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Electronic policy begins July 15

Reluctantly, the time has come to make a change in our policy toward answering mail. Effective July 15, Coin Clinic will no longer answer postal (snail mail) letters.

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Reluctantly, the time has come to make a change in our policy toward answering mail. Effective July 15, we will no longer answer postal (snail mail) letters. This has been my pleasure for the past 44 years. I have more than 35,000 names, hundreds of whom have become collectors because we were able to answer the questions their bump of curiosity raised.


Let me reassure you that the Clinic columns will continue. I started them on a typewriter and now they go through a computer. I will continue to answer mail that comes in through the Internet. I am able in some cases to answer a letter in minutes, thanks to the speed of the Internet. It will lighten my load, because of the convenience, and return the emphasis to “free.”

At one time I was averaging answering 400 letters a month. This flood has slowed to a trickle with the spectacular growth of the Internet. Continue to write e-mails. I welcome the contact with other people in the hobby.

Does “Choice Uncirculated” mean MS-65, or MS-63 as I saw in another publication?

The ANA Grading Guide specifies that Choice Uncirculated is MS-65. You need to heed a word of caution here, as not all Choice Uncirculated grades are equal. When you see this term – or any other verbal grading term – it doesn’t always mean the same thing. One of the principal reasons for switching to numerical grades is this very problem – verbal grades are subject to interpretation by the person describing the coin.

Is there really an 1861/0 half dime overdate?

The listing that was published in 1985 (1986 Red Book) was due to a misunderstanding, according to Tom DeLorey, former senior authenticator for ANACS. The coins that were thought to be overdates were identified by ANACS as the result of a defective date logo punch, which had a small flange of metal on both sides of the base of the second “1.” It appeared on other 1861 half dime dies as well.

Why is it that mintage figures often come out to odd amounts that don’t match the denominations?

There are plenty of examples of this phenomenon but no real explanations other than the typical mathematical errors and numerical transpositions that occur when dealing with large sets of numbers. Mint records for the early years have frequent lapses of common arithmetic.


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