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This week’s letters (02/26/13)

 

Don’t assume coin is fake just because it’s unique
Please redirect this to F. Michael Fazzari. It is about his column in the Jan. 22 edition of NN.

Dear Mr. Fazzari,
I read you recent (1/22/13) column with interest. I enjoy seeing how the fakes are identified but this time I have some questions/comments. For the record, it isn’t my coin. I’m basically a collector of medals, paper money, exonumia and numismatic literature. I gave up most coins (Mercury dimes) when my eyes started going.

I recognize that you and other graders and authenticators have viewed thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of coins, however, just because you or others haven’t seen something before doesn’t mean it isn’t real. A number of times a year NN reports “new finds” that have somehow slipped passed all the collectors and authenticators. Your view that since you haven’t seen it before it can’t be real is questionable. You were not born an authenticator with a memory of all die break combinations and possibilities. You haven’t viewed and documented all coins. At some point you saw your first coin and started building your expertise. So there should be a presumption that it is real until proven fake.
In this particular case you said that “no 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent exists with the die breaks shown in the column.” What you are really saying is that you have never seen or have a record of one. Is that the reason you concluded it is a 1909 VDB with an added “S” mintmark? Or do you have additional information not disclosed in the column that proves it is a modified 1909 VBD cent? What is your evidence that it is a modified 1909 VDB cent?
I assume that since you have never seen one with those two die breaks you concluded that it therefore must be a modified 1909 VDB since that is the most logical explanation. However, you said “in two inches of diagnostics, I had no record of a coin with both these die breaks.” That two inches of detailed diagnostics, as you mentioned earlier in the article that you collected since 1972, also covered the same 1909 VDB you said was used with an added mintmark. So how did the second die break get on it if none exist with reverse die breaks? Are you implying the coin is counterfeit? I have never heard of people minting counterfeit coins with one die break let alone two die breaks.
Before the coin is regarded as fake I think you need to prove the source of the coin to back up your contention. The obverse die break is the obvious starting place. Compare this one with those earlier ones with the die break. Is it the same die break or just a similar one? If it is the same one then perhaps you have a find from a diagnostic point of view. If it isn’t the same there are a range of possibilities. Similarly the mintmark can be examined with an electron or high powered microscope to determine if it is added or there is the presence of solder. In any event your conclusion in the article is unsupported at this time in my point of view.
Ron Thompson
Decatur, Ga.
Note from Fazzari: Thanks for reading my column and sharing your views. As always, providing the kind of information you seek is my purpose in writing the column. Your letter has inspired another column on the same coin to be published in an upcoming issue. You’ll be the first to know that the “S” on the fake is also in the wrong position.

How about a roll of those trillion dollar coins?
I see L&C Coins’ special this week is 10 percent off proof and BU rolls.
Maybe you can advise me, would this be a good time to order a BU roll of the new $1 trillion coin – or would you suggest proof? (Or maybe I should buy just one and start a date set?)
Neil Brown
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Inflation isn’t some day, it’s already here
To Mr. Parsons (2-5-13) who wrote “When inflation increases someday…”
Sir, “when” has been “for decades” to some degree and seriously over the last four years with “quantitative easing” (read: printing money).
Is there anything that you can buy these days for a cent, nickel, or even a dime? I think not as their value is so tiny.
Rick Notkin
Canton, Mass.

FUN show offers sense that hobby is in good shape
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending my fourth consecutive FUN (Florida United Numismatic) show in Orlando, Fla. Again held at the Orange County Convention Center it coincided with my 40th year collecting coins. What started out 40 years ago as a chance side comment by a teaching colleague about coins available from the U.S. Mint and my complete naiveté concerning proof and mint released coins, has become a lifelong resource of enjoyment especially in my semi-retirement.
My attendance at the FUN show has been as much about experiencing the “big time” as it is about educating myself as well as adding a small item or two to my collection and seeing how a large bourse and related auctions, memorabilia and presentations are handled so differently (and similarly) as my local coin club back in Western New York. This year was no slouch in each of the above categories. I again decided on attending the Friday session to avoid the higher weekend traffic and typical parking issues found in Orlando.
Since moving semi permanently to a new home in the Space Coast of Florida my trip took a tad longer to the show. It was still a scenic and enjoyable hour plus ride. Upon entering the Convention Center I was surprised to find another national program going on – a gathering of outdoor sports enthusiasts who focused on snowboarding, skate boarding and the like. Their energy and passion for their lifestyle seemed high and energetic and was juxtaposed with the age and appearance that I would surround myself with a few minutes later. Their buzz was equal to the bourse floor buzz of the coin show. It was nice to see both conventions attracting thousands of interested people from across the country and the world.
I registered with a cordial volunteer and received a free orange bag to commemorate the visit. In past years there were elongated coins handed out, but the bag was especially nice and later very useful. It was a nice reminder of the many volunteers, sponsors, vendors and auctioneers that make this large process work so well. It is more than just buyers and sellers. So much more and such a grand scale.
My initial impression entering the floor around 11 a.m. was one of a lively, albeit less populated, site. It may have been the time of day or just the calm before the storm. Anyway, I had a short list of items to look for purchase, a few dealer friends to visit and the must see displays to take some time with and add to my knowledge base.
Unlike in the past I went for the displays first. There were many interesting and informative ones. Many were award winning and particularly to my tastes were two that drew my attention right away. One was a Heritage Auction presentation of large cents. It was complete and of such a high quality. I hovered over it, especially the early coins from 1792 to 1799. I was hoping to find an inexpensive coin from that vintage and I was intrigued with all of the varieties this collection held. It was very educational for me before I made any purchase and the collection was stunning.
The second highlight presentation for me was from World War II: brass cartridge to coins. This display reminded me of the copper/brass shortage in WWII and what the significance was for coins from those years and the war effort. As I was viewing I came upon another gentleman, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War, and we chatted and compared notes on what we knew and what we learned. He had an older brother who was in WWII as an artillery soldier whose responsibility was to collect the spent brass as the large artillery were fired. Wouldn’t it have been neat if a coin in this presentation came from the brass collected by that brother? We both agreed that we would vote for this display as a top one in the show. We parted as I began my search for a few treasurers to take home.
My first “purchase” was to be a Carson City dollar from the government sale in the 1970s. I didn’t care what year, only that it had to have the original box and certificate. I went to table after table and found many, some at reasonable prices, other too expensive. At one stop I found a gentleman willing to bargain and we settled on a very fair price. It was the only CC he had with box and certificate and it had been graded by PCGS. That alone saved me some money. We made the sale and I was off to find my large cent. That was not hard except I couldn’t find one I could afford (price/condition). I went to the back section reserved for items at lower prices and there I found a 1798 in a condition that was readable, though corroded, but still above AG3. The seller was willing to part with it for a price way under the others I looked at and so I thanked him and zipped off to a certification service. The gentleman I talked to had me in and out in a jiffy. At this writing I am awaiting the slabbed coin to add to my large cent collection.
My coin was quickly evaluated as genuine (a nice way to know I made a good purchase and didn’t have to go back to that vendor for a refund) and I was on my way again.
With a little time left, I took one more look at the displays. I had a chuckle at the Disney Dollars collection and the Canadian token items (one from a city 10 miles across the border from my New York home). While there I bumped into Dave Harper as he was flashing by to talk with someone nearby. As always I said hi, told him that NN was a great resource and let him go on his way. I got his hello back and his friendly smile and thank you. Nearby I snagged three Peace and Morgan slabbed dollars I did not already have and as 4 p.m. struck I was out the door to my car. Fifteen minutes later I was headed to the Space Coast beaches and home where I could spread out my finds and enjoy them all over again.
Upon reflection of what I saw at the show I would tell you the hobby is in good hands and in a good way. It was my sense that the number of jewelry sellers and bullion-only tables were fewer than in past years (still many available). More emphasis seemed to be on coin/paper money. While not as overcrowded as my previous Friday visits there were many more buyers for the sellers vs. lookers. I believe this show is a great indicator of the economy improvements from 2012. Most vendor/dealers had someone/many purchasers and that was good for both sides of the tables.
One small aside tidbit: As I was leaving I spied a vendor that had five or six 2011 American Eagle five coin sets in original boxes. He had them at $665 for each set complete with box and documentation. That was considerably lower than last year when the sets were a have to item at $700 to $800/set. It just shows how must have items stabilize after the “knee jerk” reaction; $665 is still a far cry from the Mint sale price but lower by a significant amount. So, we always need to be cautious about our purchases. Buyer beware!
My 2013 visit was great and I cannot wait to return in 2014. What will I see, who will I talk to and what will I add to my modest collection? And will next year be another anniversary (of a different nature) to be celebrated? I will let you know.
NN, keep up the great effort for us all.
Glen McClary
Satellite Beach, Fla.

Expand roll offerings for each denomination
As a small time collector, I’ve always wanted to purchase rolls of each coin separately. They offer a slue of different varieties but not rolls of pennies, nickels, dimes and so on. Why doesn’t the government offer all denomination in “P,” “D,” “S” and “W” in clad and silver versions also? They can use existing dies to produce them. Also it would greatly help the small silver collectors for other coins not offered at this time. It would generate billions of dollars in sales for Uncle Sam.
Myself, I’d love to order a roll each of the dimes and half dollars in “P,” “D,” “S” and “W” in silver. The possibilities are endless. Just the four rolls of dimes and halves in silver would be about $2,000. Also, they could be sold in uncirculated and proofs also. I estimate the sales would draw all their other sales combined.
Patrick Slaughter
Iron River, Mich.

Advertisers isolate would-be buyers with online emphasis
Hello! I am writing you this letter with twofold intent. First I want to thank you for the fine publication you continue to publish. I read every issue cover to cover. Again, thank you.
Next I would like to share some suggestions I have. Whether this society realizes it or not, there is a rather large segment of the population that vehemently abhors the electronic media. It is not my intent to sound churlish on this matter, but I am truly tired of not being able to contact people at a bricks and mortar location. Understand, this is not an “old person’s” aversion to electronic technology. I am very computer literate and savvy. I know, use and understand this technology and use it daily. Enough!
Anyway, I have not been conveniently able to be parted from dollars I have to spend with advertisers in your magazine. Several times I have not been able to purchase items that I most certainly would have if an address or a phone number had been made available.
Also ads in cyberspace do people like me absolutely no good. And apparently some advertisers do not answer responses or are tardy in doing so. What ever happened to free printed ads? Seems to me that much ad space is dedicated to wholesale commodities at maximum retail prices, resulting in phenomenal filler.
Anyway, I understand there is little to be accomplished by condemning these businesses, but perhaps encouraging more inclusive communication opportunities would be beneficial?
Hilton Helback
Hope, Kan.

Reader’s circulated quarter grade doesn’t add up
With all due respect to David Smith’s article on finding an MS-65 El Yunque quarter from circulation – well, David, if you found it from circulation then the highest grade it could be would be an AU-58 since Mint State means uncirculated. Having said that, I agree with you that it is indeed a beautiful coin. I bought the 5-ounce coin.
Joseph Reakes
Scranton, Pa.
Editor’s Note: A Mint State grade is a measure of wear. It is not an assertion that it was never in the circulation pipeline.

Government is getting coin design right, kind of
I am pleased to read that the United States is on the right track where coinage redesign is concerned. They coyote-turkey-turtle dollar coin is a knockout and could set the standard for future coinage redesign. The gear lady standing on a cliff with the wind blowing on the platinum coin makes my heart leap for joy! The CCAC wants to reintroduce Liberty coins. We know that we have creative artists in the Saint-Gaudens caliber if only they would be allowed to work.
Yet the program is sadly flawed. The gear lady is only on the platinum coins. The coyote-turkey-turtle dollar needs to be widely released in circulation so school kids enjoy them just like we did with the excitement I experienced in 1964 when the Kennedy half dollar was released.
The CCAC wants Liberty designs for the denominations but only wants them for one year and to retain the presidents forever. One year the cent, next year the nickel, so forth. The cent and half shouldn’t be around then anyway, so why even suggest such a nonsensical idea? Besides, we have all the presidents on the dollar coin anyway. We don’t need them on small change. If we want presidents, encourage the dollar coin to circulate by eliminating the paper, so we could have presidents on the dollar and Liberty on the other coins.
The government is trying to come up with good ideas but somehow botches the method they are implementing. We need to remedy the situation. Let’s get collector feedback in your paper. I heard the Mint reads all the editorials so have questions on this. It’s time we move. We had enough time sitting in the pasture.
Bob Olekson
Parma, Ohio

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