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Letters to the Editor (11/18/14)

Starting over brings joy back to coin collecting

Your editorial “How about making a fresh start?” (Oct. 7) is exactly what I did.

I had been a coin collector for many years, As time had gone one, my funds for collecting coins had dried up. Since I could no longer make new purchases, my interest and enthusiasm in coin collecting dried up as well. I had no interest in going to coins shows, attending my monthly coin club meeting, or reading anything about coins.

Then one day several months ago as I was looking at my coin albums collecting dust on my bookshelves, I decided to do something. I would sell the coins in my collection that no longer interested me. I sold my mint sets, proof sets, Indian Head, cents, Lincoln cents, Liberty V nickels, Kennedy half dollars and other coins that I no longer had interest in.

Some coins I made money on, some I broke even and some I lost money. Making money or losing money was not the point. The fact that I could start enjoying my coin collecting hobby again was.

Now by having money to make new purchases, my joy and excitement in coin collecting came back to life. My interest in attending coin shows came back. I again look forward to my monthly coin club meetings and I even renewed my expired subscription to Numismatic News. I am glad to see Cliff Mishler still writing articles on his trips. I have always enjoyed them. I am currently working on a Buffalo nickel set, and I am enjoying it very much.

By making a fresh start, the joy and excitement in the hobby that I started in as a child is back with me again.

George Anderson
Albany, Ga.

1908 Indian Head found in box of cents

I get a box of pennies (2,500) from the bank once or twice a month looking for coppers and wheats.

Well, on Sept. 15 I opened one roll and lo and behold I spotted an Indian Head cent. It turned out to be a 1908 in VF+ condition.

Then from the same roll came a 1909 VDB Lincoln in VF-EF condition.

This is by far the best roll I’ve opened to date.

Also about a month ago, I received a 1943-D Washington quarter in Fine condition.

I encourage everyone to get a few rolls of coins next trip to the bank.

Steven Pierce
Bronx, N.Y.

Makes no sense to pay extra for Chicago coins

The article about the gold Kennedy half dollar is sickening. How can people pay so much money for certified Chicago coins? I hope this falls flat on its face and the selfish and greedy people come to their senses.

Why don’t people turn to the real values? Use the money that they use to buy hyped and overpriced coins to give to charity.

It does not seem proper to squander money on such a coin as a certified gold Kennedy when there are such needy people. Perhaps could use the money to buy youngsters coins at coin clubs and see some real joy in people’s hearts. The focus is completely in the wrong direction.

It seems everything the government does with coins no longer has any appeal for me. They only thing I want and have wanted for years is for the government to redesign our circulation coins with a Liberty or Indian on them so the kids could have fun finding and collecting them.

In 1964 the Kennedy profile had real character. Why did in recent years it become a caricature of its original self and only now has it been restored?

Why no double-dated circulation anniversary halves for kids to go to the bank and get and have the thrill we did when we were kids?

The gold Kennedy just doesn’t cut it. I remember the excitement of the new halves in 1964. Let’s have it again with lovely new designs.

Bob Olekson
Parma, Ohio

People are buying slabs instead of nice coins

I have been a collector for over 50 years. There is something seriously wrong with this hobby.

I recently rented a table at a local coin show to sell some of my coins. A customer asked if I had any certified Mint State Morgan dollars.

I showed him nine different certified Morgan dollars which he examined and seemed to be happy with.

After examining all nine coins, he handed them back saying he would buy them if they were in PCGS slabs.

I asked him if he likes the coins what difference does it make what slabs they are in.

He replied that he only buys PCGS slabbed coins and proceeded to walk away.

This is not the first time I’ve had customers tell me they only wanted coins in NGC or PCGS slabs. This makes me wonder if they are coin collectors or slab collectors.

If I like a coin, I’ll buy it. I really don’t care what slab it’s in as long as it’s a nice coin.

Perhaps NGC and PCGS should sell empty slabs for those collectors that are only interested in the slab instead of the coin.

This hobby is getting very crazy.

David Hansen
Asheville, N.C.

Just because it says MS-70 doesn’t mean it’s perfect

The U.S. Mint should not have its coins slabbed before selling them to its customers. This is a completely ridiculous idea. Why should the producer of anything have a third party tell them if they are right or wrong about the production of their items? They are the mint masters not the grading services.

The Mint makes virtually perfect coins already; it is the grading services that are using the Mint as a reason to make money by separating grains of sand. The grade difference in 99 percent of the cases is almost unrecognizable between the top two grades and in most cases I can find something wrong with the supposed perfect MS-70 or PR-70 coins with the aid of a 10-power glass. It is almost like coins have reverted back to the grading prior to the numbered system, at least on the freshly minted modern issues.

Remember when a coin was an Uncirculated, Brilliant Uncirculated or Gem Uncirculated? I do. Think of it as MS or Proof-70 as a Gem, MS or Proof-69 as a Brilliant Uncirculated or anything under this as an Uncirculated coin. What’s the difference? Many of the supposed perfect coins develop spots after time caused by who knows what, (maybe just because they are enclosed in the same air for years and decades) or unseen impurities in the metal itself. Either way some do this and they no longer look perfect but you can’t crack it out of there or the grade becomes void.

I can totally understand getting the older coins graded because they were either used or not packaged as they are today for long-term preservation. The coins the Mint produces today especially the proof sets and commemoratives are packaged to last for many decades. The commemoratives in particular are already in capsules, and the coins will stay nearly perfect in the original packaging. This is as good as or even better than the slabs will preserve them, mainly because every time you remove the coin from the original holder you run the risk of exposing it to different air and some other type of contamination, anything from finger grease to possible spit of breath exposure. It is just like a cancer in your body that can spread if it is exposed to the air. In most cases after the initial craze of owning the newest coin out there the price falls dramatically, especially in the -69 and lower grades.

Most of the slabbing of modern coins is used by telemarketers as an excuse to have a huge difference in price between the -69 and -70 grades, selling mainly the supposed perfect grade -70 for much more than the -69 coins.

The reality is there is virtually no difference between the two grades and the -70 grades are not perfect either. Nothing is. Just putting the coin in the holder is going to alter the reeds on the rim some or one side of the rim may have more of a wire edge than another, therefore not a perfect coin at all. The only reason they went to the -70 grade in the first place was one grading firm started doing it and the others had to follow suit or be left behind.

In the end telling the Mint what grades their coins are right out of the chute is like asking whether the dog wags its tail or does the tail wag the dog?

On the other hand if this were to happen, the U.S. Mint would become the world’s biggest telemarketing company. It would drive all the other telemarketing companies out of business, but the grading services would still make money for slabbing fees.

Which grading company would they choose? If they chose just one company, would it make them better than the other? Or would it just be the one grading company that gave the Mint the best deal and the best grades? So I don’t know. Which would be better? Should the Mint hire their own graders and start their own grading service just for their coins? I still say leave the Mint out of it. This would look like collusion in some eyes especially getting the government involved in all this business of grading coins.

Name withheld

Pocket change yields uncirculated 1940 Lincoln cent

A few months ago while visiting my girlfriend in Florida, while I was sitting by the pool I pulled out some pocket change to see if had anything worth keeping. This is a practice I have done for many, many years.

This time while sitting in Florida’s bright sun one coin real really popped out. This one coin immediately court my attention. This coin seemed particularly bright and shiny. At first I thought it was a coin made out of bronze, as it was brighter than any other coin I have seen.

Upon closer inspection I saw that it was a Lincoln cent, one of the prettiest pennies that I have ever seen. It was actually a 1940 Lincoln penny and it looked just about in perfect condition. Placing it under the loupe, the coin seemed to be uncirculated with a little bit of really pretty toning.

As I looked at it I wondered how the 74-year-old coin got to me in this condition after all of this time. I find this very interesting. What was its history? How did this coin end up in my pocket change after all of these years? Where did it come from and how long was it sitting in someone’s collection or in the bottom of a drawer? It obviously hasn’t been circulating for all of these years. So what amount of time passed since it was put back in circulation, and how long was it there until I stumbled upon it? Just some answers coin collectors like to know. Anyway it was a really nice find and a really cool coin to add to my pocket change finds!

Philip M. Lo Presti
East Meadow, N.Y.

Nickel set completed from circulation finds

Like many of the readers of NN I enjoy the letters about circulation finds. I am always checking my and my wife’s pocket change for dates and mintmarks, keeping some and sending the rest back into circulation. I keep Whitman folders current for myself and my children – cents, nickels,and dimes.

A fun and challenging numismatic activity I have done twice so far is to keep a folder for nickels collection No. 2, 1962 to 1995, a total of 65 coins. Only coins from circulation go into the set. Condition is not a factor as I can always upgrade if I find a duplicate of that nickel.

This month I finished a set that I started in May 2011. The last nickel was a 1968-S. There are several common dates from the 1980s and 1990’ and both 1964s in particular. But there are a few from the late 1960s and early 1970s that you can’t find so easy.

Hopefully, it won’t take three and a half years to complete the next set. It is a challenge and one that keeps active the thrill of the hunt, the enjoyment of filling the empty holes and eventually the completion of the set. For now, it’s time to buy another nickel folder and start on another set.

A.J. Verhaeghe
Swartz Creek, Mich.

Put family searching coins at table on commemorative

Sitting there the other day, passing time roll searching Lincolns and listening to the TV, an ad for education came on by our New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

It stated that one of the best pieces of educational equipment is the kitchen table, and the best teacher is a parent or grandparent.

That got me to thinking that the majority of us present day numismatists had our baptism to coins at the kitchen table, along with either a parent or grandparent.  What would be a more appropriate commemorative coin than one commemorating the beloved kitchen table? I fondly remember sitting there with my dad cracking open fresh rolls of pennies, nickels and dimes, plugging the holes in our Whitman albums to launch a long loved journey of coin collecting.

Long live the kitchen table. I have fond memories of our 1950s style table with stainless legs and red and white Formica top. Thinking about it brings tears.

Both the table and my dad are gone, but not the memories. Thanks dad, something to think about, a possible future commemorative coin.

Michael P. Schmeyer
Spencer, N.Y.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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