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Letters to the Editor (May 9, 2017)

P’ cents came to reader just as he learned of them


Back in early March, while on my lunch break, I brought my copy of Numismatic News into the Westbury McDonald’s here on Long Island, N.Y., to read as I would be eating my two cheeseburgers and fries. While online I glanced at your publication to see your article about the new one-cent pieces of 2017 that would have the “P” mintmark from Philadelphia on them. I thought that was pretty interesting that the Mint was doing this, and it might be fun to look for one.

I ordered the number two from their menu and received my change while I waited for my fast food to be served. As I was handed it, I quickly noticed four very shiny, beautiful little pennies. So I had to take a closer look. To my disbelief, there they were, four brand new 2016-P one-cent pieces.

What a fun and unexpected way to discover them! I had not even finished the read.

Philip M. Lo Presti
East Meadow, N.Y.

Professional dealers are good fit for ANA board

Thank you to Ronald Brown on his recent response in Numismatic News (I viewed the online version posted on March 17 for issue dated April 4).

Mr. Brown did a very nice job of outlining the issues relating to conflicts of interest in between the Professional Numismatists Guild and American Numismatic Association, an issue that has come up in the wake of the upcoming ANA elections. As a very “small-time” hobbyist, yes, I was totally uninformed of the issues that Mr. Brown raised. I am glad that at least my letter/“Viewpoint” to Numismatic News stirred the pot a little bit, so that I and others could get better educated of the serious issues at hand. As Mr. Brown stated, which is 100 percent true, we small-time guys don’t have the history, background and insight that a more seasoned or educated professional in the field of numismatics would have on this matter. I am glad that Mr. Brown took his time to present the facts.

My views on Mr. Ellis’ stance were culled from an interview that he gave regarding his presidential run that I found on YouTube. Unfortunately, Mr. Ellis did not explain his position with the “whys” and the background and reasons behind his views. After Mr. Brown’s very well-written letter, I must say that I agree with his positions. The unfortunate part of this, which Mr. Brown eluded to, is that net-net, indeed it is all about money, power and influence. I will go back as an example to the 2014 ANA convention in Chicago. True collectors who really wanted the Kennedy gold coin were shut out by a couple of large dealers who controlled the lines, and the ANA benefitted from increasing their membership rolls with hundreds of folks who would have never become a member of the ANA, other than they were bussed into it.

The problem is that the most qualified individuals to run for the ANA are probably the professional dealers. Look, I think that the current board is very good, but they are largely made up of professional dealers ... and why not? Who else is more qualified than a professional dealer that is staking his or her livelihood on the profession, plus they have the time and expertise to devote.

Robert Matitia
Address withheld

Room for improvement on dealer etiquette at shows

I just returned from the Baltimore Whitman show and feel compelled to share thoughts. After spending quite a bit of money on airfare, hotel and car rental, I was hoping for a great time at my first Whitman show. I arrived Saturday at 12:30 p.m. to find a half-empty bourse! The grading services and even a large dealer were already gone as well as fully half of the other dealers. Very disappointing doesn’t begin to convey my thoughts at this point. What would this look like to a neophyte collector attending their first show? I can only imagine what Sunday must have been like.

As for dealer interaction, I found them to be a bit better than those at the January Florida United Numismatists show where I saw numerous dealers talking on cells, texting, surfing the internet, eating, reading and, yes, sleeping at their booths! I was ignored at a club booth by a man looking at his phone and the reps of another group’s both ignored me as I went to their table three times in an attempt to join. These same folks will bemoan the current state of shows in general but remain disengaged from the collector who wants to spend money or join a club.

I feel compelled to mention a couple of dealers that are shining stars in our hobby. Don Kagin and Julian Liedman not only issued a hearty greeting at both shows but spent an inordinate amount of time just talking coins. The vast majority of dealers at both shows couldn’t even be bothered to look up from their phones let alone greet me! I truly believe that if we had more dealers like these two, our hobby would be much healthier.

Terry Lewis
Hudsonville, Mich.

Demand missing from 1945-P Mercury dime analysis

Thank you for publishing Sam Lukes’ “Viewpoint,” which gave me a huge laugh!

Lukes argues that a 1945-P dime with “full split bands” (FSB) is “blatantly underpriced” compared to the 1916-D. He cites grading service population reports showing more of the latter exist, while it’s priced in MS-65 at $45,000-$51,500 compared to $13,500-$15,000 for the 1945-P – which, he says, “gets no respect!”

To the contrary, as an old Mercury dime aficionado (we called them “Mercs” in those benighted times), I remember when the “full split bands” thing began, and it was quickly realized that most 1945-P coins were poorly struck and elusive with FSB. Far from “getting no respect,” their value zoomed up.

But Mr. Lukes forgets the demand part of the law of supply and demand. The 1916-D gets intensive demand because it’s a rare date/mintmark and many hobbyists collect by date and mint. The 1945-P is a very common date and far fewer collectors are FSB fetishists.

I personally think anyone paying anything like $13,500 for a 1945-P dime is bonkers. It’s not a law of nature that numismatists must care so hugely about this one design detail on a dime. Someday it will be laughed at, like the Dutch tulip mania.

And meantime, I know of numerous foreign or ancient coins far rarer than either dime that sell for tiny fractions of their prices, again simply because there are far fewer collectors for them.

Frank S. Robinson
Albany, N.Y.

How does one obtain new coins if not from Mint?

Please provide this novice insight into the availability of new coinage (rolls and boxes of rolls) since they are not available for purchase from the U.S. Mint. Banks in my area may have the Denver mint but not the Philadelphia mint. Do I have to become a “dealer” to obtain? Or am I bucking a hush-hush topic?

Keith Shoemaker
Address withheld

Editor’s note: You are at the mercy of your bank when it comes to getting new coins. It all boils down to what it is willing to bother with, or what you are willing to pay for. Calling yourself a dealer won’t help.

It is not a hush-hush topic, but relatively few coin collectors attempt to acquire new coins from banks. No question some still do, but most simply buy the annual uncirculated coin set from the Mint and call it a day. That is one reason the Mint began selling these sets in 1947.

In looking at conditions of the last half century, the Mint now sells more current coins to collectors than it ever has before. It sells quarters, halves and dollars in various quantities. But as you are aware, the Mint doesn’t sell them all and they don’t provide them for face value to collectors. The Mint’s only customer for circulating coins is the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Reserve distributes new coins through the banking system and armored car companies.

Even 50 years ago, the regional nature of coin distribution through the banking system meant that there were a number of prominent roll dealers who sold the new issues as they came out to collectors in other parts of the country. They made commercial arrangements with various banks to do this. Some dealers even put together their own versions of uncirculated coin sets.

Unfortunately, there is no simple way to obtain new coins at face value.

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

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