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This week’s letters (08/06/13)

2014 U.S. Coin Digest

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Colorized, gold-plated coins promote fakes
I totally agree with David Weatherby of Henderson, Texas, (NN issue July 9) that coins – even bullion rounds – should not be colorized or gold plated.
Neither should special minted commemorative coins, such as the Elvis Presley commemorative quarter, that was offered by a certain stamp company several months ago to commemorate Elvis’ birthday.
The Elvis Presley commemorative quarter had a colorized effigy of Elvis on the obverse of a Tennessee state quarter (the obverse of this quarter had been ground flat). I was totally angered that this well-known stamp company would send me an advertising for that quarter. I have since quit patronizing the company, telling them they had destroyed good money and were promoting counterfeiting.
There is no real law against gold or silver plating circulating U.S. coins, but there is something to be said about colorizing (as in altering) coins. I have a few colorized coins in my collection of Canadian coins, but that is because the Canadian government authorized the minting of those coins with color. (Examples: the Poppy quarter for Remembrance Day and the AIDS Awareness quarter, which has three tiny pink ribbons around the rim of the reverse.)
Since the centless Liberty nickel was gold plated by several con men in the 1880s and has been widely accepted by collectors during the past centuries. I would make this an exception for gold-plated coins. However, I would require the coin to be graded as authentic (plated in the 1880s) first. Who knows how many more of these racketeer nickel copycats have been produced after 1883?) Any other circulating coin that is gold plated will not be purchased for my collection. I did find a gold-plated Lincoln Memorial cent in the Coinstar reject chute several months ago that I kept because I thought it was unique. But if someone offered it to me for sale, I wouldn’t buy it.
Many non-government mints and some well-known coin and stamp dealers offer “genuine government issued” colorized and/or gold-plated coins for sale. To me, this is an insult to collectors who have some knowledge of the hobby.
Most of the colorized coins, like the States and Territories or the America the Beautiful quarters remind me of art phase of the 1970s. Gold-plated circulating coins, offered by these companies, are grossly overpriced; how much does it cost to gold plate (at probably 10K or 14K gold) a coin the size of a quarter? Those colorized/plated coins are an attempt to get non-collectors interested in the hobby. Sadly, when they find out their “investment” is basically worthless, they get turned off and sour toward collecting.
Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

Modifications to color grading system offered
As you may recall, a new six-level coin color-grading system for copper coins was printed in the Nov. 27, 2012, Numismatic News “Viewpoint” column. After using that system for six-plus months now, I’ve come to the conclusion a minor modification may be warranted to better reflect collector preferences for eye appeal.
The revised color grading scale I’ve come up with, and I offer for your consideration, is as follows:
• Red (RD) – Full red
• Red Red Brown (RR/B) – Red with brown traces, > (greater than) 95 percent red
• Red Brown (R/B) – More red than brown, 51-95 percent red
• Brown Red (B/R) – More brown than red, 25-50 percent red
• Brown Brown Red (BB/R) – Brown with red traces, < (less than) 25 percent red • Brown (BN) – Full brown The major change from the Nov. 27 version is a reduction in the width of the RR/B category from 25 to 5 percent (instead of >75 percent red, we now need >95 percent red). This was done to capture that category of coins that appear full red at first glance, but when looked at closely are found to have small spots or toned areas.
A coin that has obvious brown that is readily discernible with a quick look should be called R/B even if it has more than 75 percent red. At least it’s my perception of how most collectors look at it. There are probably many coins out there graded as full red that technically should be RR/B under this definition.
There is certainly room for debate about exactly where this line should be drawn. Is 95 percent the right level? Maybe it should be 98 percent.
But perhaps I’m splitting hairs because no one will measure it; it’s really a subjective opinion about a coin’s overall appearance. On the other end of the scale, perhaps the 25 percent cutoff for the BB/R category should be debated as well, although this category should not be as narrow as the 5 percent RR/B one.
Gregory Kipp
Address withheld

Why are 1986 Lincoln cent rolls so expensive?
I’ve been assigned by my club, consisting of myself and four grandkids, to find out why 1986 cent coin rolls are so high-dollar. The club keeps asking me, “How come pops?”
In your May 7 “Best of Buzz” you said how valuable 1986 “P” and “D” cent rolls are. That same issue had the coin market in it and we saw that all 1986 coin rolls are high-dollar. We’ve been looking in the Red Book and some Krause coin books we have with no success. I keep telling the club that someone will ask that question. I’m having a tough time convincing them that the bank isn’t going to have 27-year-old coin rolls laying around. They know about face value as we get cent rolls for 50 cents and nickel rolls for $2 at the bank. They all chime in, pops, let’s ask that nice lady that helps us at the bank. I think she is happy when we take our $5 in rolls and leave her bank. The club is losing patience with me and is asking, Dave, how come those 1986 coin rolls are so high dollar.
The youngest member asks, pops, are you going to write Dave a letter? The oldest pipes in with “naw” you text or e-mail these days to do it fast. I don’t know text so here is our e-mail. Will you tell us why those roll coins are so hi-dollar?
P.S. What does class of 63 stand for? I graduated from high school that year. What’s your 1963 about?
Bob Schnee and The Club
Chandler, Ariz.

Editor’s note: There is no answer to your question other than collectors and dealers of the time did not save as many 1986 issues as coins of other years. It happens, especially after the generation of roll and bag collectors active in the 1950s and 1960s left the hobby. With no active large core of collectors putting aside quantities every year, we simply get years where not enough were saved. Perhaps that will inspire a future generation of collectors to save new issues.
My column is named after the year I began coin collecting.

Kennedy and Reagan deserve to be on coins
I was reading the Numismatic News online poll question responses in the July 23 issue of NN and was troubled by a response from Bernie Torbik of Huntington Beach, Calif. While I will be the first to defend his right to have an opinion, whatever it is to the question, I would take issue with his callous comment – “I am hard pressed to think of a single thing that he accomplished” – referring to President John F. Kennedy.
If I may be so permitted, I will list just a few of them. How about The U.S. space program (NASA) that he helped propel to the forefront of American society? Perhaps you have heard of the Peace Corps? How about the Alliance for Progress or his challenge to the Soviet Union to a “peace race?”
Then there is the executive order establishing the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. Or how about the Cuban Missile Crisis, which if he did not personally handle with great skill, courage and diplomacy would have surely resulted in World War III. Many of us would not be alive today, and the world would not now exist, at least as far as we have it today. While he certainly had many human flaws, like all of us, his place in our nation’s history is without question of great importance.
While Mr. Torbik has every right to oppose a coin set commemorating the 50th anniversary of the JFK half dollar, he is most certainly incorrect in his comment about no achievements in the JFK Administration. I believe a coin set would be an appropriate issue in 2014, but please, let it be struck at all of our Mints in 90 percent silver!
In conclusion, I would agree with Mr. Torbik that President Ronald Reagan is also very worthy of being honored on a US. coin.
John W. Bates
Melrose, Mass.

Reasoning behind grades would be good to know
J.D. Roberts (“Viewpoint: Grading services should explain grades,” posted online July 15) is right on the money on this issue.
I had exactly the same thought over the past several days. Since even professional dealers and long-time collectors are unable to tell the difference between MS and PF 69 vs. 70 coins, and since third-party grading companies charge so much to grade our coins, why can’t they provide some kind of written justification for the assigned grade? For example, they could say there is a small mark in the left field of the obverse or whatever.
I recently sent in a number of coins to be graded and received 70 on only one coin. In the past I have had exactly the opposite result.
Of course, no one is perfect, but given that I bought my ungraded modern U.S. Mint coins in person from the Mint, not online, and that I went through a stack of coins to pick out the best, I have generally been able to pick out a top grade coin. To be wrong on seven coins seems rather odd to me, and it would be helpful to know what I missed.
Louis Golino
Address withheld

 

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