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.

Weekly World Numismatic News for August 9, 2020

2019 American Silver Eagle Enhance Revers Proof obverseThe U.S. Mint does it again by shutting out collectors with an unannounced change in procedures.

According to reports, 95 of the 2019-S American Silver Eagle Enhanced Reverse Proof did not sell the first time because of an alleged glitch. Rather than letting the general public know that the coins were available, they snuck it onto their website and sent messages to people who signed up for reminders only.

The U.S. Mint did not send the message to everyone on their reminder list. Only to those people who signed up for when the coin would be available again.

So let me get this straight. If you’ve signed up for the U.S. Mint reminder services but not for restocking notice, you did not get notified. But if you signed up for a restocking notice after the U.S. Mint announced that all 30,000 coins sold, you were sent a notice.

From the poorly designed website with a bad ordering experience to the sneaking the surplus coins by the general public, the U.S. Mint is not endearing itself to the collecting public.

How can the hobby expect to attract more collectors if the source of coins makes it difficult to purchase their products?

And now the news…

 July 29, 2020
Toilet paper, sanitizer and yeast were but a few of the top-of-mind goods hoarded by Canadians at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In more recent weeks, however, another shortage – this of $50 banknotes – has come to light.  → Read more at canadiancoinnews.com

 August 3, 2020
Minelab Metal Detectors Luke Mahoney said the "feeling of scraping the dirt away and seeing the coins is indescribable" A metal detectorist who has spent 10 years searching for hidden treasure found "the biggest hoard of his life" in a field behind his village pub.  → Read more at bbc.com

 August 4, 2020
UK considers minting coin to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi  |  Photo Credit: BCCL Mahatma is poised to become the first-ever nonwhite person to feature on the British currency.  → Read more at timesnownews.com

 August 4, 2020
On July 27, 2020, gold prices hit an all-time high. Although the earliest traces of gold as a valuable material date back to the Paleolithic era in 40,000 B.C., about two-thirds of all the gold ever mined has been wrested from the ground since 1950. Throughout human history, it’s estimated that human beings have mined 197,576 tons of gold. One reason that gold has been so attractive to people across every corner of the Earth for all of recorded history is that it’s nearly indestructible, which means virtually all of that 197,576 tons is still around in one form or another. Even so, if you combined every ounce of gold ever mined into one large cube, that cube would only measure about 70 feet on each side.  → Read more at thestacker.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for July 26, 2020

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Half Dollar Clad Coin

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Half Dollar Clad Coin (Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint)

The news of the week was tragic. It blew up social media and seemed to make people upset. This news is going to be the end of the hobby. We may never recover.

No, the tragedy is not the alleged coin shortage.

Social media went berzerk because the U.S. Mint is going to sell colorized versions of the Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins.

How dare the U.S. Mint do something like this? It’s… it’s… un-American!

Calm down, folks. It is only a little color enhancing a commemorative coin.

But it’s not what the U.S. Mint is supposed to be about. They are supposed to produce real coins.

Real coins? Like the mess of coins in what we refer to as the Classic Commemorative Era? Can we also consider the circulating coinage disasters like the steel cent and Susan B. Anthony dollar?

It will turn us into Canada!

I can think of worse places. I like Canada. I have family in Canada. I collect Canadian coins. However, it is not going to turn the U.S. Mint into the Royal Canadian Mint. First, the Royal Canadian Mint produces more non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins that the U.S. Mint. Second, the Royal Canadian Mint uses technologies like lenticular printing to create the design. For the Basketball Hall of Fame coin, the colorization is an enhancement of a struck design.

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Dollar Coin

Colorized Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Dollar Coin (Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint)

It’s ugly!

That is your opinion. I like what the U.S. Mint will do to the half-dollar coin by emphasizing the ball and rim. Based on the pictures I have seen, the colorized rim on the silver dollar is not enough.

It’s not what the U.S. Mint is supposed to do. I’m not buying it!

Good! It means that I will be able to buy one for myself without trying to fight the speculators.

It’s too expensive.

Finally, an argument I can agree with. Yes, the U.S. Mint is charging too much for the colorized coins. This is because instead of bringing the technology in-house, they have to pay a contractor to do the colorization.

It’s bad for the hobby!

How many times have we heard something is wrong for the hobby. Slabs signed by television reality stars were supposed to be the beginning of the end of the hobby. Endless series of circulating commemoratives are supposed to be bad for the hobby. Commemorative coins with unpopular themes were also going to kill the hobby.

To borrow a phrase: We’re still standing. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Sorry, boys and girls (and we know the complaints are mostly coming from old men). Colorized commemorative coins are not bad for the hobby. It could be good for the hobby. These coins could attract people to the hobby that may not have been interested in the past.

If you want to know what is not good for the hobby, it is the U.S. Mint selling coins that did not sell at cut-rate prices to a television huckster like RCTV that pays NGC to slab the coins with special labels and then sells them at hugely inflated prices to unknowledgeable people on television.

You may also watch for the U.S. Mint’s “de-trashing” policy that is dumping other surplus coins on the market. These are coins that did not sell during the regular sales period that will have “special designation” labels from NGC. Not that the labels would make a difference, but we know that the dealers will over-hype these coins at prices far beyond their worth.

Remember what happened with the television hucksters selling state quarters at over-inflated prices? Or even RCTV selling a set of 31 American Silver Eagle bullion coins for more than you can buy a date run of 34 coins? Eventually, these coins will end up being brought to dealers who will tell them that they overpaid.

I will take colorized coins over the feeding crap to the television hucksters any day.

And now the news…

 July 20, 2020
Editor's Note: Get caught up in minutes with our speedy summary of today's must-read news stories and expert opinions that moved the precious metals and financial markets. Sign up here! (Kitco News) Gold and silver prices are higher in early U.S. trading Monday, with silver notching a nearly four-year high just above $20.00.  → Read more at kitco.com

 July 20, 2020
As if we needed any more challenges in 2020, earlier this month a national coin shortage hit America. That right, America doesn’t have enough physical change to go around.  → Read more at fastcompany.com

 July 21, 2020
Coin finds: Looking at this rural scene of Thornhill where Roman coins were found not far away on the Overthorpe estate in 1938, it fires the imagination to think that the early Romans just might have passed by this picturesque spot and even decided to settle here.  → Read more at spenboroughguardian.co.uk

 July 23, 2020
Old Masters seem to be a safe bet during the uncertain times. This painting, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, St.  → Read more at barrons.com

 July 23, 2020
In recent weeks, you may have noticed that most shops and restaurants are not accepting cash. This isn’t because of COVID transmission, as some assume, but because of a national coin shortage.  → Read more at savingadvice.com

 July 25, 2020
“Clare Duffy is a CNN Business associate writer covering the business of technology and the strategies of Big Tech companies. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own.  → Read more at cnn.com
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Simply put, there is an adequate amount of coins in the economy

Coin JarThe U.S. Mint succinctly stated in its press release about the shortage of circulating coins is that there are enough coins in the economy. There is no shortage.

What is happening is that, like everything else during the COVID-19 crisis, the supply chain broke. Coins stopped circulating because people were not going out and spending the coins or currency. Since cash sales dropped, there was no need for stores to stock up on coins. They had the supply to conduct business.

Since the stores did not need the coins, the banks stopped ordering coins for its inventories. Larger stores that rely on logistics carriers were not ordering coins or sending coins into the supply chain. Finally, the logistics carriers saw their inventories rise and become stagnant, giving them no reason to buy more coins from the Federal Reserve.

Now that areas are opening and the demand for change has increased, the supply chain has to restart. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, the cash rooms operated by each Federal Reserve District has a sufficient supply of coins. But the coins have to be circulated through the system.

The government is doing its job. The U.S. Mint is striking a sufficient volume of coins for circulation, and the Federal Reserve has the supply to support commerce. It is the private sector that manages the supply chain that has failed.

The logistics companies, the coin processors that move the money between the Federal Reserve, the banks, and the retailers, have caused the backup. Since many banks have limited access to their drive-thru operations, there is an opportunity for the supply chain to adjust. They cannot adjust fast enough.

If you want to help fix the supply chain, spend your coins. Use exact change when possible. When it is not possible, use a credit or debit card.

If you are the type that keeps coins in jars, now is the time to do your search and send the rest back into circulation. Some banks are offering bonus payments for bringing in coins. Others that were charging fees if you did not roll the coins are waiving those fees. If you regularly buy from Amazon, consider using a Coinstar machine to turn your coins into an Amazon credit. Coinstar does not charge a fee when you trade your coins for Amazon credit.

Relax! It is not a conspiracy to get coins out of circulation. The government is not replacing U.S. dollars with Bitcoin. The government is not participating in creating a global currency, especially when you see how that has worked with mixed results in Europe. And this is not how the government is going to take your money away from you. That is what the tax code does.

Take your coin jar, search for collectible circulating coins, and spend the rest. Get the coins back into circulation.

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A Look at the American Eagles: The American Silver Eagles (UPDATED)

Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins

Want more information about American Eagle Coins? The Coin Collectors Handbook: American Eagle Coins has more information and is fully illustrated. Read more → here;
This is first article of a 4 part series:

NOTE: This is an updated article that was first published on September 18, 2018.

After the Coinage Act of 1965 removed silver from United States coinage, the federal government held the silver in the national stockpile. By the 1980s, the supply that far exceeded the needs of the national stockpile. Following several years of discussion that almost led to the bulk auction and sale of the silver, congress decided to use the silver to create a silver investment coin, the American Silver Eagle.

The American Silver Eagle program was so successful that following the depletion of the Defense National Stockpile in 2002, the original law was changed to continue the program by purchasing silver from U.S.-based mines at market prices to be used for future production.

American Silver Eagle Design

The obverse of the coin is the much-beloved design that was used on the Walking Liberty Half-Dollar coin from 1916 to 1947, designed by Adolph A. Weinman, a former student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The reverse features a heraldic eagle using a design by John Mercanti. Mercanti engraved both sides of the coin that including copying Weinman’s original design. Mercanti would later become the 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.

American Silver Eagle Specifications
 Composition .999 Fine Silver
 Weight One Troy Ounce (31.103 grams)
 Diameter 40.6 mm (1.598 inches)
 Thickness 2.98 mm (0.1173 inches)
 Edge Reeded
 Face Value $1.00
 Designers Adolph A. Weinman (obverse), John Mercanti (reverse)
 Engraver John Mercanti

Bullion American Silver Eagle Coins

The American Silver Eagle program produces bullion coins for the investment market and collectible versions of these coins. As bullion coins, the U.S. Mint tries to eliminate the factors that drive the price of collectible coins (mintage, rarity, and condition) by making each coin the same. The U.S. Mint strikes American Silver Eagle to meet the market demand and can be stuck at any branch mint. Bullion coins do not have a mintmark.

The U.S. Mint does not sell bullion coins directly to the public. They sell the coins to “Authorized Purchasers,” who then resell the coins to the market. Although the American Silver Eagle bullion coins are produced for the investment market, some people collect these coins.

As with other investments, American Silver Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold. Please consult with a financial advisor or tax professional for any tax implications.

Mint of Origin for Bullion Coins

The U.S. Mint branch facility in West Point, New York, has been the primary manufacturer of American Silver Eagle bullion coins. Over the years, the mint facilities in San Francisco and Philadelphia have supplemented production.

Following an investigation, researchers learned that the U.S. Mint struck American Silver Eagle bullion coins at San Francisco and Philadelphia from 2011-2017. Some have tried to use shipping records from the U.S. Mint, shipping labels, packaging materials, and other means to try to investigate the origin of the coins.

In 2015, the industry thought they understand how to tell which Mint struck the coins. According to a statement issued by the U.S. Mint in 2018, the Philadelphia Mint produced 79,640 bullion coins. However, 140 coins were “condemned” and not issued. They shipped 79,500 coins to West Point for distribution to authorized purchasers. Although the boxes contain labels and serial numbers, there was no attempt made to separate the coins by Mint. Further, the U.S. Mint acknowledges that they identified cases of duplicate labels and tracking numbers written on the box. The information creates a reasonable doubt as to determine the manufacturer of the coins.

The third-party grading services believe they identified strike characteristics of the 2015 bullion coins that occurred at the Philadelphia Mint. They have encased American Silver Eagle bullion coins with labels noting their Philadelphia pedigree with no additional evidence.

In 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused the U.S. Mint branch at West Point to close temporarily. In order 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. The grading services are noting the origin of the bullion coin on the label of their slab.

Unlike the 2015(-P) coins, the 2020(-P) coins have an identifiable trail that leaves little doubt to the origin of the coins.

Collector American Silver Eagle Coins

The U.S. Mint produces collector versions of the American Silver Eagle are sold directly to the public in specialty packaging. The U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins in a specially made capsule stored in a blue velvet-covered case in a blue box with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Beginning in 2006, the U.S. Mint has produced an uncirculated business strike coin for the collector market. Most uncirculated American Silver Eagle collector coins are struck in West Point and bear the “W” mintmark. Uncirculated coins are burnished, a process by treating the surface with fine particles to give the surface a smooth, satin finish. The U.S. Mint sells these coins in a capsule with packaging that varies from year to year.

The U.S. Mint has produced coins with reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated finishes. A reverse proof coin is when the elements show a mirror-like appearance and the fields have a matte finish.

In 2009, the U.S. Mint was unprepared for the financial collapse that increased the demand for silver bullion coins. So that the U.S. Mint could produce the coins to meet the investor demand, the U.S. Mint did not produce collector American Silver Eagle coins. Although the American Silver Eagle proof coin returned to the market in 2010, the U.S. Mint did not produce uncirculated burnished coins.

American Silver Eagle collector coins returned in 2011.

OGP vs. GRADED

2018-W American Silver Eagle Proof in Original Government Package

Collector American Silver Eagle coins can be purchased either in their original government package or graded. When searching for coins that are in their original government packaging on most online auction sites, it is recommended that you add “OGP” as part of the search.

Dealers and collectors will remove the collector American Silver Eagle coins from their original government package in order to submit them to a third-party grading service for grading. Collectors who prefer the encapsulated coins are not concerned with the package. Some dealers will sell the package without the coin for a few dollars, but for collectors of graded coins, this is not a priority.

2007 Reverse Variety

In 2008, the U.S. Mint updated the reverse dies of the American Silver Eagle, giving it a slightly different appearance. The reverse die was only supposed to be used on collector American Silver Eagle coins in 2008 before being used for bullion coins in 2009.

As a result of the human factor required with operating the minting equipment at the West Point Mint, the reverse dies used for the 2007 American Silver Eagle coins were mated with 2008 collector coins creating a new variety for collectors. These coins are known as a 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety.

2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety
(Image courtesy of the Silver Eagle Guide)

The 1995-W

Tenth Anniversary American Eagle Set

In 1995, the U.S. Mint created the 10th Anniversary American Eagle set to celebrate the program’s decade. The set contained a 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin that was made available only to collectors buying the set. Collectors wanting to add the 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin to their collection had to purchase the entire five-coin set that included four American Gold Eagle proof coins ($5, $10, $25, and $50 gold American Eagles). The $999 price for the set helped limit the number of coins sold.

As gold prices have risen, collectors sold the gold coins separately. However, the limited availability has caused the 1995-W American Silver Eagle to rise significantly on the secondary market. Cost to purchase this coin averages about $5,000-6, depending on the grade and finding the entire set with the American Gold Eagle coins in their original government package averages over $8,000.

Special Sets

The Philadelphia SetIn 1993, the U.S. Mint offered The Philadelphia Set, which was issued to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the striking of the first official U.S. coins at the Philadelphia Mint. This set included each of the Proof American Gold and Silver Eagles struck at the Philadelphia Mint and containing the “P” mintmark. The set included a 1993-P Proof Silver Eagle along with the one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce 1993-P Proof Gold Eagles. Also included was a silver Philadelphia Bicentennial Medal, which specially produced for this numismatic product.

To mark the launch of the new American Platinum Eagle bullion and collector coin series, the U.S. Mint offered the 1997 Impressions of Liberty Set. This set contained the one ounce 1997-W Proof Platinum Eagle, one ounce 1997-W Proof Gold Eagle, and one ounce 1997-P Proof Silver Eagle. Production was limited to 5,000 individually numbered units. The serial number for each set was engraved on a brass plate affixed to the wooden display case.

In 2004, the U.S. Mint worked with the United Kingdom’s Royal Mint to create a numismatic product containing the silver bullion coins from each country. The Legacies of Freedom Set contained one 2003 American Silver Eagle bullion coin and one 2002 British Silver Britannia bullion coin. The special packaging highlighted the importance of the two national icons.

To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the 220th Anniversary of the United States Mint, the two bureaus joined together to release the 2012 Making American History Coin and Currency Set. The set contained a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a $5 note with a serial number beginning in “150.”

As part of the 2016 Ronald Reagan Coin and Chronicles Set the U.S. Mint included a 2016 Proof American Silver Eagle along with a 2016 Ronald Reagan Presidential reverse proof dollar, and a Nancy Reagan Bronze Medal. To complete the set, it included a presidential portrait produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an informational booklet about President Reagan.

In 2019, the U.S. Mint partnered with the Royal Canadian Mint to issue the Pride of Two Nations silver coin set. The set contained a reverse proof American Silver Eagle struck at West Point and a reverse proof Silver Maple Leaf struck at the Royal Canadian Mint’s facility in Ottawa, Ontario. Production was limited to 100,000 sets in the United States and 10,000 sets in Canada.

Later in 2019, the U.S. Mint released an Enhanced Reverse Proof coin struck at the San Francisco Mint. Its mintage limit of 30,000 coins is less than the number of 1995-W coins issued.

Annual Sets

To extend the product line, the U.S. Mint began to create special annual issue sets to entice people to collect U.S. Mint products. The first annual set containing an American Silver Eagle coin was the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set. First offered in 2007, the set includes the issued uncirculated Presidential dollar coins, an uncirculated Native American dollar coin, and an uncirculated American Silver Eagle. Since the Presidential Dollar Program ended in 2016, it is unclear whether the U.S. Mint will issue the set in 2017.

Since 2012, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Limited Edition Silver Proof Set that contains 90% silver versions of the year’s five America the Beautiful Quarters, Kennedy Half Dollar, and Roosevelt Dime, along with the standard annual Proof American Silver Eagle. Sets are limited to 50,000 units annually.

Starting in 2013, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Congratulations Set as part of a new line of products targeted towards gift-giving occasions. The set includes the standard annual Proof Silver Eagle within specially designed packaging that allows the gift giver to add a personalized message.

Anniversary Sets

2011 American Silver Eagle 25th Anniversary Set

Since the American Eagle Program has been one of the most successful programs in the history of the U.S. Mint, they have used its popularity to extend the product line. Aside from celebrating the anniversary of the program, the U.S. Mint has produced anniversary sets to celebrate Mint facilities.

The Anniversary sets issued are as follows:

  • 1995 American Eagle 10th Anniversary Set included a 1995-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin and four American Gold Eagle coins.
  • 2006 20th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a special three-coin box set included a 2006-W American Silver Eagle with a burnished (satin) finish, a 2006-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin, and a 2006-P American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin.
  • 2011 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a five-coin box set that contained five different coins. The U.S. Mint produced only 100,000 sets that sold out within the first 10 minutes they were offered online. This extremely popular set is averaging $800 on the secondary market in the original government package. The set includes the following coins:
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-S (San Francisco) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Proof coin
    • 2011-P (Philadelphia) American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin
    • 2011 (no mintmark) American Silver Eagle Bullion coin
  • 2012 American Eagle San Francisco Two Coin Silver Proof Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the current San Francisco Mint. The set included a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof Coin.
  • 2013 West Point American Silver Eagle Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the facility in West Point, New York. The set included a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin and a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Enhanced Uncirculated coin. The set was instantly popular with collectors since it was the first appearance of the Enhanced Uncirculated finishing process.

Although the U.S. Mint did not issue a set to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the American Silver Eagle in 2016, West Point struck proof and burnished uncirculated collector coins with edge lettering that read “30TH ANNIVERSARY.”

Rolls and the Green Monster Box

Bullion coins are packaged in 20-coin hard plastic rolls with 25 rolls packed in a specially designed green box that contains 500 troy ounces of silver. The U.S. Mint seals the box before shipping them to authorized purchasers. The term Green Monster Box refers to the green box with 500 silver coins.

Resellers sell Green Monster Boxes with the intent of selling to investors. Resellers also sell unopened rolls from the Monster Box.

Sealed Green Monster Boxes have the benefit of being unsearched and unhandled since leaving the U.S. Mint. These boxes are usually offered for sale by bullion dealers at a small premium over the current market (spot) price of silver. Unsealed Monster Boxes with the U.S. Mint’s labels intact can attest to the authenticity of the coins.

In the next installment, we look at the American Gold Eagle coins.

All images courtesy of the U.S. Mint unless otherwise noted.

I like the idea of Privy Marks on US Coins

Hey, Coin Collectors Blog fans. I’m back! I have made several changes in my business to do more with less. These changes will give me more time to extend my numismatic writing. I have a backlog of issues and interests I want to talk about and will start to add content. Stay tuned. For now, here is something that I have been discussing with a few people via email.

2020-W Weir Farm Quarter

2020-W Weir Farm Quarter with privy mark
(U.S. Mint image via Coin World)

I have received a lot of emails about the U.S. Mint, who will be adding a privy mark to the 2020-W quarter. Although the reaction is mixed, more people seem to be against the move than being in favor.

Amongst the comments are “it is a gimmick,” “beneath the stature of the mint,” and “it’s ugly.” Some have admitted to not collecting or caring about modern coins. Others are regular critics of the U.S. Mint.

There is also a group of people with a pedantic image of the alleged integrity of the U.S. Mint. The same organization that has allowed the release of many patterns are a source of error coins available to the public, and one that has contradictory policies by attacking those with 1933 double eagles while doing nothing about the 1913 Liberty Head Nickels.

When it comes to the U.S. Mint’s policy history, it is as sketchy as any U.S. government agency. The difference is that its products have fans that will defend it because of the final results and not the process that came before it.

Since the U.S. Mint has legal restrictions as to what they can do when it comes to striking coins, I applaud whoever made this decision. We should be celebrating the end of World War II. Even though I was not alive at that time, we need to honor the sacrifice many Americans gave to ending totalitarianism and preventing an evil takeover of the world.

The U.S. Mint found a way to honor the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II without violating the law. I can’t wait to try to find these quarters in my change—or buy them from a dealer since I have had no luck finding W mint marked quarters in my pocket change.

Weekly World Numismatic News for February 16, 2020

2020 Native American $1 ReverseIn our never-ending quest to convince more people to be interested in coin collecting, this week’s news provided us with another example of “if you do something that people like, they will be interested.”

As the U.S. Mint released the Native American dollar coin with the image of Civil Rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich, Alaskans are clamoring for a wider release of the coin. It is the first time since the early days of the small-dollar programs that there is a broad interest in $1 coins.

Elizabeth Peratrovich was an Alaskan native who was instrumental in having Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law passed by the territorial government. It was the first anti-discrimination law of any type passed in the United States.

Alaskans are asking that the Federal Reserve release 5 million coins into general circulation. The Seattle Branch of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank is responsible for banking in Alaska.

The Alaska State Legislature passed a resolution requesting the Federal Reserve make these coins available to Alaskans.

Although the Federal Reserve has not publically responded, they should be talking with the U.S. Mint to strike the 5 million coins necessary to send to Alaska. The coins may not circulate, but it is an excellent promotion for coin collecting.

Over the last few years, we have learned that interesting themes have sold well. Look at the interest in the American Somoa National Park fruit bat design. It is a well-executed design that is very interesting and has people looking for the coin in change. It will likely be in the one America the Beautiful Quarter in the most demand.

Other commemorative coins did very well when there was an exciting topic. With no offense to the American Legion, an outstanding organization, but what was the difference in the interest between their commemorative coin and the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative?

Remember the Girl Scouts’ commemorative coin fiasco?

You do not have to be a rocket scientist or a marketing guru to understand people will buy what they like. It is why the Royal Canadian Mint and the New Zealand Mint sign deals with entertainment companies to sell coins with movies, comics, and other images. These coins sell.

Unfortunately, we have a congress in the way that prevents the U.S. Mint from expanding its product line. Without being able to create collector coins for a new audience, we will continue to try to figure out ways to do the impossible: get more people interested in collecting coins.

And now the news…

 January 23, 2020
Antiques Road Trip is back on our screens this February 2020, with more antiques experts ready to haggle and bag a bargain. Each series follows the same premise, as two experts head out across the country, scouring for the best finds they can then take to auction.  → Read more at realitytitbit.com

 February 11, 2020
A collection of Celtic coins in a Jersey museum has received a Guinness World Record for the largest collection of Iron Age coins discovered in the United Kingdom or Ireland. The total number of coins found in the huge hoard was a staggering 69,347, overtaking the previous record of 54,951 coins held by a collection in Wiltshire.   → Read more at irishcentral.com

 February 11, 2020
OTTAWA — Willie O'Ree's image is on a plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame, a likeness of his trademark fedora sits atop an NHL award that bears his name, and two hockey rinks in the United States and Canada are named in his honor.  → Read more at nhl.com

 February 13, 2020
The 2020 Native American $1 Coin depicts Alaska Native civil rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich and a formline raven. (U.S. Mint)  → Read more at alaskapublic.org

 February 13, 2020
Before the $20 bill is redesigned, Harriet Tubman could appear on a coin.  → Read more at auburnpub.com

 February 14, 2020
Seven ancient coins were returned to the government of Cyprus Friday at a repatriation ceremony in Washington, D.C. (CBP Photo/Handout) BALTIMORE, MD — More than 10 years after federal agents in Baltimore discovered ancient coins in a search of cargo, they returned them to their rightful owner: the government of Cyprus.  → Read more at patch.com
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Weekly World Numismatic News for February 9, 2020

Carson City Mint Sesquicentennial Mold

Mold used to make the dies for the Carson City Mint Sesquicentennial medal. Image courtesy of the Nevada State Museum.

This past week, the Nevada State Museum celebrated the 150th anniversary of the United States Mint in Carson City. The Carson City Mint opened in 1870 to strike silver coins using silver from the Comstock Lode.

Although named for Henry Comstock, he did no discover the silver mines in the area. Comstock has the distinction of claiming a stake in the lode before selling his stake for thousands of dollars, an unreasonable sum at the time, and settling in Carson City. Comstock started a few businesses. His brashness and presence lent his name to the discovery.

Comstock is not a hero. He was known for being impatient, careless, lazy, and some accused him of being insane. Comstock committed suicide in 1870, leaving several failed businesses, a failed marriage, and sever debt in his wake.

After the discovery, it was expensive to transport the silver to San Francisco for processing. Nevada politicians lobbied congress for the formation of a branch mint to assay and strike coins. Congress authorized a mint in 1868 for nearby Carson City. The building opened for production in 1870. The Carson City branch mint struck silver and gold coins but in lesser amounts than the other mints making their coins highly collectible and more expensive because of their rarity.

Many consider the coins struck at Carson City to be amongst the most beautiful of all the coins. With the lower production totals, mint employees did not have to rush production, allowing them to create proper strikes. Of course, mistakes happen, and varieties of coins struck at the Carson City Mint are some of the most desirable.

A significant distinction of the coins struck in Carson City is that they bear the “CC” mintmark. It is the only two-character mintmark used on U.S. coins.

Production ended in 1893 with the reduced output from nearby silver mines. The building served as an Assay Office beginning in 1895. It closed following the gold recall of 1933. The State of Nevada purchased the building in 1939.

Today, the building houses the Nevada State Museum, where Coin Press No. 1 continues to strike commemorative half-ounce silver medals every month. There are only four known versions of this coin press in existence and the museum has the only working model.

For the sesquicentennial celebration, the museum struck a commemorative medal for the visitors. Visitors were able to purchase half-ounce silver planchets from the museum’s gift shop and bring them to the Coin Press No. 1 for striking. Because this was an on-demand process, you had to be at the museum to purchase one.

The Mint at Carson City is a symbol of U.S. history. It is where the old west meets modern commerce. From the reports, it sounds like the celebration went well. I hope to be able to visit the museum at some point in time.

And now the news…

 February 3, 2020
The huge coin weighs five kilograms (Picture: The Goldsmiths’ Company/SWNS) A £5,000 coin that weighs five kilos and is big enough to eat your dinner off has been produced by the Royal Mint as part of a tradition going back more than 700 years.  → Read more at metro.co.uk

 February 4, 2020
A giant discovery of nearly 70,000 coins from the Iron Age has set a Guinness World Record for being the largest of its kind discovered in the British Isles. Discovered in January 2012, the collection of 69,347 coins was found in Jersey by metal detector enthusiasts Reg Mead and Richard Miles, British news agency SWNS reports.  → Read more at foxnews.com

 February 6, 2020
It was born out of Nevada's silver boom. The Carson City Mint coined our money for decades, until 1893 when it closed…later becoming the Nevada State Museum. But museum curator Robert Nylen told me it’s still famous for the coins: "The coins that came out of Carson City.  → Read more at ktvn.com

 February 6, 2020
(via Kamloops RCMP) Kamloops RCMP has a bit of spare change these days.  → Read more at kamloopsmatters.com

 February 8, 2020
(Kitco News) U.S. Mint gold coin sales saw a strong recovery in January after the weakest year on record in 2019.  → Read more at kitco.com

 February 8, 2020
Persistent archaeological treasure hunters have set a new Guinness World Record for the largest coin hoard ever discovered in the British Isles. This treasure story begun in the early 1980s after Reg Mead and Richard Miles read a report about a farmer on Jersey who many years earlier had discovered silver coins in an earthenware pot while pulling out a tree from a hedgerow.  → Read more at ancient-origins.net

 February 8, 2020
A PORTLAND resident has discovered another 'love token' at Church Ope Cove, prompting theories about what once took place on the sandy shores. Edward Dahl first found a silver sixpence, dating from 1696 during the reign of William III, back in 2018.  → Read more at dorsetecho.co.uk

 February 9, 2020
It is the second time in history when a coin issued by Latvijas Banka has been recognised the Coin of the Year. The innovative Honey Coin, created by the designer Artūrs Analts, won by a very wide margin, and, quoting the 1 February 2020 press release of the Numismatic News, "the day was sweet as honey" for Latvijas Banka.  → Read more at baltictimes.com
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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!

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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