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Letters to the Editor (June 6, 2017)

Rounding misconceptions stand in way of progress


The reader who stated that if we abolish the cent, postage prices would jump at least a dime at a time is in need of a math lesson. It’s faulty thinking like this that prevents progress.

We have been over this many times, but let’s do it again. When you go grocery shopping, you fill up your cart and check out. Does the cashier charge you for every item one at a time? Of course not. The entire cart is rung up and you pay based on the total. So the can of creamed corn that costs 79 cents today would still cost 79 cents if we abolish the cent. If the contents of your cart adds up to $137.42, you would pay $137.40. If the contents of your cart adds up to $137.43, you would pay $137.45. Over time you would break even.

As far as wages go, your hourly rate is multiplied by the number of hours worked, and you get paid based on the total, usually by check or direct deposit, no adjustment needed.

As far as postage stamps go, a stamp costs 49 cents. Abolish the penny, one stamp will cost 50 cents, certainly not an increase of a dime. But who buys one stamp at a time? If you buy ten stamps, you would still pay $4.90. A roll of 100 would still cost $49.00. What’s the problem? For this non-existent problem we need to mint billions of cents every year that just go into buckets and bins in people’s basements and garages?

I have a 10-year-old neighbor who understands this. The fact that some mature adults do not really scares me.

And for the reader who donates his pennies to charity: If you really care about a charity, write them a check.

Peter Glassman
Schaumburg, Ill.

Langbord case should not be seen as victory

So the Langbord family’s legitimate ownership of 10 1933 coins that were previously “stolen” from the Mint sometime in the past is a “victory” for coin collecting? Are you nuts? All this proves is that the government can take anything they want, any time. How about “your” land? Sometime in the past somebody “stole” it from the Indians. Collectors should cherish the thought of another gold confiscation for the greater good?

Jim Conger
Address withheld

Paying to store clad quarters poor investment

I read with great interest a reader’s letter to the editor in the May 16 online version of your publication. Today is May 5, so it’s good to be able to respond ahead of time so this letter will be timely. The writer indicates that he has pounded the pavement for years collecting rolls of the state or ATB quarters, and from his question, it seems to me that he has been collecting the clad versions of the quarter and not the silver versions, because he makes reference to an article that you wrote for the March 28, 2017, digital issue “If avoiding loss is goal, choose gold.” And he makes note that in it, you mention “base metal.”

Also I truly feel sorry for this collector to let him know that if he has been collecting clad state and ATB quarters from circulation, and storing them in a bank’s safety deposit box, that not only is his investment not appreciating in value, but since he is paying for the safety deposit box, he is losing money every day that he stores his clad coinage in it. Now there are some exceptions within that clad coinage. There are some errors within the ATB series that he can search out, and those may be worth some money. Enumerating them is beyond the scope of what I am trying to relay to him. But absent any error coins, his “accumulation” of clad rolls (from circulation, I assume) is basically worth face value, in my humble opinion.

He would be better served by converting that accumulation of quarters into rolls of American silver Eagles. For advice, at where spot prices are hovering around today (silver has gone quite significantly down over the last few weeks, and today is hovering at about $16.36), he should pay no more than say $20 to $21 a coin, maybe even less. Figure a $3 to $3.50 premium over spot per coin.

Alternatively, he could also be better served by converting all of those clad quarters into plain old silver bullion Buffalo rounds, which, if he shops well, can get for as low as a premium of $1 (maybe less) above spot.

Additionally, if he does indeed have a passion for the ATB quarter series, he can invest in the silver proof ATB quarters. Expect to pay there roughly $5 to $6 a coin or so.

If he has a significant amount on hand, there are the 5-ounce ATB collector or bullion coins as well. All of these types of “investments” are precious metal and largely tied to the rise and fall of spot prices. Rarely would they have any significant numismatic value above the price of silver. But since the writer sounds like a beginner in collecting coins, this would be a good place for him to start.

Also, I would suggest him to renew his subscription to Numismatic News so he can keep himself informed, and also go out and buy for about $15 (money well, well spent) a copy of the 2018 Red Book. He can probably get a back issue of the Red Book for just a couple of bucks, too, which would be almost as good, if he doesn’t need or want at this point. But really, he needs to “buy the book” before he goes any further.

Regarding his original question: At this point I wouldn’t worry at all if his safety deposit box is made out of plastic, because if his coins are clad quarters and not silver, I don’t think that they are going to tarnish. And even if they do, who cares? It’s only worth face value (if collected from circulation). However, once he starts to put his silver in there, if he doesn’t want the coins to tarnish, he should leave American silver Eagles in their mint rolls or purchase Air-Tites for other types. The silver proof quarters come in an original mint packaging holder of five display case. The bullion pieces he can put in rolls or Air-Tites. Just my two cents, off-the-cuff advice.

Robert Matitia
Address withheld

Beginning collector grateful to have question published

Many thanks for printing my question about the bank safe deposit box material.

Don’t ask me, I just stumbled upon my anonymous letter. Someone from a local club had sent me a link to an article with the .net address so I casually looked at it today. Thank you. Maybe most of the coin collectors have their coins in slabs, not raw, so the plastic box doesn’t matter. Someday I’ll write to the manufacturer of the plastic safe deposit box asking what material they use. (Been saying that for a long time.)

Also, somewhere I found the article on the 1982 small date written by Ken Potter. Either some of these things are starting to stick or the article was very well written. Probably the latter. When he described “... which satisfactorily filled the dies ...” either I thought I was watching it happen or something in my head really clicked. The whole paragraph where he describes, for example, “... the Mint struck the copper hard and fast ...” was extremely elucidating. Maybe it’s the compare and contrast of the two metals, but truly something went into my head. I don’t have a formal ANA class under my belt on coin striking, manufacture, etc. Anyway, that was a really well-written article. I’m grateful something really stuck in my head! Maybe now I better understand “strike.”

Also, reader Mr. Glassman’s finding he couldn’t unload the traveller’s checks was scary. I’ve been saving some in case I ever went away again. I’d better find out how difficult they are to negotiate. Maybe taking it to a bank rather than a hotel would have been better. I’ll find out and let you know.

I found one 2017-P cent on the steps getting off the subway train one day in good condition. Who picks up cents anymore? A desperate coin collector! Geez, if I go into a bank asking for rolls of cents, can’t find whole rolls of them. Anyway, they are in the Northeast. Anything I collect is in the billions [mintage] but still hard to find.

One more thing, I was reading some appendix in the Red Book where there is a discussion about tough-to-find errors since 2002 ... I don’t have Red Book with me at this library computer. I have to think about that or write again with the book in front of me. Either way, it doesn’t sound like much fun without the quirks. Sorry. They find errors in some quarters so not sure what they meant. What little I know.

Always a lot to learn, still.

Name withheld

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