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This week’s letters (12/13/11)

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always apologizes for the inconvenience and frustration that its regular customers have encountered because of its very outdated web and phone ordering system.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 received 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 extremely fine and a 1 soldi 1826 Lucca (Italy) in fine.
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 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.

$25 box of cents proves good finds still out there

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. I also found 16 copper pennies in the two rolls, which is what I was looking for.
About two weeks after that, my fiancee gave me some coins from change, she knows I like to look through change. I found in the change, a 1999-S clad New Jersey quarter.

Name and address withheld

HSNAC well-trafficked, 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 sold-out 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.

Similarity to bullion causes disinterest in 5-ounce coins

A comment about your recent article on the declining interest in the 5-ounce coins.
I have been an avid collector for 45 years and I have no thought about obtaining even one example of this coin. I consider these to be bullion rather than a coin.
I purchase from time to time many of the special-issue Mint products such as the $1 and 50-cent issues that are issued for the Marines, Bald Eagle, etc., mint sets and proof sets, even proof silver Eagles from time to time.
The 5-ounce issues are just not coins to me.

David Barefoot

Bennettsville S.C.

Dollar coin tip sparks interest in the young

I’m one of the old guys who loves to collect coins. I will be 62 next month. I get dollar coins at my local bank, which I give as tips at restaurants. My family and I were at a Cracker Barrel in Athens, Tenn., on Saturday, Nov. 12. The waitress was a sweet young lady we enjoyed talking to.
When we were ready to leave, she brought our check and I left her a tip of dollar coins. I was at the counter getting ready to pay when our waitress came up to me and said thank you, this is so cool. She said she had never seen coins like this before, that it was the coolest tip she’d ever have gotten.
It’s fun to see young people excited about coins. I will continue to give dollar coins as tips and maybe someone else young will be excited.

Gerald Conn

Graysville, Tenn.

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