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This week’s letters (08/20/13)

2014 U.S. Coin Digest

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Collectors have duty to educate themselves
I see that a reader has corresponded with you (“Best of Buzz, 7/30/13) regarding Numismatic News’ previously published definitions of “…a commercial uncirculated coin and a slider.”
The reader seems quite unhappy that Numismatic News did not pillory he whom the reader describes as an “…unscrupulous greedy dealer [who]…prices and sells the coin to a trusting collector as an uncirculated coin…a flagrant violation of the American Numismatic Association Code of Ethics…”
While the reader has a point regarding condemning those who knowingly misrepresent the condition and value of coins they sell, isn’t there “another side to the coin?”
Doesn’t the “trusting collector” have any responsibility to educate himself (by means of free “coin mentors” who abound at every coin club; educational material on grading coins published by Numismatic News and a host of other sources; use of the coin return privilege that is offered by coin sellers; etc.) before spending his money on either “raw” coins or, for example, overpriced “slabbed” coins of the sort often offered on TV?
I personally feel sorry for those who “trustingly” send sums of money via the Internet to Nigerian princes, who will supposedly then shower the sender of that money with countless riches in the near future, or those who buy land in Florida sight-unseen, only to learn afterwards that their land is under water. However, I often then think that a little prior effort to educate oneself before “trustingly” giving one’s money to anyone for anything might reduce the number of suckers P. T. Barnum described over a century ago (“There’s a sucker born every minute.”) by one.
If the “trusting collector” is too busy with life to take time to educate himself before spending his money, shouldn’t he be buying only reputably graded third-party coins, perhaps with CAC stickers attached, rather than buying “raw” coins from anybody?
Or perhaps the “trusting collector” should not spend his money at all on anything that he doesn’t understand well enough to make a reasoned judgment about at the time of purchase, after which he is willing to accept full personal responsibility for?
Bob Bair
Denver, Colo.

Postal Service delivers FedEx packages from Mint
Although I’m no spring chicken, yesterday I discovered something I was totally unaware of. Federal Express uses the U.S. Postal Service to deliver their packages!
I was checking on the shipment of a back-ordered product I had purchased from the Mint, as I had received an email from the Mint on July 15 that they had sent my product over to Federal Express for delivery. I hadn’t heard anything for a week, so I checked the tracking number on the FedEx website.
What did I find? On July 22 my product had been transferred by FedEx over to USPS for delivery. On July 24 it had finally arrived in Austin. The note said that it would be delivered to me sometime in the next two days by the Postal Service.
When my carrier came to the house yesterday afternoon, I asked her about this. She said, “Oh, yes. Our delivery vehicles are full of parcels every day that we get from FedEx.”
Do I really care who eventually delivers my merchandise? Not really, except for two issues not related to the “who” from my end: (1) FedEx delivery, to me at least, means a rapid method of shipment, as well as a traceable method; and (2) why in the world would FedEx use the Postal Service to deliver their packages, and pay USPS for this? It seems to me that if it is worthwhile financially for FedEx to contract with the Postal Service to deliver packages for them, then someone is “overpaying” FedEx for their services! And this would certainly include the U.S. Mint!
It will have taken at least 11 days for me to receive my product that the Mint gave to FedEx for shipment to me. If it’s cheaper for FedEx to contract with USPS for delivery, then the Mint must be paying more than they should for shipment to me. I wonder if the Mint realizes that it is ultimately the U.S. Postal Service that is making the delivery, and not FedEx??
Dan Sowards
Austin, Texas

Hard for collectors to get MS-70 from grading firms
I would like to says cheers to J.D. Roberts regarding his “Viewpoint” column regarding coin grading services.
Over the past five years I have sent at least a dozen coins to three of the four major coin grading services trying to get an MS-70 graded coin. These coins were all silver Eagles purchased directly from the Mint, handled very carefully and checked under magnification for any flaws.
These dozen or so were selected from hundreds that I have purchased and were the cream of the crop. None of the coins came back graded MS-70 even though they look the same or better than slabbed MS-70 coins that I already own.
I decided to do a test that cost me just short of $200, but it proved a point.
I purchased six MS-70 coins for just under $100 dollars from the three grading services I had dealt with in the past.
I carefully broke them out of their slabs and sent two each of their own graded coins back for grading. None of the coins came back as MS-70. Two came back MS-69, three came back MS-68 and one MS-67.
I now know that three of the four major grading services have no integrity. They grade coins for companies as MS-70 because they send in hundreds or thousands of coins each year while individuals like myself can rarely get a coin graded MS-70.
David Wisniewski
Longwood, Fla.

Thanks for chance to design baseball coin
Baseball to me means “Pride in America,” and pride in America is typically represented by the American flag. Some of the most patriotic times that I have experienced have been at sports events when everyone stands and salutes the American Flag during the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Which is why I was disappointed to see that most of the 16 final baseball coin designs did not include an American flag.
I was one of the 178 original baseball coin designers. And, of course, I was disappointed when my design was not selected. I am proud, however, that my primary focus was to include a sizeable American flag blowing in the wind. My secondary focus was to determine which baseball icon to include. I chose a batter slugging one out of the park.
My biggest disappointment, however, was not being notified as to why my design was not selected. I’m hopeful that the U. S. Mint will ultimately recognize all of the designers by listing their names at their website once the judging is completed and the winner is announced. After all, they only received 178 entries, while expecting 10,000!
Nevertheless, I appreciate the soliciting of coin designs from the public! I really enjoyed the experience!!
April McGuire
Falls Church, Va.

Grading firms should use ANA Standards
This is in regard to the “Viewpoint” by J.D. Roberts in the July 30 edition of Numismatic News.
I fully agree with the remarks of J.D. Roberts concerning the grading standards of the third party grading services.
At one time, the ANA Standards were the basis for grading by both collectors and dealers. Differences in opinion led to coin price variations. Today, those price variations could also be based on which service graded the coin.
The grading services offer a guarantee of a free regrade if the coin owner believes that the coin was overgraded. This guarantee means that coins are likely to be undergraded. (No free regrade for that!)
Today, coin buyers are likely to be more interested in slabbed coins rather than raw. For them, there is no longer any need for ANA grading standards.
But that could change. The ANA could regain its influence regarding coin grading if they insist that all professional graders work with ANA to develop a set of uniform standards.
Stan Dubow
Ocean View, Del.

Don’t waste money on new Liberty coins
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky must have a relative who designs coins. Why not call his bill that calls for putting Liberty on coins the Coin Designer Employment Act of 2013 and be honest.
Give me a break, Andy. Our coins are beginning to look like European play money more and more.
If he thinks the seigniorage will be some big profit machine for the U.S. budget, please consider how much effort goes into designing, the cost of those committees to judge, efforts of Mint employees to set up, all that packaging and advertising.
And don’t get me started on the poor old coin collectors who will buy these silly things, who should be spending their money on food and medication, not worthless coins their grandchildren won’t be able to get rid of.
Maybe I’m just a grumpy old guy, but doesn’t our Congress have better things to do?
Mark Parsons
Berthoud, Colo.

 

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