Skip to main content

About profits, coin delivery, palladium

Mr. Lembke’s miraculous “steal” has generated the most recent attention. I think we have all paid more for coins than their current worth. Why? Because the desire to own the coin exceeds the selling price. In economics it’s called supply vs. demand.

I never miss the “Class of ‘63” and letters section of NN. I don’t consider myself an active collector now but do buy various Mint offerings. Since I was 8 I was filling my Whitman folders and exchanging rolls at local banks.


I am more of an active reader today. I enjoy the opinions of all the readers whether I agree with them or not. So I’d like to make a few comments/opinions pertaining to recent letters.

Mr. Lembke’s miraculous “steal” has generated the most recent attention. I think we have all paid more for coins than their current worth. Why? Because the desire to own the coin exceeds the selling price. In economics it’s called supply vs. demand. Let’s forget about dealers for the moment and look at the Mint issues. A quick view of the 2010 Red Book lists the 1995-S proof set at an issue price of $11 and a current value of $5. Why did I buy one? I wanted it for my collection.

On the other side there are times when collectors can show a “profit.” The best recent example that comes to mind is the 1995-W Proof Anniversary Gold Set listed at $6,500. I believe the issue price was $999. Why? Because of the 1995-W silver eagle included in the set and the rising price of gold. Separately the silver eagle lists at $4,500, pure profit comparing the cost of the gold sets from those years. Oh, how I remember the whining letters I read then from collectors who did not buy gold proofs. I understand everybody’s budgets are different, mine included.

I don’t buy every Mint issue and have lost out on some of the better values after the fact. And I have also purchased some issues which I’ve gained in value. The matter becomes what one wants in his or her collection and what one can afford. Or if you’re in it for a profit it becomes what you think a Mint coin will turn a profit. True collectors are hobbyists not seeking short-term profits. In 2002 I bought six each of the West Point bicentennial silver dollars. After 9/11 I was sure to have a winner. Fat chance. My decision.

Now back to Mr. Lembke. I have given significant thought to my opinions after reading all the letters published over the past several weeks. Let’s compare Mr. Lembke’s situation to the Mint saga.

Mr. Lembke purchased a pile of bulk silver dollars at a stated price. He found a rare one in the group. The dealer erred by not checking the coins carefully. To err is human. Mr. Lembke rightly deserved this coin. There is no question in my mind. However, if I had purchased the coin under the same circumstances, would I have sold it and then publicized it? The answers to both questions are clearly NO! I would have been so thrilled to acquire a rare coin at such a bargain price it would have stayed in my collection for the rest of my life. Maybe I would tell a few friends of its procurement. But I would never brag how it was acquired and then sold. I still own my 1995-W silver eagle. It makes me wonder if Mr. Lembke is a true numismatist or just a profiteer. Enough said.

The next topic I’d like to address are the comments regarding the UPS delivery of the UHR Saint-Gaudens double eagle. I received this beautiful coin via UPS also. I just happened to be home and close to the door when the driver arrived. So I went to the door to avoid the German Shepherds jumping on the door and barking. I thought it might be the UHR coin so I asked the driver where to sign. He said, “You’re all set” and went back to the truck. I found it very peculiar since all other gold issues required a signature whether it be the United States Postal Service or FedEx. When I began reading many identical complaints in this column from others I must agree. Either the UPS or the Mint blundered on this one. The Mint should be made aware of this critical problem so it can rectify it immediately.

The last comment is my reaction to David C. Harper’s “Best of Buzz” column in the April 21 issue of NN. I agree this country doesn’t need a palladium coin. I didn’t agree with platinum eagles either. The cost may be prohibitive but in the history of United States coinage gold and silver were the only two precious metals used. I welcome the continuance of bullion and commemoratives in these metals.

I love Mr. Harper’s humor referring to the resemblance of a palladium UHR double eagle to a rubber bathroom sink stopper! The only problem is water leakage. Dave, let’s get a patent and we can have the rims surrounded with rubber. Naturally the rubber rims will be engraved appropriately. We’ll make a killing.

P.S. UPS just came with the booklet for the Saint-Gaudens UHR coin. He rang the door bell and I had to sign for it. I think the Mint and/or UPS got the message.

Dr. John G. Hamer is a hobbyist from Bradford, Mass.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects.
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to