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This week’s letters (12/06/11)

Mint ordering system needs promised update

I received my American Eagle 25th anniversary five-coin silver set from the U.S. Mint Nov. 11. I feel I was very lucky that I was able to order the set over the Internet, although it took over one hour to get through. I also tried using the phone order desk, to no avail.
The silver set is very striking, although the packaging weighs over 2-1/2 pounds alone, which I think is overdesigned.
On Nov. 3, the U.S. Mint sent all of its customers an email apologizing for the difficulties that customers had in ordering and stated that it is going to update its system. I hope that happens soon, because it was very frustrating.

Dave Kozak

Exton, Pa.

Eagle anniversary set arrives 18 days from order

I just recieved the silver Eagle sets I ordered at 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 27. They arrived at 8:40 a.m. on Nov. 14.

Michael Skinner

Address withheld

Thank you from the Army Historical Foundation team

Our team at the Army Historical Foundation appreciates the patriotism and generosity the numismatic community has shown us this year. The 2011 Army commemorative coins sold by the U.S. Mint include a surcharge that benefits the capital campaign to build the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, Va. The coin sales are integral to our plans for making this preservation of U.S. Army history a reality, and we greatly appreciate how the coin community has gone above and beyond in its support, including everything from covering the coins in its news outlets to placing orders.
When the U.S. Mint started selling the Army coins earlier this year, we knew they would be of interest to those who collect as a hobby or passion. But we also understood that we should not expect collectors to automatically buy the coins just because they were on sale. Our team appreciates the strategy and personal taste that go into collecting, and that these economic times give greater weight to every purchase.
If you ordered an Army commemorative coin, please know that you have played an important role in making this Museum possible. The National Army Museum will be a state of the art facility that tells the storied history of America’s oldest military force using the voices and words of the 30 million men and women who have worn its uniform. We consider members of the coin community key players in the valued alliance of companies, foundations and individuals who have supported our cause.
On behalf of all American soldiers, past and present, thank you for that support.

Creighton W. Abrams Jr., BG, USA-Ret.

Executive Director

Army Historical Foundation

Arlington, Va.

TV shopping networks already selling Eagle sets

The Mint is sending out notices that your single and dual orders of the 25th anniversary silver set may be canceled due to overbooking.
On Nov. 12, I watched a shopping network on television selling not just sets, but certified sets in MS-70. Marked as set # of 200 graded by the new ANACS.
What does that say? Quality control at the Mint has improved to where all coins get an MS-70 grade, or in order to get 200 sets of MS-70 coins, you would have to send in maybe 10,000 sets?
When the Mint is only allowing 5 sets per household and it’s only been a week since they went on sale, how did they get so many sets to send in?
Could it be that the new ANACS doesn’t have the same standards that the old company had in grading also? Maybe a combo of both.

Ken Hintz

Belden, Neb.

Many treasures still to be found in circulation

I would like to say that you can still find some nice coins in circulation. A couple weeks ago, I was in a convenience store. I noticed that they had a $25 box of pennies. I asked the clerk if I might buy two rolls from her, at face value.
When I opened up the first roll, the first coin I found was a 1909 VDB in extremely fine condition. In the second roll, I found a 1952 wheat penny. Oh yeah, and I also found 16 of what I was really looking for to begin with, copper pennies.
Around a week later, my fiance, who knows that I love to look at coins that come back in change, gave me some to look through. I found a 1999-S clad proof New Jersey quarter.

Kevin Greiner

Rialto, Calif.

Silver halves, 1917 cent among top circulation finds

I just re-read a NN from a few weeks ago and you asked for circulation find whoopies. Here are two.
I recently found a 1917 Lincoln cent in fine condition in pocket change.
A couple years back, I roll searched half dollars from a local bank. I didn’t know until I went back where the halves came from. There was a coin counter outside that had just been collected and rolled. I got $135 in face value, 270 coins. Out of those, 102 were silver and I would say 70 percent were 90 percent silver.

Name withheld

Kansas City, Mo.

Eagle set order canceled despite confirmation notice

I’m writing this letter to let you know how the U.S. Mint has handled the 25th anniversary Eagle set sellout.
On Oct. 27, I spent the better part of the day trying to place a order. Online ordering was jammed and pages refused to load.
Phone calls were constantly busy.
I was thrilled at 4:30 p.m. when the online order finally went through. I received a confirmed order number and was informed that the set would be shipped around Nov. 11.
Imagine my disgust when I received the following email on Nov. 10:
Dear United States Mint Customer,
Thank you so much for your interest in the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set.
Due to overwhelming demand, the product reached its production limit in sales quickly and the United States Mint accepted a limited number of orders on a waiting list in the event that products became available due to order cancellations.
Unfortunately, based on the time your order was taken, we can now confirm that your waiting list order will not be processed. Please note you will receive an order cancellation notification confirming this when your order is cancelled from our system.
The United States Mint
Not once was the word “waiting list” ever mentioned in any of my order confirmation correspondence.
I called the Mint immediately after receiving the email and spoke to someone about my order. He said they were sorry and that all the sets were sold out. I gave him my order confirmation number to review my purchase and he never had a better reply than we sold out. I told him I never received a email cancellation notice. He said, “I’m sorry, but I have to tell you your order has been canceled and your account is back to zero balance.”
What a crock. They still are failing miserably. I’m done with the U.S. Mint and will never return.

Steve Ziehm

Wisconsin

Mint’s flaws, mistakes displayed by Eagle sellout

It really seems funny how the Mint, after a big goof, always apologizes for the inconvenience and frustration that its regular customers have encountered because of its very outdated web and phone ordering system.
Come on U.S. Mint, you are part of a government that sends spaceships and rockets to the moon and Mars. You have been making money for years from your customers and they expect the same from you: good service and an equal chance to purchase your items.
First mistake: the limit should have been one and not five sets, knowing that the dealers will buy them up, and then will charge double to the public. A mintage of 100,00 is not a large number, so five per dealer, or as you say, household, is only 20,000 orders if everyone orders five. I was trying all morning on my computer to get through and it was a failure, so I tried calling from my phone, also a failure! I even called my workplace to say I would be an hour late as I continued to try to order. Again, failure. So I decided to go to work at 3 p.m.
After punching in, I decided to use the company phone, and I got through on the first call. This leads me to believe that dealers and businesses somehow get through better than a residential customer. I did get to order two sets and I always check status. The ship date has moved every day, from Nov. 14, now to Nov. 23.
I hope I get my sets, but, wake up U.S. Mint, we pay your wages. Respect us and keep the common person in mind, not always the dealers, who could afford to buy 5,10, or 20 sets. Maybe next time no dealers should be able to order and buy the sets back from us, the public. Boy, I bet there would be a big outcry at that.

Daniel Kuziela

Chicago,Ill.

Glitches in Mint system almost cancel Eagle order

I thought you might get a kick out of this. I sure did, but not before I got a real jolt to the system.
I recieved an email today from the U.S. Mint alerting me that my order for the five-coin set of commemorative Eagles was canceled. I immediately called my credit card company. The company told me it had authorized payment and that the Mint had been paid. I then called the Mint’s customer service center (PBGS).
The person told me the order was canceled because I had exceeded the “household order,” and there was really nothing that could be done about it. I then spoke to a supervisor who told me the same thing, but fortunately, stepped back to look at the bigger picture. I’m glad she did, because she found that I actually had three orders, two of which were accretions of the dreaded crashes that occurred almost continuously for three hours on Oct. 27. The supervisor told me this has happened on other occasions, too.
Apparently, amid all the crashes, the impartial orders went through, and so, I’ve been assured the order for the sets was indeed processed.
No offense to the Mint or PBGS, but I’ll believe it when I see it, or more precisely, when I’m holding the coins in my hands.
As I’ve stated before, the system needs to be overhauled, and it needs to be overhauled urgently and wholly. In my view, there are 10 steps the U.S. Mint should follow to improve their order system. I believe these changes will go a long way to preventing jolts and other unpleasant surprises.
When I have a little time, I’d like to submit an opinion piece outlining some of those suggestions.

Bill Davenport

Address withheld

Collecting’s appeal found in making it what you want

From the “Best of Buzz” on May 24, the comment “the beauty of coin collecting is that you can do anything you want,” is absolutely correct.
In Spring of 1946, when I was 9 years old, my father returned from Germany. He brought with him a steel box containing coins of the world, mostly Europe, from 1760 until the 1930s. My father always insisted these coins were “liberated.” Father was a combat infantryman, 104th Infantry Division.
During my grade school and high school years, I continued to search for interesting (to me) world coins. The children collecting U.S. coins by date and mintmarks often ridiculed my coins.
However, I continued my quest or goal of collecting world coins from as many different issuing authorities as possible.
Grade is always important, but I will accept a Fine until I can find an Extremely Fine. The goal for me is to “find” as many German States, Italian States, Swiss Cantons and other special issue coins as possible from 1750-1870, plus or minus.
My collecting goal was established early in my life and has not changed since Spring 1946. I am still enjoying the excitement of my two recent acquisitions: a 5-kruezer, 1748 Wurzburg (Germany) in XF and a 1 soldd 1826 Lucca (Italy) in F.
To most coin folks, probably no big deal, however I had never before found these coins in a dealer’s inventory. I do not buy off the internet, only face to face from real folks.
I do not ridicule any collector’s goal or type of items collected. As you say, folks can tailor collecting to our own interests.
I have watched coin collecting go from collecting to investing to bullion dealing, however, I keep walking the path seeking coins that I do not have issued by a specific place.
There is no end to this quest (except for crossing the “great divide”). Thanks for your enlightening words on how to collect. I appreciate them.

Jay Furry

Huntington Beach, Calif.

For greater profit, Mint should cater to collectors

Will the U.S. Mint ever sell a limited edition item fairly? They did when the Botanical Gardens set was issued: we were limited to two.
Who would ever need five sets unless they bought them to sell for a higher price?
You can still buy the “Limited Edition set.” There are thousands for sale on eBay today, one day after the sale.
The Mint scored by selling out but they lost in my book. If I worked for the Mint, I would consider this a loss. Their goal should be to sell out, but the goal also should be to distribute all the sets as fairly as possible to as many customers as possible to generate repeat business. They dropped the ball on that.
If everyone bought five sets, they are sold to a mere 20,000 speculators instead of 100,000 happy customers who would surely come back to purchase again if they are welcomed and taken care of by the U.S. Mint. Now they are eBay customers.
What should the Mint do? I think it should throw the limit down to two send everyone their sets and reopen sales. The Mint has become the lottery the winners will come back and the losers, it may never see again. But as a business owner, I look to the future care about my customers and know how to generate repeat business and my business has survived through this economy when my competitors failed.
Bottom line, if people do not get the chance to purchase every single Mint item fairly, they move on to other things that are easier to acquire at a fair price.
In my business, I would rather do five small jobs than one big one. The big job leads to one referral from the customer while the small jobs lead to five repeat customers and five referrals. It secures my future in my trade better than relying on that one contractor to provide all my jobs.
I am still a coin collector but not a coin buyer, the Mint lost me with the America The Beautiful sets and I doubt I will be purchasing coins from them any time soon.
If you want a five-coin Eagle set wait for awhile. I have no doubt prices will come down like they always do. The ATB 2011 set was over 5,000.00 when it was first issued. You can now buy it for a quarter of that price.
The U.S. Mint has no clue how to provide collectors with coins, I suggest they hire a competent person that can mange these things, they might bring collectors back to a hobby they love. But I’ve been suggesting that for the last 20 years.
I do not want my name or address in your magazine. I do not appreciate the comments you published about me when I wrote about the fiasco of the ATB sets. Your readers who commented about me after I pled to your magazine are idiots and I would never bash a fellow coin collector for any reason, like they did me. It is the main reason I do not comment anymore.

Name and address withheld

Concerns over cents, nickels ignore real issue

There are reported concerns that it costs more than a cent to make a cent and more than a nickel to make a nickel, and that the Mint is “losing” money on them. Not true.
Our government produces and maintains currency coins and paper bills, to facilitate the flow of commerce. Government bookkeeping methods aside, the cost of production is the cost of doing business; the cost of providing this service to the public. The cost of a single item in the system is irrelevant.
Consider: coins last about 30 years. A single coin’s expense will last over that 30-year time until the coin needs to be replaced in the system.
So long as a denomination functions in trade, it is viable, unless its intrinsic value becomes more than its face value, causing it no longer to circulate. Some don’t like cents, but I still get cents with almost every purchase I make.
All of this is not to say cost cutting isn’t wise. We should make cents and nickels out of less expensive metals, but not because “the Mint is losing money on them.”
Furthermore, if cents and nickels are “losing,” then dimes and quarters, etc., are “profiting.” Why pick out some part of the system to blame rather than considering the whole?
Now, take a look at paper money, which no one seems to do. While larger bills may last a few years, $1 bills need to be replaced in weeks and they’re not cheap. Over the lifespan of a coin, paper dollars cause a huge expense. We ought to circulate $5 coins as well as those pesky $1 coins.

P.M. deLaubenfels

Corvallis, Ore.

Decline in paper money, coin art sparks collecting

I love the Oct. 11 article by Paul M. Green. As most who do eventually get into collecting paper money, I have been a coin collector much longer, since about 9 or 10 years old. It’s true that when issued paper money is of large quantities printed and not many survive to make it into someone’s collection. But the day has come, about 20 years ago, that all the real artwork and beauty that paper money had is now gone. It has evolved into a piece of paper with all sorts of anti-counterfeit measures and the fine, exquisite engraving a thing of the past.
But not to despair for like the mythical bird, the phoenix, rising from the ashes, all this sparks a greater interest in collecting the paper money that we once knew. The reason why coin collecting (and the lure of coins) is an earlier and deeply rooted affair with most of us is probably because of just that fact. As toddlers, we grew up and really got to know coins, but paper money didn’t really become a part of our lives until we found ourselves grown up with a job, when we turned into what that toddler called old folk.
I hope both coin and paper money collecting continue to live on for a long time. To the coin collector who looks on paper money with disdain and as a threat to coins, just remember there is danger lurking that is much more dangerous. It’s called electronic transactions and the credit card.
Who knows, maybe there will be a society of credit card collectors? I hope not.
I can relate to many of your articles as I am 64 years old. Yep, we’re what that toddler called “old folk.”
I would also really like to see an article on rarity scales on coins and obsolete currency. One of my prime objectives is collecting local obsolete notes. Fractional currency could also be many other interesting articles.

Floyd Aunspach

Honey Grove, Pa.

HSNAC well-trafficked, over 1,700 registered attendees

It has been several years since we attended the Hawaii State Numismatic Association Convention hosted by the Honolulu Coin Club and this year’s event was probably the best one we ever attended. It was held at the beautiful Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, on Oct. 28-30, 2011. The registered public attendance was 1,700. It had a soldout bourse of 75 tables, along with club tables and educational exhibits. The lighting was excellent, and the large room was carpeted.
A highlight of the show was the two-day Scout Merit Badge Clinic chaired by Patti Finner which had an attendance of 175 scouts along with 72 family members. The convention was chaired by Marion Kendrick, and the security was handled by Honolulu Coin President Greg Hunt. We don’t think any coin club in the world gets behind a convention like the members of the HSNA and HCC. Though the convention center sets up the tables and covers them, the coin club members take care of the set-up and breakdown of the cases, lights and clamps.
From the opening of the show right up until closing on Sunday, the flow of traffic was very good. This show is attended by many mainland dealers who not only come over for the outstanding weather and attractions, but also the excellent business they do at their tables. About 20 dealers were still conducting business at closing on Sunday. Representing the American Numismatic Association, we were able to sign up 25 new members and pass out giveaways to the visitors. We received a donation from Joe Kaminski, the owner of Kaminski Coin Co. from Wisconsin Dells, Wis., for the shipment of the Coin Show Kit. We want to thank the HSNA and HCC along with Marion Kendrick and Greg Hunt for allowing the ANA to have a table at their show.

John and Nancy Wilson

Ocala, Fla.

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