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This week’s letters (04/23/13)

 

What is best way to ship valuable coin?
Would you please do an article soon on the best way to ship an expensive coin ($1,000) to a private collector.
If someone ships a gold coin and receiver claims they only received a silver coin, then how can a seller or a buyer protect himself?
And does the seller receive the money for the coin before shipping it, or send it and hope to receive the money for the coin.
Steven Ma Smith
Freeport, Ill.

Editor’s note: Always get the payment before shipping a coin unless you know and have done business with the person before. Most coins are shipped by mail. Check your local post office for details.

Mint charges too much for proof silver Eagles
What’s going on with the U.S. Mint. Why have they become so greedy?
I have been collecting proof silver Eagles since 1986 when they were $23 postpaid. I purchased five each year until 2008.
In 2010 the Mint raised the price to $45.95, so I just ordered three coins.
Last year with silver around $34, the Mint raised the price again to $54.95 plus shipping. So I ordered just two coins. Since the price of silver has dropped by several dollars since last year I expected the Mint to lower the price for the 2013 proof silver Eagles. I was quite shocked when I called the Mint to place my order and was told the price is now $62.95 plus shipping.
Silver is down at least $6, but the Mint has raised the price $8 with silver at just over $28. What makes the Mint think these coins are worth $67.90 ($4.95 handling fee added). This is just pure greed. I won’t be buying any 2013 proof silver Eagles from the U.S. Mint.
Bill Hansen
Asheville, N.C.

Herbert’s PDS system for errors brilliant
PDS are three little letters that mean so much more to the numismatic community and to the world at large! Yes, they could mean many different things to many people, but because of the genius of the likes of Alan Herbert, your longtime leader and contributor of all things varieties and errors, he coined this most famous phrase of sorts. It fits perfectly into the scheme of us collectors of numismatic errors. We have been called freaks, oddballs, miscues and so many more adjectives because we liked coins that were not normal. And to top it off here came this brilliant fellow who would come up with a wonderful system simply by following the way coins were produced!
PDS represents “P” for planchets, “D” for dies and “S” for striking. Every kind of error would fit into these three categories, thus named the PDS system for describing when and where these errors could fall into the system and to be described in their proper sequence of being manufactured. Alan Herbert First coined and made common “cents” out of a new way to collect, save and catalog this wonderful medium. All of his literary works would incorporate this formula, to keep everything in its proper perspective.
A few years later I decided to make up a small binder based on Alan’s system with clear plastic pages labeled using his outline to produce no more then 75 binders that collector’s of errors could use to protect and house their errors. I spent hours replacing the blank strips of paper below the coin “slots” to show each type of error that might be collected from that system. I only sold 45 albums at a little over my cost, just to promote error collecting. Although most error collectors preferred to make up their own displays for shows and clubs, someone in the future may come up with other ideas. At the time Alan know about my attempt to compliment his PDS system. I had given him a sample album as a gift.
Long live Alan’s PDS system. Learning exactly how it’s made will contribute to its authentication!
Neil Osina
Glendora, Calif.

Two silver quarters show up in change
I can’t help you with the 2013s but I was tickled last month by something I did get in the change: twice!
First, buying a $1.75 baguette I got a 1964-D quarter in change. Holy cow! That hasn’t happened in about 30 years. Then, just a couple of weeks later buying a pizza, up pops a 1960-D quarter! Interestingly, the change to base metal coinage is so remote to contemporary society that neither of the young service people were impressed, interested, or remotely aware of what they had passed to me.
The coincidence was worth a letter to you.
John D. Becker
Santa Fe, N.M.

War nickels complete set should include overdate
I read the letter from Charles W. Fulker in the March 26 issue with great interest. I have also researched the 1942 proof sets while assembling a birth year set for a family member. I was able to obtain both Jefferson nickel proofs as part of that set.
I also agree with his comments about a complete set of war nickels, except that the 1943/2 P overdate should be included to complete the set.
Bob Schmidt
Address withheld

Girl Scout commemorative lacks beauty, originality
Doesn’t the U.S. Mint have a responsibility to the American public to design and mint attractive coins? How many domestic or international awards is the Girl Scout dollar going to get?
In 2008, I received my weekly Numismatic News and pictured on the front page was a Mongolian coin that had a wolverine head with crystals for the eyes. It had won the International Coin of the Year award and the International Silver Coin of the Year award.
I saw that coin and said to myself “Wow! That is a beautiful coin. I’m going to buy one.” I found a Hong Kong dealer on eBay who had it for a “Buy It Now” price of $64. This was the first “world” coin I had ever bought.
I didn’t buy it to fill a “hole” in my collection or for investment. (How did I know that it was the first in a series of “Endangered Species” and recently sold for over $1,700 on eBay. I hit a home run.) I bought it for the beauty.
Mongolia is a third world country with limited resources but it was able to mint an international award winning coin. Why can’t the United States, the leader of the world, with all its resources and talent, design and mint an attractive, award winning coin?
There are only three types of people who are going to buy the GSA coin: (1) Those who have friends or relatives of Girl Scouts; (2) Those who support the GSA organization and its goals, and (3) Those who collect modern commemorative coins and need to fill the “holes” in their collection. The rest of these coins are eventually going to the melting pot – there is no beauty in them.
The last really popular modern commemorative coin was the 2001 American Buffalo silver dollar. But wait, that design is just a copy of the almost century old buffalo nickel. The international award winning silver Eagle is just a modern version of the 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar.
Where is the U.S. Mint’s design talent? Lost in the past with no hope of entering the 21st century in terms of originality and beauty? If the GSA coin is the best the U.S. Mint can do, all Americans should drop their heads in shame.
David A. Martens
Rockledge, Fla.

Time for U.S. to drop cent from circulation
I just received my latest copy of Numismatic News today and read the front page article “Cent group declares rounding real threat.” The story goes on to explain “Americans may have an emotional attachment to Lincoln and the penny [technically, our lowest denomination is called “cent,” a penny is British/British Commonwealth denomination], but their strong support for the [cent] is based on economic issues. The alternative to the [cent] is rounding prices, which is something consumers abhor.” (Mark Weller, executive director of Americans for Common Cents.
Weller suggests that our government should find ways to make our currency]less costly. On this point, I agree. With production costs at nearly twice “face value” of the cent, the cheapest way to produce this coin is to not produce it at all. There are already billions – even trillions – of cents already in circulation in the U.S. now and millions more being made already this year. We don’t need any more cents. The coin – any coin – has a long “lifetime” in general circulation. I’ve received a few VG – XF wheat backs in circulation just a few days ago. Stopping production and possibly eliminating the cent would not be a problem for this American, Mr. Weller.
As for rounding the purchases, that too, would not be a problem. In all the cases where the foreign governments had eliminated their “cents” (lowest denomination), the rounding is done only when the consumer uses cash. Credit/electronic purchases still go to the exact “cent.” Rounding is easy and better to figure out. Anything that is 1, 2, 8 or 9 cents is rounded to the zero or dime and the 3, 4, 6 or 7 cents is rounded to 5 cents or nickel. Rounding is more efficient and one doesn’t have to worry about carrying extra coins around for exact change. I, for one, don’t abhor rounding, but would rather welcome it.
Just this last year, our northern neighbor stopped production of their cent, which was costing them about the same amount to produce as our cent, except they were making copper-plated steel cents instead of copper-plated zinc coins. (In some years, when there weren’t enough copper-steel planchets, Canada would buy some of our copper-zinc”planchets for their cents.) Being “cent-less” has saved the Canadian government a lot of money. Other industrialized countries like Australia and New Zealand have long since eliminated their cents, and have even gone farther to drop the 5-cent denomination. It is time for the U.S. to cut costs in coin production and eliminate the cent. After all, in this century, what can a person buy for 1, 2, or 3 cents alone?
Bill Tuttle,
Cleveland, Ohio

Semi-key date Lincoln found searching coins
Today I found another semi-key date in the Lincoln series. It was a 1922-D in VG+ condition and it’s the only one of these I have found.
It was a regular “D” and I was surprised to find it in the batch I was searching.
Bob Atwater
Conway, S.C.

Why would anyone want large stores of silver?
Patrick Heller’s article “Where can you store physical silver?” prompts me to ask, “Why does anyone want large amounts of physical silver?” Heller writes that he considers it important to have some physical silver for emergencies. Again I have to ask, “Why?”
If you experiencing an emergency, chances are you are not doing so in a vacuum. Your neighbors and, potentially, people for miles around will likely be experiencing the same emergency. If that’s the case, who exactly is going to trade your silver for services? What are they going to do with your bullion?
If you have to evacuate your area and gasoline is scarce, how are you going to transport your bullion? Chances are you would be better off with a stash of dried foods, guns, ammunition, hand-crank radios, and batteries to barter with.
I am waiting for the article that will tell me the value of having all this silver (and gold?) lying around waiting for an emergency. Articles abound advising the gullible to have stashes of bullion, yet no one has told me how I am supposed to live on that bullion once the emergency comes to pass.
Peter Keefe
Ashburn, Va.

Books help identify valuable die variations
Your Feb. 26 issue on the discoveries by Jeff Young of Ohio was inspirational.
On St. Patrick’s Day I discovered an EF/AU 1999 Wide “AM” Lincoln cent from $10 circulated rolls that I got from a local bank in Honolulu.
It goes to show that if you know what to look for and maintain a hope to find that elusive “needle in a haystack” you will.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find any additional 1999 Wide “AM’s” among the remaining rolls.
I will be sending the coin for authentication and grading. I also use the “Strike it Rich” and Cherrypickers guide as references to search for various die varieties.
Chris Takasane
Honolulu, Hawaii

Still confused on definition of Mint State
You are going to have to enlighten me in order for me to understand your response to my response to David Smith’s letter on finding an MS-65 El Yunque quarter from circulation.
Your editor’s note states, “A Mint State grade is a measure of wear.”
Let me state ANA grading standards, “The term ‘uncirculated,’ interchangeable with ‘Mint State,’ refers to a coin that has never seen circulation. Such a piece has no wear of any kind.”
Since Mr. Smith relates that he found his coin from circulation (pocket change, I believe) and in light of the above mentioned ANA standard for Mint State (uncirculated) coins, please help me understand your statement that a Mint State grade is a measure of wear.
Joseph Reakes
Scranton, Pa.

Editor’s Note: Let’s try again. As the ANA grading standards state, a Mint State piece “has no wear of any kind.” Just as we said, “A Mint State grade is a measure of wear.”
However, within the Mint State grade are the finer designations of MS-60 to MS-70, which indicate quality of strike, bag marks and other factors that go beyond the mere absence of wear.
A coin can be placed into circulation channels and still be uncirculated or Mint State. Perhaps it was scooped up right away by a collector from a bank that distributed rolls of new coins, or from a teller who had just opened the roll and put the coins in her tray.
Wear is caused by friction and if there was no friction applied to the coin on the way from the Mint to the teller’s tray, it remains Mint State, or uncirculated.

Keeping cent costs only 35 cents per person annually
I was intrigued by the statement in your editorial in Numismatic News for March 26 is that even with cents costing 2 cents a piece to produce the excess cost of its continuing production is only $116,000,000 per year, or with a U.S. population of something over 350,000,000, about 35 cents per person per year. If that figure is correct, as long as we continue to have sales taxes, surely the nuisance involved in changing cash registers, gas pumps, etc., plus time and effort of people learning how to round up or round down to the nearest 5 cents (10 if the nickel were abolished) would cost much, much more than 35 cents per person per year. I have waivered on this issue, but no more (no matter what Canada has done). Based on the cost that you quote, I now firmly support keeping the cent and subsidizing its production.
R.W. Barker
Midland, Mich.

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