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Letters to the Editor (09/23/14)

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The 2015 North American Coins & Prices is the perfect all-in-one guide for the coin collector, dealer and enthusiast. Purchase your copy here!

The 2015 North American Coins & Prices is the perfect all-in-one guide for the coin collector, dealer and enthusiast.Purchase your copy here!

Mint offers too many options for gold coins

The multitude of coin products and releases from the U.S. Mint has gone out of control. Nothing exemplifies this more than the 24k gold version of the Kennedy half dollar, which I think will be worth only melt value after the frenzy over them settles.

In addition, the Mint plans to make an ultra high relief gold coin which may be the start of a series of gold coins in 2015, and gold versions of the Walking Liberty half, Standing Liberty quarter, and Mercury dimes in 2016. This is in addition to the American Eagle and American Buffalo gold coins, the First Spouse gold coins, and the commemorative gold coins the Mint already makes.

For people who are interested in gold coins and collect them, this is way too much for people’s budget. People like myself can’t afford all of the gold coins that the U.S. Mint keeps coming out with.

I understand the U.S. Mint needs to make money, but the U.S. Mint needs to simplify its gold coin lineup to make it easier to collect and to not strain the budget of its customers. I suggest that the only gold coins offered by the U.S. Mint each year would be the commemorative gold coins which Congress authorizes; and a new gold bullion coin program that would replace the American Eagle and American Buffalo gold programs, which would consist of the U.S. Mint making:

• A 34mm 1.5-ounce 24k gold Ultra High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle with Roman numeral dates (collector version only)

• A 34mm 1 ounce 24k gold normal relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle with Arabic numeral dates (bullion investor version only)

• A 27mm 1/2 ounce 24k gold Indian head Eagle (collector and bullion investor version)

This would greatly simplify the annual gold coin products that the U.S. Mint comes out with and this would ease the strain on collector budgets that the U.S. Mint is putting with the multitude of gold coin options that they are planning or have already released. Not only would the gold coin product options be simplified, the two most beautiful and highly acclaimed designs that have graced U.S. coinage would get to be used.

All in all, the U.S. Mint needs to be listening more to their customers and their customers’ needs, which includes not straining their budgets with the multitude of gold coin releases.

Stephon Leonard
Address withheld

Raw coins share history with collector

I just finished reading Mr. Gossard’s “Viewpoint” regarding “junk” coins. What a great read!

I once collected slabbed coins – sold nearly all of them. Right now I have only two or three.
I, too, like to collect raw coins for many of the same reasons as Mr. Gossard. So much more history behind these coins. I also have a 9-year-old grandson whom I’ve gotten interested in coins – certainly not slabbed coins.

Although few of my coins are in AG, most are Fine-Very Fine so they have experienced considerable circulation through the years.

I hope many other collectors feel the same way. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to interest future generations in our great hobby.

Dan Sowards
Austin, Texas

ANA Chicago convention an outstanding event

The American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money Convention was held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in Rosemont, Ill., Aug. 5-9. The convention had close to 600 bourse tables, around a dozen world mints, many coin club tables, world class exhibits and a superb ANA museum showcase display. Congratulations to Mack Martin for winning the coveted Howland Wood Best-in-Show Memorial Award.

We compare this ANA convention to the ANA 1991 100th Anniversary Convention held in this same building.

Starting at this event on the second day, the ANA allowed its members to enter the bourse a half-hour earlier than non-members. Maybe, as a special perk, the ANA should allow its Life Members to enter a half-hour earlier on the opening day of the show. The half-hour earlier for ANA members is a great reason to join the Association.

Attendance was probably close to the numbers of the 2013 show which was held in this same building. Lines for registering were very long on Monday to obtain memberships to enter the convention on Tuesday. This was due to the U.S. Mint releasing the 2014 Kennedy gold piece on the opening day of the show.

On Tuesday morning we looked out our window at the DoubleTree and the line was well over two blocks long. Probably 1,000 plus people trying to get one of the first 500 released on the opening day. The release of the Kennedy Gold piece turned out to be a huge problem for the mint and the ANA. It was agreed upon by both that the last few days of this release be canceled. If the U. S. Mint has special releases like this at future conventions, we suggest that they make some available for special daily drawings at their booth. This would give visitors, dealers and collectors a chance to purchase one of the coins being offered.

Other than the U.S. Mint Kennedy release, the convention ran very smoothly and a large thank you goes to: Convention Director Rhonda Scurek and Executive Director Kimberly Kiick and all their staff; President Walter Ostromecki, Jr. and the Board of Governors; the host Chicago Coin Club (CCC), Host Chair William Burd, Honorary Chair William Cross and 75-plus coin club volunteers in their red convention shirts, by far the most volunteers of any convention ever held by the ANA. Thanks also to the ANA National Volunteers for their dedicated service to the Association.

The Friday ANA banquet had Wendell Wolka as MC and it ran smoothly. The ANA held its first donor – Silent Auction at the banquet and it realized $18,918. These funds will be used to fund the Robert Lecce Advanced Scholarship Fund. We want to congratulate Neil Shafer on receiving the ANAs highest award, the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award. Congratulations to all the other award recipients.

Many other great events were also held in conjunction with the show. At the Numismatic News Ambassador Award Breakfast it was announced that this great award program is ending after 40 years. Congratulations to Mitch Ernst, Dan and Kathy Freeland, Eugene Freeman, Dr. Jay Galst, Warren Jackson and Simcha Kuritzky for being the last recipients of this award.

Thanks again to everyone for their donations, work, effort and contributions who helped to make this an outstanding convention.

We hope to see you at the next two ANA Conventions which will be held in Portland, Ore., March 5-7, 2015, and at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., on Aug.11-15, 2015.

John and Nancy Wilson
ANA National Volunteers

Plenty of satisfaction collecting low grade coins

I wanted to add my thoughts on the subject of collecting low grade coins.

As with most collectors, I started my hobby as a child. For the first 25 years or so, my coins came from pocket change to fill the holes in my Whitman albums, and were for the most part in Good to Fine condition. Once I got older, and had the financial means to start buying the coins to fill the missing holes, it was only natural to purchase coins in the same Good to Fine condition, otherwise they would look out of place; not to mention the fact that I could buy 10 or 20 circulated grade coins for the price of just one Mint State coin.

I also agree with readers’ comments that high grade coins are kept sealed away in plastic holders; you’re almost afraid to even look at them for fear their grade status will decrease, whereas you can look at and even handle your cheaper circulated coins without too much worry.

I recently published a book on coin collecting. The whole context of the book focused on collecting average grade, circulated coins. I felt this would be of interest to most collectors, as there are only a tiny fraction of collectors who can afford to compile a complete set of any coin in mint-state grades.

All the prices I quoted in that book are for the lowest grades listed in Whitman’s Red Book, from AG-3 for the older coins to VF-20 for some of the more modern issues. I also felt this was of the most value; it gives the average collector a basis for making purchases, rather than trying to figure out if it’s worth $500 in MS-65, what’s it worth in G-4?

I have a few complete sets of coins and most of them grade from About Good to Fine. Some sets actually started as partial set purchases, which I later completed; some I put together by myself. I am very proud of all of them.

I am now working on putting together a large cent collection. With all the different varieties, it would be nearly impossible (and way beyond my means) to acquire all of them in Mint State, or even higher circulated grades, so I have been buying them in grades as low as Fair-2, just to have an example for my set. I have found that you can still get some pretty good deals on Fair-2 to About Good-3, and even some Good-4 coins by shopping around.

I also agree with another reader’s reasoning that the chances of someone “faking” a coin in the lower grades would be fruitless, as there isn’t much money to be made. If I were to buy higher grade coins or Mint State coins, I would certainly opt for those that had been certified as genuine, but that also adds to the buying price in most cases.

I even take my coins out of their albums or flips on occasion to re-examine them, looking for details I might have missed. For example, I have an 1803 small date, large fraction cent; I just purchased a small date, small fraction version of the same coin. They are both well-circulated, and it was hard to tell the difference with the large fraction coin in its flip, so I took it out (with gloved hands) and laid it next to my new small fraction version to compare the two. I also took photos of both with my digital micrsoscope to add to my files.

Earlier this year I purchased 10 early large cents on eBay for $134. They were all in Poor to About Good condition and were most likely a metal detector find, but in that lot was a Liberty Cap cent, a 1798 Draped bust cent, and three 1787 Connecticut coppers. Up to that point, I did not own any 18th century coins, so I was very excited to have them. The Liberty cap had no discernible date, but after an hour or so of investigation, I determined it was a 1794/head of 1794 by the edge design and hair design. I also determined that the two 1801 cents included in the lot were of two varieties - the 1/000 reverse and 1/100 reverse. What a great buy and what fun it was determining what I had actually bought.

Lastly, I also agree with another reader’s comment regarding the history behind circulated grade coins; how many people carried this coin in their pocket? What did they purchase with it? And I always wonder especially with coins over one hundred years old, how did it manage to stay around without getting lost? Someone, at some point in time, decide to put those coins away, maybe as a savings for the future, or maybe they were collectors themselves. In most cases we will never know, but it is intriguing to think about.

I personally don’t think it matters what kind of coins someone collects. After all, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” to use the old cliche. As far as it being a fad - if it is, then this fad has lasted over 40 years in my case, and I don’t foresee it ending any time soon.

Daryl Conley
Truth or Consequences, N.M.

Where are all the ATB quarters?

It’s been almost three years since I first wrote about seeing--or not--any of the America The Beautiful quarters in circulation. As of Aug. 22, I have only seen three. A fellow reader sent me one depicting the Confederate Battle Steam Boat (in my “Transportation” topical collection).

I have three “Perry Monument” quarters used in Philatelic Numismatic Covers for the Garfield Perry Stamp Club’s 124th March Party three-day show covers) About a month ago, I received the Alaskan Park quarter in change, which has been returned to circulation.
There has been an abundance of the state quarters and earlier regular Washington (post 1965) quarters, but no ATBs!

I’ve hunted everywhere; banks, Coinstars, looked on the ground and all around. As I said before, I’ll probably find a solid gold coin or maybe a chicken’s tooth somewhere before I see another ATB quarter!

I asked three years ago, I’ll repeat my question; “Oh where, oh where can you be, elusive ATB?”

Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

Medal marks 95 years of Chicago Coin Club

We all admire a club or organization even a person that can hang in there for 95 years and get larger and stronger every year.

One club able to boast that feat is the Chicago Coin Club, which formed in 1912 as the ANA Branch Club No. 1. It reorganized in 1919 as the Chicago Coin Club.

In 2014, 95 years later, it issued a really neat Ferris Wheel medal in copper, silver and gold, a real fine example of exonumia. My choice is the satin finish copper issue.

If you happen to collect exonumia or just medals, then this is one you’ll want to add to your collection. These fine men and women worked hard on this one. It’s one you’ll enjoy; I know I did. Just look up the Chicago Coin Club to add your support. I can’t wait till 100 years to see what they’ll offer. It’s going to be hard to top the 95-year offering.

Michael P. Schmeyer
Spencer, N.Y.

Lack of professionalism in sale of Kennedy gold

While I do agree that what some dealers may have done at the recent ANA in terms of hiring people off of the street or from Craig’s List or through an acting agency, etc isn’t illegal in the congressional sense of the word, however, it certainly is not within the standards of professionalism within this profession/hobby or any other professional hobby.

I could see the dealers approaching people (folks that were coming to the show to buy the coin anyway) in line with an offer to buy their coin, but to pull completely unaffiliated folks literally off of the streets or off of websites like that to create pandemonium at a professional association’s coin show is out of line.

Sorry, but shame on the powers that be for not creating their own rules at their own show within the guidelines of professional standards. I certainly hope this doesn’t happen again.

Robert S. Matitia
Address withheld