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Your thoughts from the latest issue

The latest selection of letters from readers of NN to editor, Dave Harper.
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Coin find story more like a fairy tale than truth


I have just two comments to make. First of all, I am tired of people reporting all these so-called coins and varieties. Don’t they realize that the only ones making money are the dealers that are buying them up? I was a small-time dealer at one time and this is driving the industry to a new direction that I don’t see as beneficial. Some are just so silly it is pathetic and mundane. Focus on collecting something that interests you, not paying a premium for something that probably will never increase in value.
My second point is in response to a letter that appeared in your paper dated Sept. 16. A person wrote an article that sounded like pure fiction. No wonder he didn’t have the courage to put his name on it. He states that while driving through a part of Arizona he came upon a man, woman and child. First he states that he doesn’t “usually” pick up strangers. He decides to give them a ride but is carrying a concealed weapon just in case these people put up a fight. How silly. The man, in gratitude, takes him to a remote area to coin shoot. He leads me to believe by his finds that he struck it rich. The man in return only seeks the metal detector as compensation, not wanting the fee he offers him. Now, he gives them a sack of more coins, telling him “no one” wants them. My question to this unknown writer is, why would he want a metal detector if he doesn’t want to find coins? This whole story sounds like a fairy tale, with the exception of “Once upon a time.”

Joseph Taylor
Philadelphia, Pa.

Coin gifts spark youth’s interest in collecting

The 2008-D presidential Van Buren rolls of 25 $1 coins were released in my local Portland, Ore., bank on Oct. 6.
To procure all U.S. coins of interest, I requested that the vault clerk in my bank to telephone me when these are available. From that day on I proudly own these gems to trade, donate to friends and collectors, but mainly as gifts to juveniles in my neighborhood. Their faces show how much they enjoy coin collecting, likely for life. Each of these youngsters also receive an extra coin for every holiday as a stimulant.
Once a month, more or less, I visit each of the 16 retails coin shops in this city besides those I deal with during coin shows.

Zdenek Vesely
Portland, Ore.

Several errors found on Alaska state quarter

I haven’t seen anyone mention errors on Alaska’s quarter. I have several from uncirculated rolls from the bank. They have extra hair that goes from under the ear down the groove of the neck. This same coin also has a spike from the back of the hair to the “G” in God and down to the bow in the hair.


Edge issues could be seen as fads in future

I’ve been seeing more and more hyperbole on the edge lettering on the presidential dollars. Let’s see, we have Position A, Position B, light and heavy edge lettering in Positions A and B, high edge lettering, low edge lettering in Positions A and B, incomplete edge lettering in both positions, missing edge lettering (I wonder if it could be determined if it is missing from Position A or B?) and who knows what others are out there.
I would like to be one of the first to point out that these could very well be considered fads in the future. You see, the edge lettering is a secondary operation and really has nothing to do with the striking of the coin.
The U.S. Mint coins these and places them into huge containers. At this state, no business strike Presidential dollar has the edge lettering, and that is why I am calling it a secondary operation. Does it really matter that some minted coins slip through the edge lettering process and get a better or worse edge impression? Some edges have a polished look, while others have a shiny look. Oh, maybe that will be the next part of the craze?
I understand how people get excited over things like this and it is easy to get pulled into the craze, but there is not a single messed-up business strike edge lettered coin that has the lettering put on during the minting process. Now, find a messed-up edge lettered coin from the proof presidential dollars and you have a real rarity.

Anthony R. Savino

Premiums on bullion undertakes bigger risks

I must applaud Numismatic News for publishing an article in the Nov. 4 issue written by Bill Green. It is titled: “Diversity: Excellent strategy, bad tactic.”. I do not know Bill Green but must admit his article is an excellent, common sense approach to investing in anything, let alone gold. If you missed reading it, I suggest that you try to find the article and read it.
Many are touting precious metals as a “safe haven” at this time of financial turmoil, especially since the “paper” price of gold and silver have fallen since March. What many people overlook, however, is the ridiculous premium prices they must pay if they want to own the physical metals. I have no doubts that precious metals will rebound in the future, but when it does, watch the premiums drop substantially or possibly altogether. I’ve seen this happen in the past and it will most likely happen again.
I remember at the very beginning of 1980 when silver was in the $35 an ounce range the refineries decided to stop paying near melt price for silver bullion and they were only willing to pay about 65 percent of bullion price starting about the second week of January, 1980, right up until the end of silver’s run up in March, 1980.
There was so much silver being cashed in the refineries correctly reasoned that they did not need to pay full spot price for silver. When silver topped $50 an ounce on Jan. 21, 1980, one dollar face value of junk silver coins was theoretically worth $38. The top prices most dealers were paying then was about 20 times face, however silver dollars were about $25 each.
Silver plunged to $10.80 an ounce on March 27, 1980, and remained in the $11-14 an ounce for the next few months. During that time, many people were scrambling for silver figuring that they would make a quick buck, that silver would “have to come back.”
Guess what? Instead of being charged seven to eight times over face (approximate bullion value) premiums went to 13 times face value for the coins. Silver bars were selling for several dollars an ounce over the spot price. Even the “70-pound doorstop” (1,000 ounce bars) sold for a large premium, although less than the smaller silver bars. In October, 1980, silver was back to about $20 an ounce and those who bought silver paying the high premiums found that they couldn’t sell at a profit because they paid such a high premium earlier. Over the next 20 years, silver stayed more on the down side versus the upside.
Much of the same was true with gold, however, in 1980 there were far fewer strictly bullion coins than there are today, therefore most gold bullion coins had at least a small numismatic premium built into them. The cheapest pre-1933 U.S. gold coins had at least a 50 percent premium built into them until the American Eagle program began in late 1986. I remember in early 1986 when gold was less than $400 an ounce, common date U.S. double eagles were selling for about $600 each.
I’m not saying that it’s bad to own precious metals. I’m just trying to point out that at this time if one wants to buy them they must be aware of the high premiums being charged and not to be surprised to see the premiums shrink or disappear once bullion prices rise substantially. The current premium is an extra risk one must realize if they wish to buy bullion at this time.

Stan Kijek
Eastlake, Ohio

Put a little moon rock in lunar commem coin

I have been waiting for an American Lunar landing commemorative since 1994 to make its debut. Mr. Lo Presti putting forth ideas of what to do gave me the ultimate innovative idea for a commemorative coin. Make the coin from materials from two worlds, in other words put some moon rock in
the coin!

John B. Benson
Tucson, Ariz.

$100 for one ounce silver medal out of line

I’m a little behind in reading my Numismatic News, but I just had to write in on a few things.
First, on page 40 of the Nov. 11 issue in the lower left hand corner under “Exonumia,” there’s an offer for a one ounce silver round featuring Obama, and the price is $100! $100 @@!!## for one ounce of silver? I’ll try and leave politics out of this, but I don’t care who you voted for, charging $100 for a one ounce silver round is price gouging with a capital “G.”
My next little rant is about something that has bothered me ever since I first read about it in these pages, and that’s this Certified Acceptance nonsense that’s now being perpetuated on the coin hobby. Anyone who scratches around coin collecting even a little will soon learn that when it comes to third-party grading, the two big boys on the block are PCGS and NGC. And yes, while we all know there are cases where the same coin has been submitted to one of these companies more than once and has come back with different grades, I think that most collectors/investors feel that they both do an above average job of grading and slabbing.
For another “expert” to come along and say that the coin has to be evaluated again and then have a special sticker put on thereby commanding still higher prices, this just reeks of foul play. So what happens when the next “expert” comes along and says that now the CAC coins have to be re-evaluated to see if they “measure up” and now another sticker/hologram/moniker is placed on the slab?
Does the coin market really need a second opinion of a re-evaluation of a certification of a certified coin? If this keeps up, you won’t even be able to see the coin inside the slab! Just a bunch of idiotic stickers all over the plastic!
I’d like to hear from those who agree or disagree with me. I enjoy the dialog that happens in these letters, and while I have my opinions, I’ve been proven wrong before. (Once:)
Thanks for listening.

Dan Petroelje
Holland, Mich.

Wilde a leader who served ANA honorably

It was with heartfelt sadness that we learned of the passing of Adna G. Wilde Jr. Mr. Wilde was one of the most honorable numismatists we have ever known.
During our entire terms of service on the ANA Board from 1987 to 2005 we were privileged to have Adna as treasurer and parliamentarian of the association. This knowledgeable and thoughtful man helped us greatly during our terms of service to ANA. When he recently stepped down as treasurer and parliamentarian of the ANA, that was a very sad day for us.
No one looked after the ANA in regards to finance and procedure as he did. When Adna talked, board members listened and almost always agreed with him. He was a close friend who we always asked for advice in board meetings as well as other times.
He was a leader who served as an example to all of us. His service to our country in the U. S. Army was also commendable where he achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. This coin club officer and worker, collector, author, speaker and exhibitor will always be remembered by everyone who crossed his path.
All of our prayers and thoughts to his wife Joan and their family. We have made a donation to ANA in his memory. Rest in peace Adna, as your passing will be mourned by those of us who loved you so much. With deepest sympathy,

John and Nancy Wilson
Ocala, Fla.

Help novice collectors learn about hobby

I am a novice at this game and have had a subscription for a few months. I enjoy every issue and look forward to getting it every week. Many of your articles are very informative and sometimes provide a new direction for my enthusiasm.
Here comes the but. Being a model railroader and having gone through the changing levels of experience, knowledge and investment, I see the same lessons apply to coin collecting. Many times as we progress in our hobby we don’t look back. Today’s model railroader has digital command and control of his train. Power is a constant, with no need of the old block system wiring. Cars come ready to run and cost up to $40. In most cases supply cannot keep up with the market. However, there is still a lot of conventional equipment that has to be sold to make way for the new standards. All of us MR’s in the process of upgrading also have a lot of conventional equipment (upgrade or sell.)
For the modern coin collector – the young grandchild, the interested adolescent, the State quarter collector or the entry level collector – coins in the $200 to $500 range are not always in the affordable range. Even the $20 to $100 range may be at the novice collector’s limits. What to collect can be just as daunting as the price. The advice, “Buy the best you can afford” is a double-edged sword. If the best you can or are willing to afford now were G-4, what would the Saint-Gaudens collector think of this collection.
Looking at loftier goals is always encouraging. Trying to upgrade an entry level collection today would result in a Wall Street type collapse. If you sell it on eBay you might get lucky and break even. The pitfalls of this hobby are increased when you include the possibility of counterfeit coins or poor research.
Although this hobby deals with coins (pretty straight forward) it still requires a lot of research and direction so you don’t feel adrift in the middle of the ocean when trying to figure out what to buy or what is a good value.
You obviously attend more shows than I do, to date none. I would enjoy a series on how people get involved in the hobby and what they have learned from it or about it. Resources for articles could be YN groups, clubs, people from shows even dealers could have a lot to say to make this a more enjoyable and personable hobby. As in many hobbies there can be more enjoyment in sharing an experience than just storing it away.
Categories could include:
How it started?
Picking a direction.
Redefining goals.
The art of research.
How to make your money do double or triple duty.
Now that I have it, how do I protect it.
Coin cleaning – this is such a taboo no one wants to talk about it.
Not only deep cleaning (usually to be avoided), but also surface cleaning, what causes a film or haze to form on a coin (even in mylar flips) and how to safely remove it.
Coin storage – acid free, long term.
Time and money, time vs money.
Reaching back is the best way to inspire young, novice, entry and intermediate level collectors whether it is a Lincoln memorial collection from circulation or a Morgan dollar collection painstakingly acquired. This is not a one time shot, just like the kindergarten teacher; every new class starts at the beginning. Articles need not cover a lifetime of experience, simply a time that was inspiring, informative or enjoyable that someone might want to share.
As I was writing this letter I received the Nov 11 issue of NN. I enjoyed the article “Talk about coins to engage others in hobby.” Even your Letters article “Variety of factors hinder hobbyists’ pursuit” touched on a lot of what I was trying to get at. Dipping, over grading, the difference between uncirculated and BU or Ch BU. Good and timely issue.

Fred Melko
Panama City, Fla.