Ventris Gibson, Acting Director of the U.S. Mint (LinkedIn photograph)
Treasury announced the appointment of Ventris Gibson as Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint. Gibson will also serve as Acting Director.
Gibson, a Navy veteran, previously served as the Director of Human Resources for Washington, DC’s Department of Human Resources. Previously, Gibson was Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and held similar positions at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Gibson is a member of the federal government’s Senior Executive Service (SES). She is a federal employee, and the Acting Director does not require congressional approval. The law allows a person in an acting role to serve for a maximum of 180 days.
Treasury was quick to note that Gibson is the first African American person to lead the bureau. Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said, “Her historic appointment reflects our ongoing commitment to building a qualified, diverse workforce at Treasury and its bureaus that will serve the American people well.”
Is Gibson really qualified for this position? The U.S. Mint is the world’s largest manufacturer of coins. The U.S. Mint reports that they have manufactured over 11.2 BILLION coins in 2021. Although Gibson has extensive government experience, she does not have any experience manufacturing or producing a product.
Gibson has extensive experience with human resources, but the U.S. Mint not only has a diverse workforce but a constituency that watches everything the bureau does. HHS and NLRB do not have a constituency like the U.S. Mint. The collecting community is very critical as to how this bureau does its job. While the law governs what the U.S. Mint can do, the areas where they have latitude, the decisions are more diverse than human resources.
Does having a human resources background make Gibson qualified in collector relations? An HR professional may be able to talk with collectors, but does she understand the market? The last two directors had numismatic experience before their appointments.
Does having a human resources background make Gibson qualified to manage an e-commerce service? The numismatic media has documented the failures of the U.S. Mint’s e-commerce system. Fixing the system requires leadership and the ability to understand what the technical people are saying. As a former government contractor, I watched as SES and appointees did not properly question rosy contractor reports only to watch as the contractors could not deliver results. The U.S. Mint’s contractor has not delivered. What assurances do we have that Gibson can understand when the contractor is lying?
There is nothing wrong with human resource professionals but are they qualified to run a government manufacturer with an opinionated customer base? I guess we shall see.
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.
The weekly numismatic news report is late for the same reason the U.S. Mint cannot run an ordering system. It seems that the dangers to online systems are growing.
Every week, I am receiving reports from collectors being scammed by Chinese counterfeiters. People are providing pointers to websites and other sellers that are pushing counterfeit coins. The most common coin is the American Silver Eagle.
Last week, the parent company of HiBid, one of the largest online auction platform after eBay, was struck with a ransomeware attack. HiBid was taken down Thursday, September 30 through Monday, October 4. To add insult to injury, HiBid crashed again on Sunday, October 10 because bidders overloaded their systems.
As I am looking for new business opportunities, several eBay sellers are also looking for alternate selling venues. They are complaining about how eBay has handled the conversion to charging sales tax collection. New programs do not include the small sellers. Although eBay has always preferred high-volume sellers, now they are adding programs to benefit those that sell high-value items. And some sellers are reporting driven crazy by eBay’s new payment system.
With all this happening, then how does one buy online? I have been buying from eBay. It has been a convenient way to find interesting out-of-print numismatic books and tokens from New York. My other buying venues have been the U.S. Mint, the Royal Mint, and Apmex.
Maybe it’s time to look for other purchase venues.
Two men have denied charges relating to a Viking hoard of historically important coins and silver worth almost £1m. Roger Pilling, 73, and Craig Best, 44, appeared before Durham Crown Court to plead not guilty to all charges. → Read more at news.sky.com
Over 600 coins unearthed in a field in western Zealand will initially go on display at Sorø Museum before moving to the capital It has emerged that a significant silver coin treasure from the late Viking Age has been discovered in Denmark. → Read more at cphpost.dk
A pensioner's secret stash of rare coins has sold for a staggering £185,000 at auction – well over double the estimate. John Cross, 72, from Canterbury, died with few knowing of his extraordinary collection, which has been described by experts as among the most important of its kind outside any UK museum. → Read more at kentonline.co.uk
The $1 trillion coin concept turns up like a bad penny.
Also turning up are all pundits, politicos, reporters, and sycophants explaining why the U.S. Mint should or should not strike the coin. The problem is that EVERYONE IS WRONG!
Let’s look at the FACTS.
FACT:Before a coin leaves the U.S. Mint, the purchaser must pay for the coin.
The Federal Reserve purchases business strike coins at face value. The money is deposited in the U.S. Mint’s Public Enterprise Fund.
Collectors pay for collector coins through the U.S. Mint’s retail and e-commerce operations. When the money is collected, they deposit the funds in the U.S. Mint’s Public Enterprise Fund.
FACT:The United States Mint has successfully argued in court that a coin is not legal tender until it is paid for.
After the U.S. Mint discovered the existence of several 1933 Double Eagle coins that were supposedly melted, the Secret Service investigated and seized several coins. Through the 1950s, government lawyers argued that the coins were government property since the coin was never monetized.
During the case of the Farouk-Fenton double eagle coin, the government used the same argument. Even though there was an export license for the coin issued to King Farouk of Egypt, the government maintained that the lack of monetization made the coin illegal.
As part of the $7,590,020 paid for the 1933 Double Eagle in 2002, $20 of the purchase price was paid to the U.S. Government to monetize the coin. When Sotheby’s sold the coin in June for $18,872,250, the coin came with a certificate from the U.S. Mint declaring its Legal Tender status.
If the U.S. Mint does not monetize a coin until someone or entity buys it, then how will striking a $1 trillion coin help anything?
Even as crazy as government generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) may appear to the commercial market, Government GAAP still requires double-entry bookkeeping. In double-entry bookkeeping, if an asset is added to one part of the ledger, there must be a debit on another.
Forget the political arguments about the debt. When the government needs money, it sells bonds to finance its obligation. The bond is the created asset, as the coin. The asset is purchased, adding cash to the general treasury. In bookkeeping terms, an asset entry and an associated debit entry.
Who is going to buy the coin?
The Federal Reserve is not going to buy the coin. Bonds, warrants, and other investments have tangible returns. The investments have value and can be traded on the equity markets keeping the books balanced. What happens if $1 trillion is tied up in a non-investing asset?
If the Federal Reserve buys the coin, the general treasury may see a $1 trillion windfall, but the Federal Reserve will have $1 trillion less economic power. It is $1 trillion less in short-term loans to large financial institutions and quantitative easing that is keeping the economy in control.
If the Federal Reserve buys the $1 trillion coin, it will create a $1 trillion hole in the economy.
The U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the monetary value of all goods and services, is estimated at $22.675 trillion. Taking $1 trillion out of the economy will reduce the economy by 4.4-percent.
As the Great Recession of 2008 raged, the GDP lost 1-percent of its value by 2009. If a one percent drop caused the most significant economic calamity since the Great Depression, what will happen if the GDP contracts by more than 4-percent?
Of course, Congress can pass a law that changes how the U.S. Mint determines the legal tender status of coinage they manufacture. But the likelihood of that happening is about the same as the U.S. Mint striking a $1 trillion coin.
The news of the week came on a Friday night news dump by the Treasury Department, announcing that David J. Ryder will resign as U.S. Mint Director as of September 30, 2021. Alison Doone will become the U.S. Mint’s Acting Director.
Ryder served as the 34th and 39th Director after being appointed by two different administrations. Ryder came into this term touting his work with physical money security. During his confirmation hearing, Ryder said he worked for Secure Products, a company focused on developing anti-counterfeiting solutions for currency and branded products. Ryder also testified that he was involved in developing the Royal Mint’s new 12-sided one-pound coin.
The U.S. Mint claims security measures built into the new American Silver and Gold Eagle coins. However, there do not seem to be breakthroughs similar to those used by the Royal Mint and Canadian Royal Mint on their bullion products.
Ryder may want his legacy to be introducing new products, but the public will remember the colossal failure of the U.S. Mint’s e-commerce system. As Director, he was supposed to oversee the entire operation and not just one aspect. Those failures will weigh on his legacy.
Alison Doone is a career civil servant who entered the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 2004. After working at several other agencies, Doone served as the Mint’s Chief Administrative Officer since March 2021.
The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 requires the president to send a nomination to the Senate within 90 days to fill a vacant position. During that time, an acting director can serve in that role for only 180 days. As we saw in the 2,629 days (7 years, 2 months, and 13 days) between the resignation of Edmund Moy and the confirmation of David Ryder, the government has ways to get around the law to maintain operational consistency.
If artifacts could talk, we’d love to hear this one’s tale. This pierced German coin from the 17th century was recovered during a systematic excavation at the Jacob Jackson Home Site, part of Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park (HATU). → Read more at nmscarcheologylab.wordpress.com
Readers of a certain age will remember the florin, or flóirín as it was in Irish. Those of an uncertain age will even recall when it was Ireland’s two-shilling coin, complete with the leaping salmon of Percy Metcalfe’s classic 1928 design. → Read more at irishtimes.com
(CNN) — Two amateur free divers have found one of the largest collections of Roman coins in Europe off the east coast of Spain. Luis Lens and César Gimeno were diving off the island of Portitxol in Xàbia on August 24 when they found eight coins, before further dives by archaeologists returned another 45 coins, according to a press release from the University of Alicante on Tuesday. → Read more at edition.cnn.com
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.
We are starting to see more orders successfully come in via our website. If you had issues ordering 21XJ we encourage you to try your purchase again. https://t.co/LPQedjAoDl
Coining machines striking one-cent coins at the U.S. Branch Mint in Philadelphia.
The U.S. Mint has made it easy for the numismatic industry to complain. However, numismatists and the public should commend the U.S. Mint for its performance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the recent media availability, U.S. Mint Director David Ryder said that the U.S. Mint is the only sovereign mint in the world to produce its bullion products since the start of the pandemic without interruption.
When COVID-19 affected the entire population, nobody understood the virus. In a panic, the entire world shut down. We did not understand the effects, but people were getting sick, requiring ventilators and scarce resources, and filling hospitals. For the U.S. Mint, there was an outbreak at the West Point Mint that affected production. They moved production to Philadelphia while those in West Point went into quarantine.
Like many critical businesses, the U.S. Mint reworked its schedule, added health precautions to keep workers safe, and continued production. While the numismatic world was worried about grading bullion coins from Philadelphia as an attempt to make a buck, the U.S. Mint was dealing with the health and safety of their workers.
It puts the industry’s selfishness in perspective.
Analysts give us many reasons why precious metals have risen, and the demand for bullion coins defies the usual analysis. Still, the U.S. Mint has been operating to supply a clamoring market.
Bullion production did slow down. The temporary closing of the West Point Mint reduced the resources they could use to produce bullion coins. There were also production problems by the U.S. Mint’s suppliers in producing the blanks they use. Those businesses were also facing COVID-19 issues that limited their capacity. And do not forget about the mines that could not operate or operated with limited capacity so they can protect their workers.
Ryder said that the procurement staff was diligent in using their resources to ensure the U.S. Mint had the materials to manufacture bullion.
Further limiting the U.S. Mint’s ability to manufacture bullion was the requirement to satisfy the orders for circulating coinage from the Federal Reserve.
As retailers were opening with new precautions, they reported that it was not easy to change because there were not enough coins. Headlines of a “coin shortage” became a topic. When the Federal Reserve investigated the issue, they found there were enough coins in the economy. Because the economy was not moving, circulating coinage was not circulating.
The problem was that the supply chain was interrupted and not moving as expected.
The U.S. Mint was ordered to increase circulating coin production to satisfy politicians and others who misinterpreted the problem. The Federal Reserve’s solution was similar to the coin pusher arcade game where you drop a coin into the slot, hoping it lands in the right place so that a moving bar can push more coins into the bin for you to collect as a prize. The game is a windfall for the arcade owner. The player rarely wins.
In the pandemic version of the game, the U.S. Mint manufactured coins so the Federal Reserve could dump billions into the economic hopper, hoping that some would fall out into the circulating economy.
In 2020, the U.S. Mint struck 14.774 BILLION coins, 23.7-percent more than they struck in 2019. Nearly every industry reported a reduction in demand and the ability to produce products. And the supply chain continues to affect production in some industries, including tech, where there is a shortage of computer chips. But the U.S. Mint was able to add over 14 BILLION coins to the economy.
The U.S. federal government continues to operate under mandatory pandemic-related protocols. As a federal bureau, the U.S. Mint continues to do its part to maintain social distancing and keeping its workers safe. No company, industry, or government has continued or boosted its production in this manner in the last 18 months.
Remember, the U.S. Mint does this without using any money from the general treasury. Their operating budget comes from the seignorage (profit) from the coin manufacturing process. When the profit exceeds their needs, a portion of the money is deposited in the general treasury. The more money the U.S. Mint makes, the more money they deposit in the general treasury. Talk about a money-making operation.
The U.S. Mint continues to have problems dealing with the collector market. Given the circumstances they have faced over the last 18 months, you have to admire their accomplishments.
The U.S. Mint attempts to fix their online ordering system, but to what effect?
This past week, the U.S. Mint held a press availability for the numismatic media. I highlighted the meeting after the discussion, which includes corrections. While the U.S. Mint appears to be working to rectify its e-commerce issues, there continue to be unaddressed problems.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that it was my impression “that the lawyers had more say over policy than the appointed director or the career executives.” It is not clear that the U.S. Mint has separated its policy decision from the advice of counsel.
Missing from the discussion is how the lawyers forced the U.S. Mint to violate the law. Even though they identified the Internet Robots (BOTs), the lawyers not allowing the U.S. Mint to resolve the problem puts the e-commerce system in violation of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). FISMA was passed in 2002 to require the government to protect computing resources.
Although it sounds like a technical issue, FISMA’s purpose is to allow bureaus like the U.S. Mint to protect public access to government resources. It also allows the government to do what is necessary to serve the public.
While the dealer community is part of the public, they are not the majority of the interested public. The U.S. Mint reported that only 18 authorized purchasers could access 10% of production at a 5% premium as part of its early access program.
The U.S. Mint deserves commendation for its ability to exceed production during the pandemic. Questions remain on the decisions on collector coin programs.
OTTAWA, ON, Aug. 20, 2021 /CNW/ – The Royal Canadian Mint (the "Mint") is pleased to announce its financial results for the second quarter of 2021 that provide insight into our activities, the markets influencing our businesses and our expectations for the next 12 months. → Read more at newswire.ca
Hundreds of ancient coins looted from archaeological sites were found in a house in Bnei Brak, the Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Monday. The artifacts were uncovered during an operation by the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit. → Read more at jpost.com
There are few things more alluring than buried treasure — preferably ancient and preferably gold. Historically, people tended to bury their coinage in times of trouble, intending to come back for it. → Read more at independent.ie
The U.S. Mint held a press availability for members of the numismatic media this morning. There will be more to say about the information presented, but the following are some highlights that will interest the numismatic community.
Mint management noted that the U.S. Mint is the only sovereign mint with continuing bullion production during the pandemic. In addition to the bullion coin production, the U.S. Mint has produced more circulating coins than any other time.
The U.S. Mint continues operating at the highest level while maintaining safety and controls to protect the employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although it is easy to criticize the U.S. Mint, it is commendable that the bureau continued production but manufacturing more products than ever in the last 18 months.
U.S. MINT DIRECTOR DAVID RYDER noted that sales at the U.S. Mint had been declining prior to his arrival. Part of the reason is that there was not a permanent director in almost nine years. Ryder saw his job as trying to expand the product line to increase interest in the numismatic process.
U.S. MINT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING MATTHEW HOLBEN said that the U.S. Mint had faced unprecedented demand for its products during the “black swan event.” According to Holben, the U.S. Mint sold more proof American Silver Eagle Proof coins in under a half-hour than they sold in 2019.
The U.S. Mint has 18 dealers that are registered authorized purchasers of numismatic products. These 18 dealers can purchase up to 10-percent of the numismatic products before the public sale. They credit the reduction in attempts to use automated methods to order (BOTs) now that the dealers can determine their inventory.
U.S. MINT DEPUTY CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER KIRK GILLIS said that since the first 2021 Morgan Dollar release, the catalog website could process 217 peak orders per second, up from 96 peak orders per second.
Gillis reported that “up to 60% of the activity on the sites were BOTs” based on the drop in traffic demand since the May 24 launch of the 2021 Morgan Dollar products. He said that the U.S. Mint had implemented technology to reduce the impact of scripts and BOTs used to order products.
The U.S. Mint will explore pre-ordering and waiting room software similar to the processes used by the ticket purchasing systems. They are also looking into other rate-limiting technology.
Beyond the highlights, there are other issues to explore. Stay tuned!
The website can process “217 peak orders per second, up from 96 peak orders per second.” It was originally reported as “270 orders per second, up from 90.”
Clarified the 60% reduction in BOT activity as being since the May 24 launch of the initial Morgan Dollar products.
In my day job working within the collecting world, there are two hobbies whose collectors have arguments about which way is best. Comics collectors argue whose universe is better. Most of these arguments are Marvel versus DC comics, but there are interested collectors in the smaller and independent (indy) publishers. But you can go to a Comicon and find that the differences are all in fun.
U.S. numismatics collectors are different. On one side, there are the collectors of old coins. If the coin was not circulated and made of precious metals, then it is not worth collecting. They look at modern coins as “trinkets” or not worth their time. The rest of us will happily collect modern (post-1964) coins and the new issues by the U.S. Mint.
As an aside, my company sells sets of 50 State Quarters for higher prices than in 2019. Although there is an active market for this material, they sell for less than collectors paid in the 2000s.
Enough people are collecting modern material that the Treasury Inspector General has noticed the problems collectors have experienced with ordering from the U.S. Mint. Modern products are selling out as fast as they are offered, and premiums are rising 100-percent and higher on the secondary market.
For this poll, I am asking if you are collecting the coins produced by the U.S. Mint in 2021, then what are you collecting?
As always, your comments are welcome!
Are you collecting the new releases from the U.S. Mint?
I am collecting the 2021 Peace Dollar (20%, 34 Votes)
I am collecting the new Morgan Dollars (19%, 32 Votes)
I am an American Eagle Collector (19%, 31 Votes)
I always check my pockets for what comes in my pocket change (15%, 25 Votes)
I cannot wait for the proof or mint sets to get here (10%, 16 Votes)
Yes, I am collecting everything! (6%, 10 Votes)
Those commemoratives are a great addition to my collection (5%, 8 Votes)
Those new silver medals look cool as part of my collection (3%, 5 Votes)
No, modern stuff doesn't interest me! (3%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 65
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