, the U.S. Mint issued a press release about the design announcement to the general public.

Over the last year, the information from the U.S. Mint has had problems. Announcements are being issued late. On a recent case, they had to issue corrections. Now, they cannot even include the numismatic community in a collectible that has generated excitement.

The U.S. Mint may be the largest manufacturer of coins, but their communications skills leave much to be desired.

Why is the U.S. Mint not partnering with the numismatic media to get their word out?

Why is the U.S. Mint not issuing general press releases to all news outlets to publicize what they are doing?

Why is the U.S. Mint not publicizing themselves? Aside from being the sole manufacturer of coins in the United States, they are making a profit! Although some decry the amount of seigniorage they earn, it is a profit center for the United States government.

Tell the world!

Tell the world that not only are you producing coins but collectibles. Tell the world that you are producing bullion. Tell the world about the commemorative coins.

Why was the U.S. Mint not out in public in the run-up to the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 to highlight the coins? Why was the U.S. Mint not involved in helping celebrate one of the most significant events in United States history?

While the U.S. Mint did participate in National Coin Week, its outreach beyond the collector community leaves much to be desired. The U.S. Mint is doing itself a disservice. They are not helping the numismatic community. And, by extension, not doing right by the country which they are supposed to serve.

Why is this a difficult concept for the U.S. Mint?

It is time for Director David Ryder to either lead the U.S. Mint forward or vacate the job and allow someone who understands modern marketing to raise the bureau’s profile.

And now the news…

 September 8, 2019

Nevada Appeal staff report As the 150th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. Branch Mint in Carson City draws closer, the Nevada State Museum is expanding the days it showcases one of the Mint’s most enduring artifacts.  → Read more at nevadaappeal.com


 September 8, 2019

MANAMA, Bahrain — There's a burgeoning online market for the elaborate and colorful coins pressed into the palms of Navy petty officers when they pin on their anchors and take the chief petty officer's pledge, but some critics say the trade diminishes the value of the tradition.  → Read more at military.com


 September 9, 2019

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has teamed up with the Royal Australian Mint to release their first ever coin featuring a secret code. The coin was released in commemoration of ASIO’s 70th anniversary this year.  → Read more at businessinsider.com.au


 September 15, 2019

PROVO — The camera rows behind the baseline of a basketball court offer a vantage point of the game unlike anything caught from the nosebleed seats or even on television. It’s there where you can truly absorb the athleticism of the sport and appreciate how the way men and women fight for a loose ball, a ball much smaller than their gargantuan frames, flows elegantly like poetry.  → Read more at ksl.com

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Some random thoughts…

Although it has been a while since I have posted something outside of the Weekly World Numismatic News, it does not mean that I have been idle. Here are some random thoughts:

Glenn B Smedley Medal

2019 Glenn B Smedley Medal

First, I want to thank the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors for awarding me the 2019 Glenn Smedley Memorial Award. It is an honor! I wish I could have been there for the award ceremony.

ANA President Steve Ellsworth asked me to continue as Chair of the Technology Committee. I accepted his appointment. Steve has a different vision for how to move forward. Change is a good thing and will work with him and the Board to do what is best for the ANA.

There continues to be work to do for the ANA to add technology to the numismatic experience. One of the areas I would like to include more technology are the exhibits. After speaking with one person familiar with the exhibiting process, I think there are ways to add technology without technology overshadowing the numismatic content. I will have a proposal shortly. Stay tuned.

2007 Somalia Motorcycle Coins
I love these coins but is this the direction the U.S. Mint should go?

Not long ago, U.S. Mint Director David Ryder said that there might be a chance to add color to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins. I have had a mixed feeling about adding color to coins. There are some cases where the color acted as an enhancer. Other times, some mints produced coins that were discs with prints. I will wait until the design is released to decide how I feel about the Mint’s attempt with color.

There are many collectibles whose values have declined over the last year, including some collector coins. One area that remains low are those collector sets produced by the television hucksters or the private mints. These firms overhype the value of their wares to convince buyers that they should purchase them as an investment. Recently, I handled an estate with several items purchased from QVC and the Franklin Mint. All of the coins were overpriced. The family was upset when I provided my valuation. I will talk about this more in a future post.

Another article idea that is inspired by my business is the difference between collecting and investing. Although some people like to try to mix the two, most of the time, the result is that the investor does not create a compelling collection while most of the collectors create value without trying.

I sold my silver Pandas. I lost interest after the composition was changed but the hype has kept the prices up. Hype is not a long-term strategy.

Recently, I decided to liquidate part of my collection. As part of the process, I realized how much I have learned over the years. It is a real case of “the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.” I learned several lessons during this process, including not to trust my judgment. In one case, coins I graded years ago were over graded. If I would have used the tools and knowledge, I have today, and the grades would be different.

Finally, I am still waiting to find a “W” quarter in change. I have yet to see one. Most of the people I know that are looking for these quarters are roll hunting. If I were into conspiracies, I would suggest that the Mint did this on purpose to increase the demand for quarters. People would demand rolls of quarters, forcing the Federal Reserve to order more.

Considering the U.S. Mint is a government agency, I bet they are storing most of the quarters in Area 51! After all, if we are going into conspiracy theories, we might as well go all of the way!

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for September 1, 2019

Token for a free bottle of Coca-Cola in 1915-16

While perusing the news for numismatic-related stories, some of the searches tend to find letters to the editors from people who tell a part of their collecting stories. This week, I came across a letter from a collector in the outer suburbs of the Chicago area.

Gregory Martin wrote to the editor for KendallCountyNOW.com that he would ” like to bring to mind the concept of starting your young ones on starting a coin collection.”

In three of the four paragraphs, Martin shows his passion for both collecting and how it relates to history. He mentions the 3-cent nickel and the 1943 steel cents as gateways into understanding what was happening in our country’s history.

Martin may have touched on something that today’s teachers can use to explain history. For example, the story of westward expansion was more about economics than exploration. People left the east for better opportunities, to find gold, discover silver, or for 40 acres and a mule. These stories can be taught using the money of the times.

As collectors, we know about fractional currency, postage stamp money, and why arrows periodically appear on minor coinage of the time. However, using these tangible items as props, a teacher can explain the history and show the results by using the money of the time.

Every coin, currency, and token is a reflection of the times when and where produced. A teacher can use the history of the San Francisco Mint to teach about the Gold Rush and the Great Earthquake of 1906.

The New Orleans Mint had its place in the Civil War.

The Carson City Mint is as much a story about the old west as it is about the economic battles, including the Crime of ’73.

One Dollar Baltimore B-Note featuring Frederick Douglas and a Baltimore oriole.

Trade and sales tax tokens can show how stores, states, and municipalities tried to work through the Great Depression. Transportation tokens show how transportation had grown in the 20th century. And how some cities, like Baltimore, issue its own “currency” to help promote local business.

Using numismatics to learn about history goes beyond the United States’ borders. After becoming interested in Canadian coins, I learned more about the British monarchy and the decline of the monarch’s power by studying the transitions from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.

After finding three banknotes from the State of Chihuahua, I learned more about the Mexican Revolution after trying to understand why currency for a three-year state existed.

Maybe it is time to take the saying “history in your hand” and turn it into something tangible. After all, a handful of trade and sales tax tokens may have more of an impact than just reading about the Great Depression.

And now the news…

 August 18, 2019

A Utah businessman paid $1.32 million for a dime last week at a Chicago coin auction. It wasn't just any 10-cent piece; the 1894-S Barber Dime is one of only 24 that were ever made, according to Stack's Bowers Galleries, which held the auction Thursday night.  → Read more at cnn.com


 August 24, 2019

TREASURE-hunters have dug up a hoard of ancient silver coins dating back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 – worth an impressive £5million. A metal-detecting couple made the lucky find while searching an unploughed field on a farm in north-east Somerset.  → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 August 24, 2019

Such a hobby does not take a lot to start and can be rewarding in so many ways. To start with you learn about money and in it's many denominations, including the Civil War 3 cent nickel! In American collecting you can observe the way our country grew and developed, gaining a perspective on people and actions of this great nation.  → Read more at kendallcountynow.com


 August 24, 2019

For the first time in almost half a century the Treasury has ordered the Royal Mint to stop producing any 1p or 2p coins. The crackdown on coppers comes at a time when all our cash is under threat – with banks preferring that we pay for goods online or with cards because it saves them money.  → Read more at thisismoney.co.uk

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