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Gold buyer frenzy, but no sellout

(Image courtesy usmint.gov)

When the 2018-W uncirculated one-ounce gold American Eagle coin went on sale July 12, it went on backorder within a minute or two.

Collectors might be forgiven for thinking the offering sold out.

But it did not sell out.

The Mint reports as of July 15 that only 4,149 of a possible mintage of 10,000 were sold.

However, that has not prevented aggressive marketing and even more aggressive pricing of SP-70 examples for more than double the $1,590 issue price on the secondary market.

On July 18, the Mint even reduced issue price by $50, taking it down to $1,540.

Does that sound like a sellout?

Last year’s 2017-W uncirculated gold American Eagle saw a final sales number of 5,800.

What does backorder mean if not a sellout?

It means the Mint did not strike the full 10,000 mintage ahead of time. It can’t, therefore, make delivery within a few days of new orders.

This is not surprising, since the Mint does not want to be stuck with unsold, high-priced inventory.


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.


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New reference delivers five centuries of British coin details and pricing

British coins are a fascinating lot.


Standard Catalog of Great Britain Coins digital reference is priced at $40 and available exclusively at ShopNumismaster.com.

Depending on the time period, Great Britain’s coin issues have included, but are not limited to, the Pence, Shilling, Pound, Crown, Unite, Laurel, Farthing, Penny and Guinea. As unique as some of these names are, among the nicknames — or coin slang if you will — often used by British citizens to describe coins are more than a few colorful choices. How about the Bob, Groat, Thruppenny bit, Quid, Nugget, or maybe the Beer Token, as explained in an article found at The Royal Mint website.

Whether you opt for the formal route or lean more toward slang, there’s no question British coins are rich in history and appeal. With that in mind, Great Britain is the logical and popular choice for launching a new series of world coins digital references. The team behind the Standard Catalog of World Coins is unveiling the first in a series of country-specific references.

For the first time, coin pricing, identifying details, and illustrations for five centuries of coins will be available in a country-specific digital reference. To gain a better understanding of this new series of references, we turn to the guardians of the references, Tom Michael, the editor of the Standard Catalog of World Coins references and long-time market analyst for coins in the numismatic division of F+W Media (parent company of World Coin News, Numismatic News, Bank Note Reporter, Coins magazine, and Numismaster.com) and Steve Duberstein, managing developer of the numismatics database at F+W Media.

Among the benefits of the Standard Catalog of Great Britain Coins and the other digital references in the series is, first and foremost, accessibility to extensive and trusted details about coins issued in Great Britain between the 17th century and the present.

“That is the biggest benefit,” states Michael. “You can access the information anywhere; on a plane, at a coin show, in a shop, anywhere.”

“It’s compatible with any device and searchable,” added Duberstein.

Whether dealer or collector, accessibility to authoritative details is a tremendous asset. For

SC British Coins introductionpage

In addition to a detailed map, the introduction of this digital reference includes geographic details. Plus, a list of rulers and mint marks. Information about the monetary system, and a primer of British ‘coin slang.’

dealers, when presented with a collection of coins issued by the same country but from various time periods, a thorough assessment requires review of information from multiple references, Michael explains. For collectors, making the most of buying opportunities on the bourse floor of a coin show is the goal, but not always as easy as one would hope. For example, have you ever found yourself standing in front of a dealer’s table perusing the selection of coins and spotting one you think you need to complete specific segments of your collection? However, you aren’t certain if it is that coin or another in the series and you don’t have your collection on hand at the show.

This first in a series of digital world coin references helps to remove the guesswork. It provides unmatched accessibility to descriptive details, illustrations, and values of coins issued in Great Britain for the past 400+ years.

The ability to enlarge the pages brings up another key benefit: being able to view some of the intricate details that define two coins that may appear to be seemingly the same. As dealers and collectors alike can attest, even the smallest differences and variations among coins can mean a big difference in value.

For example, when considering coins issued in Great Britain, explains Michael, many varieties have differences within the coat of arms depicted on the coin. Being able to enlarge the digital page and easily view those differences are advantageous, and not something that can be achieved by viewing the book alone, he added.

“This allows you to enlarge the pages by more than 1000 percent,” confirms Duberstein.

Another feature of the digital reference is the inclusion of mintmark line drawing illustrations. When examining a coin, it’s not always easy to see the mark, especially with circulated coinage, according to Michael, but with this digital reference, these important illustrations are handily available where available.

The Standard Catalog of Great Britain coins is available at ShopNumismaster.com for $40. That’s access to more than 2,500 types of coins and 8,000 dates of coins. Plus, you’ll find more than 2,100 coin images in this single digital reference. 

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Community Voice Responses (August 7, 2018)

From the July 13 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:

Are you more likely to bid in an auction with recovered treasure in it?

Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.


For myself, I would bypass the treasure auction bidding. This, being beyond my means, for No. 1. As for the rest, this venue may be inflated because of this area. Other auctions, maybe.

Gary Kess
Sherman, Texas


I bid on auctions that have items to be added to the collection. Treasure is not one of those items. I have observed, however, that auctions containing treasure tend to bring higher prices across the board, and a bit of shopping is necessary to find stuff that is equal or better at a lower cost.

Bob Fritsch
Nashua, N.H.


Of course there is a longer answer as well, which may not be quite so simple. I do not bid in auctions BECAUSE there is recovered treasure in them.

In my opinion, auction companies like to use recovered treasure or shipwreck treasure such as that of the S.S. Central America as a marketing draw for their upcoming auctions. But, since I am not a collector of shipwreck treasure or shipwreck coins, or conserved coins which may have come from a treasure hoard, this really does not drive me to the auction as a customer.

But, like most people, I do have a general interest in recovered treasure. Of course! Who doesn’t?

The idea of silver and/or gold glittering at the bottom of the sea waiting to be recovered is very alluring. That’s why the recovered treasure is such the marketing draw for auction houses.

For me, though, the reason I frequent auctions or auction websites is to bid on specific coins or look for specific types of coins that are available to be acquired there. Not really for any reason related to recovered treasure.

Just my two cents

Matthew Kable
Visalia, Calif.


No, too expensive and of no interest to me.

Dennis Navrat
Address withheld



Richard Tritz
Address withheld


Recovered treasure is sea salvage. Most salvage is corroded or damaged, so I am less likely to bid in such an auction. When auctions occur, the prices realized tend to be high, making my bidding even less likely.

Police auctions featuring seized coins are a better way to acquire coins at a reasonable price, as long as the former owner does not try to recover them.

Bruce Frohman
Address withheld


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Letters to the Editor (August 7, 2018)

(Image courtesy usmint.gov)

Can 2018 reverse proof silver set sell out?

Well, the U.S. Mint took my advice that I wrote to you about last year. In 2017, the Mint issued an enhanced uncirculated clad set, which as I wrote to you at that time, was pretty much a flop. But as I wrote to you at that time, the Mint should explore issuing a reverse proof set in silver. Here you have it. On July 23, 2018, the Mint announced that sales will begin for the 2018-S Silver Reverse Proof Mint Set, commemorating 50 years of proof coin production at the San Francisco Mint. Question is, the Mint has imposed a mintage limit of 200,000 sets and an initial household buying limit of 10 sets per households Will this set sell out or not?

Don’t you think that the mintage of 200,000 sets is too high? Well, let’s look at recent history, like the 2014 gold Kennedy and the 2014 four special finish/mintmarks Kennedy silver set. These both are currently selling for less than issue price because their mintages were too high. I believe it was 75,000 for the 2014 Kennedy gold and 100,000 for the 2014 four-coin Kennedy Special Silver Set, which had included reverse proof and other special finish and mintmarks never previously issued by the U.S. Mint. I see that at coin shows, and on eBay the dealers and sellers cannot sell these sets.

So what is in store in 2018 for this special issue reverse proof set? Here is my prediction: I see the big dealers hyping these and buying up in groups, etc., and then the price will crash after everyone realizes it didn’t sell out at the Mint.

Thoughts? On the other hand, maybe this 2018 set is different because everyone who religiously buys the annual proof sets (clad and silver) will want this set as well to round out their sets? Maybe?

What was the 2017 or 2016 final sales for the proof silver sets? What was the final mintages/sales for the 2017 enhanced uncirculated set? Perhaps that is the crystal ball of prediction of past history.

Aren’t the 2017 enhanced uncirculated sets now getting negative sales every month because of the returns? I think that is a tell-tale sign. Time will tell, and let’s see how the market reacts. I have been burned by the hype plenty of times before, so maybe this will be hot, maybe not.

What is your opinion, Dave? The readers?

I think that the 200,000 mintage is too high for this 2018 Reverse Proof Mint Set, and it will not rise in value in the future secondary market in 2019 and beyond.

Robert Matitia
Address Withheld


Ike dollar ‘reflection’ merely upside down

It looks like the cover of Numismatic News intended to feature a mirror image of the Ike dollar. Looks close, but only upside down. Thanks for throwing in an error now and then. It keeps our eyes sharp.

Mark Johnson
Address withheld


Boy Scouts searched for nickels and merit badges

In the July 3 issue of Numismatic News, a letter from Ralph Fuller recounted his experiences in finding Jefferson nickels from circulation. He asked for similar experiences. Ralph did better on finding all of the dates than I could.

I did a few sessions with the Boy Scouts Merit Badge in Coin Collecting several years ago. We followed the instruction book for the merit badge. I encouraged them to try to fill the Jefferson nickel books from circulation.

I started fresh on a set of nickels with them. It was tough to find much before 1960. Bank roll finds were few and far between. We hit on a good way of finding these older nickels. We asked around to our family and friends for an opportunity to search their coin jars. Many had a lot of change to go through. They were more than willing to let us look through them if we offered to roll the contents up in bank rolls for them.

Several grandparents had been putting coins away for a long time and even had put aside the older dates. This is when we started filling the books. Even then the best I could do was having seven open holes.

I got lucky with a co-worker that was complaining about dealing with all those nickels his father had put away. I bought them all from him and got a lot of 1940s, including the silver war nickels, to fill my book. This was after the merit badge program, however, but I had gotten hooked on searching for circulation finds again.

I got a 1950-D as a free bonus from a coin purchase. I never found the last six, so after several years I gave up and completed the book at a coin show. It was funny how many dealers wanted to sell me BU coins. I told them they were too nice for the book. I had to hunt for VF or less condition to keep the set consistent.

Rich Vatovec
Birmingham, Ala.


Scratch your head over how many coin cards issued

In 2007 and 2008, the U.S. Mint issued seven Presidential coin cards. The eighth card was scheduled to be U.S. Grant. But it appears only the seven were issued and the program was ended. Can you confirm?

Name withheld
Tolland, Conn.

Editor’s note: We did not keep data on these cards. Any reader with information is invited to respond with a letter.


Everyone needs to watch out for counterfeits

I read with interest and appreciation the article “Take action to fight counterfeits” by Matthew D. Kohel, in the May 15 edition of Numismatic News. The article was particularly relevant to me, based on an experience I had at a recent show, which I attended May 9-10.

There was a dealer there who had a 1915 Cuban 20 pesos gold coin for sale, at what appeared to be a very reasonable price at $1,400. The coin was in a slab from a major grading company. I offered to buy the coin from the dealer, and he was willing to accept payment by check. I was willing to wait for the coin until my check cleared.

I went back to the dealer the next day to purchase the coin and took a photo of the coin for documentation. When I asked the dealer to look at the coin again to look at the reverse side of the slab, he became angry and behaved unprofessionally and refused to sell me the coin.

Later, when I compared my photograph of the coin to the photograph on the coin grading company’s website, I noticed two startling differences. First, the holographic company logo on the front of the slab seen on the photograph from the company’s website was not seen at all on my photograph.

Also, the coin that I photographed showed multiple fine parallel lines on the obverse, indicating the coin had been cleaned; this was not seen on the coin grading company’s website photograph of the coin, nor did the label on the slab seen on the website indicate that the coin had been cleaned. Clearly, it was a different coin in a counterfeit slab.

I am glad I did not buy this coin. The price seemed too good to be true; previously, the lowest cost I had seen for this coin was $1,650. As collectors, we must hold dealers and grading companies accountable when we see a counterfeit coin or slab. We must do our due diligence in fighting counterfeits. Our hobby deserves no less.

Victor Adán
Buena Vista, Colo.


One silver dime find reminder of two others

Congratulations on finding the 1963 dime. Sometime between 2006 and 2008, I found two 1964 dimes that were rejected by a vending machine even though they’re supposed to have the same electrical properties as clad coins.

Here’s some interesting facts: this year, 1959 is 59 years ago. I was born in 1957, which is 61 years ago, while 1961 is 57 years ago. Go figure!

Iric Fox
Pasadena, Texas


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.


More Collecting Resources

• Error coins can bring big money. Learn to detect them and how to cash in on them with Strike It Rich With Pocket Change.

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.

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NGC slabs silver dollar hoard

One of the newly slabbed silver dollars from the New York Bank Hoard is shown in its slab.

A hoard of 16,000 pristine Morgan silver dollars stored in a New York City bank vault since 1964 have been graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.

That fact alone is amazing.

But even more compelling is the fact collectors will soon have an opportunity to buy these silver dollars from major retailers.

“Every collector dreams about having the opportunity to examine unsearched and fully original bags of vintage coins,” said Mark Salzberg, NGC chairman and Grading Finalizer.

“This was an incredible thrill for me,” he added.

The hoard dates back to the U.S. Treasury release 54 years ago.

Sixteen bags of the coins went from the Treasury to a New York bank in 1964.

The unnamed heir to the coins called in Jeff Garrett, president of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries and former president of the American Numismatic Association.

Garrett, his son Ben, and Salzburg made up a trio of experts to evaluate the hoard.

What they found were 16 1,000-coin solid-date canvas bags of uncirculated coins.

There was one bag of 1878-S dollars, two bags of 1880-S, one 1881-S, one 1883-O, one 1884-O, one 1885, two 1885-O, one 1886, four bags 1887, one bag 1888 and one bag 1889.

As might be expected, NGC found a number of amazing individual coins.

The firm reports:

• 28 1880-S Morgan dollars graded NGC MS-67

• Four 1885 Morgan dollars graded NGC MS-67

• Four 1885-O Morgan dollars graded NGC MS-67

• 82 1887 Morgan dollars graded NGC MS-67

• One 1884-O Morgan dollar graded NGC MS-66+ Star.

NGC said the New York Bank Hoard coins were encapsulated with a special NGC certification label.

The coins in this hoard will be listed separately in the online NGC Census, which identifies the NGC-certified population for each issue and grade.

If this information makes you an eager potential buyer, you shouldn’t have long to wait.

“Now that the hoard has been certified and pedigreed by NGC – and protected by NGC’s secure holder – the coins can be enjoyed by countless other collectors,” Jeff Garrett promised.

Get your checkbooks ready.


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Lust for gold never ends

The supposed treasure find of $130 billion in gold on a sunken Russian warship is already being called a scam by major news outlets.

The Daily Mail and Reuters have each published online articles on the topic.

What is interesting to me is the angle that the find story is also connected to a cryptocurrency scheme.

In recent months, we have seen investors almost literally throwing money at cryptocurrency enterprises.

Prospectuses by new firms have literally claimed that they will only decide what to do with the funds raised after they have received them.

If it is that easy to lay claim to large sums of money with a cryptocurrency story, why would you bother to connect it to a story about a Russian gold treasure?

Coin collectors can probably now dismiss the idea that they will ever have access to historic coins and bars from the Donskoi.

This Russian warship was sunk by the Japanese in 1905 during the war between the two countries.

It is too bad there is no treasure.

Even as skeptical as I am, I am at heart a bit of a kid when it comes to numismatic adventure stories.

Who wouldn’t want these claims to be true?

Such an outcome is so much more exciting than ordinary day-to-day life.

There is an element of wanting to believe in Santa Claus in this.

Charlie Brown always tries to kick the football even as he knows Lucy will take it away.

Collectors flock to new Mint issues in hopes of making a killing.

Remember the long lines and extra police required when the U.S. Mint offered 500 proof gold Kennedy half dollars at the American Numismatic Association convention in 2014?

I interviewed the lucky four individuals who were first in line that day and wrote a front-page story about it for Numismatic News.

Those first four coins were sold to David Hendrickson of SilverTowne for $20,000.

This was not a bad return for buying four coins at $1,240 each after spending all night waiting in line.

Even gold Kennedy buyers further back in line were able to triple their money.

This is the stuff of dreams.

This is why the U.S. Mint has so many online sellouts.

You can buy a slabbed Proof-70 Ultra Cameo gold Kennedy from that ANA convention for $1,395 on the APMEX website.

You have a choice of grading services.

That price really is an incredible deal.

It is not much of a markup from issue price.

But what is missing from these coins now is the hope to strike it rich that animated massive interest in it in the first place.

But we know that just as there will be other sunken treasure stories, there will be more new Mint issues.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”


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Seven new faces of Charles Barber

By John Frost

Charles E. Barber, best known for his Liberty Head or Barber dimes, quarters and half dollars, as well as the Liberty Head nickel, was Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint from 1880 until 1917. A lot of supposition about the type of man he was leads many to believe he was a most disagreeable fellow who didn’t get along with his peers and was difficult to work with.

By an amazing set of circumstances, I was able to meet and visit with two of his great-grandsons earlier this year. The family was most gracious and shared a wealth of new information about Charles Barber, and also his father William Barber (Chief Engraver from 1869 until his death in 1879). The family also possess personal possessions of the Barbers, including documents, historical artifacts and other ephemera that shine a much more positive light on both William and Charles and leads to the conclusion that much of what people think they know about them is untrue.

The oft-seen photo of Chief Mint Engraver Charles E. Barber, left, is now joined by several other images thanks to the research of John Frost and the cooperation of Barber’s descendants. Two of the seven are shown at center and right.

One of the aspects that hasn’t helped the image of Charles Barber is that the one photo of him that permeates numismatic literature and any mention of the man comes from a grainy old group photo from the mint, in which Barber appears as a grumpy old man. In meeting the family, we discover a beautiful painting of him, along with six never-before-seen photographs. These new pictures of him more accurately portray him as he has been viewed by the family all these years – as a warm and kind family man, blessed with good friends. Since his lifetime, he has been referred to as “Dear Papa” by the family. His great-grandsons remember their grandmother Edith (“Dee-Dee”) talking about her father in the warmest regards.

Young Charles E. Barber (left), Barber with receding hairline (center), and Barber at the Jersey shore with his only grandchild (right).

Other historical artifacts shown to me by the family include a bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln created by Charles Barber, along with the original Lincoln photograph Charles used to create it. Another remarkable item is a 39-star flag, which was presented to Charles Barber by President Theodore Roosevelt. Barber was to take the flag with him on his trip to Europe in 1905, in which he visited a number of foreign mints on an information-sharing mission.

Two more Barber portraits.

Barber’s passport and numerous Mint memos (from various departments with questions they wanted Charles to ask their counterparts overseas) are also held by the family. And new information is learned from the diary of Charles’ 19-year-old daughter Edith, who accompanied her father and his wife on the European trip. The diary also provides strong evidence that Charles Barber and George T. Morgan, designer of the Morgan silver dollar, got along well, despite the assumptions of many that the two disliked each other.

The Barber Coin Collectors’ Society hopes that the old photo of Charles Barber will be retired in lieu of one of the seven new images of him that make a more accurate portrayal of him.

In addition to the revelation about the friendly Morgan relationship from Edith’s diary, the presentation of Roosevelt’s 39-star flag changes our view on the personal relationship between the President and Charles Barber. While it is true that Roosevelt wanted to give sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (whom he had known for years) the opportunity to redesign some of our coinage, it doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that he disliked Barber personally. The flag presentation actually refutes that assumption, as the 39-star flag, produced and acquired in 1889 by Roosevelt while living in Dakota Territory in anticipation of statehood, would have been a highly prized possession.

Many more details on the Charles Barber discoveries may be found in the March, June and future September 2018 issues of the Journal of the Barber Coin Collectors’ Society (www.barbercoins.org), and the August issue of the ANA’s publication, The Numismatist.

Equally impressive are artifacts related to William Barber. William, father of Charles, is the forgotten engraver, and many collectors are unaware that William even existed. But it was William who designed two Seated Liberty coins – the Trade dollar and the ill-fated double dime (20-cent piece). There are no known photographs of William, and until now, the only image we have had of him is from the William Barber commemorative medal that the Mint issued in 1880 (engraved by son Charles) following William’s unexpected death in 1879.

However, the family has a remarkable painting of a young William, and one of his wife Anna Maria (Anna May). Most likely painted on ivory (a very stable platform to paint on), these two portraits are exquisitely detailed and proudly hang on the walls in one of the family’s homes. Well preserved, the paintings are as fresh as the day they were presented to the Barbers.

Three original sketches of coin designs in pencil and pen by William Barber show his artistry and talent. These sketches, until now unknown by the numismatic community, were a startling find! One of them is a half dollar reverse that appears, with some modifications, on an 1877 pattern. Perhaps even more important, the family has obverse and reverse sketches of what would have been our first commemorative coin had it ever been made. These three-dimensional high-relief sketches on paper provide an excellent view of what William had in mind.

Other artifacts related to William Barber include a leather first edition of J.F. Loubat’s book, Medals of the United States of America – 1776-1876, published in 1878. It was personally inscribed and presented to William by the author in honor of all that William had done to expand the U.S. Mint’s medal program. And the most personal document related to William Barber is a two-page memo to the family, written and signed by the Officers of the Philadelphia Mint following a special meeting of the staff at the Mint on Sept. 2, 1879, two days after William’s passing. It is a moving tribute to the man, demonstrating the high regard the Mint staff had for Barber despite some earlier rough patches he had with the former Mint Director H.R. Linderman in Washington, D.C.

A lengthy article on William Barber can be found in the summer issue of The Gobrecht Journal, publication of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club (www.lsccweb.org).

Due to the generosity of the family, the Barber Coin Collectors’ Society and the Liberty Seated Collectors Club will display jointly an exhibit of most of the artifacts, documents and ephemera discussed above, along with some medals, patterns and coins. The two clubs will have side-by-side tables, Booths 146 and 148, in the Club Midway at the American Numismatic Association Convention in Philadelphia.

A discussion will be held at the Annual Meeting of the Barber Coin Collectors’ Society on Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 9 a.m. in Room 120-C. Everyone is welcome to attend. The Annual Meeting of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club will be held Thursday, Aug. 16, at 9 a.m. in Room 120-C.

In addition, an ANA Money Talks presentation will be offered on Friday, Aug. 17, at 4 p.m. in Room 121-B entitled, “Fascinating New Discoveries Regarding Father-Son Mint Engravers William and Charles Barber.”

John Frost has been a numismatist for over 40 years and is currently President of the Barber Coin Collectors’ Society and Director of Education for the Liberty Seated Collectors Club. He is co-author of the reference, “Double Dimes — the United States Twenty-cent Piece,” contributor to the Red Book, instructor at ANA’s Summer Seminar, and speaker at coin shows regionally and nationally.


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Gold worth $8 trillion

According to the World Gold Council (WGC), at the end of 2017 there are about 6.1 billion ounces of physical gold extant in the world. This does not count gold still in the ground or in the water waiting to be mined or extracted.

(Image courtesy www.gold.org)

Of this total, just over 1 billion ounces are held by central banks, governments, or other official organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

Almost 3 billion ounces exists in jewelry form, though much of this owned in India and China, the world’s two largest gold-consuming nations, is owned as a source of wealth rather than for adornment.

Another 1-1/4 billion ounces is in the form of coins and ingots, which are held in the long term almost exclusively for investment purposes. Exchange traded funds (ETFs) and similar investment entities held about 80 million ounces.

That leaves about 850 million ounces used in other fabricated products or otherwise not accounted for elsewhere.

While the World Gold Council produces an impressive amount of statistical data, I do not consider it to be fully accurate. Back in 2003, the Chinese government started accumulating significant gold reserves. I learned of it at the time but did not receive sufficient corroborating evidence until 2005 to report on it.

In April 2009, China finally admitted that it had acquired about 14.5 million ounces of gold since 2003. Sadly, the WGC statistics never showed this demand in its data nor what were the sources of this gold in their data on supplies. I am convinced that the Chinese government has continued to accumulate physical gold above and beyond the quantities it is reporting to the IMF – which the WGC still does not fully include in its supply, demand, and inventory statistics. It is possible that some of this extra gold it has acquired may be part of what the WGC considers to be unaccounted for.

As of the end of 2017, the 6.1 billion ounces of physical gold, at $1,306 per ounce, was worth about $8 trillion. That is not a significant figure in global finances, especially since only a small fraction of physical gold ever changes hands during the course of a year. For example, outstanding U.S. Treasury debt is about double that amount. As of June 30, 2018, all of the stocks in the Standard & Poor 500 Index had a combined market value of around $23 trillion.

However, global daily trading volume of paper contracts for gold for the 12 months ending June 30, 2018, averaged about $150 billion, almost 10 times the average volume of daily trading in the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

In last week’s column, I discussed the unusual activity in the settling of mature COMEX gold and silver contracts where the owner asks for delivery of the underlying metal. It is possible that the mysterious activity in the gold and silver paper trading markets may be covering up for a growing shortage of physical supply.

Early this week, gold and silver prices had fallen to their lowest levels since mid-July 2017. If the U.S. government is aggressively working with its primary trading partners and allied central banks to suppress precious metals prices, such activity cannot last over the long term. In my judgment, current prices are likely to be perceived as a bargain buying opportunity when we look back at them within the next couple of years.

Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2017 Exemplary Service and 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He was also honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild in 2017 and 2016 for the Best Dealer-Published Magazine/Newspaper and for Best Radio Report. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at http://www.libertycoinservice.com. Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at http://www.1320wils.com).


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Sunken gold worth billions found?

A sunken Russian warship off the coast of South Korea has treasure aficionados buzzing once again.

The ship was a victim of the 1905 Russo-Japanese war.

It is supposed to be full of gold.

In fact, the stories cite values that are so implausibly large that I don’t believe either.

A CNBC story says there is 200 tons of gold worth $130 billion.

The Daily Mail from Great Britain offers a slightly different figure, but still implausibly large.

It says $113 billion.

However, it also says, “Donskoi is believed to have been carrying the gold supplies of the entire Second Pacific Squadron when it sank, which would be worth $133 billion at today’s prices.”

Why don’t I believe the value numbers?

While I can believe the ship had an entire payroll aboard, my doubts come from simply doing the math.

A quantity of 200 metric tons of gold means the ship was carrying 6.43 million ounces of gold.

The current gold bullion value for one ounce is $1,215.80.

That puts the value of the potential gold hoard at $7.8 billion.

Such a sum is huge. But it is nowhere near $130 billion.

The CNBC story reported 5,500 boxes of gold bars and coins.

I just did a story about an upcoming coin auction featuring three bars of Gold Rush gold from California.

These are very desirable items to American collectors.

Pre-sale estimates are roughly twice melt value.

If we value the gold bars on the Donskoi at twice melt, we can ratchet up the $7.8 billion to $15.6 billion.

That is bigger than huge, but still much less than $130 billion.

To reach $130 billion, the recovered gold would have to be all coins sold for 16.66 times melt value.

You can buy a common date Liberty Head gold $20 for $1,254.09 on the APMEX website.

Melt value is $1,176.

Would coin collectors pay $19,592.16 for this coin if it had been brought up as recovered treasure?

We aren’t that stupid.

Premiums are paid for treasure coins, but not like that across the board.

A Russian warship also is not likely to be carrying many MS-67 rarities of even Russian coins that might help the total value along.

I think it is more plausible that there is no gold at all on the ship than that it contains gold worth even the much lower $7.8 billion number.

But it is an interesting story despite the exaggerated gold value estimates.

Let’s keep watching.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”


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Colorado show works for youth

Four Young Numismatists look over ANA Money Display in Kid’s Zone at June 2018 Colorado Springs Coin Show.

Youth and their families hunted for numismatic treasure at the Colorado Springs, Colo., Coin, Currency and Collectibles Show June 21-23.

Budding young hobbyists also built U.S. coin starter collections at the event.

The American Numismatic Association, the Colorado Springs Coin Club and the Colorado Springs Numismatic Society teamed up to bring educational numismatic exhibits and host the show’s first Youth-Family.

The show was held as usual during the transition period between the first and second weeks of the ANA’s annual Summer Seminar.

Show and Bourse Coordinator Ken Byrd said, “We wanted to add to the 2018 show a few special public numismatic educational displays and family fun activities to attract more local folks into our show, which was held at a new location. Our team goal was to ask the ANA to share some of its numismatic treasures with the public.”

Additionally, Byrd said, “We invited ANA Past President Walt Ostromecki, who was in town for the ANA 50th Annual Summer Seminar, to come and take charge of the show’s youth and family activities.”

These activities included one of his fun and popular 10-stop Treasure Trivia Hunts, which help youngsters build a starter coin collection and discover the interesting hobby of numismatics.
Ostromecki’s Kid’s Zone area did well education-wise and planted many a hobby seed for the future, according to Byrd.

“Furthermore, he also brought along several other hands-on youth activities for their learning pleasure. The results? Simply amazing. The big bright smiles on the youth Treasure Hunters and parents told the story. Nearly 60 youngsters with parents participated in the Treasure Trivia Hunt during all three days of the show,” Byrd said.

Activity on the floor of the 80-dealer bourse was ranked as fair.

Dealer Michael Quinn, Something Old -Something New, Post Falls, Idaho, remarked, “Business was slow and sporadic. I suspect the new venue played a role in this, as did the Baltimore Show going on during the same dates.”

JLF U.S. Coins owner Jerry Fritz of Colorado Springs said, “Overall sales of collector grade U.S. coins were pretty OK. I did a lot of complimentary U.S. coin evaluations for the public.”

The ANACS grading service was very busy and did a brisk business with coin certification on site.

Another area also seeing a lot of public traffic was the exhibit area. Several outstanding and award-winning U.S. and foreign coin and paper money numismatic displays placed by club members of the Colorado Springs Coin Club and the Colorado Springs Numismatic Society wowed visitors.

But displays are part of the life-long educational process, too.

Plans for the 2019 Colorado Springs show are already in the works.

For more show and bourse information, please contact, Ken Byrd via email at: ken@kenbyrdcoinsandcurrency.com, or telephone him at 719-434-6527.

For further information about meetings and membership for the Colorado Springs Coin Club and the Colorado Springs Numismatic Society, visit cscc.anaclubs.org.


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today


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