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This Week's Letters (11/15/07)

A selection of email letters from readers of Numismatic News to Editor, Dave Harper
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From the November 15th Issue of Numismatic News:

Q. Legislation was introduced in Congress to exempt a private firm from the ban on melting pre-1982 copper cents. Is this a good idea?

Bad idea to exempt a private firm from the ban on melting pre-1982 copper cents.since it cost more to make one that the price of copper.The government is only doing it to keep cent production high they are not interested in saving money or keeping costs down. Otherwise they would buy back the cents for the price of copper and put them back into circulation.... saving production costs. Same is true for the dollar bill.
Elliminating itwould save millions of dollars. We have some strong union lobby in Washington.

E. J. Haldas
Tallahassee, Fla.

Good idea. I support this wholeheartedly.

Skip Foster
Knoxville, Tenn.

Melting coins for raw materials is not a private affair. Legislation to allow a company to do this is a step in the wrong direction.

Gary Allen
Bowie, Md.

No, it is not a good idea to exempt a private firm from the ban on melting pre-1982 copper cents. The ban should be left in place for all, or lifted entirely.

Dean Sawyer
Wasilla, Alaska

I think we can have a serious debate about whether melting coins should be permitted.
However, the legislation introduced which benefits a specific private company from the sponsor?s own district is at best, pork barrel legislation and at worst, influence peddling.
If melting coins is made legal, it should be legal for everyone, not just a particular congressman?s constituents or donors.

Frank Sonnenberg
Chester, N.J.

Who is this firm?s ?Friend on the Hill?? Smells like a ?smelt?er to me.
Dick Thatcher

San Gabriel, Calif.

And so begins the slippery slope...
If an exemption were to be granted, where do you draw the line on who gets an exemption and who doesn?t? If history is any indicator, it will have more to do with who you know and what you can do.
The law is in place. Leave it alone and enforce it. Altering the law now will just create so many shades of gray that interpretation will become difficult and enforcement non-existent.

Marc Girard
Roachdale, Ind.

In Finland, government ?owns? the coins, so it?s illegal to do such thing to coins as melt for private company.

Aki Sippola

I?ve only come back to the hobby in the last year or so since my youth, in doing so one of the first items I began work on was finishing my Lincoln cent collection. I have ordered and bid on, purchased enough ?unsearched? wheat pennies to start my own mint. Obviously many of the pennies are common dates and mintages. I can?t resell them as unsearched, I guess I could give them away but what is to be done with all the coins of no - little numismatic value? Why not melt them down, what are people going to do with them, what does the mint do with them? (Melt them down).
 I sincerely hope on the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln cent it is decided that the mint produce no more pennies any way, they are more of a hassle then they will ever be worth.

Ron Cardinal
Maple Grove Minn.

Several perspectives/thoughts come to mind, pro and con. Whether or not melting the old pennies should be executed depends on which side of the fence you?re standing on, I suppose; aside from having one company/firm having control of the melt.
With tons of copper in existence, much of it hoarded, the government is looking to capitalize on this increasingly valuable commodity of course, and saving at the same time. In addition, there would be premiums on selling rolls and bags back to the government.
There would also be a number of people who would lose their collecting hobby, if they were into cents. Rareties would be created as the earlier dates would gradually disappear ; the cost for what is now common would escolate.
 Did they not have the same problem when the Large Cents were scooped up in the late1800s ? In the 1980s, they filtered out the Silver.. creating rareties and still not knowing what has survived in the circulated coins.
At the collection points for Silver, I remember seeing the huge canvas bags filled with coins... There wasn?t time to look over all that was retrieved/collected.. There were long lines of people waiting to turn in all types and conditions of the metal..Silverware, Ornate Tea Sets,, Jewelry,,, at close to $50 an ounce ; there was no time for evaluation other than weighing out and collecting the cash. Time was money !
 Singling out one firm for smeltering... could better manage/control the operation...
 Being a collector,,, having all that searchable copper disappearing, taken out of the hands of the collectors and their children, and grandchildren, stirs a sensetive response but necessity is the father of invention as they say. Searching the bank rolls for errors, certain dates,, souvinirs withing the rolls all combine to influence ones decision. From the gov?t?s point of view, they are aiming to be practical, not sentimental.
Yesteryear, the saying was ?Bite the Bullet?. We?re now approaching the time of ?Reaping the Wheat-ears?. We are in an economical squeeze at the present time. But is it necessary to obliterate one of our favorite passtimes? I say no.
Thanks Dave for giving us the chance to voice our opinions/thoughts..

Kenyon Miers
Esperance, New York

Meltem down and stop making ?em.

Meltem: After the cost of processing
the profit is minimal and not worthy
of congressional attention. And it is
certainly NOT depriving the public of
a useful item.

Discontinu?em: The cent has been
obsolete for almost a half-century.
To find a cheaper way to make
something that?s not needed in the
first place is sheer foolishness.

The argument ?but prices will go up!?
deserves no reply -- well DUH!! Do
you mean that prices are staying
the same while we have cents?

The argument ?we?ll have to round
everything up? gets the reply ?How
do you pay for gasolene today, when
the per-gallon price always ends in
9 mills??

The original 1792 coinage act
included mills -- which the Fed
has never made. We stopped
making half cents 150 years ago.
The demise of the cent is long
overdue -- and the nickel can
keep it company.

John D Wright
Saint Joseph MI

To melt, or not to melt? That is the question. Whether ?tis pre-?82 copper cents or not, defacing is involved and I want no part of it.

Kevin Brady-Jones
Eugene, Ore.