Keeping my ASE Proof Collection Complete

With everything that is going on, coin collecting is still a fun hobby, and there are a lot of coins to collect. I am proudest of my almost complete collection of proof American Silver Eagle coins.

From 1986 to 2019, my father bought two proof American Silver Eagle coins. One was for his collection, and the other was mine. When the U.S. Mint issued special sets, I would purchase one for myself and attempt to purchase one for my father. I was able to purchase the 25th Anniversary Set for myself but could never buy one for my father. On the secondary market, too many sets were broken up and graded, ruining the grandeur of the five-coin set.

I am missing the 1995-W American Silver Eagle.

Although there have been problems with the U.S. Mint’s e-commerce site, I have been able to keep up with my American Silver Eagle collection. Recently, the U.S. Mint shipped the American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof Two-Coin Set. My set arrived before I left town for the weekend.

Like many collectors, I love the look of reverse-proof coins. The shiny devices make the design stand out. When I show the coins to non-collectors, the coins make an impression.

What does not make an impression is the package.

For a set that costs $175, the package feels cheap. The insert is cheap plastic that holds onto the coin so tight that the coin is difficult to remove. The box is thinner cardboard, and it is not in a clamshell box, like other sets. The package appears as if the U.S. Mint modified it from a copper-nickel clad proof coin.

The U.S. Mint might think that the package does not matter. There will be collectors that will take the coins out of the package and send them to a third-party grading service. This attitude does not consider those who prefer to keep the coins in the original government package (OGP).

My entire collection of American Silver Eagle proof coins is in its OGP. The 2021 set looks like an afterthought next to the 2013 West Point and 2012 San Francisco two-coin sets.

At least the coins are gorgeous!

Scammed on line? Facebook got paid and they don’t care!

Fake Silver Eagles

Two counterfeit American Silver Eagles purchased from LIACOO, a company based in China who advertised on Facebook.

When I wrote that the “Chinese Counterfeiters Are Back” last month, several people wrote to me saying they were never gone. My point was that they have crawled out of their collective holes and started to flood social media with advertising for counterfeit coins.

Over the last few weeks, I have been counseling several people about requesting a chargeback for receiving counterfeit merchandise. Requesting chargebacks have their problems, too. Some credit card issuers will use the chargeback as an excuse not to renew your credit card.

During this time, another group has been trying to work with Facebook to stop the scammers from reaching consumers.

On Monday, three numismatic groups sent a letter to Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg asking why he did not respond to a similar letter a month ago. The letter was signed by Doug Davis, Director of the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation, Mark Salzberger, Chairman of Numismatic Guaranty Company, and Bob Brueggeman, Executive Director of the Professional Numismatists Guild. You can read the press release and letter here.

It is not surprising that Facebook and Zuckerberg have not answered previous letters. If you watch other media reports about Facebook, the company is notorious for trying to sweep issues under the proverbial rug until something brings it to the forefront. While Facebook claims they are responsive to the communities, they respond solely when someone yells and causes an uproar.

Although some find Facebook useful, it is a cesspool of scammers and trolls playing on the gullible looking to prove P.T. Barnum correct: There’s a sucker born every minute.

News organizations worldwide have reported how criminals use Facebook advertising for crimes, including selling counterfeit merchandise, false activism (e.g., Fake News), and human trafficking.

Facebook’s response has been the same. They promise to try harder and look to add code to help protect their users. The result is that they try to implement a technical solution that works to the point of being able to placated the current activists. The problem is that while Facebook depends on artificial intelligence to protect its platform, company leadership has not shown any real intelligence to understand that there may not be a technical solution to every problem.

It is easier for Facebook to scan for words that someone believes are hurtful than to look at an advertisement selling a one-ounce silver coin for less than its silver value. Besides, the alleged bully is not paying for to have their content distributed to a target audience that includes you.

Facebook really doesn’t care because they are getting paid. They were being paid as late as 2018 by a Russian troll bot for placing activist ads after being admonished for accepting campaign ads paid in Russian rubles in 2016.

Zuckerberg and company do not care. He is getting paid and so is their management. They lie just enough to get past alleged watchdogs in a way to keep confidence in their market price. After all, Facebook stock (NASDAQ: FB) is up 32.25% for the year as of Sep 20, 2021. Why should they care what you think about their advertisers? In the meantime, consumers are getting defrauded by scammers allowed to roam freely by a company that advertises on television as being a place to build a community.

Do not expect help from the government. In between their partisan fighting, members of Congress do not have the knowledge or competence to figure out how to fix the issue. Most members of Congress are lawyers with no technical background nor did any study the technical issues enough to make competent decisions.

Although Congress is to blame, the voters must accept their part of the responsibility. Instead of voting in competent people, they send these old folks with no technical background back to Washington. Many have held their seats for over 20 years without any incentive for advancement. So they grow old without learning new ways and blame everyone else for what they are not doing. Think of the problem like this: 26 of the 100 Senators are 70 years of age or older. None of these people had any experience with computers as students or early in their careers. Most can barely use a smartphone (Steve King actually asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai why his daughter’s iPhone behaved strangely). Even if they did, when was the last time you saw an elderly member of congress with a computer or even a smartphone?

Davis, Salzberg, and Brueggeman will have an uphill battle with Facebook. Everyone does. But the ACEF and PNG need to think beyond talking reason to Zuckerberg. They need to work with Congress to help them understand the technologies and what regulations will be effective without putting undue limits on the technology companies.

NOTE TO THE DAVIS, SALZBERG, AND BRUEGGEMAN:
I know of one person in the numismatic industry that has a background in technology and public policy. This person worked as a contractor to the federal government for 25 years as an information security analyst. This person worked for a PAC concerned with numismatic issues and has a Masters’ with a concentration in information security and technology public policy from Carnegie Mellon University. You can contact this person at coinsblog.ws/contact.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

I like big silver coins.

Some like gold. Others like copper. I like silver.

Since 1986, I have been collecting American Silver Eagle Proof coins. It is a collection my later father started for me and, until 2019, purchased the individual proof coins. I supplemented the collection with the special sets that the U.S. Mint issued, but it is a nearly complete set of proof coins in their original government package.

Although I have to find the 1995-W anniversary set for the elusive 1995-W American Silver Eagle, I have been trying to keep the collection up to date. It is why I hung up on a business call to make sure I was logged in to the U.S. Mint website to purchase the Reverse Proof Two-Coin Set.

By 11:58 AM, I was on the page for the set. As the time counted down to noon, I refreshed the page waiting for the Add-to-Bag button.

I am probably not the only one pushing the refresh button two minutes until noon. Until the Add-to-Bag button appeared, the system was responsive. Of course, the page was likely cached by Cloudflare or my ISP (Comcast), but it was responsive. At the stroke of noon, all that ended.

The first thing we notice is that someone rebranded the Cloudflare gateway error page. Although I do not have inside information, I would bet that Cloudflare told the U.S. Mint to make it so that they don’t get blamed.

I wonder if Cloudflare demanded the U.S. Mint rebrand their gateway error page so that they don’t get the blame?

Another change is the HTML file that appeared as a text file. Under Safari, the file type kept downloading the information to my Downloads folder. Under Firefox, one of the systems in the chain treated me to a small HTML file.

Under the hood HTML output as a web page?

Somehow, a set made it into my bag, and I made it to the checkout page. I couldn’t use my stored credit card because I would see the Bad Gateway error. The card was next to me, and I furiously typed.

Suddenly, there was a new error. I don’t know what it means, but the U.S. Mint’s programmers did not know how to handle that error. How do I know that? The error message provided said so.

This is a new error. In my days as a programmer, we would be chastised for this type of error message!

According to several reports, the website crashed at the beginning of the process. It was difficult to tell, but the U.S. Mint admitted there were problems. They announced that there were products available at 1:19 PM on social media.

After stubborn persistance, I received the confirmation of my order at 12:48 PM.

I asked the U.S. Mint for comment. I will let you know what they say.

SCAM ALERT: CHINESE COUNTERFEITERS ARE BACK

The Chinese scammers are back after a brief hiatus. They are flooding social media with advertising for fake coins. I found three ads from these scammers offering American Silver Eagles for $9.95 on Facebook in the last two days.

NOBODY IS SELLING LEGITIMATE AMERICAN SILVER EAGLE COINS FOR LESS THAN THEIR SILVER VALUE!

As I type this, silver is $23.73 per troy ounce. It means that that the American Silver Eagle contains $23.73 worth of silver. Even with a modest numismatic premium of 5-percent (below the current market value), a silver bullion coin should cost around $25.00. A quick market survey shows that legitimate dealers are selling ungraded American Silver Eagles for $33-36 each. Coins with the Type 2 reverse are selling for $1-3 more.

Proof American Silver Eagles are more expensive because they cost more to purchase. If the U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins for $73.00 and dealers on the authorized purchase program receive a 5-percent discount, the wholesale price is $69.35 per coin.

Who would sell a proof coin less than the wholesale cost? If it is a genuine coin, then it is likely stolen merchandise. Otherwise, scammers are selling fakes.

Before you purchase these alleged “good deals,” please remember my five rules:

  1. NO LEGITIMATE DEALER IS SELLING BULLION COINS FOR BELOW THE SPOT PRICE!
  2. IF THE DEAL IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT LIKELY IS NOT A GOOD DEAL!
  3. IF THE DEALER DOES NOT IDENTIFY THEMSELVES ON THEIR WEBSITE, THEY ARE LIKELY HIDING SOMETHING.
    Check the “About” or “Contact” page. If there is no contact information, then they are hiding. If the address is in China or the Middle East, they will sell you counterfeit merchandise.
  4. IF THE SITE IS “POWERED BY SHOPLAZZA,” IT IS LIKELY A SCAMMER SITE.
    According to contacts in the information security industry, the service is run by Chinese companies known to sell counterfeit merchandise.
  5. IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS, THEN DON’T PURCHASE THE COINS!
Please! Please! Please! Do not give these scammers your credit card information. You will be ripped off, and they will likely steal your credit card information, leading to other problems.

Last year, I purchased two coins knowing they are counterfeit for educational purposes only. I used gift cards to purchase the coins to prevent exposing my credit card information. Both coins are made of nickel-plated steel and contain no silver.

How to Create A Price Guide

What does it take to create, publish, and maintain a price guide for coins?

Coin Collectors Handbook - American Eagle CoinsReaders who downloaded my first edition of the Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins have asked about the lack of a price guide. I hesitated to add a price guide for American Eagle coins because, with very few exceptions, the spot price of metals affects the prices. Market watchers know that spot prices are volatile. Are there differences in prices that might make working on a price guide a good time investment?

To better understand pricing and price guides, I asked several dealers what they use for pricing guidance. Most of them said the Greysheet and what the coins were selling on eBay. A few larger dealers will start their eBay auctions at $1 and sell the coins regardless of the final bid. High-volume dealers say they are rarely disappointed with the results.

Smaller dealers will subscribe to a service that will automatically adjust the prices based on the spot price and the results of the eBay inventory. Depending on the service level these dealers have with the service, the price for coins can change every day.

The pricing service can query eBay for list prices, and the prices realized to come up with their formula.

In the past, I tried to ask the people who write the Greysheet how they come up with prices. The harsh rejection at that time prevented me from asking again. It was time to look at other guides to determine how they create their prices.

Information from PCGS’s website is clear that their price guides are for coins only in their holders. In the past, PCGS noted their price guides use the prices on the Certified Coin Exchange market, which Collector’s Universe, PCGS’s parent company, owns.

Similarly, NGC notes on its website that they base their prices on the market of NGC-graded coins only. Neither service considered the market perception of CAC-certified coins. Although the Greysheet has a publication that publishes guidance for CAC-certified coins, that information is available only to subscribers.

One of the price guides not affiliated with a grading service is Numismedia. They are similar to Greysheet in that they offer a range of publications that span the market. Although their website does not disclose how they determine prices, their Fair Market Value guide has been more comprehensive and closer to retail market values than I have experienced with the Greysheet’s retail guides.

Other price guides found around the web have different concerns. A few are crowd-sourced, meaning that collectors provide input based on what they paid. Although crowd-sourced prices report real-world transactions, the information is limited to what users report and not a market survey.

Then there is the Red Book, A Guild Book of United States Coins. For 75 years, it has been the bible of coin values for many collectors. Unfortunately, the Red Book has several problems. First, it is published once a year and released in April. It means that production for the Red Book must begin before then.

A few years ago, I volunteered to work as a pricing contributor for the Red Book. I felt prices for modern coins were too low for the market, and I tried to bring them up to reality. It was challenging to make the edits using the poorly design web form. Even with my effort, much of my input did not make the book. The following year’s pricing entry was a spreadsheet, but my attempts at aligning the prices with the market did not affect the published prices.

Another problem with the Red Book is that the contributors are not given sufficient time to provide input. The process should be ongoing rather than giving the pricing editors a few weeks to edit the prices, so there is no rush before closing the edition.

Although I was not involved with the Blue Book (Handbook of United States Coins) pricing, I suspect it has similar issues.

It appears that every method used to create a price guide is flawed. Publicly accessible price guides are too generic to be taken seriously. Unless the public is willing to pay high prices for the wholesale guides, there is an opaqueness in how the industry prices coins.

Creating price guides is a difficult task. Over the next few weeks, I will continue my market survey while compiling the price guide for the American Eagles Handbook. I will share what I find here on the blog. Stay tuned!

Weekly World Numismatic News for August 15, 2021

Although this past week was the World’s Fair of Money, there was not much news surrounding the event. According to individual reports, people said that it was a good show even with the COVID precautions. It was similar to reports from The National, which was held in the Stephens Convention Center the week before.

The week’s biggest news was the U.S. Mint publishing the lot numbers used to label the boxes with the American Eagle bullion coins.

Until last year, the U.S. Mint has not identified where they strike the American Eagle bullion coins. Spokespeople emphasize that since their production is for the investment market, the mint location is not relevant. Of course, collectors view the market differently. Dealers and third-party grading services have tried to determine where the coins were struck based on shipping labels and other factors. Although they are reasonably sure, there are mistakes in their assumptions.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the West Point Mint to close temporarily. To keep up with production, the U.S. Mint struck 240,000 bullion coins in Philadelphia. The third-party grading services asked the U.S. Mint about the production of these coins. Rather than leave the industry guessing, the U.S. Mint identified which boxes contained American Silver Eagle bullion coins struck in Philadelphia. As a result, the third-party grading services accurately noted the origin of the bullion coin on the label of their slab.

U.S. Mint Error Label on American Silver Eagle bullion boxes

The U.S. Mint reports that some of the boxes marked with “BF” should not have the “F” since they were not part of the first production run.

Without the industry asking, the U.S. Mint released the lot information about the American Eagle bullion coins this year. Making this remarkable is the U.S. Mint broke published the lot numbers for the Type 1 and Type 2 reverses for both the silver and gold bullion coins. In fact, they noted that a few boxes had labeling errors incorrectly marking some of the coins as part of the first production.

Although the U.S. Mint has claimed it was always considerate to the collector community, it is the first time they voluntarily provided this information without prompting. Could the U.S. Mint finally be learning from past mistakes? Time will only tell.

American Eagle Bullion Lot Information

And now the news…

 August 9, 2021
The 2,600-year-old site produced highly standardized “spade money,” possibly on government orders  → Read more at smithsonianmag.com

 August 9, 2021
'Remarkable' collection of 52 Tudor, Stuart and Commonwealth coins is set to sell for £500,000 at auction — including a Henry VIII coin struck in tribute to his first wife Catherine of Aragon  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 August 11, 2021
A scavenger hunt at a Talmud-era village in northern Israel took a surprising turn on Tuesday when an Israeli girl found a 1,500-year-old bronze coin.  → Read more at israelhayom.com

 August 11, 2021
While out camping with family on the beach, Yotam Dahan discovers 13-pound lump of coins from about 1,700 years ago which archeologists speculate belonged to a merchant ship that wrecked ashore  → Read more at ynetnews.com

 August 11, 2021
TEHRAN – Iranian authorities have seized some ancient coins from an illegal digger in the western province of Ilam, the provincial tourism chief announced on Wednesday.  → Read more at tehrantimes.com
Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

 

If you like what you read, share and show your support Buy Me A Coffee

It worked… sort of!

I was able to order the 2021-W American Silver Eagle one-ounce proof coin today with only minor issues.

Like every other time I ordered new releases from the U.S. Mint, I logged into my account before the sale. I verified that the credit card I had registered was the correct card. The card was in front of me just in case something went wrong.

As the time closed in at noon, I tapped the refresh button. As soon as the button changed from “Remind Me” to “Add to Bag,” I began tapping.

When the page did not respond immediately, I panicked and tapped again. Of course, I should know better. But I am an anxious collector who cares what my background is. After tapping more than once, the coin appeared in my bag, and I pressed checkout.

I did not look at the contents of my bag as I scrolled down to my payment option. I selected my stored credit card then watched as it took too long to fill the form. As it took time, I was pressing buttons faster than the website responded. After the system finally filled in the form, I forgot to enter the CVV for my card. Then another tap.

Once the confirmation page appeared, I took a screenshot of the information for safekeeping. That is when I realized my nervous tapping added more than one coin to my bag. It looks like I ordered three coins. It also may explain an error I received during the tapping on the link when the system thought I was overfilling my bag.

As I type this, the coin sold out. I do not know how long it was before the coin sold out because I had to put down my iPad and go back to work. It looks like if you missed the opportunity to order, then you would have to purchase one on the secondary market.

A quick search on eBay suggests that the presale for graded coins is averaging $135-150.

Weekly World Numismatic News for January 10, 2021

2020 American Gold EagleThe Weekly World Numismatic News return finds that although 2020 was a stressful year and 2021 has not started with a promise for improvement, the rare coin and paper money market appears healthy.

Based on a survey of auction houses conducted by the Professional Numismatists Guild, they reported the total sales at auction to be over $419 million. With COVID-19 causing the cancellation of every major show, the auction moved online with success.

A consistent comment is that the auctions provided a means for collectors to liquidate all or parts of their collections to raise money during the pandemic. But for this type of sale to be effective, there have to be bidders to buy the coins. The buyers came.

HiBid, an online auction platform that supports many auction houses, has consistently reported weekly sales on the tens-of-millions of dollars. This year, HiBid reports that traffic to coins.hibid.com was their fastest growing platform.

Finally, with the stock markets soaring with the economic uncertainty growing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Mint saw the sale of American Eagle gold and silver coins increase dramatically. In 2020, the U.S. Mint sold 884,000 ounces of American Gold Eagle coins, increasing 455% from the 152,000 ounces sold in 2019.

The sale of American Silver Eagle coins doubled from last year by selling 30.01 million ounces of silver.

Since the U.S. Mint reports bullion coins more regularly than collector coin sales, those coins’ impact is not reflected in these numbers.

There are collectors out there. Unfortunately, they are not members of the American Numismatic Association or other numismatic organizations. Maybe the numismatic community should use this as a lesson to try to grow the hobby.

And now the news…

 December 29, 2020
One face of the coin features a typical Cyberpunk 2077 scene with towering skyscrapers and hulking mega-structures looming over a souped-up motor vehicle. The coin’s flip side depicts a bust of Queen Elizabeth II, Press materials  → Read more at thefirstnews.com

 January 4, 2021
Queen Elizabeth is just months away from a milestone birthday — and the U.K.'s Royal Mint is already celebrating. The Royal Mint unveiled five new commemorative coins for 2021, including a £5 coin to mark the monarch's 95th birthday in April.  → Read more at people.com

 January 4, 2021
Kitco News has launched its 2021 Outlook, which offers the most comprehensive coverage of precious metals markets in the new year. Trillions of dollars were pumped into financial markets in 2020 and that won't come without consequences.  → Read more at kitco.com

 January 4, 2021
A coin collection in a backroom of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum could one day reveal Outer Banks history  → Read more at pilotonline.com

 January 8, 2021
With an alarming level of uncertainties across-the-board courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with a return to high market volatility and unprecedented global economic stimulus, investors are increasingly seeking alternative investment strategies.  → Read more at thearmchairtrader.com
Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

 

If you like what you read, share, and show your support Buy Me A Coffee

Weekly World Numismatic News for October 25, 2020

Fake Silver Eagles

Two counterfeit American Silver Eagles purchased from LIACOO, a company based in China.

Although the number of reports about people buying counterfeit American Silver Eagle coins has diminished, they have not stopped. This week, I received four more inquiries about these coins.

I have tried my best to get the word out to as many people as possible, including the media. I spent a few hours scouring the Internet for the consumer reporters’ addresses in as many major markets as possible, even sending messages to competing stations. Nobody has responded.

Even though high traffic and Google statistics tracking has pushed the blog closer to the top of the search when people inquire about counterfeit American Silver Eagles, the fact remains that it is difficult or a one-man crusade to cut through the daily noise.

It would have been nice if I had help. I did post warnings on the ANA’s Facebook group. Even though there are Board members involved with the Facebook group, nobody has picked up the ball and tried to put the force of the ANA behind an educational campaign.

The email sent about these fake coins add up to over 150 counterfeit coins. Although it is a small fraction of the total American Silver Eagle population, counterfeits in the market can potentially turn potential collectors into someone who does not trust the market.

I will continue my part of the fight.

Other than the posts I made about these coins, I compiled a list of the websites identified by readers as selling counterfeit American Silver Eagle coins. Once I created the list, I checked the sites to see if they are still selling fakes.

Readers can find the list of dealers selling fake coins at coinsblog.ws/fakes. I will maintain that list with the information as I receive it. Maybe if we work together, we can educate the public and eliminate the demand these scammers use to dupe people.

And now the news…

 October 19, 2020
Special Indonesian exhibit unveiled at quiet vernissage Batik was the dress code of the day at Alliance Coin & Banknote, as a special exhibit on the currency of Indonesia was unveiled on October 5th in downtown Almonte.  → Read more at millstonenews.com

 October 22, 2020
The Harold II silver penny found by Reece Pickering Two nearly 1,000-year-old coins dug up this year by two unrelated teenagers may be worth thousands of pounds each.  → Read more at expressandstar.com

 October 22, 2020
JERSEY’S government could find out how much it will cost to buy 70,000 late Iron Age and Roman coins found in a field in Grouville before the end of the year, the Chief Minister has revealed.  → Read more at jerseyeveningpost.com

 October 23, 2020
Mother Lode Gold, a wooden currency circulates at the CalaverasGrown farmers markets in Calaveras County. The currency is crafted by local farmer and woodworker Sean Kriletich.  → Read more at calaverasenterprise.com
Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws
 VIDEO: Walkabout Denver (Oct 19, 2020)

 

If you like what you read, share, and show your support Buy Me A Coffee

The Failures of the U.S. Mint’s Website Continues

2019 American Silver Eagle Enhance Revers Proof obverseThe subject line of the email contained the entire note. My correspondent asked, “Did you try to buy the 2019 Reverse Proof?”

Reports said that the remainder of the products sold out in 10 seconds. That was probably the same 10 seconds the U.S. Mint’s website seemed to freeze.

I admit that I tried cheating. As a retired programmer, I tried to script the purchase. The script watched the clock, and right at noon, the script tried to place the coin in my bag then transfer the payment page to the browser. But for the seconds after high-noon, the site did not respond. Frozen!

The best solution offered for these situations is a lottery system. Reports suggested that the suggestion was made to Director David Ryder. Ryder, like the last appointed director, is tone-deaf to the collectors. Some day, the U.S. Mint will have a competent director.

Pin It on Pinterest