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Letters to the Editor (June 5, 2018)

Phase out low-value coins and introduce higher values


David Harper’s May 15, 2018, “End of Coins?” editorial was spot on.

Inflation and electronic payments have chipped away on the public’s acceptance of coins. Absent an overhaul of circulating coinage, it’s hard to feel confident that U.S. coins will be in much use 20 years from now.

Will collectors and hobby leaders push, with vigor, for higher-denomination circulating coins? Will we advocate phasing out negligible-value coins – the cent and nickel?

Appealing themes and attractive coin designs certainly are important. However, fewer and fewer people will carry a pocket full of low-value coins. Game over, or revitalization?

J.W. Houghton

Time for a 21st century makeover of our coins

The May 15th edition of Numismatic News came today, and I started with the “Letters” column as usual.

A local (Cleveland, Ohio, suburb) collector urges us to create coin designs that win COTY awards.

There is a huge problem with that. Our country is not other countries when it comes to “listening” to its coin collectors. Except on rare occasions, the introduction of a new coin design is closed to the public and left to the “thinkers” of the government. New coin designs, or coins, then have to go through governmental red tape before becoming part of a Mint product.

Several years ago, when the POTUS boasted changing America, I thought I could write him about my idea of “changing the change” (U.S. coins following the form of the euro). I received a nice “thank you” form letter. THAT’S ALL.

I agree with you, Ralph. America’s circulating coins do need design change. Lincoln’s face has been on the cent for 109 years. Both Jefferson and his house, with a few minor changes, have been on the nickel for 80 years. FDR on the dime is a year younger than me. Washington, with slight changes to the obverse of the quarter, has resided there six years longer than Tom on the nickel. Kennedy appeared a year after I graduated high school and joined the Navy. Even Sacagawea-faced golden dollars are getting old at 18.

The only other country whose coin designs haven’t changed in over 100 years is Switzerland.

This is the 21st century. It’s time for total makeover of our coins. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is one of the sitting members on the U.S. Banking and Housing Committee; perhaps it would be some help to contact him about design changes. Who knows? You might get some action. Or receive a nice “thank you” form letter.

Bill Tuttle,
Cleveland, Ohio

Why give banks a cut of every single transaction?

If we are in a cashless society, the government will have access to all of our transactions. But that isn’t even the peak of stupidity.

These cashless payments will have to go through banks. Everyone trusts the banks, right? Well, maybe not Wells Fargo ...

But the banks aren’t going to do this at no charge. They will be charging a fee for every transaction.

With the transaction fee, percent of sale fee, and additional fees for those bonus cards, we are paying around 3.5 percent for each credit card transaction in our shop.

Maybe the banks don’t get that full amount. Let’s be conservative and assume the bank “only” gets 1 percent.

One percent of every transaction. Where do I sign up! To receive, not pay.

Giving the banks a percentage of every transaction is the peak of stupidity, at least until someone else points out another more stupid “benefit” of a cashless society.

Dick Hanscom
Fairbanks, Alaska

ANA should reach out to bring public to coins

If the American Numismatic Association, and specifically the whole coin community, desires to add new collectors to the hobby or business, they must reach out past the publications that cater to the people in the know. How about a syndicated column that appears weekly or so in printed or digital newspapers?

Perhaps in the hobby (there could be), puzzle, entertainment sections. The contents of the articles should not solicit folks to join as collectors but to offer an overview and then go into specifics like coin design changes, varieties, etc. Show an image. Very few non-collectors have ever seen a beautiful Buffalo nickel, for example, which may spark an interest. I’m sure the ANA has the means and desire to initiate such a venture.

Horst Seeley
Manchester, N.H.

Millennials show no interest in taking up collecting

I enjoyed reading your satire “Enjoy long numismatic ride to the future”. The problem is, Baby Boomers are selling coins and Millennials could care less about coins. If you look at the PCGS price guide for collector coins, it has a downward trend for many years.

David Hall, the great promoter, first promoted coins to sell like stocks; then, when that didn’t work, he invented the concept of “registry sets.”

The bottom line is that Millennials have no interest in coins. By the way, I put together a state quarter set for fun; my son couldn’t care less.

Ron Rescigno
Address withheld

List more grade prices for proof-only Trade dollars

I have long been curious regarding the Trade Dollar section in NN’s “Complete Monthly Coin Market Price Guide.” Specifically, the 1879-1883 proof-only issues.

While a value is listed in grades G-4, VG-8, F-12, VF-20, XF-40, and AU-50, as well as PF-65, no value is listed under grades MS-60 or MS-63. Not only would, I think, most surviving examples of these pieces be in the -60 or -63 grading range, there is also quite a gulf between the value of a “50” ($1,100) and a “65” ($5,900).

If values can be determined for, say, the 1794 dollar in all grades (as you have done), certainly there must be sufficient data available to estimate the value of these proof-only pieces in the condition in which they are usually found.

Addressing this hole in our price guide knowledge would surely benefit the hobby.

Tom Felhofer
Luxemburg, Wis.

Half dollars good coins to ask for at various banks

There is silver in them there dresser drawers and catch-all places that make their way into banks. Young tellers are unaware of the difference in the bullion content or “complexion” of Kennedy clads vs. 40/90 percent coinage.

Yesterday, I randomly walked into a branch of East West Bank and asked for any half dollars they may have. Sure enough, they offered me a plastic Zip-Lock bag containing 24-40 percent Kennedy halves, slightly tarnished, in MS-60 or better (two 1965, two 1966, five 1967, seven 1968-D and eight 1969-D). There were also six Kennedy clads and five “golden dollars” for a total of $20. Similar finds of “mini-hoards” occur on an infrequent basis and are generally just one or two silver coins in the mix. Seek and ye shall find, but rarely in ordered rolls from banks.

Jack Rosenfeld,
San Francisco, Calif.

James Laird’s passing leaves big hobby gap

My Smartphone would ring, and on the other end a jovial, kind and loving voice would chime, “How are you doing?” Always the same opening, and with those words, James H. Laird of Alamo, Calif., would commence another telephone conversation.

Sadly, that jovial, kind, and loving voice has been stilled. James H. Laird, at age 64, in his prime, was called to “the big coin club in the sky,” as Michael M. “Steamer” Stanley and I remark at the passing of another coin celebrant.

James was blessed. His affluence allowed him to assist and to aid a wide variety of causes and challenges. When the Alamo Women’s Club needed a new kitchen, he wrote the check. When biannually the devoted East Bay Hospice held its major fundraiser, he sponsored a table and welcomed his friends, freely, to join him. With Las Trampas, which helps the developmentally needy, he paid for his friends to attend and underwrote the cost.

When Will C. Wood High (Vacaville) School brought the AP Junior United States History students to the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, as “Classroom Curators,” he funded the costs, and earlier, he did the same for the Solano County Annual Drafting-Fest. In 1999, he underwrote the Treasure Hunt at the ANA National Money Show in Sacramento.

For our hobby, he served 10 years as Diablo (Concord/Walnut Creek) Numismatic Society president, as well as serving other numismatic organizations.

James taught me that money is a tool. Do good with it. For me, James instilled that you give long before you receive, that your generosity does make a difference, making a dent in our world’s needs.

In closing, my heart wants to say that he is still here, anticipating another telephone call; but, the cruelty of my mind confirms his passing.

Michael S. Turrini
Vallejo, Calif

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

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