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Letters to the Editor (03/18/14)

Leon Saryan’s article in the Feb. 18 issue of Numsmatic News on “Rogue Dealers” recalls experiences that ring true with my own 50-plus years as a collector.
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2014 U.S. Coin Digest

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Collector also has dealt with ‘rogue dealers’

Leon Saryan’s article in the Feb. 18 issue of Numsmatic News on “Rogue Dealers” recalls experiences that ring true with my own 50-plus years as a collector, going from an enthusiastic (annoying) 11-year-old collector without much money to spend to an experienced collector with publications (Numismatist and The Celator) and a respectable income.

Much of the pleasure of selecting and buying coins at shops and shows had been shattered for me by the occasional nasty, bullying and abrasive dealer. Even during my more affluent years some dealers had the tendency to be gruff and dismissive with me if I declined to buy this or that coin or inquired about a lower price.

As recently as 20 years ago dealers and shops with decent selections were relatively few and they could refuse to allow customers who didn’t buy enough to examine their merchandise and thereby cut them off from the pursuit of collecting.

The advent of online shopping alternatives such as eBay in the 1990s helped to shift the balance in favor of the collector and reduced dependency upon local coin shops or dealers.

James B. Casey
Address withheld

Mishler’s articles on his travels are interesting

In addressing the Jan. 28 article about Roy Herbst’s distaste of Clifford Mischler take on his eating habits instead of just coins, get over it.

I’ve been collecting coins for a number of years now and as you can tell an avid reader of Numismatic News. I enjoy opinions from other people as well as the information, very valuable information about my hobby. I am also a history lover, and enjoy a little break once in a while listening about stories of travel and foods and vacations, along with what’s going on in the coins markets.

Mr. Herbst must lead a very solitary lifestyle, be boring and have blinders on if he can’t see there’s other things in life. So others out there who love to travel, dine out, and collect coins, money, exonumia, etc., keep doing so. It makes for very interesting reading. And who knows, it might inspire others to try different avenues that they would otherwise not think of.

James Dorsey

Dissatisfying encounters with three dealers

My take about coin dealers is that they require as much scrutinizing if not more so then the coins you might potentially purchase from them. The following situations occurred to me within a few weeks.

Dealer No. 1: He has desirable merchandise of mostly higher end slabbed coins. I was in the market for a better example of a 1918/17-D Buffalo Nickel than the PCGS G4 coin I already owned. I contacted the dealer who had several examples in varying grades, expressed my desire to purchase his $2,500 example, asked if they would be interested in my G4 to be used as partial trade along with cash. Dealer said yes and makes me an offer for my coin, to be shipped at my expense along with a check for the difference. No problem, out they went. A few days later the dealer calls to say that my coin has a “planchet flaw.” A planchet flaw? It has no such flaw, and if it did I would think PCGS would have noted it on the slab. “Oh yes, its there, very obvious,” says the dealer. That’s odd, I’ve looked at it numerous times I said and I never saw it. Well, he says, “I’ll still buy it but for $250 less than what I offered you”. Uh, nevermind and no thanks, ship my coin and my check back to me. I could hear the disappoint in his voice, he thought the 500 miles between us and being over the phone I would just succumb and say OK. He tried to be slick. Now he had to incur the shipping cost back to me and lost the sale. I will never buy from him again.

Dealer No. 2: He is a dealer that I have bought from steadily for 5 years and spent a considerable amount of money with, he has mostly raw coins but tends to over-grade them a bit or they have flaws not mentioned in their description. One of his coins is an early Capped Bust dime, which he’s had listed for many months. The coin in his opinion is XF and the asking price is $1,200. I inquired about the coin’s condition, was it truly XF or is there margin for error? I also asked for a photo scan so I can view the coin. Dealer replies he cannot take pictures which I found astounding. What reputable coin dealer could not provide a photo of their coins? Any cell phone these days can take and send a picture in seconds. But he gives me a more elaborate description of the coin than what his posting indicated. OK, I said, I have a proposition for you. Can you submit the coin to either NGC or PCGS for grading, I will pay all shipping and grading costs. If the coin comes back in the grade you say it is, I will buy it. If not, I won’t buy it but I will pay all grading costs anyway. What did he have to lose? I was looking to cover my bases since this coin if one grade lower is worth only $600. If I buy it sight unseen for $1,200 and submit myself and it comes back one grade lower then I just paid $1,200 for a $600 coin. His reply? Bluntly and harshly, “No , I’ll sell it to a dealer friend instead”. Little wonder he wouldn’t submit for grading I thought to myself, the coin is not as he described. I crossed him off my list and will never buy from him again.

Dealer No. 3: I go to his website and lo and behold he has a Peace dollar I’ve wanted, slabbed MS64. Valued at $1,000 to $1,100, his price was $1,066. OK, sounds good, I order from his website and remit payment via PayPal. Next morning I receive notice from PayPal that my payment was refunded with no reason given. So I email the dealer and asked why the refund. Reply was that the owner “mixed-up” and listed the coin for the wrong price and that I should caIl the owner for an explanation. Uhh, why should I call the owner, why didn’t the owner call me, the customer ? I go back to their website and “my coin” is relisted for $82.50 higher than what I paid for it. I’m like, this guy just blew a $1,000 sale for 82 bucks? Why wouldn’t he contact me saying he erred on his price? Maybe ask me if I would cough up the additional $82 dollars anyway? Or maybe offer to split the difference with me? Or maybe eat the $82 since you made the error. But instead I get a stupidly worded response. I will never buy from this guy again either.

Jim Maguire
Butler, Pa.

Apply to be member of CCAC

The vast majority of us just sit back and complain about this and that coin,about all of our coinage; lacking in just about every way, well now is our opportunity to actually step up and do something about it!

We have until March 28 to submit our application to become one of the newest members of the Citizens Coinage Adivisory Committee, providing we meet the qualification standards. I know for one I’m tossing my hat in the ring. I’d just like to see everybody do the same! And good luck to all.

Michael P. Schmeyer
Spencer, N.Y.

2014-D Lincoln cents found in Colorado

I received two 2014-D Lincoln cents in change at a local Burger King on Feb 18. I also found a Thai 1 baht in the Coinstar machine this week.

Jim Chudd
Fort Collins, Colo.

Be certain photo is of the coin being sold

Have you ever searched Internet coin dealers for a specific rare coin (not a generic bullion piece), found just what you thought you were looking for, and then were surprised when you received the coin.

What could have gone wrong? The nice picture on the dealer’s website was just the right grade, date, and mintmark you were looking for. And the coin looked great in the picture. What probably happened is that the actual coin for sale was not the coin represented in the picture.

The dealer has a nice picture of a coin he may have sold years ago and just keeps using the same picture over and over again. They call them “stock photos.”

Make sure you know what you are buying. Send the dealer an email and ask if the accompanying photo is of the exact coin you are buying. Or, is this a stock photo?

I know a good example of a dealer who does it right. When you click on one of his pictures, it will be enlarged and in fine detail. I actually find that when I see the actual coin, I am pleasantly surprised; it looks better that the picture because the picture was so detailed that small blemishes look worse than they really are.

Other dealers do it right, too. But most don’t. Check them out to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Charlie Brown
Address withheld

ATM yields consecutive serial number star notes

I have read the articles of the fortunate finding small treasures in rolled coin over the years with a sigh and a shrug. Maybe the town I live in is of a challenging size. The ratio of those who keep an eye out for coins vs. the size of the small scale population.

Be it as it may, I have gone through countless rolls of cents, nickels, dimes, quarters and if any local bank has any half dollars. But I haven’t found anything of any mentionable significance. So, I now find myself just going to the ATM instead of going inside to inquire.

That’s when it happened, another trip to the ATM during open hours of the bank. I entered the amount I wanted and out the twenties came. When I grabbed them I could feel they were “new” feeling, very little if any circulation. So counting them was slower than normal to make sure none stuck to another and that I got the amount I wanted when I noticed the last two were star notes.

Catching my eye I quickly examined them to find they were consecutive serial number star notes. No folds or marks both exceptional examples. I don’t go out of my way to collect currency, but finding they are from a short run, I’d say lightning finally struck.

Eric Nutting
Twin Falls, Idaho

Book dealer John Burns will be missed

I was stunned when I opened my recent copy of FUN Topics magazine to read of the passing of numismatic book dealer John Burns.

I met John several years ago at one of the many large coin shows he attended. John was always happy to spend time with me, talking coins, books, dealers, and general numismatic gossip, even if I never spent a dime. On several occasions he’d invite me to sit with him behind his table. I always sought him out at shows like FUN and ANA.

I last saw John on Friday at the January FUN Show. He said he didn’t feel well, and he was sweating profusely. That was not too unusual for John, being a man of large girth. Also, several dealers had mentioned that the air conditioning in that part of the building wasn’t working too well, so I thought nothing of it. The next day, it was discovered that John had passed.

John often talked about how difficult it was to haul his heavy inventory around, and how he could probably make more money dealing in coins, but he just loved his books too much. I’ll sure miss John’s ready smile, hearty handshake, and good natured grumbing about the ups and downs of this great hobby of ours. May you rest in peace, my friend!

Bob Klippstein
Greensboro, N.C.

Celebrate year of Kennedy’s birth, not death

I think the proposals for a way to memorialize the 50th anniversary of the JKF half in 2014 misses the boat. Why are we celebrating the year of his assassination instead of the year of his birth like we do with presidents like Washington and Lincoln?

We celebrate the birth day of MLK, not the year he was assassinated. We could simply wait a few more years. We could really celebrate the centennial of Kennedy’s 1917 birth year by producing an assortment of the appropriate coins in tribute. Let the year he was assassinated be overshadowed by the year of his birth.

Bruce Remick
Springfield, Va.

Don’t issue gold Kennedy half dollars

I read your article on the possible gold Kennedy coin and I have to agree, no gold Kennedy!

I did not read about the Mint suggesting household order limits either so their sales target seems not to be the regular collector. The Mint has been pandering to not only rich collectors but also to dealers/wholesalers who can easily buy dozens of gold Kennedys at a time.

And these dealers/wholesalers seem to get their products sooner than many regular customers and can get them certified much earlier by third parties as “first strikes,” etc. And at the same time I guess they are able to return the collector coins not meeting their standards back to the Mint. And does the Mint recycle these back to their “for sale” inventory? I wonder.

Kaan Ba-Maung
Address withheld

At $1,300 an ounce, it’s time to buy gold

I don’t understand how anyone is surprised that gold and silver are on the rise. While we keep printing money we don’t have, the smart play is gold and silver.Buy, buy, buy – $1,300 is just the beginning.

Jon DeBernardis
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

How many 1916 doubled die Buffalo nickels?

Having bought and sold a multitude of the various really rare US coins in my past, I recently purchased an example of the very rare Buffalo nickel, the 1916 doubled die obverse coin. Having owned many a rarity, some of which were in low grades just to satisfy my love for truly rare U.S. coins, I bought this coin in a holder specifying a basal grade, which admittedly I would not relegate myself to own other than the fact for the sake of being rare, this coin is both very rare and in a very popular U.S. series! The piece is an example of what is arguably one of the rarest 20th century U.S. coins in its entire amount known or having been discovered to date.

What I would like to know is what would be the estimate as to how many of this coin were originally struck? I know that dies to strike nickel, being one of the hardest of metals to leave a good impression on, would wear out more quickly than on most other dies that struck metal planchets for other denominations of US coinage. I would like to know what anyone out there with appreciable knowledge of the minting process could supply as to what might have been the estimated total amount of this coin struck.

Ron Feuer
Charlotte, N.C.

1969-S doubled die found in roll of cents

I have been a subscriber to Numismatic News for years and a coin collector for years as well.

Late last year I purchased a couple of 50-roll bricks of Lincoln cents. My intention was to simply separate the copper coins. Upon doing so and much to my surprise perhaps bordering on disbelief, I came across a 1969-S doubled die obverse Lincoln cent. The coin, albiet in used condition, was clean with little visible wear.

Over the next several hours I lost count of how many times I looked at this coin to verify that it indeed had significant doubling. I even went so far as to show my brother the coin to have him verify the doubling. I am well aware of the doubled die varieties in the Lincoln Memorial cent series as I have found these very interesting. I also was well aware of how few 1969-S DDO’s have been found. In further researching the coin and attempting to verify its authenticity, I found that all of the 1969-S DDO identified came from one set of dies. All have similar identifying marks on the reverse of the coin left from polishing the dies. All four identifiers matched the coin I found, at least what I thought were the correct identifiers.

So I submitted the coin to NGC for authentification and grading last week. NGC completed the authentification and grading this afternoon and indeed it is an authentic 1969-S DDO in AU-55 BR condition. Finding a needle in a haystack certainly is appropriate.

Name withheld

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