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This week’s letters (03/12/13)

From this day on, Jan. 19 should be declared a national numismatic holiday because that is the day we lost Alan Herbert, aka The Answerman.

Answerman Mr. Herbert will be missed
From this day on, Jan. 19 should be declared a national numismatic holiday because that is the day we lost Alan Herbert, aka The Answerman.
The day he died so did a little piece of all of us who enjoy this great hobby we call coin collecting. Over the past 10 to 15 years I’ve carried on a lengthy email question and answer dialog with Mr. Herbert. I’ve learned so very much from him.
Thank you Mr. Herbert. You will be missed. Godspeed Answerman.
Michael P. Schmeyer
Halsey Valley, N.Y.

Herbert wrote great column, will be missed
I was truly sorry to hear of the passing of Alan Herbert in the Feb. 12 issue of NN. He helped me with different questions several times and he wrote a great column. He will be greatly missed. I don’t think you could find anyone to take his place, but hope you can find someone to do a similar column.
Terrill M. Williams
Paola, Kan.

Wait a year to buy and save on Mint premiums
Numismatic News said that Mint revenue is down. It is going to go down more because of the premiums they have on their coins.
I have bought many thousands of dollars in silver proof coins every year from 1992 to 2012. But no more. Now it’s better to wait a year on proof and mint sets and you can buy them for a lot less. They have a big premium on everything, some more than it will ever be worth.
They want $51.95 for an uncirculated silver Eagle that is only worth $30.74 an oz. They want $2,010.95 for a gold Buffalo on Jan. 27 when gold is only $1,668.42 an ounce. That’s $21.21 to make a silver Eagle and $346.53 for a Buffalo.
If it costs that much to make one coin then they need to stop making them. And the price on a U.S. Mint limited edition silver proof set of $149.95 is crazy. So wait a year and buy it for a lot less. That is what I will be doing.
L. Coxx

Abolishing cent opens door to fiat currency
As a long time reader of this magazine I have read may letters from your readers and now mainstream articles in national magazines on how the 1 cent coin has outlived its usefulness. It appears that it no longer fits our busy lifestyle, and the buying power has decreased to practically nothing.
In retort to all I have read and to these readers I wish to respond with one comment. When the 1 cent coin is taken out of circulation it will be a sad day for our country. What most people don’t realize is that we will be that much closer to a total fiat currency.
Jeffery Byer
Skokie, Ill.

Why is value of 1983 copper cent so low?
If the value of the 1943 copper cent is so high, why do they set the value of the 1983 copper cent so low?
I think it’s a very rare coin and it’s worth a lot more.
Robert W. McLean
Quincy, Mass.

Roll searching turns up 1926-S Lincoln cent
Today while searching through rolls from the bank I found a 1926-S Lincoln cent in VF condition. I have never found one of these and I’m glad to add it to my collection.
Bob Atwater
Conway, S.C.

Error note turns up in 2012 coin, currency set
I recently purchased on eBay two “sealed” 2012 Making American History coin and currency sets.
Normally I like to keep the product sealed, however I was in search of a low currency serial number so they were opened.
Here are the results of the $5 currency Federal Reserve Note:
Note No. 1 serial number JL15019236D (so note No. 19236 of a potential 100,000). The first three numbers 150 are to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Bureau of Engraving.
To my surprise the second note was a mint quality control error JL18236172D. I presume a standard issue series 2009 $5 FRN.
My guess is this is not the first discovered mistake, but I’m pleased with the end result.
I’m confident if requested the U.S. Mint would replace the set, but that will not be my decision.
Raymond T. Murphy,
Hampton, N.H.

Price hurts popularity of First Spouse coins
I think the First Spouse coins would be much more popular if they were more affordable. After all, the Presidential coins are just $1 (or a bit more now that they’re produced for collectors only), whereas the First Spouse coins are roughly 1,000 times as much.
There is the copper medallion companion version but it is not a legal tender issue, which inspires my curiosity when I see them referenced as “uncirculated.” Since when do medals circulate?
Perhaps the First Spouse coins could be reduced to $5 size for the remainder of the series, or better yet struck in a golloid alloy that reduces the amount of gold drastically but still maintains coin size, spousal image size to match the rest of the series, and face value. While they’re touted as bullion, they’re really commemoratives, and by the mintage figures and sales demand over the past couple of years, no one is buying them as tradeable bullion.
Several of the First Spouse coins have been extremely nice, including the “bachelor” subset of the classic Liberty obverses on the Jefferson, Jackson, Van Buren and Buchanan issues. Others have various historical influences for the wives of the great generals, wives of assassinated presidents and wives who made major social or political contributions of their own.
It’s rather a shame to see such lack of interest in the coins, but price is a big barrier.
Harold Harrison
Lewisburg, Pa.

Artistically apply cleaner to Buffalo nickels
In response to your reader Bob Hayes of Phoenix, Ariz., on the use of Nic-A-Date – use as little of it as possible on Buffalo nickels. If you artistically apply it to the date of a Buffalo nickel with using say a toothpick, you can just about apply it to where it cannot be discerned as to its bringing out the date on a Buffalo.
Over the years, I have worked out of one bottle of it that contains 1.25 ounces, and have found it to be useful on bringing out the dates on more than 2,000 Buffalo nickels including once finding an overdate 1918/17-D which sold as a Good for more than $700 at the time. Of course I disclosed it to the buyer that it had been used, however I managed to aesthetically work on this coin so that it was hardly discernable! Good luck Bob in your endeavors!
It is a wonderous acid and I only wish that it could be developed to bring out the dates on Standing Liberty quarters with the same success.
Ron Feuer
Charlotte, N.C.

eBay coin sellers overgrade coins
I continue to be amazed at the grading of coins on eBay and somewhat at shows. eBay is by far the worst. Sellers there use grades that are not close to their real grade.
I am certainly no expert as I have only collected coins for 55 years. I have seen the grading get better and worse, but using Photograde or my favorite, Grading Coins By Photographs by Q. David Bowers or even ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins, coins on eBay are assigned grades by the sellers that in no way meet up with a true grade.
At a show, I rarely question a seller’s assigned grade unless I am a regular customer, as I go to two to three shows a month. But I never contact people on eBay about their grade and I never buy coins from someone that does not provide a return policy unless it is bullion, which I would understand. That is why I mostly buy coins graded by grading companies. It is a start to getting a properly graded coin and if I am unhappy with that grade, I simply do not buy the coin.
Many people on eBay state that the coin they are selling should have been a higher grade. I pay no attention to that as some sellers do it with most every coin they sell. I say to all collectors, buy what you like and appears to be a nice coin. You can always live with a coin that is nice and obtained at a fair or good price.
Mark Pollacheck
Springfield, N.J.

Stop minting cents just so people can hoard them
There was a letter in the Feb. 19 issue of Numismatic News that is the most extraordinary letter I have ever read. Our distinguished colleague in Conway, S.C., tells us that in 2012 he searched through 789,550 pennies.
Now the fact that he knows this number is mind boggling, and the fact that he needs to share it is also mind boggling. I used to have a neighbor who could tell me how many pounds of salt he used in his water softener every year. It is amazing what people keep track of.
But what is even more mind boggling is that if we break it down and assume that he spread out this search equally over a 365-day year, he looked at 2,163 coins every day! And for his labor, he found 4,153 wheat cents and eight Indians. What was that worth, maybe $450? Hardly enough to pay for that trip to Hawaii.
Now let’s assume that he did not walk into the bank one day with $7,895.50. He probably got a box of coins every week and returned the old one. I used to work for a bank and I can tell you that banks have expenses like any other business, and they do not exist to be an unpaid coin dealer. Try going into your local shoe store every week and buying 12 pairs of shoes, just to bring them all back the following week and doing it all over again. It won’t be long before they would not let you in the door.
I have written several letters over the years advocating eliminating the cent. Not only do they cost more than 1 cent to produce, they have virtually no value. Many years ago we had the half cent and our ancestors got rid of that. Taking inflation into consideration, today’s cent is worth far less than the half cent ever was.
If we were to round each transaction in total up or down, over the course of a year half the transactions would be rounded up and half would be rounded down and no one would lose a thing. The fact that supposedly intelligent people can’t grasp this is incredible. Remember, you pay for what’s in the entire shopping cart, not each item individually. Plus, most transactions these days are paid by credit card or check anyway.
So we continue to mint cents just so people can hoard them thereby taking them out of circulation, or so people with too much time on their hands can search rolls. I don’t want my tax dollars used to support these activities. It is not what coins are intended to be used for and it is not benefiting the majority of the people.
Read a book! Do crossword puzzles! Play solitaire! Get a life!
Peter Glassman
Schaumburg, Ill.

Alan Herbert was a giant in numismatic hobby
I read of the respected and committed coin celebrant Alan Herbert’s passing this January.
Alan was truly a giant in our world of money and among those in the errors field, he was clearly a Babe Ruth.
Back in 2005, when the American Numismatic Association (ANA) World’s Fair of Money gathered in San Francisco, I was the Numismatic Theatre coordinator. One of the programs that I arranged was the assemblage of the Babe Ruth’s of errors: Xan Chamberlain, Syd Kass, Lee H. Gong, Fred Weinberg and Alan Herbert. It was the only time these greats were together and shared their passion for errors. It remains one of my personal satisfactions of coordinating that unique, assemblage.
When I served those infamous 75 days as an ANA governor back in 2007, Alan’s presence and participation was of quiet influence and guidance. After all the discussion and debates, Alan would add something short but sure. And, he was right!
Alan was a towering presence in our hobby, and he shall be missed. As the baseball player of another time, Branch Rickey, once remarked, “It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind.” Nothing speaks of Alan better. RIP.
Michael S. Turrini
Vallejo, Calif.

ANA signs up members at Ocala coin show
We would like to thank Ocala Coin Club President C. L. Wyatt, Show Chair Rich Selvar, the officers and members of the club for giving the American Numismatic Association (ANA) a free table at their recently completed coin show held at the On Top of the World - Circle Square Cultural Center in Ocala, Fla.
Registration for the show held Feb. 1-3 was 1,100. Many of the dealers we talked to had excellent sales and were pleased with the site. Security for the event was outstanding, as was the food service vendor who was hired.
We were able to sign up eight members for the ANA and pass out information on the hobby. Club member Ted Babula donated $25 to the ANA. This paid for the shipment of the ANA show kit. We look forward to next year’s Ocala Coin Club show, which is tentatively set for early February 2014.
John and Nancy Wilson
ANA National Volunteers
Ocala, Fla.

Mexico has success with bimetalic coins
I am just back from Mexico. They use a bimetalic coin in 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos and it works well.
I think U.S. consumers would use a pretty bimetalic like this one.
Bill Mills

Always learned something new from Herbert columns
I was saddened to learn of the death of Alan Herbert.
I have enjoyed his column for years, religiously read it, and always learned something new.
Richard Eliasberg
Baltimore, Md.

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