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Letters to the Editor (January 24, 2017)

Medal’s copper from Old Ironsides’ 1970s restoration


I was directed by your customer service representative to send a message here as there is no direct line to your editorial department.

I manage public relations for the USS Constitution Museum and am writing in response to negative press we are receiving due to miscommunication via the Nov. 8 article featuring “Old Ironsides” and the copper medallion that the Museum issued. Michael Byrne (or Mike Burn from his blog posts on insists that the Museum issue an apology for writing a misleading article which implies that the copper used in this medallion was 219 years old. This is false as the press release disseminated clearly stated that it was from the 1970s restoration, as noted on the medallion insert.

I do not understand why Mr. Byrne’s letter to the editor would be published with the blatant error that the Museum apologize for Numismatic News’ mistake (if any at all). It is damaging that Mr. Byrne’s blog post also implies that this not-for-profit “wrote” this article to deceive readers “just to raise funds.” This is libel and I hope that you will assist in rectifying this and respond in kind to Mr. Byrne to clarify this miscommunication.

David Wedemeyer
Public Affairs
USS Constitution Museum

Revitalized purchasing power key to strong hobby

U.S. circulating coins are on a course to extinction. Only the dime and quarter have vestiges of value (today’s dime equates to the 1950 cent in purchasing power). Without a transition to higher coin denominations, the public increasingly will abandon coins as they are not worth the effort to carry and handle. Loss of circulating coinage portends a smaller coin hobby.

The hobby understands the importance of circulating coins to attract new collectors. The recent state quarters program was well matched to a nominal value circulating coin – a major success. Let’s remember though that the half dollar is gone from circulation (bulky for its low purchasing power). The smaller dollar coin morphed into made-for-collector coins. We are down to truly small change in circulating coinage.

What are the main attributes for a viable circulating dollar coin? Where are circulating coins in higher denominations – $2.50, $5 and $10? Why haven’t the cent and nickel been removed from circulation?

A suggestion for the coin hobby press is to shift more resources into investigative journalism. Document and report on factors that account for the cent still being minted and the dollar bill still being printed despite decades of inflation. Bring light to obstruction, waste and missed opportunity for raising U.S. circulating coin denominations. In editorials, imagine what could be done with a new series of higher denomination circulating coins – themes such as inventions, liberty and heritage. Portage the best of the investigative articles and editorials to mainstream and social media, Treasury and Congress.

Thoughtful insights and well-documented findings from the hobby press and others will help build the case to revitalize U.S. circulating coinage. Then, it’s up the hobby at large to connect with government decision-makers. Support a transition to higher face value circulating coins. There is opportunity for the public to gain coins with real purchasing power. There is opportunity to relieve the public from the weight and nuisance of very low value coins. Our hobby will carry wider appeal if circulating coinage thrives.

J. W. Houghton
Jacksonville, Fla.

Red Book great resource for common collector

In the Dec. 20 edition of Numismatic News, a letter writer accused authors of the “Mega Red Book of United States Coins” of being elitist. As a commoner coin collector, I disagree. The book is a superb introduction to a hobby that has great depth.

Although I have been a collector for many years, I found the 1,500-plus page book very informative and interesting. It contains much information about which I was previously unaware. The book is well written and easy to read. Important insights are presented on the various ways one can approach collecting for fun and profit. While reading the book, I could feel my enthusiasm for collecting grow.

The book presents a broad cross section of the hobby. While no book can cover every corner of coin collecting, the 2017 Mega Red Book provides in-depth detail about collecting copper coins. Other specialty books exist to provide equivalent detail about denominations not covered in depth by the Mega Red Book.

A Mega Red Book contributor told me that the intent of the authors is to present different aspects of the hobby in each annual edition in order to provide constant opportunity for stimulation of collectors’ interests. The book succeeds magnificently in attaining its goal.

The opening section of the Mega Red Book explains to the reader how to use the book. Perhaps if the dissatisfied letter writer re-reads that section, he may develop a better opinion of the excellent work.

Bruce R. Frohman
Modesto, Calif

Quality of silver Eagle edge lettering questionable

Am I the only collector that is less than impressed with the coin edge lettering on the American Eagle proof silver coins from the U.S. Mint? Just wondering, much ado about what I consider poor workmanship. You OK with this quality?

Name withheld

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you'll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.

• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.