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New U.S. Mint director calls job a dream

Numismatic News Editor David C. Harper interviews new U.S. Mint Director Edmund C. Moy.

?I?d love your readers to know that I think I have a dream job here,? new Mint Director Edmund C. Moy said at the very end of a telephone interview held with Numismatic News Oct. 10.

Sure, he spoke of goals and responsibilities, too, but the sense of wonderment any coin collector would feel at being given the job of U.S. Mint director seemed also in evidence.

Moy, indeed, first became acquainted with the hobby at the tail end of the circulation finds era in the 1960s and like many collectors, his level of interest has fluctuated with time and his stage in life.

At one point, he went beyond the Mint?s official statement relating to the American Eagle 20th Anniversary Gold and Silver Set and apologized to all Mint customers who felt misled. But what else would you expect from someone who remembers ordering proof sets directly from the Mint in the late 1960s? ?I still have a 1969 proof set,? he said, as he settled in to talk.

?I started at a fairly young age. I was probably 10-15 years old when I manned our family restaurant cash register.?

He said he noticed various designs. ?I began noticing some that were absolutely beautiful.?

He said he remembered the blue books, the distinguishing color of the popular Whitman albums that so many collectors began with.

?I have complete blue books of Lincoln pennies and Mercury dimes,? he recalled. ?Anything silver, I collected that. Silver became a real interest of mine,? he said of the period when silver dimes and quarters departed from circulation.

As an aside, he mentioned that his parents still have ?a couple of hundred pounds of coins in the basement? and that he would have to get them someday.

Like many collectors, he said, in ?high school, the hobby began to wane.? But he also said his interest was revitalized with the Bicentennial quarter celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States. He graduated from high school in 1975.

But of his fluctuating attention to the hobby, he explained, ?I always had an interest. I won?t say I was as active, say 10 years ago, as I was in middle school.? But then the 49-year-old director said the state quarter program helped bring him back.

When asked what he would like to achieve as Mint director, he replied, ?I think that?s going to be an ongoing question.?

He said his immediate goal is the ?successful implementation of the Presidential $1 program.? This will create four designs per year through all the presidents, currently numbering 43.

His second priority is ?the rising cost of metals and the impact on the penny and the nickel.?

His third priority was ?all this improvement in technology. How does that affect the Mint??
He has plans to meet collectors. His first encounter will be at the coin forum for the launch of the South Dakota quarter in the middle of November.

?When asked what kind of relationship the Mint should have with coin collectors, he replied, ?Collectors are customers of the Mint. They should be treated as valued customers.?

He called them a ?font of ideas and experiences and opinions,? adding, ?that?s why I read Numismatic News from cover to cover.?

When asked what will happen to the cent and nickel, returning to his second priority issue, Moy answered, ?We will continue to strike the penny and the nickel as long as Congress continues to authorize us to do so.?

Would he be making recommendations to Congress on this issue?

?Yep, it?s part of good government.?

He said there are internal discussions, particularly at Treasury, and he is costing alternatives (compositions), and looking at pros and cons.

When would these recommendations be made?

The best answer to this was his answer to a related question.

?When the time is right, I can discuss these.? He said the President and the Treasury secretary deserve the best advice he could give and that precluded talking about it now.

In the meantime, he was ?meeting members of Congress who have an interest in the Mint.?

When asked, he said he did not see any evidence of hoarding.

?Suffice it to say that we are aware that hoarding is a potential problem.?

On another topic, Moy was asked whether it was a good idea for the Mint to sell coins from prior years when in the past the Mint did not do this.

?This is still our policy. The general policy has not changed. Some exceptions have been made to that rule.? He pointed to quirks in legislation and specifically mentioned 2005 silver proof sets and Westward Journey nickel sets.

?With my sales and marketing background, I will be taking a broad look at that.
?What my instincts tell me is that the Mint stands for something.? He said Mint products are well thought out and have value and prestige associated with being manufactured by the U.S. Mint.

He emphasized that trinkets, as he called them, were ?not our core business. The core business is producing America?s coins.?

When specifically asked about the circumstances surrounding the offering of the American Eagle 20th Anniversary Gold and Silver Set, he said, ?As director of the Mint, I take full responsibility for how upset buyers have felt about that. If I were standing in their shoes, I would feel exactly the same way. I apologize for that.?

He was optimistic that all three special anniversary sets would sell out, saying that was their internal projection, despite the recent problem.

?I feel really bad.? He said internally the Mint was making management process changes to help prevent such a thing happening again.

Moy was asked if current U.S. coins have artistic merit.

?I think they do have artistic merit.? He cited Robert M. Patterson, director in 1835, who thought coins should be specimens of taste and art.

He cited the turn of the 20th century that many collectors point to as a golden age of coinage art, and looking to the work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He said in 50 years, he hoped we would look back at the turn of this century and say the same thing.

The process of rolling out the new Presidential $1 coins of 2007 will soon reveal their final designs in a week or two and collectors will be able to judge the specific artistic merits of the new coins.

In a demand-acceptance survey, Moy noted, ?We have found greater interest in these dollar coins, certainly by collectors.?

He said the Federal Reserve had assigned a specific person to the Mint to help with the rollout. Moy also is working with the vending machine industry.

Obviously, the new director has rolled up his sleeves and is diving into the nuts and bolts of his duties. Will Moy at the end of his term still feel the Mint directorship is a dream job? Only time will tell.