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This Week's Letters (4/14/09)

This weeks letters from readers of Numismatic News to editor, Dave Harper.
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Display case for UHR coin way too big


I just received my Ultra High Relief $20 gold coin. It’s a beautiful coin but, could they have made the display case any bigger? That thing is huge! Why didn’t they just add four legs on the thing and call it a display table? While they’re at it, how about some casters so it’s portable? The case takes up almost four times the space as one of the First Spouse gold coin cases and I think those are too big as they take up too much room in my safe.
Doesn’t the Mint get it? We’re buying a coin. We expect protective packaging but, don’t over do it. Packaging is a funny thing, if it’s damaged or missing, you take a hit, but if everything is in place like you expect, it’s worth no additional value to the coin.

Rob Cardenas
Layton, Utah

Farmers’ ‘Fair Day’ a good source for coins

Your story in the March 17 issue regarding “coins in my pocket” reminded me of earlier days, when in my youth I worked in a hardware store. On “Fair Day” when local farmers brought any number of items, from fresh vegetables, dressed poultry and eggs to livestock to designated locations to sell to “city folk.”
Most sales began at daylight, and by noon were over, and many farmers spent the rest of the day shopping after having lunch in a local tavern. Throughout the afternoon, many would stock up on necessary items required to “keep the old place going,” including bolts, nails and other hardware items. Many older farmers utilized a cloth “pocket book” full of coins that they used to make change and pay for purchases, and I looked eagerly to those days, since the store would receive any number of old coins, including an occasional Barber quarter or dime, Liberty head nickel and early Indian head cents.
Many local establishments also began to give away newer plastic “coin holders” carrying the name of their business during the holiday season, along with next years calendar. These coin holders were egg shaped, but flat, and when squeezed on the ends would open like a mouth, for easy removal of coins. In most cases they would only hold a dollar or two of change, but they did keep loose change from sliding out of your pocket, and minimize your “pants pocket effect.”
The leather “wallets” of the time, also had a snap coin pocket that would hold loose change, since in those days even a quarter or half dollar went a long way. I always thought the plastic coin holders were a neat advertising item, since they reminded the user of the local store each time they opened it, and probably reminded many of an individual to stop for a gallon of milk, or loaf of bread, not unlike one does today at a local “quick stop.” Another case of ingenuity based on solving a problem. Maybe that’s the answer for the dollar coin!

R. Bellin
Address withheld

New log cabin Lincoln cents feel thinner

Today, (March 11) in downtown Denver I went to my bank during the lunch hour. While cashing a check I asked the teller if she had seen any of the new 2009 Lincoln cents yet. She said she had not seen one but that some arrived today and were in the vault. She went to the vault and brought out a $25 box of them and asked how many I wanted! I only took $1 worth and handed a number of them out to those in our office today.
All of these had the log cabin reverse. All were struck at the Denver Mint, not far from my office.
Interestingly, when I held the two rolls of new cents in my hands I thought they felt “thinner” in diameter than normal. Most everyone I handed one out to thought the same. Only about one in three people could figure out “what was different.” Most guessed that they were smaller or lighter in weight. I guess the log cabin looks somewhat similar to the Lincoln Memorial to a non-collector?

W. David Perkins
Centennial, Colo.

Try a coin purse to contain loose change
In response to your Class of ‘63 column appearing in the March 17 issue of NN, I would suggest you try what I do.
Years ago, I decided having coins either slip out of my pockets or wear a hole in them was a nuisance. So, I solved that problem by carrying a coin purse for the coins. It is about 2 by 4 inches, fits nicely in the pocket, and holds everything from cents to dollars. Problem solved.
I like using coins, and I make a point of using the dollar ones too. Besides, it’s fun to empty the purse a couple of times a week to check the accumulation.

Dave Desiderio
Alameda, Calif.

Mint makes too much profit on cent rolls

I am almost being forced to buy from the Mint. Our local coin stores are advising that the Omaha, Neb., area will not be receiving the new penny since our area is overstocked with pennies.
With the Mint selling each penny to the public at 14 cents each, I just can’t wait until the next two roll set comes out so I can be ripped-off again. It’s nice to make a profit but this is off the charts.

Frank Storms
Omaha, Neb.

Thanks for a successful Portland ANA show

The ANA National Money Show recently concluded in Portland was a huge success. We grade all aspects of this convention MS-70.
We want to thank and congratulate the following for a job well done: General Chairman Scott Loos, his local Committee and workers; the host coin clubs; ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd, along with Meeting Services Manager Brenda Bishop and all their staff; the ANA National Volunteers, Bowers & Merena Auctions, the exhibitors, judges and speakers; Scout Clinic coordinators; the BEP, U.S. Mint & Post Office; public relations (publicity), security, F+W Publications, the thousands of visitors who attended and the hundreds of great coin dealers who had tables at the show. Without the dealers, we wouldn’t have coin conventions. Wow, what an outstanding coin convention!
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to the success of this show. We look forward to the summer ANA convention in Los Angeles, Calif., on Aug. 5-9.

John and Nancy Wilson
Ocala, Fla.

Not a fan of Mishler’s January travel report

In regard to Clifford Mishler’s March 3 report on January travels, there’s 15 minutes I can’t get back. It reminded me of my uncle’s trip to Chicago slides. His first 10 minutes was nothing but the airport terminal. Sheesh.

Ken Cary
Fort Worth, Texas

Good coin care key for numismatists

I read Bill Fivaz’s letter to the editor where he states that toned coins are not graded but rather priced and he calls this “market grading.”
The Official ANA Grading Standards for U.S. Coins, 6th edition has no mention of “market grading” as the standard for grading coins. I certainly do not use “market grading” when I grade coins and neither do my numismatic friends.
Say collector A purchased a raw brilliant untoned MS-63 1878-CC Morgan dollar. Say collector B also purchased a raw untoned MS-63 1878-CC dollar with original mint luster. Collector A has been educated about how to care for his coins and he places his coin in a holder that keeps out hydrogen sulfide gas and thus protects his coin from corrosion. Collector B, by contrast, places his coin is a drawer full of diverse kinds of paper containing trace levels of sulfur and thus takes no steps to protect his coin from becoming toned or tarnished.
Say down the road both collectors decide to sell their two coins and thus send them to a the same grading service to get them slabbed. Collector A gets his untoned coin back from the grading service as an MS-63 coin. By contrast, collector B, who now has a coin that has “attractive” red, purple and blue toning gets his coin back with an MS-65 grade. Collector A sells his coin for $450 and collector B, who did not practice good coin care, sells his coin for $2,500. I ask, how can a coin improve in grade due to the formation of “attractive coloration,” in this case silver sulfide, caused by the oxidation of the surface silver resulting in chemical wear?
Oxidation, is the loss of electrons. The degree of corrosion on a silver coin can be measured and proven to have occurred. I have done this many times in the laboratory.
Wayne Miller, a Morgan dollar specialist, says this about toning. If the toning is very dark ( green, purple, blue, black), the surface of a coin when conserved will often be lacking in luster. It appears, he continues, that some of the silver compounds are etched deeply enough so as to destroy the coin’s mint luster. Wayne is telling us that toning or corrosion on a silver coin has etched the surface of a Morgan dollar. Technically this is chemical wear. Another disadvantage of a darkly toned coins is that the corrosion layers can hide physical wear i.e., very fine hairlines. Therefore, some darkly toned coins that were graded as being in Mint State when dipped (conserved) to remove the silver sulfide layers now will show the fine hairlines that were hidden from view. Thus the coin was really an AU all the while, but the physical wear was hidden by the toning. Been there done that! The bottom line is this, good coin care is so important because we are only caretakers of our numismatic properties for a short while before someone else owns them.

Weimar White
Address withheld

Will orders be canceled if new cents circulate?

Thank you for all of your recent comments regarding the Lincoln cents. Obviously, we don’t know much more, really, than we did a couple of weeks ago in regard to how the coins will enter, or if they will enter the circulation system, but thank you for trying.
Thought you might be interested to hear that I just received an e-mail showing that the actual shipment of my five sets of rolls that I ordered on the release-for-sale day have been back ordered again, the new suspected ship date of April 4, a Saturday. This is only the first extension from the first scheduled ship date of March 19. The good news is that they are in the queue (so far). I am hoping that I receive them before the second of the series becomes available.
Now I wonder if the coins actually get into the banks and gain nationwide circulation soon, and the value actually drops to your announced expected value of 2 cents each, how many of these “back-ordered” roll orders will be canceled or returned at the $8.95 (plus $4.95 S&H). Those orders are on the books with the Mint. That could be a huge loss in expected revenue for the Mint. If I were the Mint, speed and timing in distribution of these orders would be a priority, a critical hedge against a mass cancellation of orders, especially now when there is that much shorter return policy of seven days. No one will return their orders if these orders are filled before the pennies get nationally released.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is responsible for the distribution of circulating coins. The U.S. Mint is in control of the numismatic orders. Let us all see who wins this game. So far, the people who attended the opening day release are the big winners – $245 for a single roll with the first day of release date stamped and sold through that famous auction house.

Tom Jillson
Hudsonville, Mich.

Willing buyer, seller reached agreeable price

I have had a high degree of interest in the letters dealing with Mr. Lembke’s windfall on the purchase of a $7 silver dollar. The basic premise of a transaction occurring is that a price is reached when a willing buyer and a willing seller agree on that price. It applies whether you are talking about cars, clothes, coins, rare stamps etc.
I think those people who criticized Mr. Lembke for not returning either a part or all of his gain should recognize this basic economic fact by apologizing for their misguided thinking.

Ludy E. Langer
Sacramento, Calif.

Mint in no hurry to fill Lincoln coin orders

I’m still waiting for my order of Abe Lincolns (uncirculated and proof) plus some medals from the U.S. Mint. I wonder if the price of silver isn’t being kept artificially low, because the Mint isn’t hustling to get out their orders.

Steve Boyer

$14 for two rolls of Lincoln cents too much

I love the fact that the U.S. Mint is fleecing the coin collector once again by offering two-roll sets of the new Lincoln pennies at nearly $14, including shipping and handling. I beg to differ with Editor David C. Harper that paying 14 times face value for a 1 cent coin will take my mind off the recession. And I doubt, unless the coins become extremely rare, that a collector will recoup his initial investment.
I did, by the way, find one Lincoln penny with the log cabin reverse in a purchase at a Walgreen’s in University City, Mo., on Tuesday March, 17. So the coins are slipping into circulation in St. Louis County.

Steve Salniker
Maryland Heights, Mo.

Lembke just had a lucky junk box find

I am writing in defence of Mr. Lembke, who made a nice find in a totally honest and ethical transaction. The key thing to remember is that this was between numismatically fully experienced people. This was a junk box silver lot being sold as such. The rule about junk boxes is finders keepers and sellers weepers IF they failed to properly search the lot or just couldn’t be bothered. This was NOT a cagey dealer or collector fleecing a poor neophyte with a box of coins asking what they were worth.
I object to letter of Mr. Evens equating Lembke with a dealer who would not return coins a customer lost outside a shop shortly after their purchase. Lembke did nothing to deserve this smear, period. He is an honest and morally ethical person who had a lucky junk box find.

Frederick A. Liberatore
Address withheld

Larry Gentile Sr. was mentor to countless YNs

On March 10, the numismatic world lost a true icon, Lawrence “Larry” Gentile, Sr. Gentile, known for his Young Numismatist (YN) programs, acted as a mentor for countless YNs. Helping children grow in the hobby of numismatics, he was an extraordinary person. A true inspiration to all, he fueled young minds in the field of numismatics. He will surely be missed.
His YN programs are survived by Chris Donato and Will Robins. For more information about the programs, please contact:

Chris Donato
Address withheld

Men’s Health poll focuses on numismatics

Men’s Health magazine always has a poll or two open on their Web site In the April 2009 issue (page 136) it published the results of “Your Interest in Money” and there are two results of interest to numismatists.
Percentage of men who’ve cashed out their childhood coin collection to pay the bills: 28
Percentage of men who tried to collect all the state quarters issued from 1999-2008: 26
Of course, this was not a scientific poll. It came from Men’s Health Web surfers. Nevertheless, the results are still interesting and higher than I would have perdicted.

Carl Wolf
Chicago Coin Club

Volunteering at ANA convention rewarding

As a first time American Numismatic Association volunteer at ANA conventions, I must say the assistance rendered from members of the host clubs, Williamette Coin Club, Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association and the Salem Numismatic Society was extremely cooperative. Their aggressiveness, enthusiasm and professionalism were obvious throughout the convention and this reflected highly for the ANA. Scott Loos, Gene Wiley and Danny Bisgaard should be recognized along with the members of their organizations for their outstanding leadership. It was great working with all of you and hope we can do it again soon.

Jim Majoros
Toms River, N.J.
ANA District Rep - Eastern Region

Ok so let me go through the Mint’s pricing strategy again. The Mint is offering a two roll set of the new Lincoln cent for $8.95 plus $4.95 shipping. That’s a total of $13.90 for a dollar’s worth of the cent. Let’s see… that’s comes up to about a 1390% mark up. Imagine that! I can pay $1.39 for ever cent. Or I can direct purchase a new Sacagawea Dollar for… what? A dollar! Ok so I have to purchase at least 250 of those… but at least there is no mark up. They do not even charge shipping. Can someone say “R A P E D” by the government again?
And the mintages of these new cent coins will be astronomically high. Not a lot of room for future price advances. I wonder when the Mint is going to announce that a mint error was “released” in the circulation quality roll set. That will cause their phones and website to be inundated with treasure hunters…I hope true collectors will preserve their capital and focus on supporting the honest dealers who actually have something of value to sell.

Ken Rupert
Hampstead, Md.

The March 17th issue of Numismatic News contained a letter suggesting Dr. King replace Abraham Lincoln on the cent. Almost three years ago I wrote a blog post called Coins, Education, and Civil Rights, in which I suggested Dr. King replace Franklin Roosevelt on the dime:
“Dr. King deserves more than a one-time, one-year commemorative that only 500,000 people could own. He is great enough to be on coins in every American’s pocket, and his time has come.”
Read the entire post at

Darren Miller
Sacramento, Calif.

The doorbell rang last Wednesday and upon opening the door, the UPS guy (not in shorts yet) was handing me my long awaited box from the Mint. It was the order that I had placed on line January 22 @ 12:15 PM and it was now the 3rd of March. I opened the box with great anticipation of this highly praised UHR coin and my excitement fell in seconds.
Clearly, you could see black marks around the rim on both sides of the UHR coin. I thought where is Quality Control on this product? DId they lay off those employees, or did AIG do the checking.? How disappointed I was with the product. This is the third time that the Mint has sent us coins (the other two were two sets of Buffalo Proofs) with black marks. These coins would be a joke if I were to send them off to be graded.
For such hype created about these UHR coins, the money spent by the buyer (with extreme prices & limits), and the uniqueness of the product, there is no excuse for the inferior craftsmanship of the product produced.
I am still waiting for a new set to come and if black marks appear again, just like the Buffaloes last year, back they go untill a quality set is obtained. While my card has already been charged.
Precious Metal with Wall-Mart quality?

Melissa V Smith
Mount Sidney, Va.

Your Class of ‘63 column in the 3/10 issue of NN asks about ‘09 Lincoln cents.
On March 2nd, I received three ‘09-D Lincoln cents in my change, from a McDonald’s, in Studio City, California.

Derek J. Price
Toluca Lake, Calif.

It was dismaying to read reader Stephen Conner’s response to your predictions of $600 gold and $5 silver by the end of 2009. Conner’s barely coherent rant in the 3/31 “Numismatic News” calls you a liar and implies multiple other personal insults about you because your opinion about metals’ prices doesn’t match that of reader Conner’s. You, reader Conner, or any other citizen in this wonderful country of ours have the right to express personal opinions under the “freedom of speech/the press” provisions of First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is just unfortunate when individuals such as reader Conner choose to express their opinions in ways that derogate individuals who disagree with them. In my opinion, reader Conner says a great deal more about himself than about you when he chooses to launch such a virulent ad hominem attack against you because your opinion varies from his.

Bob Bair
Denver, Colo.

The folks writing in to Numismatic News rarely sound happy about anything the mint is doing. I can’t say that I share their experience. I ordered the new high relief gold coin on 3/15/2009 at the mint’s web site and it was delivered today via UPS. That seems like good service to me.
So as not to make me a burglary target, just call me a New England coin collector.

Joel Wulff
Address withheld

I ordered some Lincoln commemorative Dollars, some medals, and a Presidential Proof set on Feb 11. I just received an e-mail today that one Lincoln medal was being shipped. Who is in charge at the U.S. Mint right now? Director Moy must be on vacation because I can’t believe he would tolerate slow service like this.

Yours truly,

Steve Boyer
Address withheld

My wife received our first 2009 Lincoln cent on Saturday, 21 March 2009. As another Texan subscriber mentioned, it is from the Philly Mint! This is rather rare for Houston.
I think the price of $8.95 for a pair of rolls of 2009 Lincoln cents is outrageous, plus $4.95 for S&H!!! A lot of US coins available from the US Mint are overpriced! If collectors refused to buy them maybe the US mint would finally lower their prices to a more reasonable rate.
I enjoy reading the NN weekly. Keep up the good work.

Garry Kramchak
Houston, Texas

I was disturbed to learn the U.S. Mint had allowed approximately 30 days for the
State Governments to provide their inputs for the “National Parks” quarter series
which is scheduled to begin in 2011. The U.S. Mint letter went out on January 23,
and wanted their reply by February 27, 2009.

Whether this was done intentionally or merely the result of poor planning, it has had the
effect of again disenfranchising the American public by not allowing ample time for the
states to obtain input from it’s citizens and thereby preventing them from expressing
their suggestions and opinions.

I wrote a letter to Director of the Mint Moy asking the U.S. Mint to reopen the period
allowing for inputs, so that State Governments have ample opportunity to canvas their
citizens and hopefully obtain new and meaningful designs representing their individual states.

I should think the collectors, artists, and the citizens of our states would be highly offended
that they have again been left out of the loop.

Robert R. Maisch
Mobridge, South Dakota

Just thought I would let you know I received my first 2009 coins in change today at a Starbucks location in the River North area of downtown Chicago. I purchased a daily newspaper by tendering a One Dollar bill and received two bright shiny 2009D District of Columbia quarters in change. Probably should have apologized for not leaving a tip, but wanted to keep those quarters for my collection. The design is very nice.

Rick Firfer
Chicago, Ill.

What is up with the US Mint? Never in my 63 years have I seen such
absolute lack of feeling for a customer base.
They sell items that they don’t have, and even when they do have them,
you still wait for 2 to 3 weeks for shipment.
If any other business was this slow at shipping they would be out of
business. O Ya I forgot they are a monopoly and don’t care.
If you don’t like the way they do things so what.
Thanks for letting me vent.

Billy Field
Topsham Maine

I would like to relate an experience I had while attending the Indiana Coin Club show on March 14. For the first few hours the place was packed and it was quite warm in the room. After making a few purchases, I was nearing the limit of my hobby budget. I saw an empty chair in front of a dealer’s table and sat down to check if he had anything on my want list. I noticed some Indian Cents in clear plastic holders marked 1868 and asked if I could see them. He got them out for me and asked his wife if she would help me while he went to the restroom. He told her he would stop and get them both a drink and a hot dog on the way back then he tapped me on the shoulder and said he would be right back. I liked this because I now had time to carefully examine the coins without any sales pressure. The first coin graded AG and I returned it saying I wasn’t interested. The second was a nice F and I set it aside to check the third coin. To my surprise, it was an 1869. I checked the holder again and it was marked 1868. My thoughts went to the letter in Numismatic News from a Mr. Lembke and the following letters chastising and congratulating him. When the dealer returned I brought it to his attention. He examined the coin and said,”You’re right, it is a ‘69, nice catch.” I told him the ‘69 was worth 2 or 3 times the’68. He said the coin had been in the holder about 6 months and no one had noticed before. I’ve since wondered if I may have been able to buy the ‘69 for the ‘68 price but I think I did the right thing. What do you think?

Curtis McKnight
Address withheld

I am a tennant renting a home from an active duty Army soldier, who was deployed for a year to Afghanistan a few days after Christmas 2008. This is my mailing and billing address, but it is also my landlords main billing and mailing address.
Before the Gold Ultra High Relief coins went on sale, I called the US Mint and explained the situation about my landlord serving in Afghanistan and that we both have the same mailing address and we are not related in any way, shape or form.
I asked them if they would make and exception and mail two coins to the same address, before I could finish the word address, she replied “No”, we have rules and we will not change this rule. I told her I would fax a copy of the Soldiers “Orders” to prove I was telling the truth, again, her reply was NO!
I said, “so, basically what you are saying is that the US Mint doesn’t care that our Troops are risking their lives on a daily basis for our country, and you are refusing to change your rule for any one of them who wants to purchase one of these coins”? Her reply, ... rules are rules. I said something is terribly wrong when a United States government soldier who is fighting a war in another country, who could possibly be killed as we speak, cannot purchase something from the government under which they serve, because two totally different people share the same mailing address!!
I was livid about this lack of care and understanding not just for my landlord, but how many others have been discriminated against because of this rule?
I basically told her that this rule, should not apply to soldiers serving in this war, or anywhere abroad and that this “rule” should be looked at on a case by case situation. She said “we don’t have time for that.” I said you and the US Mint should be ashamed, you are not only discriminating against them, but “you don’t have the time”??
At that moment, I lost my patiece and hung up on her in a rage of anger, knowing if I didn’t hang up, I would have told her what I really thought about her and the US Mint, and it wouldn’t be pretty!
I finally scrambled to get my address on my credit card changed to my PO Box, little did I know they change the shipping address, but not the billing address and as of today, March 17, 2009, neither one of us have received our coin, even though they were both ordered the day they were released.

Something is seriously wrong with the United States Government run, US Mint’s and the “rule”, not EVERYONE is trying to scam them over a coin they charged $400.00 over spot for!

Suzanne Stewart

I have to say that over the past couple weeks I have been quite verbal (a
prolific) in regard to my unhappiness regarding the lack of information, and
the reality of the release of the new Lincoln Pennies (cent coins) by all
parties concerned.

You, David, are in receipt of two of my complaining letters from me, as well
as are all of my local banks, the US Mint and the US Treasury and the US
Reserve also have been recipients of inquiries as to how are the new coins
going to be equitably and fairly distributed. The answer, so far, is that
they will not be fairly distributed, at least not this first issue of the
2009 set of coins.

All that aside, I must tell you an amazing story about a local dealer in the
Grand Rapids, Michigan area that has been the one bright spot for me in this
debacle of new issue and the dilema we collectors are in.

Chuck Avery, his business name is Avery Brooke Coins is a man in his early
50s who has been a dealer, both coins and stamps from a few decades already
and is in business to make a living selling these collectible items. He has
been a good resource for me, and for many others in making available special
items as well as the supplies; albums, research books, holders and all sorts
of the toys of the trade.

Shortly after the actual release of the new Lincoln cents, Chuck attended
one of his regular shows to display his products and was able to pick up a
couple of these new Lincoln pennies - not a couple of rolls, but just a
couple pennies; two to be exact.

He brought them back to his shop and was able to show them to the other
dealer friends who still had not seen the actual coin and, of course, showed
them to me. It was the first one i had seen, so, at least I knew they were
real. What do you think Chuck did with one of his treasures; he gave it to
me. Actually GAVE it to me! It was my first one for the 2009 set and
series, but it will always be the best one. I don’t care if I end up with
thousands, or a thousand rolls; this one penny will be worth more to me than
all of them. It is not for sale - not for $100.00. They say that nothing
has any value until a price has been offered, and payment has been

Look at Ebay, even now; even after the Mint has allowed us collectors to buy
5 sets of rolls (P&D) at $8.95 per set, plus $4.95 shipping - that is 13.9
cents per penny by the way. Even after, yes, I bought a single roll from a
fellow on Ebay of the ‘P’ mint for $39.95, and a single roll of the ‘D’ mint
from another fellow for $20.00. That is a total of nearly $60 for 100 penny
coins - that’s 60 cents per coin averaged out that I have spent. Chuck
gave my half of all he had - for free....And has won my on-going business
until he retires, or I pass away. What does your local dealer do for you?
Thank you Chuck - I’m hoping that there are more people like you - not just
dealers - but people that know what true customer service is all about; and
it only cost you one cent - albiet a ‘special’, one-cent!

Please print this in the letters section. - I don’t think Chuck will mind.

Thomas Jillson
Collector - Hobbyist in Michigan