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This week’s letters (01/22/13)

I refer to the letter to the editor on Page 10 of the Dec. 25, 2012, issue, “Movie is wrong saying Lincoln was on coin in 1865.” I have not seen the reference movie “Lincoln,” but “Name withheld” states that Lincoln was not on a “half dollar piece.” I call his or her attention to the 1863 50-cent Fractional Currency “piece” of the Fourth Issue, U.S. No. 119 in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues.

Lincoln appeared on Fractional Currency note
I refer to the letter to the editor on Page 10 of the Dec. 25, 2012, issue, “Movie is wrong saying Lincoln was on coin in 1865.”
I have not seen the reference movie “Lincoln,” but “Name withheld” states that Lincoln was not on a “half dollar piece.” I call his or her attention to the 1863 50-cent Fractional Currency “piece” of the Fourth Issue, U.S. No. 119 in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues.
As I mentioned, I have not yet viewed the movie, but was the reference to a 50-cent piece or a 50-cent coin?
I could not let this pass without comment. You will probably get other letters from old currency collectors.
Charles A. Fenwick
Kalamazoo, Mich.

Editor’s note: Thanks for writing. There is a 50-cent Fractional Currency Note with Lincoln’s portrait. It was part of the Fourth Issue. Although it was dated 1863, it was not issued until July 14, 1869, to Feb. 16, 1875. So Lincoln would not have seen it. Fred Reed notes this in “The Editor’s Notebook” in “Paper Money,” published by the Society of Paper Money Collectors.

‘Mint sealed’ coins damaged by Sandy
I stored many mint and proof sets from the U.S. Mint in a safety deposit box at a local bank. Well, Hurricane Sandy destroyed all the “Mint sealed” sets.
The sets are not waterproof nor are they air proof. Also, the insert to hold the coins is made from a kind of printed color enhanced or infused cardboard. The color ran on the coins contributing to the destruction.
Please inform the coin collectors that Mint “sealed” is not true.
William Berl
Address withheld

El Yunque quarter shows great detail
Your Jan. 1 article about art in coins caught my interest.
When you mentioned the 2005 Jefferson nickel semi-profile on obverse, I was reminded of my first impression of that coin. I predicted folks would nickname it the “Man-in-the-Moon” for its resemblance to the whimsical man in the moon. Have you heard anyone refer to it as such? With all due respect to one of my favorite Founding Fathers, that’s what Mr. Jefferson looks like to me on that obverse.
As for art in coins, I found my first El Yunque quarter – about a MS-65 – several months back. A nearly perfect, unblemished coin from circulation. Looking at it under magnification, I was astounded at the artistic detail! The frog (even down to his toes) was finely struck. The detail in the leaves, vine, and bird was striking. I thought it had to be one of the finest coins ever struck for circulation.
David Smith
Somerville, Tenn.

How did arrow get stamped on Liberty’s skirt?
I have recently acquired an 1858 (AG3) Seated Liberty half dollar coin.
On the obverse across Liberty’s gown someone has stamped an arrow. The arrow is parallel to the bottom of the gown and is oriented from left to right. The arrow has three feathers up and three down, a shaft and a head that resembles the mathematical symbol for “greater than” (.e.g. “>”).
Any suggestions about who/what stamped the arrow on Lady Liberty’s skirt?
Name withheld
Lawrence, Kan.

Why pay so much for a 1 ounce silver Eagle?
It boggles my mind that an ounce of silver actually cost $29. Now is this a troy ounce or an actual ounce? Well, that doesn’t matter with this story!
If you go to the U.S. Mint and try and buy one of these 1 ounce American silver Eagles you can pay $50.59. Huh, when silver is actually selling at $29 an ounce?
If you go to eBay and look up “1 Ounce American Silver Eagle” you’ll pay anywhere between $34 to $60 and that is not even slabbed. And then why do people actually pay to have these slabbed?
I truly believe people just don’t understand the silver market and yet they continue to buy from the U.S. Mint and from second-hand like eBay.
The U.S. government is just in the business of ripping people off. Well, they are not at fault. If people will pay, then what the heck, sell it to them.
A.J. Williams

Editor’s note: Silver bullion coins use troy ounces. It also should be remembered that there are different kinds of American Eagles and it can get confusing to lump them all together. The regular bullion American Eagle is what is sold by the Mint through its Authorized Purchasers for a small markup. The uncirculated silver American Eagle sold on the Mint website has a “W” mintmark on it. The standard bullion coins do not have a mintmark. The Mint also sells proof silver American Eagles with a “W” mintmark on them. Special sets in recent years have included reverse proofs and “S” proofs.

New book, special coin enhance collecting
Like most collectors, I have quite a few books on coinage and the like. Well, I got a humdinger the other day, the “official” ANA Grading Standards by Kenneth Bressett. Wow! Truly powerful knowledge.
I just love it when we think we know a lot or enough, and then we get a book such as this one. You learn you don’t know that much after all.
The best part was it included an assortment of coins. My wife said get grading all but this one, and smiled and handed me a 1909-S VDB PCGS slabbed and certified in VF-20 – the holy grail of Lincolns. What a wife!
Michael P. Schmeyer
Halsey Valley, N.Y.

Collectors prefer coins that haven’t been cleaned
I’m relatively new to coin collecting and obviously have much to learn. In reading your publication and other sources, I understand that washing/cleaning coins is not a good thing to do, yet nowhere does it explain why.
My aunt recently passed away, leaving me a number of Morgan and Peace dollars as well as a number of half-dollars, quarters and dimes from back in the early 1900s. Most of these coins have not been well kept and frankly, could use a good bath. Why is it not a good idea to wash them?
Sure hope you can help me with this.
Dan Schweikert
Willingboro, N.J.

Editor’s note: Collectors desire natural surfaces and value coins accordingly. Cleaning a coin destroys the natural surface. Sometimes cleaning is unavoidable such as when coins are brought up from the bottom of the sea or unearthed somewhere.
In a nutshell, it all hinges on what other collectors want and the value they place on coins with natural surfaces.

Honored to receive first Donnell Award
At the Dec. 8, 2012, Joint Christmas Party, of the Fairfield (California) Coin Club and Vallejo (California) Numismatic Society, Fred G. van den Haak, president of the Northern California Numismatic Association (NCNA), bestowed upon me an honorary first Donnell Award. For this singular honor, I express my gratitude and thanks.
The Donnell Award is a new recognition of, by, and from the NCNA. It is named for the late and still beloved Gordon R. Donnell (1935—2010). The award is for local coin club members of NCNA to recognize their respective members, who typify the service and devotion that were the traits of the late Gordon Donnell.
I am honored that the NCNA’s Board of Directors graciously acted to bestow this honorary first. It shall remain among my most treasured recognitions.
Gordon was certainly respected and regarded by many here in northern California. Famous with his cigarettes, backpack, and dependency on public transit, he never failed to be at and to serve some local coin club function. Gordon was the standard of hobby involvement.
The ancient Greek, Pericles, once said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
No truer statement can acknowledge Gordon.
Thanks, NCNA! Thanks, Gordon!
Michael S. Turrini
Vallejo, Calif.

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