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This week’s letters (10/30/12)

 

Don’t expect to make profits on coin collecting
Mr. Reake posed a question many have asked.
“What is recipe for profit in coin collecting hobby?”
I have been a dealer for many years and the answer is you can’t. You can profit as an investor in the coin and bullion business.
Remember on every coin there are two parts that go into the price. The price of the metal, and the numismatic value.
In order to profit you need to reduce the risk in the numismatic value. In your letter you mentioned the Red Book and the grey sheet. If you are buying coins that need these, you are a collector and should have no expectation of profit. These items are more difficult to move, and therefore dealers require a higher profit margin.
Being a collector is great. This is a fun and educational hobby.
For profits I always advise gold and silver eagles in common dates at close to spot and U.S. common date higher grade silver at close to spot. The further you get from spot the less likely you are to turn a profit.
And remember, just like the corner grocer, coin dealers are in it to make a living, so they cannot buy and sell at the same price. They have to feed their families.
Rita Cherner
Tempe, Ariz.

Box of hand-rolled dimes yields more silver
I’ve read with interest the numerous articles on searching penny rolls for wheat ear Lincoln cents, nickel rolls for Buffalo and early Jefferson and dime rolls for silver pre-1964. I decided to try my luck with rolls of dimes as I’ve had very good success with penny and nickel rolls.
I have a great relationship with a local bank (the same one I use for penny and nickel rolls) and always call in advance to tell them I’m coming in to purchase a box of coins, so I made my first attempt with dime rolls.
I called and asked if a box of dimes was available to purchase and was told sure to come on in. I returned home with my box of bank-rolled N.F. String dimes and proceeded to go through them over the next two weeks. I like to spread out the time just to make it more of a hobby, since it’s easy to find silver dimes just by looking at the edges of a roll. Well, I found one silver dime in that first box.
I called two weeks later asking for another box and was asked if I wanted bank rolled or just a box of “hand” rolled. Not wanting to be picky, I just said I would take whatever they could do for me.
That second box was all hand rolled and I spent my next two weeks going through the rolls. I was surprised to find five silver dimes in that box.
I called for my third box the other week and wasn’t asked whether I wanted bank rolled or “hand” rolled. As I expected, the third box I purchased was machine rolled and that yielded two silver dimes. Makes me wonder if along the way of going through the process of having the dime machine rolled, that something isn’t sorting out the silver.
So, I’ve gotten eight silver dimes (about $20 at the current rate of silver) for my one gallon of gas, although I’d be making the trip to the bank anyway. But, I think I may switch to just purchasing 10 or 20 “hand” rolls at a time in the future. That way I don’t need to call in advance and hopefully will see a better yield.
John Moll
Halfmoon, N.Y.

Thanks for conversation at ANA show
I had a discussion with you at your table this past summer’s ANA event.
I enjoyed our conversation about circulating information in club newsletters.
In addition, you gave me some points on why you do not have writer’s cramp as an editor to generate subject matter.
I routinely read your column and you are correct, for some articles are more interesting than others.
Keep your pencil sharp and get plenty of paper. Of course during our computer era, I do not believe that you employ manual techniques.
Nick Kurlick
Baltimore Coin Club editor

KP commemorative round was made of silver
On Aug. 16,1999, I attended A Day in the Country in Iola. I received what I believe to be either a silver round or a base round from Krause Publications. Can you confirm for me whether this is a silver ounce or just a base metal?
Love your newspaper.
Jerry Roberts
Fox Valley Coin Club
Appleton, Wis.
Editor’s’ note: It indeed is silver. Silver is up by a factor of 7 or so. Keeping the medal proved to be a good investment.

Ad says prices subject to change and they do
There is truth in your advertising. I wanted to place an order with an advertiser in your Oct. 9, 2012 NN. A company rep said that the advertised price of $949 was no longer being honored, and the new price was $1,095. Great job with the small print “prices subject to change without notice.”
Let’s see if there is any truth in publishing.
Name withheld
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.
Editor’s Note: With widely fluctuating prices of precious metals, it is necessary in any print ad to use such a disclaimer when the advertiser wishes. This has been common practice in numismatics for decades.

Experience shows another way in insurance problem
Readers might be interested in this follow-up about my four registered mail packages stolen in January. To recap, the U.S. Postal Service acknowledged that’s what happened, but refused to pay my insurance claims, saying I hadn’t proved the value.
The “problem” was that the coins were sent in advance of payment, as I usually do as a dealer. The Postal Service insisted you had to have a canceled check or credit card charge or the like, showing the coins were paid for. My copies of the customers’ orders, my invoices, and the price list they ordered from were deemed not acceptable as proof of value. (“Those are just your numbers,” a claims supervisor told me, in an exceedingly frustrating phone conversation.)
I went through several repeated appeals through their appeal process, all of which were denied. Then I wrote indignant complaints to my congressman; both U.S. senators; the Postal Service’s consumer complaint office (a second time; the first received no response) and to the postmaster general himself.
Then I finally received three checks paying the three domestic claims. I don’t know which of my letters did the trick. I did get a letter from the consumer affairs office apologizing that they couldn’t pay me the full value of the packages because I hadn’t insured them at full value. (I still lost $6,500+). But I didn’t get any apology for the ridiculous hassle I had to go through.
Meanwhile, I still haven’t been paid for the one overseas package to India. Formerly, there was a one-step process for overseas registered mail claims. But now you first have to telephone and go through a whole rigmarole reciting the details; then they send an inquiry to the foreign post office; and only after that confirms the package as missing can you then submit the claim. In this case, they already officially know the package was stolen before ever leaving the U.S., but bureaucratic rules nevertheless require this senseless procedure. And since they’re not getting an answer from India, I can’t even file my claim.
On a claim for partial loss of contents, there’s an added form you also have to get your local post office to fill out and file. Moreover, for many countries, they refuse to pay registered mail claims on the grounds that coins are “prohibited” items. Given that the indemnity on foreign registered mail is under $50 anyway, I would say don’t even bother. (Which is probably why the Postal Service now does it this way – to discourage claims.)
When I started in the coin business, I soon realized that I was shelling out more for postal insurance than I was collecting on claims (and that was in the days when they actually paid them without undue hassle). So I switched to a “self-insurance” system. Instead of using postal insurance, I include in my shipping charge an insurance amount, a little less than what the post office’s insurance would have cost. This saves my customers money, it saves me a lot of time and effort, and when (rarely) a package is lost, I figure it’s covered by all the little amounts I’ve collected from my customers. Over the years, I’m probably ahead on the game.
It’s such an obviously sensible and money-saving system that I am mystified why major high-volume coin sellers still use postal insurance even for shipments of relatively modest value.
I used to still do it myself for the more valuable shipments, as in the case of those stolen in January. But after that bad experience, I now try to avoid using insured or registered mail wherever it’s reasonably sensible to do so.
Sending coins uninsured may actually be safer too, because an insurance tag on a package is a “red flag” saying “Valuable! Steal me if you can.” Ironically, my stolen packages would almost certainly have been delivered if they hadn’t been registered.
Frank S. Robinson
Albany, N.Y.

Consider index for Numismatic News articles
Hey Dave, it would be really cool if NN would publish an index to all the articles.
Frank White
Wellsville Kan.

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