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This Week’s Letters (11/05/08)

200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, not cent

I hate to nitpick, but the article on page 22 of the Oct. 21 issue of NN starts out with an obvious mistake. It states that next year is the 200th anniversary of the Lincoln cent. It is actually the 100th anniversary of the coin. It is, I believe, the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. I’m sure it was just a simple mistake in a good article about the Flying Eagle cent.

Dam Lang
Mexico, Mo.


State quarters interest collectors worldwide

I’m Sveta from Belarus and I’m a coins collector. I have a full collection of U.S. quarters, some of them are even of different mints. I keep my coins in two special albums. Besides, I have two proof set of 2007 and 2008.
I’m very interested in your history, and coins help me here. I have a special book about the images on your quarters which make it easier for me to understand why those particular symbols were chosen for this or that state. I’m not sure you need the information from me as I’m not from America (you haven’t mentioned the reason why you want people to write to you), but I decided to let you know that there are people even on the other part of the world who have been collecting American quarters for 10 years.

Sveta Minchenia
Belarus

Hard Times tokens tell story of economics

Sorry, I must have waited too long to respond to the poll about Hard Times tokens. I became interested in these issues a few years back when the U.S. coin market started getting pricey. I found this a very interesting collectible. Not only have I learned much about the economics of the era, but also much more about the general history of our nation at that point in time.
I can sense the mood of the times through these tokens. Not only political, but in the nature of the advertising on the merchant issues. This series carries such a diversity that will probably capture my interest for a long time to come. I wonder if today we were still using coins with silver and gold content that people wouldn’t be hoarding, and we would find ourselves in a similar situation as then? To answer your question. Yes, I do consider collecting Hard Times tokens, and would highly recommend  the experience to others.

Carl P. Grandfield   
Chicopee, Mass.


Seeking some answers about new Lincoln cents

Why is it that most of the so called numismatic experts come across like sportscasters? They are out there blowing smoke, trying to impress us with how much they know, but neglect to give the details of the game. At issue with me is the new Lincoln cent issues of 2009. So far, all the wasted print has told me no more than the local news broadcast TV stations. How about answering the questions a Lincoln cent collector might have?
Is each Mint going to issue the quarterly issue? P, D, S?
At the issue of the US Mint set will they be included?
Will the special issue be in the proof set?
Will the proof set include a regular Lincoln memorial?
Will there be issued a matte issue along with the regular issue?
Will collectors be forced to purchase uncirculated cents from dealers only?
Will the complete issue consist of 12 coins for the one year? Or, will there be more?
I have been saving Lincolns since 1950, and have saved them all except about five coins from circulation, and the proof coins of course. I am 65 now and vow to accomplish at least one thing before I die, and that is to complete my collection. This is why I am concerned about knowing what I must acquire to accomplish this.
The Mint spokesman I talked to said the Lincoln cent would not be included in the Mint issue set, and they would not issue special sets of the Lincoln cents.
I don’t know about dealers, but me as an individual can not order cent issues directly from the Mint.
One of the reasons for my subscription to Numismatic News is to find answers to questions I have from the so called experts. I don’t like advice or information from someone who knows no more than me.
Do you think you could find some answers for me before the date of first issue of this coin?
 Thank you in advance for all information you provide.
 
Don Ginsberg
Indianapolis, Ind.


Don’t use coins if you don’t believe in God

In response to James Sparks’ letter from San Francisco, my question would be why is it that a nonbeliever such as yourself always has to push your views off on  people who believe.
Do you not have anything better to write about in a numismatic newspaper other then complaining about the words “IN GOD WE TRUST?” These  words have  been around a lot longer then you have, so if you don’t like it don’t use the coins or  paper money in the U.S. or better yet maybe move to another country if  it will ease your state of mind.
And  remember they’re just words. If you don’t believe in God then ignore them  like people ignore  the atheist.
Constant bickering and moaning; this newspaper needs to quit printing letters about bickering and political B.S.  and only run true letters abut coins and paper money.

Martin  Goetz
Custer, Wis.  


U.S. Mint state quarter cases don’t hold last set

After 10 years of collecting the state quarters I am very disappointed with the U.S. Mint.
The beautiful red case made to hold the 10 sets will not hold the last set. In 2007 they made a special box that held the quarters and the Presidents. As you know, in 2008 they made only one box. Has anybody else complained about this?
I have put together three sets and maybe I’m a little too critical but this gets me a little crazy!

Diane Cairo
Address withheld

Excellent service from Mint, UPS needs work

On Sept. 19 I called the Mint and ordered a proof set, silver proof set and an unc. set. It was about 4 p.m. CST. On Sept. 23 at about 4 p.m. my doorbell rang. By the time I could get up and answer, the truck was gone. On my doorsteps lay the package with the three sets in it.
The Mint needs an “atta-boy” for quick service, but the UPS needs a kick in the behind. What if I had not been home? How can I prove I didn’t get them? I’ve heard of guys following these kinds of trucks and picking up packages.
Keep up the good work on the magazine.

Johnny Duran
DeSoto, Texas


Eliminate $1, $2 bills to promote coin circulation

I have comments for Dan Knauth, who wrote the Viewpoint article in the Sept. 30 issue about dollars not circulating.
First off, 1979 has not been 50 years. Even if you consider the Ikes, which couldn’t be confused as they were large.
Secondly, if you eliminate the paper dollar and have only dollar coins, people will use them. So the solution, it seems, is to follow Canada’s lead and eliminate the $1 and $2 bills. We rarely use the $2 bill now. Remember, the life of a bill is about 18 months – for a coin, somewhere around 30 years!
I’m not Canadian, but I think we should have something similar to the “Loonies” and “Toonies.” I use the dollar coin; in fact, every pay day I get a roll. What’s easier to use? Dig in your billfold (taking it from your pocket) for a dollar bill or reach in your pocket for a coin slightly larger than a quarter and reeded it is not. No confusion unless you are a moron.
People that want to complain always will. I remember people complaining about cell phones. Now they own one.
Banks loan money. Businesses and consumers use it. If people would use coins, they would circulate.
I wonder how much complaining was done when they eliminated the half cent, 2-cent piece, 3-cent piece and the 20-cent piece and didn’t replace them with anything. Our economy has not suffered, so where is the problem? Trade four quarters for one coin or five dollar coins for a $5 bill.
Lastly, if you never use change to make a purchase and always use bills you must have a heavy pocket, getting all that change and not using it. So use the dollar coin and it will circulate.
That means you, too, not everyone but you. What’s the harm? Does it cause you pain to use a dollar coin or are you just obstinate? Times change – change with it!

Dan De Pover
Davenport, Iowa


Variety of factors hinder hobbyists’ pursuit

I would like to bring a few items to your attention.
1. I am seeing more silver coins dipped by dealers every day, trying to take uncirculated coins to BU grade. Dealers should state this dipping in their selling ads, not try to hide it.
2. I see dealers over-grading coins and demanding higher prices at the same too, or trying to pass BU grade coins off as proof coins when there are no proof mintmarks to tell the difference.
3. More insured coins are missing with the post office handling of them every day.
4. Like Wall Street, I see the coin market bubble building up with higher prices for coins of lower real value, in recession economy, with gold and silver prices going up and down every day on exchange and Europe going into recession too. Some dealers have stopped buying, only selling. Once hedge funds, investors and speculators stop buying coins, you could have a fast meltdown too. There would be a flood of coins on the market chasing only collectors not only here, but worldwide. Should the dollar strengthen, that would only add to selling overseas problems too. It was overseas buyers that helped support higher prices here, using the falling U.S. dollar to buy here. We have been through those coin boom and bust cycles before.

Paul Jennings
Coalinga, Calif.


Excess damages interest in coin collecting hobby

It looks as though it is déjà vu all over again. What I mean is that the bullion market resembles the commemorative market in 1936 and the pattern market of the 1870s and 1880s. The commemorative market crashed in 1937 and the pattern market was stopped by Mint Director Kimbal in 1887. Too many coins were being made and sold at fantastic prices. With the patterns it was a combination  of all kinds of mulled obverses and reverses, off metal varieties in copper and aluminum and also plain and reeded edge varieties. With the commemoratives it was a plethora of issues of different mints and years, some with stars and without stars, recombined obverses such as Arkansas and so forth. Both the pattern and commemorative crazes ended angrily and it was years after and even not before they were resumed. Now we are in a bullion craze that really appears to be a reincarnation of the pattern and commemorative crazes of former years.
The coin program started out innocently enough with gold and silver 1-ounce coins in 1986, almost exactly 100 years after the pattern bust. I thought it strange that they did not put mintmarks on the coins, but then they played around with mintmarks such as the 1995 silver Eagle only available in mint sets.  Then they came out with platinum coins in two separate reverses. Later there were Buffalo coins in different finishes, both with and without mintmarks,. Later on there were different finishes: reverse proof, satin, etc. Later there were presidential first ladies. The initial sales were brisk, but now they have flagged. I do not feel that the market could sustain the pace for much longer.
My suggestion would be to just make 1-ounce and 1/10-ounce bullion coins since these are the most popular sizes and mot the 1/4 and 1/2 coins. The math is wrong on the 1/4-ounce. $10 is not 1/4 of $50. Just have proof and unc. varieties, all with mintmarks just like the mint and proof sets. So what we would have would be mintmarked unc. and proof 1-ounce Saint-Gaudens, 1-ounce Buffalo and 1-ounce silver Eagle as well as 1/10-ounce versions.
This would make only 14 coins in all. In reality we would have only 14, not 16, since the silver would not be in the 1/10-ounce size. Fourteen bullion coins would be reasonable. No mintmarkless coins and no double designs separate for bullion and collector varieties that appear on the platinum coins. The first lady bullion coin series, since started, should finish but it was ill thought up. Gold is too pricey. Better to have had it on the silver Eagle series. One-ounce silver coins are more affordable.
I like the idea of a 1909 reissue of the Saint-Gaudens 1907 MCMVII pattern gold $20, but I feel it would be prohibitively expensive for most collectors so a face value brass issue should be made for circulation.
The state quarters and other circulating commemoratives are good for the hobby since it only costs collectors face value and they lose nothing. It is reminiscent of my early days of coin collecting, of finding coins in change. There is nothing wrong with these programs. I hope they continue with parks, historical figures, etc. It costs us only face value. The idea of 5-ounce silver copies is an ugly abomination. It is too expensive. Let’s keep it simple. If we do not do these things and go the way we have, we will soon be seeing a repeat of 1887 and 1937, which reverberated for years after.
Another thing I could never understand is the government’s greed of making and selling copper nickel clad half dollars for prices of what silver half dollars should be. In 1982 the commemorative half dollars were silver. Why did they disintegrate to clad with silver prices? If the halves are commemorative, why aren’t they silver? It’s a disgrace. Coin collectors want silver or else clad for circulating, not to pay for a clad half at silver prices when it isn’t silver.
I hope these suggestions are useful and can be implemented before the hobby crashes like the stock market appears to be. Too much of anything is no good and excesses damage interest. Let’s catch the chickens before they come home to roost or we will regret it for many years to come.

Bob Olekson
Parma, Ohio


Dollar coin push must begin with collectors

I recently received my latest (Oct. 21) edition of Numismatic News and read the Letters column first, as I always do and enjoy. I would like to pose a suggestion to the readers who are bemoaning the use and “promotion” of the U.S. dollar coin.
The only way the U.S. is going to have the dollar coin circulate is for the citizens (beginning with us numismatists) to ask the banks for the coins and, after taking and putting away a coin or two in your collection, circulate them yourself at stores, restaurants and other places where possible recirculation could occur. Don’t wait for someone else to push the use of the dollar coins. Start pushing yourself. Just recently, I gave five John Quincy Adams dollars as partial payment to my foot doctor. The doctor accepted them and thought it was clever.
I agree with other readers that the dollar coin won’t be widely accepted with the paper dollar still around. All of us readers who are in favor of circulating the dollar coin should write to the our respective governmental representatives to eliminate the paper dollar in favor of the dollar coin. Those many years ago when the Canadians eliminated their paper $1 and $2 notes, I’m sure there were grumblings about the change. But now they’re used to it. The switch to metal from paper would also, for a short term, help the U.S. economy as vending machines would have to be retooled to accept the coins. Here in Cleveland, our transit system has vending machines for fares that take bills from $1 to $20 (no $2 bills are accepted) and gives back only coins (no cents or half dollars) in change for the fare boxes.

William B. Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

We want to sincerely thank the sponsors of The Silver Dollar and Rare Coin Expo and National and World Paper Money Conventions for giving the American Numismatic Association a free table at their respective shows at the St. Charles Convention Center. 
We were able to sign up around 35 new members for the ANA, solicit donations and sign up patrons for the Portland, Ore., March, 2009 ANA-NMS.  Thanks to Walter Magnus for donating the money for the coin show kit that was sent. 

John and Nancy Wilson,
National Volunteers, Ocala, Fl
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