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This week’s letters (08/16/11)

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Vending machines need change for dollar coin use
What everyone seems to be overlooking is that you can’t spend $1 coins, even if you try. Car washes and cleaning machines won’t take them. I have used token operated gas pumps, and even though attendants sell tokens valued at $1, the machines do not accept dollar coins.
It’s the same thing for cigarette vending machines, I can find plenty of machines that will accept my paper dollars, but not the dollar coins. Regular vending machines will accept my paper dollar, as well as quarters, dimes and nickels, but not dollar coins.
Laundromats will accept paper money for their washers, dryers, soap machines, candy machine, soft drink machine and any other machine they may have, but I have yet to see a machine that will accept the dollar coin.
Highway rest areas provide vending machines for coffee and snacks, but you have to use small change or paper money. The same goes for the change making machines that you can find in most of the places I have mentioned. They will accept paper money, but not dollar coins.
As for the stores with cashiers, they don’t want your dollar coin. They have no place to put it in their cash drawers. Sure, they could put them in the half dollar slot. The half dollar is no longer used, for the same reason as the $1 coin, and besides, if that slot was used for coins where would they put their keys, rolled money, personal items and other miscellaneous articles that they have been putting in that slot since the half dollar disappeared from circulation? When cashiers do get a $1 coin they will keep it, or make as many attempts as needed to pass it on.
Sooner or later someone will keep the coin rather than say anything. Chances are it will go into a drawer somewhere, not back into circulation. I have enough of them set aside in drawers that I noticed I am saving money. Some day when the time is right, I’ll turn them in to the banks, and they really don’t want them. Dollar coins take up valuable space in their vault, and then just sit there for years.
I imagine that, in time, vault space will be so scarce that the Federal Reserve will have to take the coins back, forcing tax payers to build more vaults to store the coins until our bureaucrats wake up and have them melted.
I personally try to get one coin of each issue for my grandchildren. I’m speculating that they will be conversational pieces in years to come.
What’s the answer? I don’t know. I do know other countries have found systems that work. We could do as one of them did.
I like Canada’s way the best; they changed everything at the government’s expense. They made new drawers for the cash registers, designed with slots for modern spending, and they modified the coin acceptors to accept the dollar coin. Canada did this twice, and they were in the black in less than two years both times. It worked for both the loonie and the toonie. I see no reason it wouldn’t work here.
Name withheld
Great haul from local coin counting machine
My husband and I collect old coins from change as a hobby. We like your magazine, and we love to read your articles on coin finds.
My husband works at a credit union, in the loan department. He and the head teller always share the wonder at the fact that silver coins get poured into the change counting machine customers use. He has found many great coins for our collection this way, but his recent find this past Friday was the biggest score yet.
My husband brought home an 1896-O Morgan in Fine; a 1921 and 1921-S Morgan in AU; a 1922, 1923 and 1923-D Peace dollar in XF; five 1940s Washington quarters, mostly VG; three Franklin halves in AU; four Walking Liberty halves, mostly VG; a 1925 Standing Liberty quarter in Good, 16 Wheat cents, most from the 1930s; two Liberty Head nickels; one Buffalo nickel, dateless; and an 1849 large cent, in VG. The head teller had a nice take as well.
Jaime Mansfield
Richmond, Va.
Great surprise pulled from a toll booth return slot
I work in Richmond, but reside in nearby Chesterfield county, so I go through many toll booths every day on the turnpike. Many of the booths have a reject slot, and if your coin is bent or misread, it drops into the slot for you to retrieve.
Many people just toss in another coin and drive on instead of retrieving their coins. It pays to check those slots. At times you could pay for your next toll by collecting rejected coins.
Two weeks ago I went through one of the booths and saw a lot of coins in the reject slot. Since my car is low enough, I scooped my hand in there and retrieved the coins. I did not look at them until I got to work, but as I was exiting the car, I looked over at the haul, and saw something rather unusual. Someone had mistakenly thrown a 1911 $2.50 gold coin. I was shocked. It was in XF and made my work day that much better.
Frank James
Richmond, Va.

Silver finds in base’s vending machines
I am happy to relate a recent, but unusual, find I had. I am in the U.S. Navy, and we have many vending machines around base. Sometimes I volunteer to help recover the change, in hopes of finding some good coins.
I was making the rounds with another serviceman last week, when we arrived at a Pepsi machine. Since we had just finished filling a bag, we were starting on a new one, and as he poured I could hear the familiar ring of silver as the coins dropped into the bag. He saw the look on my face, smiled and told me we could go through the bag when we got back to the main service area on base. We marked the bag and finished our rounds.
Upon our return and search, I found two 1942-S Washington quarters in VF, and one 1929 Standing Liberty quarter. You never know what you will find in your searches. Needless to say, I am volunteering more often for these rewarding missions.
Marshall Mallory
Address withheld

Nothing wrong with CoinStar machines
In the July 5 edition of Numismatic News, Ross Lovell questions the validity of the coin counting machines, and whether what he experienced is a defect, or a nationwide problem. In answer to his question, it is neither one.
First, every coin counting machine I’ve come across will state that there is a fee, usually 8 or 9 percent, for counting the coins. Sometimes there won’t be fees, but usually there are. The machine will have that notice on the screen before it starts, or immediately after, in the “Agreement Clause.”
Not all coins will be counted, and those that are not counted drop into the reject chute, below the scoops where the coins are deposited. Near the end of the transaction the machine will prompt you to check the reject chute for uncounted coins.
The U.S. coin counting machines will reject coins for several reasons. Some possibilities are listed below:
The counting chute for the coin is full, in which case any U.S. coin should be redeposited for a proper count.
The weight of the coin is off, or the size. That is, the thickness or diameter, of the coin is incorrect. For example, Wheat Back cents are heavier than their Memorial counterparts.
Silver coins, like dimes, quarters and halves prior to 1964, will be rejected.
Magnetic coins, like 1943 steel cents, and objects, like steel junction box “slugs,” will be rejected.
Canadian and foreign coins, as well as tokens, will drop to the reject chute.
If the coin is damaged or heavily corroded, the counting machine will not accept it.
Mr. Lovell, your bank manager should have told you about the charge for counting the coins in the machine, usually 9 percent. If he handed you various cents, nickels, and quarters from the reject chute, I hope you checked the coins for any good finds.
Whenever I pass by a Coinstar Coin Counter, I check the reject chute for any coins and tokens. Whenever you visit your bank, check the reject chute of that coin counter, there just might be some treasure there. There is nothing wrong with the machine.
Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio
The loss of a great numismatic social site
I am writing today to talk about a numismatic website that recently shut down. Apparently, the founders of the popular website, commonly called the Numismatic Dealers’ Den, have shut the site down.
The message now displayed on the site reads: “A message from the founders: After being funded by a group of philanthropists, what once was a private network of numismatic dealers became the birth of the Den. The original mission was to promote a free, public version of the site in an effort to bring collectors and dealers together, enhance numismatic knowledge and hopefully expand and enlighten the numismatic experience.
That site was opened, and became the Numismatic Dealers’ Den. Staffed by volunteers and funded privately, with minor donations from members and ad revenue, the site operated for several years. A marketplace was later funded by those same philanthropists. Numismatic knowledge and interconnectivity, with a touch of ethics, rather than profits, was the primary goal.
During that time we watched numerous members trash each other, some threaten others privately in the site’s email system, filling up the site with useless chatter about the weather, a barrage of messages criticizing the hard work [of the staff] and trying to force changes down the throats of the founders in a public forum.
[We have] had enough. It’s obvious that what we thought would end up a classy, intellectual site ended up with a bunch of opinionated folks with little regard to the broader community. As a result, we have decided to pull funding immediately and close the site indefinitely. For those members that joined to truly enhance their numismatic knowledge, blame the bad apples. For those bad apples, don’t look a gifted horse in the mouth. Goodbye and good luck.”
This left the collecting community and contributing members in shock. The site was very nice, and connected social networking with our hobby. It allowed members to create polls, post blogs and discussions, create specialized groups and post pictures. Members received points for online contributions, and there was a market place that was free for buyers and sellers. This was a better alternative to eBay, where collectors have to contend with fees and Chinese fakes. I felt this was a great idea for the collecting community. The website owners advertised in Numismatic News, which is how I found out about the site.
I guess the founders didn’t read NN very often. Coin collectors are a very opinionated and passionate bunch. Numismatic News allows it’s readers to write in on many topics, and I have seen heated discussions on individuals’ opinions or viewpoints. That is part of this hobby. Most collectors and dealers are very nice, and they have a strong desire to improve and strengthen our hobby. I think the founders’ move to completely shut the site down was a knee-jerk reaction that played out more like a child’s temper tantrum. It only served to harm the “good” members of the site.
The terms of use for the website provided the possibility that the webmaster could have simply excluded or kicked offenders off the site. Offending blogs or discussions could have been deleted, rather than shutting down the entire site.
I thought we were trying to promote discussion and create a buzz surrounding our hobby? I only hope the founders still read Numismatic News and see this letter. It would be great to see the site back up and running. The concept of a social network for the numismatic community is a great idea. If you feel like you can’t deal with the passion of the collecting community, maybe you could sell the website. Maybe NN could start one. I would like to hear from other Den members out there as well.
W. Roy
Charlotte, N.C.

Seminar in California, not South Carolina
The Numismatic News article on “Counterfeit Detection Seminar” says it highlights the Numismatic Association of South Carolina’s counterfeit seminar. I wonder if Southern California was intended, since the Long Beach, Calif., show takes place September 8-10 as referenced. The phone numbers also have southern California area codes.
Jim Porter
Address withheld
Editor’s note: Imagine that. We managed to move South Carolina 3,000 miles west. Thanks for spotting this.

How about a state quarter mintmark exchange?
I was fascinated to read about Mr. Evans’ experiences putting together state quarter sets. His efforts on the East Coast are similar to mine on the West Coast. Over here we have very few “P” quarters, but tons of “D” quarters.
I suppose it’s true that less pocket change is moving around due to the advent of electronic money.
I wonder if anybody has ever set up a quarter exchange system. It would be great if someone like me could find someone like Mr. Evans, and have an even exchange “P” and “D” quarters. It would be a valuable service, and one I would really like to see started.
Tim Mulgrew
Martinez, Calif.

Another suggestion to get dollar coins circulating
I would suggest that the Fed distribute the coins over the next 12 months to local banks, and allow the public to exchange 19 one dollar bills for 20 one dollar coins. Simultaneously, the printing of one dollar notes should cease.
This is a win-win if ever I heard one. John Q. Citizen can derive a small profit; we can get coins out of storage, with resultant savings on fees; and perhaps the average person would be more accepting of switching to the dollar coin, which itself would lead to considerable savings. What can be wrong with that?
Proceeding with the plan I suggested would put at least a small dent in our national debt, without raising taxes or cutting entitlements, unless people see their “right” to paper $1 bills as an entitlement.
Lloyd Alterman
Livingston, N.J.

What is the Sheldon grade of the universe?
I am writing to draw attention to an important, but so far completely neglected, area of numismatic studies: biblical numismatics.
Genesis 1:31 says that, after God created the heavens and the earth, He “saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
Two questions immediately arise. First, why was a numerical grade not provided? After all, whether the cosmos was created as a VG-8 or VG-10 could potentially have profound theological implications.
Second, why would the universe, at its creation, be anything other than an MS-65? Doesn’t this have possible implications concerning the concept of original sin and the inherent imperfection of our world?
Indeed, the words “good” and “fine” abound throughout Scripture, almost always without further numismatic explanation. Clearly, further research and study is warranted here.
Perhaps your readers who are both numismatists and members of the clergy could look into setting up a program of academic study on this subject at one of our theological seminaries.
David Stone
Address withheld

Coin shows best bet for purchasing coins
The Mint is as bad as it is going to get. They have sold their soul to the Authorized Purchasers, and then they try to rip the faithful Mint buyers. Worst of all, the graders, PCGS, NGC, ANACS and PCI, graded all the coins First Strike, making a ton of money for all TV stations selling coins. I feel sorry for all those people who bought those coins. The only way to buy coins are at coin shows, through good and honest dealers. My coin information comes through the Grey Sheet. I sit back and watch TV shows selling coins. Those people will never get their money back.
Richard Caprio
Plainfield, Ill.
Question about state quarters and Perth Mint
I was wondering if you or your staff could help me with a question. After the state quarters came out, I decided to buy a few that were in unusual formats, such as those that had been colorized or with stamps and a history of the state.
One of the unusual sets that I found featured one of the first five coins in a holder with a silver one ounce Kookaburra from the Perth Mint. The silver coin also had a privy mark on it that matched the quarters that it was paired with. According to the write-up on the holder, only 10,000 of each of these sets were ever made. I have never seen any of these for sale at a coin show, so I do not know if they were made for the Australian market or for the U.S. market. Also, I have never seen any for any other year of the state quarters but the 1999 issues.
My question though, is about the condition of the quarters. When the quarters first came out, I was able to get some rolls from the bank. I wanted to go through them to find a gem copy or two. The coins were horrible, all dinged up and marked. The coins in the mint sets were a lot better.
However, the coins in these five sets are far better than even the coins in the mint sets. Were these quarters made in the U.S., and then shipped to the Perth Mint to be put into the holders, or were dies sent to the Perth Mint so that it could strike premium examples of the quarters for inclusion in the sets?
If the latter, that would mean that 5,000 or 10,000 quarters were struck outside of the U.S. and would be like the San Francisco silver Eagles that are now being produced. Did the program stop because the Mint had second thoughts about sending dies outside of the U.S.?
No one seems to know about these special sets. I do not know if the privy one ounce silver coins have any premium over regular coins, but a mintage of 10,000 would make it seem a possibility.
Thanks for any help that you or your staff can give me on this.
George Schaetzle
Address withheld

Editor’s note: Information about his set we do not have, but we don’t believe the Perth Mint would have been able to strike U.S. coins.

Conventional art design good choice for dollar coin
Words cannot express the pleasure I received when the CCAC and CFA chose the conventional design for the reverse of the American Indian dollar coin. I have never been able to appreciate Ledger art that is not on a cave wall or in its original form. For my part, I hope that the conventional art designs remain the standard for the reverse of the Native American dollar coin, and any other coin designed to celebrate the accomplishments and gifts of my American Indian ancestors.
Mike Gammage
Baldwin City, Kan.

Mint’s dollar coin premium hurts circulation of coins
I think the Mint may be its own worst enemy. In May last year I bought 1,000 assorted dollar coins at face value, and I have been using them ever since with great pleasure. They are great here in Chicago as tips to car hops and barbers, parking meter coins and all round use.
However, last week I tried to do it again, and now the Mint wants a premium for the coins.
I would suggest that the Mint continue to offer them at face value, or even at a slight discount. Dollar coins will never be used in general circulation until the government puts them in the hands of the public!
James E. Leopold
Chicago, Ill.

Changing merchants’ tills key to dollar coin use
After buying several boxes of the direct ship Sacagawea and Presidential dollar coins, I’ve been spending them all over town. I like the coins.
For small purchases, it’s much easier pulling a dollar coin or two out of my pocket than fishing around for bills in my wallet. They are also great for tips, and I’ve never had wait staff complain about receiving golden dollars, or half dollars for that matter.
People receiving the golden dollars tend to exhibit one of three reactions: they are pleasantly surprised about the unusual coins being tendered and sometimes want to buy more, they don’t recognize the coins and have a hard time figuring out how much I’ve paid or they scowl and complain that they have no place to put the coins in their till. No one has yet rejected the golden dollars as payment, although I recall other readers mentioning this has happened to them.
One might surmise that the frequent negative reaction exhibited by retailers is a major barrier to wider use of the dollar coins. Many people would be reluctant to use the coins if merchants gave them sour looks on a regular basis. Perhaps the solution here is to create a new coin tray for merchant tills with room for the dollar coins.
Gregory Kipp
Santa Rosa, Calif.

Counterfeit coins just a portion of Chinese fakes
Why are coin collectors so concerned about Chinese counterfeit coins? What do they expect? Almost anything that comes from China is counterfeit. Black & Decker, DeWalt and Milwaukee power tools look like the real thing but certainly are not. These are examples; one could list thousands of items.
Thomas Baalman
Grinnell, Kan.

‘Worst’ commems valuable to black community
I was very surprised by your article, “Commem designs rated best, worst” of June 28 by Phillip Lo Presti. I am a proud veteran of the United States Air Force, who has served in WWII and the Korean conflict, and most importantly, I am a proud black American of African descent.
I have been an ardent coin collector for over 50 years. Notably, I am the owner of a number of the Washington-Carver and Booker T. Washington coins, both cited as two of the worst commemoratives, and, to my dismay, deemed to be of little value.
Perhaps due to the rush to mint the coins in question, the politicians of the period placed a greater emphasis on the production of the coins, rather than their intrinsic worth or aesthetic value. It is indeed a discredit to our nation that what should have been an opportunity to commemorate two of its native sons, who had overcome the inhumanities of slavery, and the injustice of “Jim Crow” segregation, to obtain great achievements, was merely created as a propaganda tool to fight the “Red Menace” of communism. The coins’ lack of artistic value speaks to the total disregard for the people it was intended to impress.
In my opinion, the two aforementioned coins are priceless to my people. Even today they personify America’s willingness to do anything to fight off threats, like communism, with one hand while using the other hand to promote injustice, and insure that a sizable number of its citizens maintain a second-class status, meriting only the minting of a handful of poorly designed coins. These coins should be highly prized as symbols of “American propaganda,” and collected as such.
We, as black Americans, place a great deal of value and emotional worth on these few pieces of silver. They represent to us our nation’s first attempt, flawed though it was, to honor members of our race as “Great Americans.”
God bless the U.S. Mint.
Thomas Daniel Summers
Bellview, Fla.

Old find in local Coinstar, challenge reissued
Several months ago, I challenged NN readers to find a coin, U.S. or foreign, from the reject shoot of a Coinstar counting machine that was older than the 1865 Indian Head cent I retrieved from a Coinstar machine. It seems that no one has been able to answer my challenge.
Yesterday, July 19, 2011, I visited my favorite Coinstar machine at the local grocery store, and in the reject shoot I retrieved a Canadian Beaver 5-cent piece and several very corroded Lincoln cents.
A brief dip in some copper cleaning solution revealed that one of the Lincoln cents was actually a Flying Eagle cent in extremely worn condition, G-2 perhaps. The date and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” legend are barely discernible, while the well worn reverse has no details of the wreath, but clearly states “ONE CENT” in the center. For the sake of my continuing challenge, I will “date” this cent at 1858.
It is a marvelous find, and it leaves me wondering: Where has this coin been for about 153 years and who has held it? What marvelous stories it could tell if it could talk!
Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio