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This Week's Letters (5/9/08)

The Mint will strike an ultra-high-relief Saint-Gaudens next year for collectors. Should it hold a special first-strike ceremony for it?
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From the May 9 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:

Q. The Mint will strike an ultra-high-relief Saint-Gaudens next year for collectors. Should it hold a special first-strike ceremony for it?

I sure wish they would come up with original designs instead of recycling the old ones over and over again. The gold Buffalo $50 is sure nice looking but I still would prefer an original design. Theses constant design re-issues take something away from the originals & seem to take something away from their rarity. Buying an original Saint-Gaudens becomes not a big deal anymore when anyone can just buy a newer issue bullion look a like clone. Not even to mention the confusion it some times causes in the market with newbies.

Norman DeCindis
Media, Pa.

It?s deserving of a ceremony ? BUT, what really needs to be done is stick with the original size and either lower the gold content or (preferably) up the weight (at .999) to 1.5 oz or whatever it takes to maintain the original diameter.

James Martin
Herford, Ariz.

No! I think the U.S. Mint should concentrate on the quality of its coins (both artistic and production quality) rather than spending it?s efforts and times pandering to enlist speculators who want to create some ?extra value? for themselves at the expense of the taxpayers.
With proof ?errors? coming from the Mint, it appears that the Mint has become solely an economic enterprise whose goal is make money (pardon the double meaning).
Coins represent the very best that a nation has to offer both to the users for their utility and as historic, public relations, and propaganda items to define how a nation is perceived.

Lynn Bernhard
Taylorsville, Utah

Should there be a first strike ceremony for the new Saints? Absolutely!
This is an opportunity to celebrate something truly special in numismatics and art. The majority of the numismatic community believes that this is the most beautiful design to ever grace US coinage. Why not hold a ceremony for a coin that promises to be great?
There are not many common collectors that can even dream of affording an original 1907 high relief specimen, myself included. I look forward to owning one of these new, and unique pieces, and am sure many others do as well.
Coin Chat Radio should also cover the event.

Travis Allen
San Ramon, Calif.

Yes, it would be a special occasion attracting ultra high attention ! Hopefully, this would open the door for other coins to be minted in high relief in the future!
For example, the state quarters were of such low relief that they lost their potential for strong, clear images. There was no incentive to strive for a three dimensional effect or an accented design on some of them because it was impossible to mint the high relief without the special tooling and machinery. Some looked too flat and unattractive. The Ancient Greek designs were beautiful because they had the advantage of near bas-relief designs. What a long life many of them had to have withstood the aging of time and circulation.
What a joy it would be to see the re-birth of deep/high relief coins again!

Kenyon Miers
Esperance, N.Y

No! That ?First Strike? is just a gimmick anyway you look at it, so why waste taxpayers money by making a big deal out of a gimmick? I don?t know of any coin dealer who would pay a premium for a first strike coin unless he had a buyer already lined up.

Bill Cross,
Carpintera, Calif.

No. I was excited when I first heard about the mint striking the ultra-high-relief Saint-Gaudens next year, then I found out that they were striking unlimited quantities so my enthusiasm was quickly diminished. I now feel that this will be just another item on the mint?s ever growing list of products and nothing special.

Larry Andrews
Sinton, TX

Yes, I believe this would be a great collector coin, not just a bullion coin as we now have. I believe even non coin collectors would treasure owning one of these for its beauty alone.

Roger S Smith
Kingsport, Tenn.

Depending upon the degree of hoopla associated with the release
of the coin will be the measure of interest, especially to the growing
neumismatic community and all the unknowing others that could be
caught up in whatever promotional enticement is presented in the
several media formats available . Personally, I suspect that the U.S.
Mint feels it has found in the public the ?golden goose? that will
gobble all it?s offerings . Sometimes it appears the Mint is trying to
flood the market place with new product to justify it?s existence and
pay it?s way . The peril that exists is that in a tightening economy
and a more conservative approch to spending by the ?man in the
street?, the Mint will over-reach the consumer market ability to
absorb all their new creations. State Quarters, Westward Journey,
Presidential Series, First Lady Series, Commemoratives, etc. And too,
the length of some of the series at ten years or more with x items per
year stretches the attention span of many would be collectors beyond reason.

David Page
Boynton Beach, FL

I would suggest the Mint does everything possible, 1st strike ceremony, etc. to make the debut a great success. They should make a few errors like Double Die, No Mint Mark, minimal striking at W mint & maximum minting at San Francisco etc to continue the mystique they created with the Presidential Dollars. I am quite convinced these errors were planned, so why not some more.

Bill Graney
Tubac, Arizona

First of all, thanks so much for sending me numismatic news to my e-mail! Your articles are very interesting and informative.
Yes, by all means celebrate the new Saint-Guadens issue. Now, having said that, why doesn?t the mint simply restrike the coin as the great sculptor created it, only with the current date, up-dated star count, and, if absolutely necessary, the motto. In my opinion, all the recent knockoffs of Saint-Guadens artistic conception compare very poorly to the original. Mexico has been minting 50 Peso gold Centenarios periodically since the last issued date of 1947. The restrikes are very popular and I believe are more sought after and prestigious than the smaller troy ounce, and fractional gold coinage which bear an updated Angel de la Independencia design; a design certainly inspired by Saint-Gaudens. By the way, I bought a 1947 gold $50 restrike from the Mexico City Mint last year, and they made a big deal about it being struck from the original dies. I?ve seen other bullion ?47 restrikes recently, that seemed to me to have been the product of a more advanced technology than my coin. I mention this because I?ve seen slabbed ultra-gem 1947 $50s offered as specimen restrikes from 1996 in a couple of recent auctions that went for around $10,000 (US). I asked some low level people at the mint about the specimen strikes, as well as some collectors here in Mexico, and they had no information. Still, at about this time some people in the mint were intentionally minting errors, so who knows?

Kim Rud
Coatepec, Veracruz

The phrase ?first-strike? send chills down my spine. It?s use has been abused so much by the grading companies (joined now by ?early release?) that I?m not excited about the Mint?s usage. Certainly some type of introductory ceremony would be appropriate, but please don?t give the grading companies and their cohorts, the tv-shopping shows any excuse to pump up their prices.
Currently I?m setting aside some dollars from my hobby budget on a monthly basis toward getting one of these coins as long as the price of gold doesn?t go on another upward binge. I?m glad to see that the Mint will make as many as necessary to accomodate orders - that?s a very good sign.

Robert H. Ball, Jr.
Detroit, Mich.