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This week’s letters (11/20/12)

What’s going on with the Mint raising the prices on the 5 oz. ATB coins? The price of silver has been going down, how could they justify raising the price?
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Why does Mint raise prices when silver goes down?
What’s going on with the Mint raising the prices on the 5 oz. ATB coins? The price of silver has been going down, how could they justify raising the price? By updating the website?
If I were to just purchase silver for bulk I could just buy the 5 oz. from Provident Metals for $175.90, which I have been doing. I was trying to buy a set from the Mint (P) and then a set from secondary sellers. I am trying to collect one of each set. I started in 2010 with the first ones and have completed up to Hawai’i.
If the Mint keeps raising their prices just to update the website and not because of the price of silver going up, I guess I could justify stop buying from the Mint! Watch out Mint (government), you work for the people!
Thanks, Dave for the No. 1 informative source for coin collectors.
Daniel Kuziela
Chicago, Ill.

Anniversary issue’s reader entries something special
Numismatic News opened a wide door for us readers to present our coin collecting stories; there were 70-plus submissions that made up the bulk of the 60th anniversary issue. It was a classic, especially because it was from the coin collecting public. I enjoyed reading the unique experiences, and it was a pleasure to share mine.
As far as winners, you gave us all the ultimate prize: the opportunity to share our coin collecting adventures with your thousands of readers.
Thank you, Numismatic News, for the memories!
Clark C. Peterson
Hinckley, Minn.

Theft proof? Disguise package as political mail
In reference to Mr. Robinson’s losses using registered mail, I’ve never had a loss when I use (or request that the shipper use) bulky packaging that will not fit in a pocket. Of course, the most effective technique, which sadly will disappear on Nov. 6 for a while, is to disguise the shipment as a political mailing.
Max Hensley
San Antonio, Texas

Jeffcoat gave writer a start in the business
I’m going through back issues of Numismatic News and ran across your editorial, “What would Arnold Jeffcoat say?” In it, you mentioned that you got your start at NN in 1978. Well, that’s about when I started writing for Krause.
I think I began my numismatic writing career in late 1977, when Jeffcoat bought the idea of a series of articles on being a mail-order dealer. That was so much fun that I was encouraged to try writing about other topics, and the rest, as they say, is history. I even wrote for Jeffcoat’s newsletter, as I recall, even though he didn’t pay anything.
Anyway, it was nice to see his name mentioned again, as he got me started writing about coins.
Mike Thorne
Starkville, Miss.

Obama no good for the common collector
I am writing as a result of your leftist article about the election. I must say that it is no place to ruin a nice numismatic publication.
I also want to mention that just since Obama has been in office that we can no longer get many of the Mint coins from our banks. That is Presidential dollars, national park quarters, and regular issues of pennies, nickels, dimes and halves, just to name a few. One must buy rolls from the Mint or a dealer who buys from the Mint. So from my point of view, Obama has hurt the collector, especially the small ones and the youth. We do need a shake-up!
David Nichols
Candor, N.Y.

More on the life and times of Gib Wood
I wish to thank Numismatic News for presenting to its readers my “Viewpoint” piece about Gib Wood and his 1842 cent (“Shabby cent holds family history,” Sept. 18, 2012, NN issue). Of the many “Viewpoint” pieces of mine that have appeared since my first in 1991, this most recent one carried the most personal weight due to the fact that its subject was my great-grandfather, farmer and Civil War veteran Gib Wood.
To readers who related to Gib, let me mention a few added comments about him.
First, let me note that the many thousands of people who go to Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Miss., each year will see a beautiful and large marble monument to the Illinois veterans of the Civil War’s Vicksburg Campaign. It’s an impressive Romanesque structure whose inner walls are lined with bronze plaques embossed with the names of Union soldiers from Illinois who fought in the Vicksburg Campaign. If you get the chance to go there, walk the circular route past the plaques and note the names of these many heroes. When you reach the list of names for Company K of the 18th Illinois Volunteers, you’ll see that one of the names there is Gibson Wood. That’s Gib. I was at this site in 1973.
As to the sites mentioned in my Sept. 18 “Viewpoint,” I’ve personally visited the area in and around Gainesboro, Tenn., where Gib Wood was born and raised until he and his family moved to Illinois in 1851. I’ve also visited the sites in Illinois and Missouri where Gib and his kin lived. I’ve even walked the shore next to the Red River near Marksville, La., where Gib’s ram ship was hit by Confederate artillery fire, forcing Gib and the other survivors to float away from the disaster on cotton bales that had been on the lost ship.
Speaking of ships, readers of my Sept. 18 “Viewpoint” who wish to get some further idea about Gib Wood’s experiences as a Union Army sharpshooter should read about the Union Army’s Ram Fleet and in particular that elite outfit’s ram ship, Monarch, which was Gib Wood’s ship except for the brief period in February 1863 when he was temporarily assigned to the ram ship, Queen of the West, when the latter craft was lost on the Red River. Incidentally, this Union ship was named Queen of the West because it was built in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was at that time called “The Queen City of the West.” Yes, at that time, in the 19th century, Ohio was still regarded as the West.
I should perhaps mention that my “Viewpoint” piece’s description of the firing of a Civil War era rifle is based on an actual demonstration of same personally witnessed by yours truly during a visit I made in 1973 to Tennessee’s Shiloh National Military Park.
As to Gib Wood himself, I cannot help wishing he had written a book about his experiences. But we are in luck, to a slight degree, to have some of Gib’s words, which were preserved for me by his last-born daughter Inez Wood Moore, whom I mentioned in my “Viewpoint.” Inez, professionally, was a nurse, but I suspect her hobby was great quotations. She had a fine memory for the words of Shakespeare and the witty aphorisms of Franklin and Twain and Emerson, and many, many more.
The good news is that in a 1974 letter to me about her father, Gib, she quoted four aphorisms spoken by her father. Quoted below for the first time in any publication, note that these were original sayings of Gibson Allen Wood and as good as anything ever quoted in the famous Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett. 1. “The most refreshing sight for sore eyes is that of watching an old truth come back into fashion.” 2. “Pursue the truth no matter what the price – even if it costs you your illusions.” 3. “A hobo is a man who hears the school-bell of the world ringing and decides to play hooky.” 4. “I read the other day that an archaeologist found a toenail from the foot of Roman emperor Caligula and put it into a museum. That proves my old theory. Everything, given sufficient passage of time, becomes collectible.”
Finally, let me point out a misprint in my Sept. 18 “Viewpoint,” fifth paragraph from the last. The word “gold” in the phrase, “friends who had been young when Gib was gold,” should be “old.”
Curt Wood
Van Nuys, Calif.

Collect coins from circulation, you will profit
In recent letters to the editor, there was the question set forth on how to profit from coin collecting. There is a way to all but guarantee profiting, however, I’m certain some would question whether this is really coin collecting.
I contend it is essentially the same thing as many of us did when we first started to collect coins, before we discovered Mint products such as proof sets. Yes, I’m talking about collecting solely from circulation.
I keep all change I receive from purchases and my wife occasionally gives me change that has accumulated in her purse. I then search through it, pulling out all 95 percent copper cents, all nickels, all die varieties, and all “obsolete” coinage.
A few months ago, I found a 90 percent silver dime. Last month, I found a 1936 Buffalo nickel in very good condition, and last night I found a 1970, reverse of 1968, dime. Many years ago, I found a 1971-D reverse doubled die quarter, which I had certified and sold at a tremendous profit.
The current melt value of the 95 percent copper cents is 2.35 cents each and the current melt value for nickels is 5 cents each. These I hoard for future disposal as it is currently illegal to melt them. Central Bank inflation guarantees me a future “profit,” at least on paper.
Over the last few years, I have amassed a complete set of 95 percent copper cents, 1959-1981 and most of a Jefferson nickel set. The time spent is about a half an hour a week at most and I’m sure it could be extended if I went to banks to get rolls of coins. I wouldn’t suggest trying to make a living this way, but it is very interesting and a lot of fun.
The only way you can possibly lose money when collecting coins is if you pay more than face value for a coin. As I told my parents back in the early 1960’, when I chose coins over stamps, (which was their preference), “A nickel will always be worth at least a nickel, and a penny a penny.” (As an 8-year-old, I didn’t know it could be demonetized.)
I do, on occasion, purchase coins. Therefore, the guarantee of my making a financial profit may be drastically lessened. Sometimes you just can’t find what you want in circulation.
Name withheld

1909 cent went to Mars to mark Lincoln’s birthday
In response to Mike G. Price’s letter in the Oct. 23 issue of Numismatic News, I will agree that perhaps a BU cent would have looked better, but the reason that the 1909 cent was chosen was to celebrate Lincoln’s 200th birthday, and because the mission was originally supposed to be launched in 2009. Just thought I would clarify.
Name withheld

Hole-filling brings coin collecting hobby full circle
I started collecting coins in 1939. In 1941 I acquired a Lincoln cent stand-up board and in 1962 became a professional numismatic writer. In 2000 I was inducted into the Numismatic Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs.
I collect U.S. and foreign tokens, medals, paper money, stock certificates, scrip, old deeds, old checks, etc. But to prove what comes around goes around, this year I returned to being a hole-filler again after years and years of avoiding this.
Now I’m hole-filling U.S. Liberty Head, Walking Liberty and Franklin half dollars, Canadian 5-cent pieces in silver and nickel, plus Canadian silver quarters. Old dogs never die!
I don’t like Morgan or Peace silver dollars, just a matter of taste. My collection of Kennedy halves is complete. Love that coin and that guy.
Russ Rulau
Iola, Wis.

Magnet can identify authentic 1943 copper cent
In the anniversary edition of Numismatic News (Oct. 26), reader James Sexton wrote about trying to authenicate a 1943 copper cent.
The very first step you should take that won’t cost anything is to get a magnet. If the coin sticks to the magnet, you have just authenicated it as being copper-plated and worth nothing.
If the coin doesn’t stick to the magnet, then it could be genuine or a “doctored” 1948 cent. That, of course, would have to be sent out to one of the authentication places. Unless you have a loop and can see the doctoring of the “8” cut in half. Or the “0” in a 1940 cent being reworked as a “3.”
I hope your ‘43 “copper” is real, James.
Bill Tuttle,
Cleveland, Ohio

Looking for information on Jefferson without initials
A few years ago, I read a question in your Letters section in regards to 1990-D Jeffersons without designer’s initials on obverse at shoulder.
If you responded with an answer, I missed it.
Can you please give me any information about the missing initials, including rarity, value, etc.?
Jim Dreger
Castro Valley, Calif.

Numismatic editor tries his hand at science fiction
The age of rocketry began in reality in Nazi Germany’s Peenemünde site but was anticipated by science fiction years earlier. Two of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written were penned in 1933-1934 by the novelist team of Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer, established authors not previously known for such adventurist literature.
When Worlds Collide (1933) and After Worlds Collide (1934) received little attention in the Thirties, but George Pal’s 1951 movie, “When Worlds Collide,” brought them into the light. Pal’s influence in Hollywood waned and the sequel movie never appeared.
Starring Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen, Larry Keating, John Hoyt, Hayden Rorke, Stephen Chase and others, it was a smash hit though made on a low budget and with limited special effects. It ends with a landing on “Zyra” as Earth is crushed. Stuart Whitman was an extra in the film. It won an Academy Award.
Pal’s movie is set in the post-WWII, pre-computer era. Its principal difference with the book is that Dave, not Tony, gets the girl, Hendron’s daughter.
The opinion of this writer is that After is the far better of the two books. After had a hurried and unsatisfactory ending, however, leaving the reader’s mind clamoring for more, more!
Reading After would assist readers to understand this sequel. Much in this sequel depends upon knowledge built from the Wylie-Balmer original.
The story line is basically that two planets, while circling each other, are torn from their orbits and cast adrift in space, and after millions of years headed for earth.
This retired newspaper and magazine editor, well-known for numismatic non-fiction books, decided to do a “sequel to the sequel” while confined with a broken hip. Though lauded for non-fiction, it’s his first attempt at fiction. Should it satisfy, the effort will have been merited.
I chose not to do science fiction of the present day or what is to come, but took the unusual step of creating science fiction from the past. I chose the Depression era.
Russ Rulau
Iola, Wis.