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Golden moments with Rosie Rios

Rosie Rios spent some quality time with the nation’s coin collectors yesterday at the American Numismatic Association’s National Money Show in Denver.

It’s a good thing, too. There are still many people who do not know who she is.

One of her activities yesterday was signing autographs at the U.S. Mint/Bureau of Engraving and Printing area on the bourse floor.

While I was there I heard one married couple discuss who it was they were about to meet.

“Who is it?” asked the husband.

“It’s the Secretary of the Treasury," whispered the wife.

I am sure that would be news to Timothy Geithner, the current Secretary of the Treasury, but most Americans, collectors included, have great difficulty distinguishing between the two posts.

Treasury secretary is a part of the President’s cabinet. He runs the Treasury Department and helps forumulate national economic policy that include major initiatives like the bank bailout of 2008.

Treasurer of the United States is a post that is part of the Treasury. Rosie Rios, like other occupants of her office, has the privilege of signing U.S. Federal Reserve Notes. Hers is the signature on the left side of the note while the Treasury secretary’s signature is on the right.

But what does she do?

As she noted at the ribbon cutting that opened yesterday’s convention, she oversees the operations of both the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. She also noted how proud she is that 1,000 of the 4,000 employees are military veterans.

Yesterday afternoon, Rios went to the Denver Mint to unveil a news display on the public tour.

For the first time since before the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City, gold bars have been put on display. Rios pulled the cord to open the black curtains that revealed three 400-ounce gold bars in a closet sized vault. At current prices, the three bars are worth just over $1.9 million.

Denver Mint plant manager David Croft pointed out that the three bars were shipped in from the U.S. Mint’s working gold supply at West Point and did not come from the gold that is in deep storage in Denver.

What’s the difference?

Working gold is the supply that the Mint acquires to strike gold American Eagles and other gold coins. Deep storage gold is part of the country’s reserves that most people simply call Fort Knox, after the most prominent of the nation’s gold storage sites.

It is also gold that Rep. Ron Paul says is not there.

But that is a story for another day.