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Letters to the Editor (12/02/14)

Formula calculates number of copper cents in roll

When visiting the bank I still ask for a few rolls of Lincoln cents when making my transactions. Cherry-picking for cents by the community at large has yielded some impressive results, and as we enter 2015, even cents from the 1970s and 1980s might start to gain in value. I’d like to speculate that finding 95 percent copper cents in a roll will soon be the new treasure hunt as most scarce coins have already been removed from general circulation.

I came up with a quick formula to determine how many 95 percent copper cents are in a roll, without even opening up the roll itself. Weigh the individual roll using a jewelry scale, set to grams. Take that number and subtract 126. Then divide that number by 0.61. The sum will be the number of 95 percent copper coins in that roll.

Here is the reasoning behind the formula using what we know:

A single 95 percent copper cent weighs 3.11 grams. A single newer type copper-plated zinc cent weighs 2.5 grams. We will assume the paper used to wrap the roll weighs 1 gram.

Therefore, we know that a full roll of 95 percent copper cents wrapped in paper will weigh 156.5 grams. (3.11 x 50) + 1 = 156.5

We also know that a full roll of copper-plated zinc cents wrapped in paper will weigh 126 grams. (2.5 x 50) + 1 = 126

Using this information, I take a random roll and weigh it. The scale reads 132.71 grams. How many 95 percent copper cents should be in this roll?

First subtract the total from the base, 132.71 – 126 = 6.71 Then divide this remainder by the constant 6.71 \ 0.61 = 11

There should be 11 total 95 percent copper coins in this roll, and sure enough, that’s what I find.

As a side note, this formula doesn’t account for a roll that might contain 1943 steel cents, and if cents have worn a bit due to circulation, in that case you can round up to determine the final number. On the odd chance you find a roll which weighs more than 156.5 grams, you might have struck silver or gold.

Happy copper hunting,

Jared Grove
Ardmore, Pa.

Friendship lost over a few cents

Every week I read and digest the contents of NN.  I laugh at the complaints about what the Mint did or did not do, how the CCAC made another bad choice and why Mr. Mishler writes the way he does. Then I pass my copy to the parents of a juvenile friend of mine. Every issue of NN has a pearl for me. But the Nov. 11 issue was especially poignant.

A few months ago I met (through the mail) an Alabama collector. He is older than I, but we developed, what I thought, was a friendship. We traded (even swapped) coins from the Denver and Philadelphia mints until we tried to reach an agreement on the trade of silver halves for presidential dollars. We have had no communication since we could not reach an equitable trade agreement.

It was the comment about “The Greater Fool Theory” and the article entitled “Hobby too costly for young collectors” that has touched me. I am on the eve of my 70th birthday and have been hoping that my coin collecting will enlarge my circle of friends. I feel that the Alabama collector and I had a developing friendship that has vanished due to the greater fool theory. I am sad that a developing friendship was so fragile that it could be destroyed by a few cents.

If we, as collectors/dealers, don’t do a better job of developing friendships (networks) and acting as mentors to the young we are destined to end up in the tar pits.  How much is profit really worth?

Name withheld
Kansas

Education director deserves credit for hard work

I don’t read Numismatic News or any other numismatic publications, but while waiting for my husband at the doctor’s office, I picked up his copy of your Nov. 4 edition as I was bored.  As I went through the paper, I read an article in your “Letters” section submitted by the president of California State Numismatics Association. The article reported on the numismatic symposium held recently in Sacramento, Calif.

I was surprised when I read that the director of education only “attended” the symposium along with other CSNA members.  The director of education has to be intricately involved with the symposium, especially when it is held in a new venue and is conducted by people who are unfamiliar with conducting an educational symposium.

When my husband had a new organization put on a symposium for the first time, he was involved in every aspect of setting it up and working with the hosts at the new location.
My husband, Jim Hunt, served as CSNA director of education for eight years.

I feel that the CSNA president must not fully understand the work done by the director of education to conduct an educational symposium at a new venue.  He has clearly failed to recognize the hard work done by the director to get the job done.  If he had written a letter like that when my husband was director of education, I would have been furious.  Mr. Iversen was clearly not given the credit he deserved for all his hard work.  He deserves lots better than that.

Ellen J. Hunt
California

Mint did great job fulfilling Kennedy set order

I read some of the comments sent to you regarding the fast order and delivery of the 50th anniversary Kennedy sets and I want to add my two cents.

I went online at 9:19 a.m. Oct. 28  to order five Kennedy silver sets and was confirmed immediately that my order was accepted. I received an email at 10:21 a.m. that the order was confirmed.

On Oct. 29 I received an email that my order had been shipped. I received the five sets on Nov. 5 and everything was very professional without any problems. Thought you might like to know.

I feel the Mint does a great job with logistics when considering the volume they process, but this last experience was truly outstanding. Thanks.

Bill Graney
Tubac, Ariz.

Pitting near rim of unc Kennedy half

Here is my humble opinion about the silver Kennedy set. I ordered late on Oct. 28 without encountering any problems. It was shipped the next day and arrived on Nov. 5. That’s pretty good.

The coins are very nice, but I’m a bit disappointed with the enhanced uncirculated. Last year’s enhanced silver Eagle looked so much better. Also, it is a pity that they cannot be viewed from both sides without prying them out of their socket. I had to use some force to get them out.

The outside of the box is a dark and light blue which looks OK, but why did the Mint decide on a dark blue and black on the foldable coin holder inside? I’m sure they could have come up with a better color combination.

When examining the coins with my X10 magnifier, I noticed some pitting at the side of the uncirculated half dollar, near the rim. There is also some pitting on the reverse, in the same location. What would cause that?

Klaus Schwalfenberg
Torrance, Calif.

Stop complaining, enjoy the hobby

Wow. Letter writers continually complain that the Mint has lousy service and is too expensive, yet they keep ordering new coins from the mean old Mint.

Then people gripe that the artwork or designs on coins aren’t any good. Then it’s a letter about rude or crooked coin dealers at shows. Then it is complaints about slabbing or no slabbing. Then the website is lousy, then phone service is lousy. Too expensive. Then it’s a columnist writing about what he eats for lunch or dinner, gripe, moan, complain.

In my 54 years I have found about 99.9 percent  of the time that stereotypes I was taught as a child or stereotypes that I learned as an adult are true. The letters regularly appearing in this paper are certainly not doing anything to change the perception that coin collectors are a bunch of grumpy old men! Relax people, try somehow to enjoy your “hobby.”

Frank Murphine
Bridgeton, N.J.

Lack of new collectors will cause coin prices to drop

I am quite concerned that 25 to 30 years from now coin prices will start a steady and possibly sharp decline due to dwindling demand.

We continually hear and read that younger people today – our children and grandchildren – have little interest in our wonderful hobby.  Despite Herculean positive efforts made by our hobby leaders, the ANA, and many hard-working collectors, volunteers, and other organizations to recruit younger people, I fear that as we die off, so will the demand portion of the “supply and demand” equation that pricing is tied to.

When my wife and I go the opera, or hear a world class symphony orchestra perform, typically we are almost the only people in the audience who don’t collect Social Security.  I ask many of the people who do attend if they started going to these performances only as they got into their sixties and older, and invariably the answer is no – they also went often when they were younger.

Clearly, these art forms are losing demand and interest from younger people.  As a result, many opera, symphony and ballet companies have been forced to close due to financial reasons.  While there are several reasons involved, the biggest one is that younger people have other interests, and despite efforts made, the success rate of converting younger people to fans is much too small.

The same is true for our hobby.  As a generalization, we are a group of aging white men, and while there are plenty of women, children, and non-white people with interest in our hobby, there are not enough people entering the hobby to make up for the loss of members as we continue to age.  Take a look at the number of subscribers to the weekly numismatic publications over the past decades!  Look at how thin they each are, compared to just 10 years ago.  A part of the reason for that is the advertisers know they are reaching fewer people now than before.

I truly believe that coin prices will continue to rise for many years, as the Baby Boomers are reaching their peak earning years, and they will continue to partake in our hobby as retirees.

We have had many positive innovations over the years that have greatly benefitted our hobby, the most notable of which, in my opinion, has been the widespread use and acceptance of third party grading services since the mid-1980s. To a smaller extent, the introduction and growing acceptance of CAC has also been a benefit, as is the concept and growing participation of the two “registries,” which increases the flow of our competitive juices.

While I am not smart enough to even hypothesize what positive innovations might come down the road, I do believe they will occur.  However, due to the prior point that younger people are not joining our hobby at a fast enough rate, I do believe that 25 to 30 years from now, as most current collectors have passed away, coin prices will be on the downswing, and the price drops could be significant, as the demand for collectible and rare coins has few buyers.

Your thoughts?

Steve Feiertag
Address withheld

Mintmark placement differs on gold, silver halves

I received the silver and gold 50th Kennedy halves.  I was surprised to see the silver mintmarks were on the obverse but the gold was on the reverse.  I called the Mint to confirm the mintmarks were correctly placed.  I thought readers would be interested also.

John Hamer
Address withheld

Mint surprises with prompt order delivery

I am still in a state of shock concerning the United States Mint. I could not believe my eyes concerning how the Mint handled my recent order.

On Oct. 28 I placed an online order for the 50th Anniversary Kennedy Half Dollar Silver Coin Collection Set. As usual I received an email saying my order was in the Mint’s system. As usual, I expected to wait forever for the Mint to process and ship my order.

On the very next day much to my surprise, I was emailed that my order was processed and shipped! I thought that this must be a mistake because the Mint never acts this quickly when it comes to prompt customer service. I started to check the FedEx tracking system on a regular basis. FedEx received my order on Oct. 30. It took until Nov. 3 for them to get it to my local U.S. Post Office. The USPS delivered my order on the very next day, Nov. 4. I inspected the order and it was in great shape.

If this is how the Mint will be handling future orders, many of its customers will be thrilled and overjoyed.

Happy holidays to all.

Leo Darmstadter
Vineland, N.J.

Buy coins because you like them, not to get rich

I did not get a chance to participate in your poll regarding whether or not limits should be set for the four-coin Kennedy set, but I did just read the comments that other people sent in.

It appears to me that the people who wanted limits are basically saying that limits are good as long as they get theirs, and the people who did not want limits are basically saying the same thing, that they have to get theirs, and if there were limits then they might not be able to.

Considering the popularity of the subject matter, this is a set that anyone who wants one should be entitled to purchase.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is just being selfish.

Remember, if there is a limit for anything, you never know which side of the fence you are going to wind up on. And as far as the lack of limits affecting resale value, we are talking about a $100 item.  Realistically, does anyone think they are going to get rich on this?  In 20 years, it will be worth, hopefully $100, limits or no limits, so don’t be shopping for that yacht just yet.

Want a limited edition? Buy a coin from the Marshall Islands, and let us know how that turns out for you. It has been said many times, you are either a collector or an investor, not both. Buy it because you like it, not to get rich and not to trump other people.

Peter Glassman
Schaumburg, Ill.

Difficult to place orders on new Mint website

I was unable to order the Kennedy half dollar sets when they went on sale Oct. 28. The website was completely changed and it took forever to find and order what I wanted. Then afterward the website would not accept the order.

I finally gave up and called the 1-800 number on Oct. 29. After being on hold for an hour someone finally answered and I placed the order. I was given a copy of the order with the order number. I  had ordered 10 items but at the bottom of the order it stated I didn’t order any items.

On Oct. 30 I was informed the order was shipped; however, the tracking number could not be accessed. There was no way to track the shipment to determine where it is. Maybe we all need a Ph.D in computer science to navigate the website.

Calls to customer service (four) and to check on the status of the order (two) went unanswered. I usually stay on hold for an hour listening to the Mint propaganda and then I have to recharge the phone batteries.

As mentioned earlier the complete website has been changed for the worse. Even worse is that the U.S. Mint has no workers in customer service. It’s obvious because no one answers the phone or maybe they are on coffee break and eating donuts 24/7. The computer programmer(s) who changed the website needs to be fired. Every time they upgrade the website they screw it up. I wonder if the Affordable Care Act and the computer genius at the Mint are one and the same.

I don’t think I will get this order. I am thinking about not placing any more orders which would save me thousands each year.

Marco Ramius
El Paso, Texas

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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