US Mint and BEP learn cross promotion

On Friday, the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing announced that they would be cross-promoting each other’s products. As one of the few agencies in full operation, the U.S. Mint and BEP updated their website with two pages, one provides information about the other agency and the other points to their online store.

This probably would have gone unnoticed except for the email announcement sent by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to subscribers. It was sent in such haste that the link they provided to the U.S. Mint’s site is broken.

Promoting BEP’s Currency at the U.S. Mint

Promoting BEP’s Currency at the U.S. Mint

Promoting U.S. Mint’s coins at the BEP

Promoting U.S. Mint’s coins at the BEP

Click on the preview to visit the site.

I bet you thought there was no good news to come out of Washington, D.C. last week!

ANA to Spring in Atlanta and Portland

The American Numismatic Association announced that the 2014 National Money Show will be held in Atlanta and the 2015 show will be in Portland, Oregon.

Aside from moving the spring show back to March, the Atlanta show will be held February 27 to March 1, 2014 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in northwest Atlanta. For 2015, the show will run March 5-7 at the Oregon Convention Center.

For those interested in the 2013 National Money Show, it will be held May 9-11 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. This will be a little more than three months after the Super Bowl is played at the Superdome and slightly less than two months after Mardi Gras. N’awlins is a heckova party town and I am looking forward to making another visit to the Crescent City!

In other ANA news…

The board approved a $5.8 million operating budget that includes a surplus of $6,650 based on revenue projections. I hope that the projections are sound since that leaves a one-tenth of one percent margin of error. This year’s budget will allow the ANA to have greater presence at regional shows, increase the number of field trips offered to the Money Museum from area schools, and expand course offerings at Summer Seminar.

Improvements continue to including the introduction of The Exchange, a blog to exchange comments and ideas amongst ANA members. If you are interested in posting, see the information at the top of the page for more information.

Work continues to improve the website and extend its capabilities is ongoing.

Dispelling Rumors: ANA Website

NOTE: This is a personal statement as the author of this blog. I do not speak for the ANA or any person and entity mentioned below. The ANA’s official statement can be read here, on their website

During the last few days, users of online numismatic forums have been reporting that their credit card information was stolen have conjectured that the recent technical issues that have caused problems with the American Numismatic Association website was to blame. Although the ANA website has had technical issue, there is no evidence that credit card or other personal information was compromised during this time.

Earlier this year, the ANA Board of Governors decided that it was time to consider upgrading their technology infrastructure to support growth of the organization and to support the new generation of members comfortable with being online. Working with the Governor Greg Lyon, a committee of ANA members with technical backgrounds was formed to advise the Board of Governors as to how to proceed. As a longtime critic of the ANA’s use of technology, I was asked to join the committee.

The committee consists of dedicated ANA members with a varied background in the technology industry. The committee is led by James Reinders of Intel with the Web Services Subcommittee chaired by Bill Hyder and I chair the Infrastructure Subcommittee—taking over from Jeff Shevlin who resigned to become the ANA’s Executive Director. For those who do not know, I have been working in the computing industry for over 30 years with over 20 years in information security, the last 15 years with the federal government.

The Technical Committee is answerable to the Board of Governors and required to provide periodic reports to the Board. A report was made during a Board session in Philadelphia that described the committee’s past, present, and future activities. One of those activities was advising the current ANA staff working on the issues that was experienced with the current website.

In working to resolve the issues, the Technical Committee found the ANA staff to be professional, competent, and capable. They were able to fix the problems and get the website back working to its full functionality overcoming some very interesting challenges. The issues the ANA staff faced was caused by issues with the technology and not with a security incident—there was no security incident.

It is unfortunate that attendees to the World’s Fair of Money had their credit card information stolen. I had this happen many years ago with a telephone credit card and had to deal with a bill full of overseas calls worth thousands of dollars. Even with the advances in fraud detection, I know that it is not only difficult to deal with and I know it feels like a virtual punch in the gut. However, the cause of their problem was NOT the ANA website.

New Feature: U.S. Coin and Currency Production

Continuing my research into numismatic topics and some writing I am doing, I had created a information page for all of the United States federal government agencies, departments, and commissions, that are involved in the production of coins & currency. Rather than search all over the web for this information, here it is one one place.

To see the fruits of my labor, click on the top tab that says “U.S. Coin & Currency Production.” There you will find a snapshot of the information about the U.S. Mint, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Federal Reserve Board, Commission of Fine Arts, Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, and the Department of the Treasury including where they are located and tour information.

If you find any errors or omissions, please feel free to contact me with the updated information.

Art For Your Money

If you are not following me on Twitter or Pinterest you are missing some interesting extras that may not make it to the blog. While I can include Twitter updates on this page (see the right column), pins to Pinterest are a little more elusive unless I remember to click the box to post the pin to Twitter.

My newest pins on Pinterest came from the U.K.’s Daily Mail Online from a story about Evan Wondolowski, an artist who uses currency and coins to make portraits of politicians and celebrities. These portraits are made using shredded Federal Reserve Notes on newspaper. He make a portrait of President Obama using Lincoln Cents including 1943 Steel Cents.

Wondolowski is the Creative Director and co-owner of Mozaiks, and artist-based clothing company. His art can be see at his website The Art of E and usually depicts images of greed and politics.

Below are the images from the Daily Mail Online article. If you want to see the full images, visit Wondolowski’s online gallery.


If you are not on Pinterest and would like an invite so you join, drop me a note and if I have any invites I will send you one.

Coinflation Now An iOS App

One of my favorite online resources is, a site that will show you the metal value of United States and Canadian coins. The site has calculators to find the value of silver and base metal coins.

I really like the Coinflation calculators because it takes into consideration the value of all of the metals in the coin. So if you have a U.S. coin that is 90-percent silver and 10-percent copper, the calculated value includes that 10-percent copper. Comparatively, adding the value of the copper will not significantly increase the value of the coin, but if you have an obsessive curiosity streak, this will satisfy your inescapable need to know.

On July 19, I received a press release from Collector’s Universe and PCGS, owners of Coinflation, announcing the availability for the Coinflation App for Apple iOS devices. I immediately went to the iTunes App Store and downloaded the app to my iPhone and iPad to give it a test drive.

First and foremost, you cannot argue with the price: FREE. As a free download, you have to put up with some amount of advertising. In this case, the app will display eBay listings relevant to the type of calculation performed. These ads are part of the eBay affiliates program where money is paid for impressions and click-throughs. You can decide for yourself how much to support the development of this app.

When you start the app, there is no splash screen, or what I refer to as someone’s ego trip. The app starts right up with the up to date silver and gold prices and four calculator options for U.S. Silver Coins, U.S. Base Metal Coins, Silver Scrap, and Gold Scrap. There is a circular arrow on the top-right of the screen to refresh the price data.

The first thing that I noticed is the silver and gold scrap calculators which are not available on the website. When you enter the scrap calculator, you can enter the amount of metal you have, the current price will be filled in, and then you can select the purity. For gold, the purity is provided in karats, silver is one of three choices of .999+ pure, sterling silver (.925) and coin silver (.900). Lower silver values are not available.

A nice feature is that you can tap the “selected unit” button and get a popup of weights you can use for the calculations, so you are not limited to one. For silver, you have to know that Avoirdupois Ounce is the English system that we use on a daily basis. This will allow you to put your silver on a home scale to learn what your metals are worth. For some reason, this option is not available for gold.

Enter your metal weight and press the “Calculate” button at the bottom of the screen and you know what the metal value of your gold or silver is worth. A nice touch is that the line with the value is highlighted in yellow, so your eye can be directed to the information easily.

Two taps on the back arrow at the top of the screen will bring you back to the home screen. Maybe in a future version, there will be a “Home” button to bring you directly back to the home page.

The silver and base metal coin calculators are much the same as on the website but in a format for the iPhone. To select the coin, spin the virtual wheel on the bottom half of the screen. On top is the type of coin you selected and a nice, clear image of the coin reportedly from Enter the number of coins and press the “Calculate” button and get the melt value highlighted in yellow.

For base metal coins, you will enter the face value of the coins. The resulting screen will tell you the melt value highlighted in yellow and the basis for the calculations. I was surprised that 8 Sacagawea Dollars have only 48-cents of metal in them. I thought it would be a little more!

For a version 1.0 app, it is very well done app and one that I will continue to use. Future improvements I would like to see is a home button to jump directly back to the home page, a calculator or reference to gold coin values as available on the website, and an expansion into foreign coins—at least the ones on the website.

Another change I would like to see is for it to be a native iPad app. If you load it on the iPad, it will run in compatibility mode meaning it will get lost in the middle of a big screen or pixelate (not look as smooth) when running it at double size.  As an iPad app, it could provide more information, such as the total breakdown of metal values for War Nickels, and better interact with an external keyboard.

Even with these flaws, I grade this app as MS66 with room for improvement. Adding some of the reference information and becoming a native iPad app are the improvements I think are most important. This does not mean I am deleting this app. I will be using it while waiting for the improvements.

Internet Sales Taxes Will Hurt Online Numismatic Sales

Concern is circulating through the numismatics industry after the Wall Street Journal published a story that the Republican Governors Association supports the collection of sales tax for Internet sales within their state. 

The process started earlier this year as governors, looking for a way to close budget gaps, started to consider forcing companies like to collect sales taxes for goods shipped to their states. In February, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) negotiated a deal with Amazon to collect sales taxes for purchases shipped to New Jersey. As part of that deal, Amazon will be opening a warehouse and shipping center in New Jersey.

What was not reported was that the reason Amazon opened a facility in New Jersey was that federal law currently prevents the collection of taxes for sales shipped across state lines for companies that do not have a presence in the state. Since Amazon now has a presence in New Jersey, they can collect sales taxes on purchases. Otherwise, federal law exempts Amazon and any other company selling on the Internet from paying sales taxes to states they have no presence in the state where the item was shipped.

Sales tax on Internet-based purchases will affect everyone that sells online including the eBay seller, coin dealers, auction houses, and bullion sellers. If you sell online, you will have to figure out how to collect sales taxes. While larger companies may have the facilities and resources to collect sales taxes and pay them to the state. The rest will have to work with a service provider to be compliant with the law. Any time a small business has to add new capabilities using an outside service, it will be an additional expense to the small business.

In the numismatics industry, most of the dealers are small businesses. Many work from their homes shipping orders throughout the country while others may work from shops with a local clientele that also provides some Internet sales.

Aside from the administrative overhead to collect taxes, states have different rules for what is taxable and what is not. Some states do not tax bullion sales while other states tax bullion sales, but do not tax them over a certain limit which could be different from state to state. Some states do not tax coin sales while other states do, but when the sales are lower than a threshold, which can change between states.

This will not only hurt numismatic sales, but all small business sales across the Internet.

While Governor Christie and his fellow governors look at Amazon as their fiscal savior, Joe’s Local Coin Shop that may do a few thousand dollars in sales from the Internet now has to figure out how to collect sales taxes for the states or stop taking Internet-based orders, reducing income. Talk about a “job killing tax plan!”

Three bills have been introduced into congress that will end the restrictions to collecting sales taxes on Internet-based sales:

  1. S. 1452Main Street Fairness Act and its companion H.R. 2701.  Not only will this bill open up the collection sales taxes across state boundaries, but it “asks” the states to create Unified Rules for collecting sales tax.
  2. H.R. 3179Marketplace Equity Act: This bill will open cross state sales tax collection but has an exemption for small businesses. To qualify for the small business exemption, the company would have to sell less than $1 million nationwide and less than $100,000 in the state. However, the bill would allow the states to adjust these limits and affecting administrative costs to small businesses.
  3. S. 1832Marketplace Fairness Act: Simiar to the Main Street Fairness Act, it has no exemptions for small businesses, but limits the sales tax to goods and services sold while exempting shipping and handling.

Adding these additional administrative burdens to small businesses in the dealer community will close or restrict interstate markets especially for the buyer in rural America who depends on Internet sales to build a collection. There will also be an impact with online auction sites that makes coins available from all over the country. It will drive up costs to run these auctions and drive sellers away.

Time is going to come when states will have to start to collect sales taxes from interstate sales. However, congress has to do its job as a regulator of interstate commerce to protect the small businesses, like coin dealers, from having to manage 50 different sales tax rules.

Contact your member of congress and let them know that if they are going to allow sales tax to be collected from Internet sales, they need to do their job under the commerce clause to prevent this from putting dealers out of business.

To find your member of the House of Representatives, go to and enter your zip code in the box on the upper right of the page. Follow the instructions to contact your representative.

For the Senate, go to and use the pull-down menu at the top right of the page, select your state, press the “Go” button and click on your senator’s web form address and let them know what you think.

The only way to help preserve our ability to continue to buy numismatics via the Internet from any dealer, anywhere!

New Feature: Club Listing

For a while, I have been doing a lot of research into various numismatic topics. One of the lists I have been keeping are of the various national and regional clubs and organizations related to numismatics. Rather than keep that to myself, I am making it a permanent part of this site for everyone to use.

When you click on the top tab that says “Join A Club,” there are lists of clubs and organizations categorized as National and International Organizations, Collecting Type Specific Clubs and Organizations, and U.S. Regional Clubs and Organizations. The list omits local clubs because there are too many to list. If you are interested in finding a local club, check the site of the regional organization associated with where you live to see their updated list.

If you find any errors or omission, please feel free to contact me with the updated information.

Happy Collecting!

Follow Me To Baltimore

I will be attending the Whitman Coin & Currency Expo today at the Baltimore Convention Center. I will be getting a start later in the morning because of previously scheduled engagement. But I should be there for most of the afternoon. Those following me on Twitter (@coinsblog) can read my realtime thoughts on the Expo. Those following me on Pinterest can watch the board “Whitman Baltimore Expo 29-June-2012” for any images I can capture during my time in Baltimore.

While at the show, I will be attending the MSNA Distinguished Lecture to be given by Don Kagin about the bank notes of the War of 1812.

Collectors Corner CoinSearch At June 2012 Baltimore Expo

Although I usually do not post press releases verbatim, timing and relevance to the Whitman Baltimore Coin & Currency Expo this weekend makes this an exception. Besides, it is about technology and I am for any personal tech that will improve numismatics. I will be attending the show on Friday and will provide a full review thereafter.

Find Coins Fast With Collectors Corner CoinSearch™,, at June 2012 Baltimore Expo

(Baltimore, Maryland) – The first mobile application of its kind for collectibles, Collectors Corner CoinSearch™, will be available free during the upcoming Whitman Baltimore Coin & Collectibles Expo. The unprecedented mobile app will let collectors instantly locate specific coins they’re looking for at the show, June 28 – July 1, 2012.

The free Coin Collectors Corner CoinSearch™ mobile app lets users see photos and information about specific coins available at the Baltimore Expo.

Collectors and dealers can use the free Collectors Corner CoinSearch™ mobile app to instantly locate Baltimore Expo dealers who have specific coins in inventory.

The new service from Certified Coin Exchange (CCE) uses state-of-the-art mobile technology and is compatible with all mobile devices. The Collectors Corner CoinSearch free app is available at

“The app was successfully beta tested with great results at the recent Long Beach Expo, and we’re now offering it for collectors and dealers at the Baltimore show,” said Cassi East, President of CCE, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

“Coin buyers will be able to use their smart phones, iPads or other mobile tablet devices to find the exact coins they’re seeking during the Baltimore Expo, and even prior to the show. They»ll also be able to immediately pinpoint the exact bourse floor locations of the dealers who have those specific coins in their inventory.”

Before the show, dealers can list coins in their Collectors Corner inventories that they’ll have at their Baltimore tables. Collectors and other dealers then can use the Collectors Corner CoinSearch mobile app to easily locate any coins they’re seeking.

The ability to post Collectors Corner listings in the Baltimore Expo CoinSearch data base at will be available for all CCE member dealers at no additional charge as part of their CCE membership.

“CCE members can call us at (800) 733-6623, and we’ll walk you through the easy download mechanics,” explained East.

“This is an incredible, free service for collectors to locate exactly what they’re looking for. Everyone can use it,” said David Hall, President of Collectors Universe. “Mobile apps are the future, and this is a great collaboration between dealers, collectors and show promoters to bring together buyers and sellers.”

Additional information about the Whitman Baltimore Expo is available at

Additional information about the Collectors Corner CoinSearch app is available by calling Collectors Corner at (888) 469-2646 or by visiting

Images courtesy of Collectors Universe, Inc.

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