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Letters to the Editor (04/15/14)

I just read the Feb. 18, 2014 issue. I must reply to the “Viewpoint” article: “Rogue dealers need to clean up their act.”
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2014 U.S. Coin Digest

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Respect between dealer, seller goes both ways

I just read the Feb. 18, 2014 issue. I must reply to the “Viewpoint” article: “Rogue dealers need to clean up their act.” I am a full-time (seven days a week) dealer in all numismatic items. I’m still a collector too. I enjoy what I do and enjoy teaching others what I know about. I write articles for M.S.N.S. here in Michigan, and I’m President of a local coin club as well.

While Mr. Saryan is correct that there are many rude dealers, doing a coin deal is a two way street. There are some rude customers as well. As a full time numismatist (both for fun and a living) I know that some prices for coins are too high and some are too low in printed guides. That’s why they are “guides.”

Take 3-cent pieces made of nickel for example. If you find one graded correctly, with no problems, from the 1880s the asking price will be much higher than any price guide will report. The same could be true with the ancient coin Mr. Saryan was wanting to buy for his friend.

When I’m buying an item from another dealer for my collection or inventory I ask “Can you do any better on the price?” or “What’s the best you can do on this?” Not “I’ll give you $100 since that’s what it’s really worth” or something along those lines.

Remember, it’s a two-way street. Be kind and get treated kind in return. The dealer had to pay for the coin, it wasn’t given to him. And he had to pay an employee to research, price, and list the coin online. He had to pay for internet service, the list goes on. Nothing is free in this world.

I am always happy to help teach others no matter their age, gender, or if they are new or advanced collectors. But it costs a lot of money to run a coin shop, travel to shows, pay employees, keep the lights on, and I must do a lot of reading to keep up with all the numismatic news. Full-time dealers like myself have very little personal lives. We devote our time to coins, notes and tokens. Please remember this when making transactions. We have much more invested than meets the eye. Thank you for hearing “the other (a dealer’s) side of the coin.”

Daniel Sheffer
Shelby Township, Mich.

CCAC picks wrong design for Nebraska quarter

After reading the article about the 2015 America the Beautiful quarter design recommendations by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, I am very disappointed about the selection for my state.

I have been a big fan of the ATB series so far, but choosing this recommended design would just be wrong in my opinion. I feel like some of the other choices the committee had were much better designs.

I don’t know what the track record is for the Mint following the CCAC’s recommendation, but I hope that in this case they don’t. I would assume there is no way to officially throw my two cents into the process, but if there is, I would love to know how.

Brian Owens
Lincoln, Neb.

Nickels, cents, kindness do a lot of good

I just read a couple of letters and Viewpoint in this issue that I find very important, to wit:

1. Mr. Larrabee’s letter regarding the continued use of the penny and nickel by the U.S. made a very unique and important point regarding our society. Americans are very charitable in ways not found in most other first world countries.

I’ve traveled quite a bit and do not recall ever seeing the plastic boxes at checkouts for charitable donations that we see throughout the U.S. Although a few pennies and nickels from one person may not seem like much, when one adds up all of the coins collected from thousands of locations, it can mean life or death to some charities as well as to children and others in need, whether it be medical or financial. This is certainly one darn good argument for continued use of these denominations. I like it!

2. The “Viewpoint” by collector David Martens was spot on regarding the article written by Mr. Saryan. I had the same reaction when I first read the description of his duel encounters with so-called “rouge dealers.” If Mr. Saryan indeed spoke to these dealers in the manner he himself describes, I too would have had the same reaction to Mr. Saryan’s comments/questions/low-ball bid. I must say I’ve encountered dealers who are rather coarse in their responses to my inquiries, but usually when they are busy. But I’ve also had many great experiences with dealers, large and small.

I recall my first face-to-face meeting with Harry Miller of Miller’s Mint, from whom I had done business previously by phone/mail/email. Not only was he cordial, but he gave me a discount off some coins and spent time showing me a collection of Buffalos that was the finest complete set I had ever seen.

Mr. Saryan, I am from the South, and we take pride in our friendliness, including how we speak to strangers, no matter where we may meet them. I suggest you think hard about the way you present yourself before you criticize other people’s reactions.

Dan Sowards
Austin, Texas

Keep political viewpoints out of news reports

I have no idea what your politics are, David. And that’s a good thing. Despite reading hundreds of your articles over the years, I haven’t a clue whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Communist, or whatever.

However, I didn’t even get three sentences into Patrick Heller’s March 11 article in Numismatic News online (Weaker Economy, Weaker Coin Sales?) before it was painfully obvious – and numismatically irrelevant – where Mr. Heller’s political sympathies lie.

He asserts that through “deceptive government reports” the Feds are intentionally trying to “mislead” and “fool the public” into thinking the economy is better than it is, and that things “have been declining since the current U.S. president assumed office.”

I wondered for a moment if I was reading Fox News instead of Numismatic News. A quick trip to his Liberty Coin Service website (even the name is telling) confirmed my suspicions with headings like “Obamacare fiasco” and “Rampant U.S. government lawlessness and deception.”

Although it is tempting to engage in a debate on the health of the economy, I will simply quote a recent New York Times article on the just-closed fiscal year: “The federal budget deficit fell more sharply than in any year since the end of World War II. Growth in tax revenue from an improving economy accounted for much of the decline in the deficit.”

Mr. Heller is not an economist. He obviously chooses to cite and believe negative indicators that support his strongly held political beliefs. I think he does Numismatic News readers a disservice to ignore the myriad positive indicators that are also out there. Any bull or bear market is going to send mixed signals. The trick for all of us is to figure out what they are saying.

Regardless of whether or not I agree with Mr. Heller’s strongly held political beliefs, my larger problem with his article is this: one of the things I enjoy about numismatics is that it is an escape and respite from the pressures of running a business, bad news in the paper and on TV, etc. When I open Numismatic News, I don’t want politics.

If Mr. Heller wants to tell coin dealers to beware because the economy is going into the dumper, he needs to say that. But he loses me when he injects his conspiracy theories about the government actively trying to fool and mislead the public. If he wants to splash those innuendos all over his website and newsletter, fine. But they are way out of line in Numismatic News.

David, as editor, can you please edit out these politically charged references in Mr. Heller’s contributions? (and Harry Miller’s as well.) I don’t want to stand by and watch a political hijacking of my hobby. “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” A numismatic article is no place for politics.

No, the irony is not lost on me that I have just written a letter about politics to the editor of a numismatic publication in which I complain about politics in a numismatic publication.

Michael Searle
Perrysburg, Ohio

Public didn’t call for platinum coins

Seems like the U.S. Mint has been giving great lip service to the public that they are “listening” to the needs and wants of the collecting public. Case in point is the return of the platinum Eagle coin.

Historically, how many actual platinum coins were minted and sold when they were available? I was curious, so I did a little bit of research.

Who are we kidding here? Mintages were piddly in every category. Only one year, in 1998, did the 1 ounce platinum Eagle break into six digits at 133,002. Most years, it seems that the mintages averaged from 6,000 to 12,000 for both the 1 ounce bullion and 1 ounce proof coin.

The smaller denominations did fare a bit better, but never breaking the 100,000 mark, and mostly averaging about 20,000 to 30,000 or so. Is this really “serving and listening” to the public, and trying to attract newcomers to the hobby? I don’t think so.

The Mint is still in the antiquated age, bent on riding on tradition, pomp and circumstance, and really is not attracting newcomers to the hobby nor satisfying the budget needs of the average collector. I don’t think the average collector bought many platinum coins in the past, and probably very few will in the future.

Robert Matitia
Address withheld

2014 cent shows up in Poughkeepsie

Today I was out shopping for my wife. I went to a local food store and received my first 2014 real shinny cent.

Since I’m getting old (70) and have an issue with walking and balance I don’t do the Memphis show. I keep the show to local ones like Albany, N.Y., and Fishkill or White Plains, NY.

I read about all the new things going on and since I retired about 10 to 12 years ago I don’t have a good supply of money (worked at the NYS Bridge Authority). Now I go to the local credit unions and try to enlighten the tellers about what to look for. Sometimes it works.

I am still in two coin clubs, the Poughkeepsie coin club and the Carmel coin club. Just keep the letters going because I read them and the articles.

Dean Davis
Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

It’s interesting grading coins for friends

I read with interest, your article in the March 18 Numismatic News about grading coins.

I took the ANA course on grading coins some years ago and have had several friends ask me to give them an idea of the condition and value of their coins. This has been very interesting due to the variety of coins I have been able to review, from U.S. coins to foreign coins.

I hope the requests continue to come in because each has its particular point of interest for me and I love pouring over them and seeing coins I would never come face to face with otherwise.

I have never taken apart a “proof” or “uncirculated” set, but if you say so ...

Tim Coltrin
Glendale Hts., Ill.

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