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This week’s letters (09/18/12)

Don’t get soft on us, Dave. In your Class of ’63 article in the Aug. 14 edition, you wrote about more 2012-S proof Eagles being issued as part of the U.S. Mint/BEP joint anniversary issue and said that might be disappointing to those who ordered the San Francisco two-coin proof set issued to mark the 75th anniversary of the current S-mint facility in hopes of selling it at a profit on the secondary market.
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Secondary market sellers don’t deserve sympathy
Don’t get soft on us, Dave. In your Class of ’63 article in the Aug. 14 edition, you wrote about more 2012-S proof Eagles being issued as part of the U.S. Mint/BEP joint anniversary issue and said that might be disappointing to those who ordered the San Francisco two-coin proof set issued to mark the 75th anniversary of the current S-mint facility in hopes of selling it at a profit on the secondary market. This sympathy is for the very same speculators that you periodically criticize for buying multiple quantities of scarce issues that they have no interest in, just so they can re-sell them on eBay, driving up the price and depriving true collectors of getting a copy at the original issue price. If some of these speculators got burned once in a while, maybe they would stop their practices and let the legitimate collectors get their fair share. Would anyone have bought more or less of the two-coin proof set knowing that one of the coins would be reissued later in a completely different set? I don’t think so, they are unrelated formats. I think the Mint owes an apology to no one.
Peter Glassman
Schaumburg, Ill.

Halloween a great occasion to give coins to children
Over the years I’ve kept a small stash of common circulated Buffalo nickels in a drawer near the front door so they are handy when Halloween rolls around. Yes, we hand out the standard miniature candy bars, but there are quite a few times I also throw one of those nickels in the kids’ bags. I suppose those little candy bars run 15 or 20 cents each, but if you look at the buy ads in the back of the News, you’ll see partial-date Buffalos are only getting 20 cents, too. I figure giving out the coins might inspire future collectors. If you aren’t comfortable giving them to strangers, consider handing them out to relatives or the children of close friends or neighbors. Actually, my grandkids get Walking Liberty halves. The point is, if you like the idea, now might be the time to watch for the lots of Buffalo nickels, steel cents or even Liberty nickels that so often come up in local auctions. Halloween is less than three months off!
Doug Willoughby
Columbus, Neb.

Fitts and Lighterman pairs most deserving of honors
The American Numismatic Association’s coveted and esteemed Farren Zerbe Medal onto the husband and wife of Arthur “Admiral Lord” and Prue Fitts, and the equally respected and deserved honor Medal of Merit upon Mark and Myrna Lighterman, mother and son, is possibly unique: doubles being recognized for their devotion to the association and to our world of money.
I offer my congratulations and compliments to both “doubles” and note they have demonstrated in their collective contributions to enhance and to enlightened our hobby. They are advocates, celebrants, students, servants and leaders, giving and helping at all levels and with numerous specialties.
Their collective contributions, spanning decades, confirms that our hobby is a family hobby, one that can be enjoyed, appreciated and increased by couples plus siblings and parents.
On a personal note, I express my regards to “Admiral Lord” and Prue for their personal courtesies and kindness to me over the years, and I also state the same to Mark and Myrna, whose ready smile and slight chuckle shall always be enjoyed, for their fellowship and moral support.
Continuing, on another personal note, specific to Prue, yes, I am still wearing sandals and shorts. LOL!
In closing, the great Dr. Martin Luther King once questioned, “Life’s most urgent question: What are you doing for others?” Needless to say, with these honors, “Admiral Lord” and Prue plus Mark and Myrna have answered that question completely and outstandingly. Congratulations to both doubles!
Remember: Have fun with your hobby. Always serve others. Enjoy your collecting. And, create hope and do good.
Michael S. Turrini,
Vallejo, Calif.

Mint survey focused on ‘S’ products, procedures
I wanted to let you know that I received an email request from a company contracted by the U.S. Mint to take a survey.
The thing that stuck out was their emphasis on the S-mint products. Their last survey screen was concentrated on the “S” circulating quarters and whether they should fit into the regular mint sets, etc., and one question I remember was whether this was done as a way to generate more money for the Mint.
Name withheld

ATB designs improvement over state quarters so far
In response to Wayne Pearson’s letter in the Aug. 7 issue regarding quarter designs, I would agree that receiving the Bicentennial quarter in change still is exciting, though I’m not sure if it was due to the greatness of the design or the fact that it broke up the monotony of 60-plus years of the same design for the series In terms of the state quarter designs, I agree that most were uninspired, to put it nicely. However, I like most of the ATB designs so far and, though I might not have chosen this as a series in the beginning as it seemed like a tag-along to the state quarters, I like what I’ve seen so far. If we have to agree to disagree on that, no worries.
Brian Owens
Lincoln, Neb.

ATB 5-oz. silver test strikes to go to Smithsonian
Bob Olekson, in a letter to the editor in the Aug. 28 issue of Numismatic News, recommended Dr. J. Hewitt Judd’s United States Pattern Coins, which is now in its 10th edition (published in 2009, the first edition to be in full color). In March 2010, I wrote to Thomas Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Public Affairs, asking him about the Mint’s experimental strikes for the then-upcoming 5-ounce America the Beautiful silver bullion coins. The Mint was testing how its GMP-1000 press would handle the gigantic silver pieces, and they struck test coins featuring a portrait of Martha Washington. According to his reply, for the sake of posterity the Mint will preserve some of these trial strikes with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection. I anticipate we’ll be listing and illustrating them in the 11th edition of United States Pattern Coins.
Mr. Olekson also praised the Royal Canadian Mint for its public offerings of test tokens. For collectors of those pieces – and those who are interested in U.S. patterns and might want to branch out to our northern neighbor – James Haxby devotes an entire chapter to test tokens in his award-winning, new Guide Book of Canadian Coins and Tokens. He describes and prices more than 100 of them, ranging from cents to dollars, $2 coins and sets. In recent decades, the RCM has made many of these test tokens available to collectors after getting wind of black-market sales of pieces that had escaped their official custody. They’re an interesting sidebar to Canada’s regular-issue coinage – and fairly affordable, with values ranging from $20 to just north of $1,000.
Dennis Tucker
Atlanta, Ga.

News of counterfeit rounds in Florida unsettling
I read the recent article about the fake Engelhard Prospector rounds popping up in Florida. Very alarming for silver buyers. Whenever I hear about fakes, I tend to evaluate my own collection. I own mostly circulated coins. I find solace in some of the coins I own. An 1885 V nickel that’s almost completely slick on the back. I’m 100 percent sure it’s authentic because it’s just so hideous.
Bob Gloeckner
Pomeroy, Ohio

Set’s gift box mistaken for presentation box
I would like to recount my latest experience with the U.S. Mint. This is not a criticism, just a comment. I missed out on the five-coin silver Eagle set, thought the two-coin proof and reverse proof set were too expensive and when the BEP/Mint Anniversary Coin and Currency set came up, I thought, this is my chance.
I ordered online on Aug. 7 without any problems. I had the option of ordering the gift box, which I did. I have to mention here that when I saw “gift box,” my brain said, “presentation box.” This is not the Mint’s fault.
The order was shipped on Aug. 13, and I received it on Aug. 21. I could hardly wait to open the package. The first impression I got when I opened the package was: They sent me a box of chocolates. It even had a golden elastic string tied around the box with a bow in it. Everything inside was very nicely packaged with tissue paper, and the box with the coin and currency was shrink-wrapped.
It was only when I read the card that said, “A gift purchased specially for you from the United States Mint” that the penny dropped.
This is the first time that I have seen or owned a proof silver Eagle. It is really beautiful.
Klaus Schwalfenberg
Torrance, Calif.

Decline in mid-price coin sales reflected in art arena
It was fascinating to read the story of reduced mid-range priced sales at the Philly coins shows. Low priced stuff and the huge auction rare investment coins seemed to be selling, but not so much the $100 to $5,000 range priced coins.
This trend is also being seen on fine art sales, as seen at the recent Loveland sculpture shows held here in Colorado last month. Small items sold, and larger sculptures above $10,000 sold OK. But the once-frequent bread and butter pieces are not selling.
I know my once-significant coin purchases have declined, between caution about counterfeit coins, uncertainty about the current push for “personal responsibility” in retirement funding and health care, and the speculative trends that make no sense. Perhaps it is just one more sign of the declining middle class in America.
But thank goodness rich folks are still spending money. We really should do all we can to protect them, since, you know, they really are better than the rest of us.
Mark Parsons
Berthoud, Colo.