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Letters to the Editor (10/21/14)

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Trash, treasure differs among collectors

Upon reading R. Gossard’s “Viewpoint” in my recent issue of Numismatic News, I was inspired to express my viewpoint of trash and/or treasure.

“Trash” is what got me started in collecting “treasure.” When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I saw a cigar box with the corner of a blue bank note sticking out from it on top of a garbage can sitting along the curb waiting to be picked up by the city sanitary engineers. It was similar to a $1 U.S. bank note, but different, so I thought it was play money.

I rescued the box, which rattled and was heavy when I picked it up. Somebody had thrown away a good amount of foreign coins and paper money – their “trash,” my “treasure.” The note turned out to be a Cuban 1 peso, which still resides in my collection today.

Like R. Gossard, I prefer raw (unslabbed) coins and or paper (polymer too) money. Except for mint sets from government mints, I dislike coins “wrapped in plastic,” or otherwise known as slabbed. Slabbing a coin is comparable to doing taxidermy of your pet.

The trash coins I pick up from many of my sources may or may not be genuine or counterfeit, but I will place them in my collection as genuine until discovered otherwise. I retrieve many corroded coins from the Coinstars and on the ground that will clean up to an acceptable condition to be either returned to the wild (circulation) or placed in my treasured collection.

Every coin in circulation has a history. Some may have a short history, others a very long history. The ones that are trashed also have a history. Somebody either thought it wasn’t worth anything “because it’s old (an 1895 Indian Head cent),” or just negleted it because it was a penny (2014 Union Shield cent) and “not worth anything.” Even foreign currency has some history. Someone was on vacation to an exotic country and returned home with some foreign money resembling domestic money and trying to get it “exchanged” through a Coinstar. The counting machine rejected the coin(s), so they “trashed” it. It is now my “treasure.”

Sure I go through some dealers’ “junk boxes” to find hidden gems, but what I enjoy is finding an interesting coin (or token) on the ground or in circulation. There’s nothing better than “free” folks! Sometimes I will buy coin rolls from my bank and find a “gem” or two, but I still got it for face value rather than a secondary market price.

What is the future of my “treasure” collection? Who knows! “Star Date: 24014.923. Upon investigating an archeological site near a dried up lake bed, we came to a large cachet of ancient items called ‘coins.’ The value of this find could be worth over 100 bars of gold-plated Latium ...”

Enjoy your collection. It may be trash to some, but it will always be a treasure to you.

Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

Numbers fluctuate as coins return, orders canceled

I sent this inquiry to the U.S. Mint and it is as follows:

It seems that your weekly mintage reports from the U.S. Mint could be in error. I decided to follow a certain coin. We all know that mintage numbers should increase from one week to the following week.

However, in the Grace Coolidge First Spouse gold coin, I noticed that it went down twice. Could this be explained?

The following is what I excerpted from the website.

Proof Uncirculated
20-Jul-14 896 645
27-Jul-14 1130 754
3-Aug-14 1260 830
10-Aug-14 1501 965
17-Aug-14 1765 1072
25-Aug-14 1692 1055
31-Aug-14 1706 1088

You can see the numbers in question.

Kenneth Rothschild
Burbank, Calif.

Editor’s note: The numbers you refer to are sales numbers, not mintage numbers. They can go down as orders are canceled and coins are returned. If you follow the sales numbers weekly, you will see the final mintage when the coins go off sale and all canceled orders and returns are tallied.

Mint needs to get coins to collectors, not dealers

I have been in this hobby for many years, and I’ve never seen things like they are now.

First of which is the way the Mint is giving the hobby what it needs, and they are making a great deal of money doing it. Second of all has the Mint lost its way in having dead presidents on coinage? Pretty soon they will honor all the different breeds of dogs and then on to different breeds of horses.

I can’t believe the U.S. Mint is operating like this and now they set a record in coin production, or should I say token production. President Roosevelt did his famous executive order and took away all of the gold coinage and melted it and put it in Fort Knox, Ky., and in the 1960s the government took care of the rest of the coinage and now all we have is token money in circulation.

They have been doing this artist infusion program at the Mint. Where is Ms. Liberty on our coinage. Do they not have the quality artists to get the job done and bring back our beautiful coinage? Do they only care about the bottom line and how much money they can make? We have to stand up and stop this nonsense on the way our Mint is being operated.

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee is a joke. That baseball coin that was produced was not up to the quality standard that could have been produced. The Mint needs to start getting it right.

On another note, I would never stand in line to purchase a JFK gold coin that the Mint has way over priced in the first place,, in a year that coin will be only another overpriced coin just like the five-piece silver eagle set. You can thank the dealers for that. They cornered the market when they first came out and made a lot of money on those set when they resold them. The average Joe such as myself had to wait and purchase one on the secondary market at double the price.

The Mint has been doing a very poor job at getting the product they have been producing into the right hands, the collector hands and not the retailers and distributors. What a sad day.

Dennis Paplow
Address withheld

Coin image of FDR should be redone

Upon receiving my latest copy of NN, I quickly noticed the so-called Roosevelt dollar on page 1. Prior to reading your editorial, my thought was that this portrait did not resemble FDR. The facial features and facial/head contours of FDR are simply not on this coin.

I did not consider the likeness of Mr. Rumsfeld, but I now agree with you. Being a longtime philatelist also, I was reminded of the Legends of the West stamp sheet issued by the USPS in 1994. The intended image on one of the stamps was to have been one Bill Pickett but the image of another was placed in error.

The USPS recalled all error sheets and placed them on a lottery sale. That sheet now sells at a hefty premium. I would like to see The Mint redo the Roosevelt dollar assuming none have been distributed. Presumably, this is wishful thinking and not feasible.

I own the $5 gold piece of FDR issued in 1997 and this image, as you have mentioned, is without a doubt a much better representation of our 32nd president.

Mark Adelson
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

You can still find wheat cents in circulation

Putting together a 1941 to 1958 folder of Lincoln wheat cents from circulation can still be done if one has a lot of patience and is willing to make a 10-roll search of cents a weekly ritual.

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Over the past 17 years I have been saving most of the wheat cents that I find in circulation and from searching ten rolls of cents per week. Can’t say how many total coins I have found, but the San Francisco Mint coins were saved separately. I found 187 “S” mint wheats with dates from 1941 to 1955. Every date but the steel 1943s has been found. The “P” and “D” steel cents have popped up, just not the “S.” Many of the 1955s are AU-BU condition.

Of the older date “S”-mint wheat finds included are one extremely fine 1918, nine 1919, one 1920, one G-VG 1921, one 1925, one 1927, three 1929, two each 1935, 1936 and 1937, plus one 1938, one 1939 and eight 1940.

There weeks of feast and others of famine, but the wheats are still out there to be found.

Bruce D. Beasley
Clinton, Iowa

Not much worth finding in 5,000 cents

I finally got around to sorting through $50 of cents. They have been out of sight and out of mind since summer vacation with no time available to work on them.

The effort to sort through 5,000 cents has to be the worst waste of time anyone could ever hope for.

Of the 5,000 cents, only 15 wheats appeared. Compared to the 13 Maple leafs from Canada, it is no mystery that the day and age of sorting through coins has now reached the realm of the impossible.

The only consolation to the effort was the accumulation of a good supply of 2005 to 2013 cents in good to very good condition.

Time to get back to managing and upgrading the collection instead.

Bob Brommer
Address withheld

Don’t be fooled by glorified bullion coins

The e-letters section of the Sept. 2 Numismatic News featured a rather informative yet comically worded letter from Max Stucky of Colorado Springs, Colo. In it he mentions that today’s dealers selling “all-flowered-up holders” containing the gold Kennedy half dollar are “milking the sheep” for all they can get.

The genuine collector of U.S. coinage or any other coinage will do well in his lifetime endeavors to remember the following maxims as to wise collecting: absolute rarity, condition and age of coins for collection.

These three factors separate those who will be successful collectors, rather than those who are fooled into buying glorified bullion and other novel ideas issuing forth from mints that are out to reap the benefits of windbag promotional advertising. The latest item, this gold Kennedy half, is a mere flash in the pan.

Ron Feuer
Charlotte, N.C.

Portrait looks more like Rumsfeld than Roosevelt

I heard about two to three weeks ago that the new Franklin Roosevelt dollars will be issued soon. Today I received my weekly issue of Numismatic News and saw what I thought was a picture of the Roosevelt dollar. I right away said that doesn’t look like him. I even asked my wife to look and the picture of the new Roosevelt coin and just like that said That doesn’t look like him.

We have both lived in Hyde Park, N.Y., since around 1973 or so. I would think I have seen lots of pictures of the 32nd president. Even David Harper said so in his Class of ‘63 article.

He even went as far as saying it looked like Donald Rumsfeld, and I would second that notion. So I’m an art critic. The sign on the outskirts of town I think still has the cigarette stuck in the president’s mouth; maybe they were whitened out a few years ago. Just my 2 cents worth.

Dean Davis
Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Club appreciates NN publicity on show, coin set

The Calumet Numismatic Club wishes to thank Numismatic News and its editorial staff for the publication of our show in their show directory. The show took place on Sept. 13 and was in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Calumet Numismatic Club. The show was quite a success and your directory was a huge help.

The club issued a set of encased nickels to celebrate our 75th year. Numismatic News also included a photo and information for your readers on how to purchase a two-coin set in your Aug. 26 issue (p. 42). The club got a very good response from this article and the proceeds really helped the club to cover most of the cost of having the encased nickels made.

I would also like to note that both the show directory listing and the encased nickel article were done at no charge to our club. Your publication is a leader in promoting numismatics, and our club appreciates what you did.

Paul Beck, Show Committee
Merrillville, Ind.

We don’t need the cent, nickel in today’s economy

A lot has been written about the future of the 1 cent and 5-cent pieces in commerce. Mostly it hasn’t made any economic sense.

I suggest we don’t round up or down, but just drop the last digit.

In the last 65 years the U.S. dollar has officially lost nearly 90 percent of its buying power.

A 1949 dollar is equal to 9.9938 dollars today (source: US Bureau of Labor Standards inflation calculator). So today’s dime only equals what one cent used to be worth.
Today’s nickel is worth half of a cent. The U.S. Mint hasn’t produced half cent pieces in over 150 years.

Most people in the U.S. haven’t used coins denominated as half cents in over 100 years.
The use of coins like the nickel and one cent is now both a nuisance and a waste of precious time, resources and labor.

Today’s 1 cent coin is worth only one- tenth of a cent or what was once called a mil. The 1 cent coin is five times as wasteful as the nickel 5-cent piece.

No business should have to waste time counting nickels and cents.

California’s minimum wage is $10 an hour.

Try counting and handing out 1,000 cents in a hour, randomly giving from 1 to 4 cents to each person you meet and see what happens.

If you succeed then you have wasted $10 worth of minimum wage labor to give away $10.
The net economic gain is nothing. The net loss is two hours.

Most important about this exercise is the understanding that passing out cents that way wastes an hour of your time and other people’s time.

Remember the mil? Gasoline prices still usually end with nine mils at end of the price. If you buy 20 gallons, then the machine saves you 2 cents.

Wow. In 1950s’ money that is worth about two-tenths of a cent.

It is often tough to break old foolish habits.

But it seems even more foolish to continue to support them or argue in favor of keeping them.

Gerald Perman
Los Angeles, Calif.

Old rolls of half dollars hold real treasures

I sometimes get half dollar rolls and $2 bills because they are interesting and I like to see kids faces at McDonald’s and other merchants when using this type of currency.

I stopped by my local small town bank and like always asked if they had any rolls of halves. The teller said she had 18.

I purchased three, or $30 worth, and took them home and had noticed that they were wrapped with older brown paper wrapping.

When I opened them, to my surprise, I didn’t just find a 40 percent silver like I have in the past, but a 1952 Franklin half and a 1964 Kennedy in amazing condition.

I was shocked and when the bank opened the next business day I purchased the other 15 rolls. I was excited because the rolls looked like the other three with older brown paper wrappers.

Every roll had some type of silver coin, including the 40 percent silver but also a 1943 Walker, several other Franklins and the 1964 Kennedy. I even found a 1991 circulated proof.

I don’t know how this happens. I read the articles in NN, but it seldom happens to me. I am telling you readers not to stop searching because sometimes people don’t know what they have and just cash it in at local banks just to get the money and run.

I believe this is what happened to me and I was there at the right time to collect those 18 rolls.

There was a 1951-S, two 1952 and a 1954-S Franklin, nine 1964 Kennedy halves and four 40 percent silver halves along with a 1975 Mexican peso, which also looks like silver.

Dave Weber

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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