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Letters to the Editor (Apr. 17, 2017)

Mint needs years to win back its customers


Declining sales at the U.S. Mint are the result of a combination of factors.

If a survey were taken, the Mint might be surprised by the number of collectors who will no longer purchase coins directly from the Mint.

Ordering problems, inability to purchase desired coins, preference given to bulk buyers, unpredictable ordering periods, high premiums on items offered, and lower prices on the secondary market have been frequent complaints in recent years.

As an example, note how often “Product Currently Unavailable” appears on the website. Who wants to waste time checking the site daily to see if the product is now available? Either the product is sold out, or sell it to your customers. When a customer sees “sold out,” that event represents a lost sale.

This year, the Mint is introducing a new mistake: the Cancer Awareness gold commemorative contains only 85 percent gold. In reducing the gold content from the traditional 90 percent and changing color to pink, gold bugs may not buy it. If the coin’s value drops to bullion melt, coin dealers won’t like seeing a coin requiring a new computation to figure intrinsic value and offer less for their trouble.

In reducing the percent of gold content, the Mint is debasing its product. In the long run, this cannot be a good marketing strategy, as the mints of other countries continue to sell coins with greater precious metals content.

Until the Mint comes up with another idea that brings in new collectors, like the state quarters program did, sales may lag.

The Mint will need years to rebuild the customer base and regain the trust of collectors who felt mistreated in the past. Customer retention has not seemed to be a priority. The business model may need to change.

Bruce R. Frohman
Modesto, Calif.

Dime rolls out of change machine instead of cent

Know your money. Yesterday at a major grocery store, my change came to $1.01. The cashier, also a manager, gave me my receipt, coupon and $1 bill. I scooped, out of the coin cup dispenser, a dime; not a score from the customer before me. I saw it roll into the cup. I held my opened hand out to the cashier. A dime instead of a cent. Had someone loaded the machine wrong? I got the impression that this happened before. Keep watching your change.

Name withheld
Yucca Valley, Calif.

Philadelphia cent back to having no mintmark

I thought the new cent for 2018 from Philadelphia Mint would not have the “P” on it because last year was special. I may have read some of your readers writing they’ve found 2018 cents with no “P” on it.

Sorry this is minutiae.

Anyway, read with some interest your reader from Queens (New York City) who said new coins don’t get to NYC readily. I was really surprised by that, having lived most of my early life in New York. Boston’s not that much better, or maybe worse!

Name withheld

Editor’s note: You are quite right. There is no “P” on the Philadelphia cent in 2018. The “P” on the 2017 was to mark the 225th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Mint. It was a one-year deal.

Club service includes buying new coins in bulk

In response to your recent Blog question of March 19, 2018, in The Buzz of “Who is buying Kennedy halves clad bags and rolls from the Mint?” I wanted to answer as follows.

The Garfield Heights Coin Club offers a terrific service to its members. The club purchases the Sac dollars and Kennedy halves (and previously Presidential dollar) coins in bulk from the Mint and then sells the coins to its members at our meetings for double face value. This is a terrific service and benefit to the club members.

The club also annually purchases the Red Book in bulk and offers them for sale to its members that order them. This way the members that are interested in purchasing these can keep up their sets or their personal library of reference books.

Also club leadership and other club members frequently bring in back issues of Numismatic News, auction catalogs and reference books and give them away to members who are interested. This all promotes the hobby in a very cost effective way.

Truth be told, although I am probably the biggest opponent to investing in modern-day clad coins, there is still the collector in me who likes to keep up my sets, and although double face is a higher premium than if I were to buy these coins in bulk, I am only buying one or two coins, so it’s not a big outlay to be able to fill holes in my book.

Some members actually buy whole rolls at a time, because it’s still more convenient, and this keeps up their roll sets. In any case, these are some of the benefits of joining a coin club and networking with a great fun group of people that are dedicated to the wholesome hobby of coin collecting.

Robert Matitia
Garfield Heights Coin Club member

Another location in North Carolina gets new cents

I received my first 2018 cent in change from an automated checkout line at my local supermarket on Monday, March 5.

Bob Klippstein
Greensboro, N.C.

Copper rounds worth holding for five or 10 years

Some time back, I had inquired about copper rounds. You advised me to use caution in looking at copper rounds. The same goes for silver rounds, from what I remember.

In early January, I did get seven rounds for $11. Not a bad purchase for them. The show was here in Sherman, Texas. On April 7, a show will be in nearby Paris, Texas. Hopefully, I will be able to get more copper rounds at similar pricing. This is a good deal to get and sit for five to 10 years on them. A few may be had for gift giving.

I hope to be correct in making a small profit. With silver at about $16.60 or less per ounce, it may still be a bargain, with paying a spot price on it. Just an observation on my part.

Gary Kess
Sherman, Texas

World has changed and hobby changed with it

I recently restarted my subscription to your nice magazine and was pleased to see you continue as editor. In my 22nd year of retirement, my numismatic interests remain. However, my days of accumulation have ended. In fact, my choice material is gone.

Now I enjoy the “sport” from a distance. Even the piece of the industrial world I served while employed has virtually disappeared.

The March 6 “Viewpoint” by Richard Francis caught the real spirit of numismatics, in my feeling. Registry Set building, multiple crack-outs and other similar moves were not the spirit of my game. Numismatics is more than that.

It is history, it’s educational, and much more. It can be a lifetime of enjoyment with good people of similar interests.

If memory serves, we shared time in the plastics world. Unfortunately, I was not aware of your obviously strong attachment to numismatics. An old saying goes something like this: “I do not regret what I have done. I regret what I have not done.” I wish we could have shared stories.

Name withheld

Time to mint circulating $25 or $50 silver coin

Just read the article (NN March 6, 2018) “Little notice paid to tenth-ounce gold.” The article should have been titled, “How many modern coins does someone want to collect or can afford to collect?” Maybe it is a good thing that gold and silver coins are not selling like hotcakes. Maybe, just maybe, they will sell so few that modern coins may be worth collecting again someday.

Now my reason for writing is regarding the 244,890 proof silver Eagles that were reported as sold. Considering that the proof Eagle sells for $55, which is more than three times the spot price of silver, what would you expect? Yes, the proof silver Eagle is a beautiful coin, and while many collectors buy them, it makes little sense to buy more than one – not for $55, anyway. For many years, many collectors purchased four or more. It’s just not happening anymore. Again, the proof silver Eagle is a beautiful coin. But so is the bullion silver Eagle. Compare $55 to $20.

Make no mistake about it, the 21st century U.S. Mint produces a quality product, especially for gold and silver. So much so that I would say over 90 percent of those 244,890 proof coins could be graded Proof-69 or -70. Very few of these proof Eagles will ever be melted or damaged. There will always be over 200,000 quality coins. And the proof silver Eagle will always be worth the price of bullion.

Similar analogies can be made for other silver and gold coins being sold by the Mint. The Mint needs to jump start interest in sales. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Produce a silver coin for collectors that could be used for circulation. Mint a $10, $20, $25 or even a $50 silver coin and sell it to collectors for a net profit to the Mint of $10 to $15 per coin. At least the coin will always be worth face value

The Mint will make a good profit on each coin. The collector will never be hurt that badly. And it may help coin circulation. Try it for one or two years. Something needs to be done, or the hobby will revert back to only the hobby of kings and queens.

Dom Cicio
Groveland, Fla.

Gold wins in new race with Bitcoin

A question was asked, “Would I rather invest in gold or Bitcoins?”

I would go for the gold, simply because gold has been around since money was created and always had high value throughout history. Even though ancient coins don’t have a stated value, their gold content has a scrap/melt value.

At the time of this writing, gold is up around $1,300+ an ounce. More modern coins have a stated face value, which could be honored should the melt fall greatly to below the coin’s face value.

I’m not sure if there are physical (real) Bitcoins or the composition of one (if it exists at all). But the Bitcoin is a virtual item where two or more parties agree to a value. (Almost like the current fiat money used today?) Any Bitcoin minted on metal is probably on base metal, and no melt value other than whatever scrap value that coin is stamped on. Even though a Bitcoin may be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars by its holder, it’s not worth anything to me. The value of Bitcoins can go either up or down – to nothing.

I’ll take a nice solid gold coin any day. It’s something I can see and hold.

Bill Tuttle,
Cleveland, Ohio

Too many different labels on slabs with same coins

About six months ago, I did a count of all the different ways Numismatic Guaranty Corporation offered the same 2017 silver Eagle. I think the number I found came to 14.

All the coins were the same, but the slabs were different. White Label, Black Label, Brown Label, Silver Foil, Purple Heart, Signed, First Strike, Early Strike, First Day of Issue, 225th Anniversary, and on and on. This is just getting way too crazy!

The third-party graders should stick to grading and not creating collectible slabs for every day of the week, signed by everyone and their brother, to celebrate all occasions under the sun. Just where will it end??

Ken Freeze
Martinez, Calif.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• The 1800s were a time of change for many, including in coin production. See how coin designs grew during the time period in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900 .

• Download The Metal Mania Seminar with David Harper to learn more about the metals market.