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This week’s letters (10/09/12)

I’m not sure if even our most knowledgeable numismatic scholars could have said it any better than Jon Kukk, Naples, Fla., when he stated, it’s a good time to be a collector but I miss the innocence of the hobby when I was young. A-MEN, Jon. Well said. I do, too.
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Kukk right on with view of hobby’s current state
I’m not sure if even our most knowledgeable numismatic scholars could have said it any better than Jon Kukk, Naples, Fla., when he stated, it’s a good time to be a collector but I miss the innocence of the hobby when I was young. A-MEN, Jon. Well said. I do, too.
Michael P. Schmeyer
Halsey Valley, N.Y.

Rapsus article will enhance nickel collection
Ginger Rapsus wrote a great article on nickels in your Sept. 18 issue. Ever since my first paper route, I have collected Buffalo nickels. I still have many of the ones I collected as a paper boy. Once I retired, I decided to finish the collection and also upgrade to full horn coins. I am happy to say that is complete. Also, I found a slabbed 1918/17 that was acid-restored with Fine details. I will keep her article with the collection so others may understand my interest in nickels.
I look forward to reading your interesting publication each week. Keep up the good work.
Bob Schmidt
Leesburg, Ind.

Sloppy grading keeps collector away
I read with interest the article, “Little things can prevent -70 grade.” Over the years I have seen a lot of silver Eagles with that grade of -70. You know who grades most of these made-for-TV sets. When I would see what I got, back they went because of all the marks on the surfaces – so why do graders let them slide by and give out even a grade of -69? It keeps me from buying from that grader today on any new items at all, or if given a choice on older coins I also stay away from them. Waste of money and time. Hope they read the article in the Sept 4 issue of NN.
Name withheld
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Government’s $20 seizure marks sad day for America
My name is Sean Fisher. I am the grandson of Mel Fisher and the VP of Mel Fisher’s Treasures, a longstanding business based on locating lost artifacts. The most prominent and profitable of the artifacts we find are the silver coins from the Nuestra Seniora de Atocha. Your question is should the government melt the 10 confiscated 1933 gold $20s it has, and the answer is a resounding, “Absolutely not!” There are many reasons for this, but the most important is our history. The cultural heritage of our young country is something that we need to preserve for future generations. I can attest to the importance of the coinage we, and others, have located from different countries around the world. Each piece represents a period in time and helps generations of the present to have a connection with generations of the past. Each is unique to its country of origin and tells a story of what was happening in that country during the time of its creation. These and other relics of our countries’ history should be preserved for future generations to learn from.
Secondly, and in my opinion just as important, is the terrible way in which our government confiscated what belonged to private collectors. I forget the name of the family, but remember the story. A man purchased these coins from a representative of our government in the 1930s. He held these coins for his family, understanding the value of the coin not only as gold but as a piece of history. Rather than melting them down, which many would have done, he saved them, preserving the history encapsulated in them for future generations. They were his property, plain and simple. Any illegal activities related to the way these coins were retained did not happen on the part of the gentleman who purchased these coins, and his family should not be punished for bringing these wonderful pieces out for the world to see.
The government, in my opinion, should have paid the family a fair market amount for the coins in the least and then have the coins put in a museum for the world to see. Had the government left these pieces alone, the family likely would have been able to sell the coins for a fair amount and at least a portion of them would likely have ended up in a museum, anyway. The fact that our government would intervene in a case like this shows again how our government, born out of wonderful ideals and values set forth in our Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution of the United States, can stray from those ideals when it is to their benefit. No country is completely free from tyranny, not even the democratic state that we live in. It is a sad day when the wants of the government supersede the rights of its citizens.
Today’s the day.
Sean Fisher
Key West, Fla.

One box yielded three Indian Head cents
Today I was roll-searching and I found 22 wheat cents: 1911-D, 1917, 1939 and 1939. But, what else I found surely got me tickled:
1887 Indian – Good
1895 Indian – Good
1906 Indian – Very Good
I have never found three Indians in the same box.
Bob Atwater
Conway, S.C.

Letter about Maple Leaf coins results in helpful call
A recent letter I sent to NN requesting information concerning silver, privy-marked Maple Leaf coins produced a telephone call from Charlie, secretary of his local coin club in Texas. He took the time and effort to track me down and offer the information I needed! Thanks again, Charlie, and much thanks to NN.
Kay Munshower
Wayne, Pa.

Mishler’s Fort Knox gold recollection doesn’t add up
In Clifford Mishler’s article dated July 10, 2012, about NN memories of the last 50 years, he states that more than 100 legislators and news reps were witness to the unmistakable glitter of 147-plus billion ounces of gold. This was at the Fort Knox Bullion Depository on Sept. 23, 1974. This cache of gold is worth “in the range of $250 trillion at today’s bullion value level.”
This is not possible by any stretch of the imagination. The planet Earth has yielded less than 200,000 metric tons since man started mining gold 3,000 years ago. 147 billion ounces would weigh approximately 4.6 million tons. There are 32,150 ounces of gold in one metric ton.
According to the World Bank and Ron Paul’s House of Representatives audit of the gold bullion controlled by our Central Bank, the U.S. has 8,134 metric tons or about 261 million ounces. At $1,600/oz this would amount to about $420 billion. If gold went to $60,000/oz, the U.S. would have enough to pay off our $16 trillion debt, but only if. So much for a return to the gold standard.
As an aside, $1 trillion in $100 bills weighs 22 million pounds and would make a pile of notes 678 miles high. Talk about a mountain of debt. I think we have it right here.
Jack Nugent
Bisbee, Ariz.

Two-coin sets first return to Mint in collector’s 25 years
I’m writing in response to the letter in your Sept. 11 issue concerning the two-piece San Francisco set and the flaws in Joe’s set.
I ordered five sets and was very disappointed. Three of the sets were of very low quality, especially the reverse proofs. I had to return three of the five sets. The two sets that I kept, I graded MS-69 and -70.
The person I talked to at the U.S. Mint was very helpful and apologetic. I returned three sets and was reimbursed for the shipping. I got three new sets back in about 18 days. To my disappointment, one of the sets was of very low quality. The reverse proof had no less than 20 marks on the back of the coin. I have now returned that set and am waiting and hoping for a good set.
It sure seems someone is not doing their job when it comes to quality control. Proofs should be MS-69 and MS-70, not MS-60. I have ordered many coins from the U.S. Mint over the last 25 years and this is the only time I have had to return coins because of poor quality.
Jerry Lelito
Farmington, Mich.

What is recipe for profit in coin collecting hobby?
As a novice in the hobby (about nine months) I find that buying a particular coin at a coin show or from a dealer catalog, I pay retail price (usually Red Book price). When I attempt to sell the coin at a coin show, the dealer immediately pulls out his Greysheet and, of course, the offer is below what I paid for the coin. While I am aware of the adage, “Buy coins that you love,” as a collector/investor, I would love to know what the formula is in this hobby for making profits on your investments.
Joe Reakes
Scranton, Pa.

Nice to see trial strike idea getting consideration
Thank you so much for promoting my ideas regarding the sale of trial pieces. You were nice enough to print my letter and to take it to the Mint Director at the American Numismatic Association show and to request a collector survey as to my question. Now I feel the hobby is going somewhere.
In another letter I wrote to you about an aluminum mill I found of New Mexico dated 1952. Somehow my memory was wrong. It was 1935. I recently found one in a coin shop junk box. A mill was designated in our coins system but never used. The lowest denomination was the half cent. Perhaps it would be fun to have mills for kids. It was a really fun thing when I was a kid. Make them in interesting designs: cowboys and Indians, Paul Revere, Liberty Bell, Civil War token designs, etc. Promote this, too.
My idea, too, is to have commemorative paper money that would be more affordable than gold and silver coins. Aluminum mills and paper would be perfect for kids. More color and area to work with. Use this idea in your weekly survey. Perhaps we could move on this issue as we are with the trial pieces.
I read that the Mint is planning a 100th anniversary of the Panama-Pacific coins of 1915. I like the idea. I suggested a centennial celebration of the 1913 Liberty and Buffalo nickels in unc. proof and reverse proof and centennial of 1916 coins: last of Barber; first of Mercury and Standing Liberty in unc. proof and reverse proof of dime, quarter and half. Run a survey in your paper about this, too. I imagine the reception would be favorable.
Canada did this with their 1908 coins, 1911 dollar and 1912 gold coins. Seems Canada does everything right and we do everything wrong. Why is this so?
By promoting these ideas, I believe we finally are moving ahead. I am just writing to say thank you. Perhaps we can turn the government around.
Bob Olekson
Parma, Ohio