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This week’s letters (08/23/11)

 

Mint’s dollar coin premium hurts circulation of coins
I think the Mint may be its own worst enemy. In May last year I bought 1,000 assorted dollar coins at face value, and I have been using them ever since with great pleasure. They are great here in Chicago as tips to car hops and barbers, parking meter coins and all round use.
However, last week I tried to do it again, and now the Mint wants a premium for the coins.
I would suggest that the Mint continue to offer them at face value, or even at a slight discount. Dollar coins will never be used in general circulation until the government puts them in the hands of the public!
James E. Leopold
Chicago, Ill.

Changing merchants’ tills key to dollar coin use
After buying several boxes of the direct ship Sacagawea and Presidential dollar coins, I’ve been spending them all over town. I like the coins.
For small purchases, it’s much easier pulling a dollar coin or two out of my pocket than fishing around for bills in my wallet. They are also great for tips, and I’ve never had wait staff complain about receiving golden dollars, or half dollars for that matter.
People receiving the golden dollars tend to exhibit one of three reactions: they are pleasantly surprised about the unusual coins being tendered and sometimes want to buy more, they don’t recognize the coins and have a hard time figuring out how much I’ve paid or they scowl and complain that they have no place to put the coins in their till. No one has yet rejected the golden dollars as payment, although I recall other readers mentioning this has happened to them.
One might surmise that the frequent negative reaction exhibited by retailers is a major barrier to wider use of the dollar coins. Many people would be reluctant to use the coins if merchants gave them sour looks on a regular basis. Perhaps the solution here is to create a new coin tray for merchant tills with room for the dollar coins.
Gregory Kipp
Santa Rosa, Calif.

Counterfeit coins just a portion of Chinese fakes
Why are coin collectors so concerned about Chinese counterfeit coins? What do they expect? Almost anything that comes from China is counterfeit. Black & Decker, DeWalt and Milwaukee power tools look like the real thing but certainly are not. These are examples; one could list thousands of items.
Thomas Baalman
Grinnell, Kan.

End dollar coin production,  cut back Mint offerings
I am a coin collector, and have been since about 1974. As you know, there have been a number of initiatives by the Mint to get people to collect coins, as they can sell them for a profit. I’ve certainly bought more than my share from the Mint online. I thought the state quarter program was overly ambitious. As a collector, I loved the idea, but I worried that most consumers would lose interest after 30 or so states. That certainly seems to have been the case.
I was firmly behind the Sacagawea dollar program when it began. I liked the subject matter, and I also liked the limited production numbers. However, that changed when the presidential dollars came out, along with the rule that one fifth of all dollars would have the Native American theme. The higher production numbers destroyed the scarcity that I found so appealing in the series.
Next the Mint decided to add the America the Beautiful quarters. It’s just too much, I’m overwhelmed. I can’t afford to keep buying every product line that the Mint can dream up.
As for the dollar coins, as much as I enjoyed them, the Mint should stop producing them. If there is concern that one of the latter presidents will roll over in his grave from being slighted, perhaps they can have a limited production run of the remaining presidents, and sell them in a set to appease collectors.
The basis of offering the new dollar in 2000 was to better serve the public, and its success relied upon the public’s willingness to adopt them for daily use. That clearly has not happened. The program has failed to achieve its goals, and so it should be discontinued. The issue of seigniorage is secondary. The Mint should not look at this situation in regards to their budget alone. The fact that we are paying to store over a billion dollars in coins no one wants is ridiculous. As much as it pains me as a collector, I’d say stop making the coins, both Presidential and Sacagawea dollars, and melt the ones that are being stored.
I know I’m coming down kind of hard on the Mint when it’s actually Congress that dictates what gets produced, but I believe educating and advising Congress is very much a primary duty of the Mint Director. I’m not sure anyone else would be qualified to perform this function.
If the ATB quarters weren’t available in silver, I bet the vast majority of the public would be completely disinterested. I know I’m not going to collect them. Stop the insanity now, cut back on the products released and offered by the Mint.
By the way, I’ve attended your last two webinars and really enjoyed them.  Thanks for taking the time to better educate the numismatic enthusiast.
Bill Bryant
Phoenix, Ariz.
U.S. should revalue its currency and coins
The Mint should bring back Lady Liberty in a circulating dollar coin. But the first thing the Feds should do is a complete revaluation of the money supply by converting 20 old dollars to one new AmeroDollar. The new AmeroCent would be equal to 20 old inflation ravaged cent pieces. All of the old coinage would become instantly collectible as obsolete money.
Old coins and  currency would  lose official convertibility to the Amero by the year 2020, and be withdrawn from circulation for meltdown like the U.S. did with the Morgan silver dollar in 1918. With conversion completed, the buying power of the AmeroDollar would once again be comparable, at least for a little while, to what it was in 1900. Just imagine, gasoline would once again seem cheap, just 20 cents a gallon.
This change-over could be done with efforts similar to the Y2K conversion in the year 2000. It would be exciting, and maybe even boost the economy. Merchants could stop counting cents that are worth less than 1/20th of what a cent back in 1900 was worth.
The conversion could become effective on Jan.1, 2013, or 2014, if the government needs to dawdle. Since all those separate European countries successfully converted from their different coins and currencies to the euro with practically no trouble, why can’t we convert to a new AmeroDollar? Mexico, and many countries in South America, have revalued their currencies many times in the past, with few reports of difficulties. Surely the U.S., the most technologically advanced country in the world, can accomplish as much. And it can be done, if Congress ever gets out of their stupor.
It would be nice for each new AmeroDollar to have a classical depiction of Lady Liberty. All of the minor coins like the half dollar, quarter, dime, five-cent piece and cent could return to classical designs, and avoid portraying presidents or other presumed famous persons. To quote Chester Arthur: “I may be President of the United States, but my private life is nobody’s business.”
Likewise, paper currency should return to allegorical designs, portraying Liberty with the greatness and beauty of the country while avoiding the continued glorification of deceased politicians. Will it happen? I’d be shocked if it did.
If only the new AmeroDollar could be backed by silver or gold. Apparently the U.S. military long ago reported the U.S. strategic stockpile of silver as empty. The gold situation is no better, according to President Reagan’s 1982 gold commission, the U.S. Treasury Department owned no gold in Fort Knox. It belonged to the Federal Reserve, which is not federally owned, it is a private bank, a non-government entity. The U.S. government, with the exception of some land that it probably can’t sell, and other property that it won’t sell, is effectively bankrupt.
Perhaps the Federal Reserve would be willing to sell its anachronistic gold to the U.S. Treasury for some of those much cherished U.S. bonds. All the government can do for its spending is continue to borrow and tax. Unfortunately, 40 percent of every dollar of life-support it currently is living on comes from borrowing.
Maybe it makes sense to only portray dead people on U.S. fiat money. We may still be able to buy non-circulating silver and gold Eagle collector coins if we can scrounge up enough of that inflationary coupon money for a few examples. We can thank President Ford, back in 1974, for making ownership of gold bullion and coins once again possible. But who knows when Uncle Sam will confiscate the gold under the guise of “national defense,” and call gold ownership unpatriotic. If they do the confiscation routine again then they should also take away the Federal Reserve’s gold! Why should the bankers be exempt?
Gerald Perman
California

Cent searching will still yield good finds
To those readers who say cents are dead: they are very much alive.
I’ve been going through about 10,000 cents a week. I’m retired, so I have lots of time on my hands. I go through boxes mostly, and I must say, this week has been very good to me. There are a lot of good finds still out there. Here is what I have found this week: 1946-S, 1947-S, 1948-S, 1934, 1943 steel, 1929, 1928, 1927-D, 1927-S, 1917 and 1911-S.
To all you young coin collectors out there, keep looking, There are still good things to find. Just remember, it doesn’t cost much to do this. I’ve been using the same $100 dollars for five years now. The most a search costs me is about $1.50 a week.
Karl Peterson
Address withheld

Find hardness of coins with a Rockwell tester
I read Brad Ream’s letter in the July 26 edition of Numismatic News, and thought I might be able to help him out.
The hardness of certain coins can be found by using a Rockwell hardness tester. One should be available at any place that does heat treating. You could also check with a machinist at a local manufacturing facility.
Gather up an assortment of coins and check the hardness of each denomination. This will leave a dimple on each coin caused by the penetrator on the Rockwell tester, but that shouldn’t be a problem, since it will fill in when the coin is rolled.
After you find out the hardness of each coin, they may have to be annealed to soften them a little so they are workable. Someone in the the elongated collectors group should know of a machinist in the area, or a place that does heat treating. Your dies should be case hardened or through hardened for best results. Best of luck.
Michael P. Schmeyer
Halsey Valley, N.Y.

Question about state quarters and Perth Mint
I was wondering if you or your staff  could help me with a question. After the state quarters came out, I decided to buy a few that were in unusual formats, such as those that had been colorized or with  stamps and a history of the state.
One of the unusual sets that I found featured one of the first five coins in a holder with a silver one ounce Kookaburra from the Perth Mint. The silver coin also had a privy mark on it that matched the quarters that it was paired with. According to the write-up on the holder, only 10,000 of each of these sets were ever made. I have never seen any of these for sale at a coin show, so I do not know if they were made for the Australian market or for the U.S. market. Also, I have never seen any for any other year of the state quarters but the 1999 issues.
My question though, is about the condition of the quarters. When the quarters first came out, I was able to get some rolls from the bank. I wanted to go through them to find a gem copy or two. The coins were horrible, all dinged up and marked. The coins in the mint sets were a lot better.
However, the coins in these five sets are far better than even the coins in the mint sets. Were these quarters made in the U.S., and then shipped to the Perth Mint to be put into the holders, or were dies sent to the Perth Mint so that it could strike premium examples of the quarters for inclusion  in the sets?
If the latter, that would mean that 5,000 or 10,000  quarters were struck outside of the U.S. and would be like the San Francisco silver Eagles that are now being produced. Did the program stop because the Mint had second thoughts about sending dies outside of the U.S.?
No one seems to know about these special sets. I do not know if the privy one ounce silver coins have any premium over regular coins, but a mintage of 10,000 would make it seem a possibility.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
George Schaetzle
Address withheld

Editor’s note: Information about this set we do not have, but we don’t believe the Perth Mint would have been able to strike U.S. coins.

Conventional art design good choice for dollar coin
Words cannot express the pleasure I received when the CCAC and CFA chose the conventional design for the reverse of the American Indian dollar coin. I have never been able to appreciate Ledger art that is not on a cave wall or in its original form.
For my part, I hope that the conventional art designs remain the standard for the reverse of the Native American dollar coin, and any other coin designed to celebrate the accomplishments and gifts of my American Indian ancestors.
Mike Gammage
Baldwin City, Kan.
1933 double eagle solution: melt all of the coins
Over the last few years, we have seen a battle between the Langbord family and the US government over the possession of 1933 double eagles. I have a very simple solution that neither party will like, or accept, but one that would save many wasted tax dollars being spent on a case that will not give the general public one bit of good. It will also keep that money out of the legal “profession’s” hands.
I call it the “scorched 1933 double eagle policy,” or, “if I can’t have it, no one can.” Keep in mind that this plan would include any specimens the government owns as well.
Here’s how it would work: The government claims that the 1933 double eagle was never legally issued, and no one is allowed to own it. The only exception being the one piece sold in 2002, and the two specimens in the Smithsonian Institute. That logic makes no sense whatsoever, as it should be an “all or nothing” policy.
The court should rule that every known 1933 double eagle still in existence be destroyed, including the two pieces held by the Smithsonian Institute, as well as any other known specimens. Any “new” 1933 double eagles discovered in the future would be subject to destruction. The Langbord family would be reimbursed with 10 ounces of gold, approximately what they lost when the government seized their coins. The government would also reimburse everyone else, or their descendants, who had 1933 double eagles seized from them by the Secret Service, again, with one ounce of gold for each piece confiscated.
Excess prices that collectors paid for their 1933 double eagles will just have to be swallowed. That’s the cost of business done secretly, and without the proof of a paper trail. Like everything else in life, there are risks when one buys almost anything. At least the collector, or the heir, would get something back for the gold that was confiscated if reimbursement was offered.
As to the person who bought the Farouk specimen in 2002, he or she should be required to turn in that coin, and get a refund of what was paid. He or she will probably have lost money, because that $7.59 million paid nine years ago would have depreciated in value.
The court should order that the Langbord family, and descendants of deceased collectors who had 1933 double eagles confiscated be paid by the government, receive a one ounce gold American Eagle bullion coin, or cash at the spot gold price on the day the judgment is settled.
I think this is a fair settlement, although many readers would probably disagree with me. My reasoning for the reimbursement is that I do not believe, from what I have read about the case so far, that the coins were stolen, despite what the government claims. They must have been swapped by someone at the Mint, and replaced with other dated double eagles.  The Mint never reported that there was a short count of double eagles.  Apparently, all 445,000 were accounted for and all but a few were melted. At the time, no one bothered to check to make sure that all 445,000 were dated 1933, and at that time why should they have bothered?
For some reason, Mr. Switt must have requested from new 1933 double eagles from the Mint, and he brought in older double eagles to swap for the 1933 coins. No one will ever know for sure, and I don’t see how it can be proved or disproved. The reimbursement money could easily be obtained from seigniorage of regular minted coins.
It’s high time the government stop wasting taxpayers’ money on idiotic issues, and start to show some consistency. If 1933 double eagles are illegal, what about 1884 and 1885 trade dollars, 1913 liberty nickels, pattern coins, aluminum cents and other Mint products?
It would be a shame to see very rare coins be destroyed, but the fact is that rules and policies need to be consistent, and no one should be able to profit due to the favoritism of some old Mint employee letting these coins out of the government’s hands in the first place.
My guess is that when it’s all said and done, the Langbords are going to lose the case, and their coins with no reimbursement, and the government will remain inconsistent. They will do whatever they want, and I’d be shocked if the Langbords prevail. I’d like to see Numismatic News poll the readers and read about what they think about this case.
Stan Kijek
Aurora, Ill.
Are ATB pattern quarters circulating or not?
I’m wondering what is going on with America The Beautiful series. My wife and I have found only two coins of the series in  regular change. We still find lots of state quarters. Is the distribution locally restricted?
We live just outside Memphis Tenn., but when we traveled to Seattle last May, we didn’t see any ATB quarters there either.
David J McNally
Memphis, Tenn.
Old find in local Coinstar, challenge reissued
Several months ago, I challenged NN readers to find a coin, U.S. or foreign, from the reject shoot of a Coinstar counting machine that was older than the 1865 Indian Head cent I retrieved from a Coinstar machine. It seems that no one has been able to answer my challenge.
Yesterday, July 19, 2011, I visited my favorite Coinstar machine at the local grocery store, and in the reject shoot I retrieved a Canadian Beaver 5-cent piece and several very corroded Lincoln cents.
A brief dip in some copper cleaning solution revealed that one of the Lincoln cents was actually a Flying Eagle cent in extremely worn condition, G-2 perhaps. The date and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” legend are barely discernible, while the well worn reverse has no details of the wreath, but clearly states “ONE CENT” in the center. For the sake of my continuing challenge, I will “date” this cent at 1858.
It is a marvelous find, and it leaves me wondering: Where has this coin been for about 153 years and who has held it?  What marvelous stories it could tell if it could talk!
Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

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