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Letters to the Editor: May 12, 2021

Bill Tuttle, Longtime Letter-Writer, Passes Away

I was recently reading Letters to the Editor in the March 30 issue of Numismatic News and came across the letter from Pat Silva, who mentioned just how much he enjoyed reading Bill Tuttle’s letters about Coinstar finds. Pat’s letter reminded me that I have been terribly remiss in reporting to all of Bill’s fans, that Bill passed away suddenly from complications from surgery, in September of 2020.

Bill was a member of several Cleveland-area coin clubs, including the Western Reserve Numismatic Association and the Garfield Hts. Coin Club. Bill was also a dedicated stamp collector. I don’t need to tell you that Bill was a passionate, and opinionated, collector. But he was also witty and had a great sense of humor. He was also dedicated to his hobby. Bill did not own a car, so it was common for him to take two buses, traveling an hour and a half, to reach our coin club meetings. I would regularly drive him home, and he would regale me with stories of his unusual and amazing Coinstar finds. Bill taught me that you do not need to spend money in this hobby to extract a tremendous amount of enjoyment from it. And if Pat Silva is representative of Numismatic News readership, I wasn’t the only one who Bill touched. Rest in Peace, Bill.

Louis Raffis
Cleveland, Ohio

TV Salesman Poses Real Threat to Hobby’s Future

I want to second the letter from Marc Parrilli in the May 4 issue, “Television Coin Dealer takes advantage of Buyers.”

Many a night while I am flipping channels, I come across the same coin dealer hawking double eagles, Morgan dollars, modern coins, etc. It seems, whatever he can get his hands on in bulk. While I have no issue with him selling most of these coins as they are legitimate collector coins, it’s the way he goes about it that offends me as a numismatist and the damage he is doing to the future of our hobby. Take the double eagle he was selling last week, an extremely common date with over 400,000 having been graded by PCGS and NGC, so it’s anything but rare or hard to come by, and the price is mainly dictated by bullion prices, not rarity when, so many are extent in MS-62. He was selling these coins for about $4,000 in two easy payments and cherry-picking a few eBay sales to try and justify his price. A sample of current eBay sales show you could easily buy it right now in the same grade, MS-62, for $2,000, half his price of $4,000. If you spent the same $4,000 at an auction, or at a coin show, or online at eBay, or with a local dealer, you could get an MS-65 or possibly an MS-65+ coin, rather than the MS-62. Quite a difference. Also, he kept mentioning how rare this coin was, how it had come back from vaults in Europe, etc., because of the 1933 gold recall act.

Now he has every right to try and sell what he wants, at whatever price he wants, with whatever story he wants to tell, as it’s buyer beware. My issue with him is how many desperately needed potential collectors will he turn off to our wonderful hobby for good when they take the same coin they just paid $4,000 for to a reputable dealer who offers them less then $2,000 for the same coin. As someone who each year goes into my daughter’s second grade class she teaches to give a seminar on the history of our coinage and to try and introduce them to numismatics at a young age, what this dealer does is so counter-productive to the future growth of our hobby.

A few weeks ago, the same person was hawking very common date Morgan dollars in low uncirculated grades. He was selling the Morgans for twice what they are worth, or the modern-day coins which are not worth much over their bullion value. He had their prices jacked up because he said they were MS-69 grade. What he fails to mention is that most modern-day coins are in MS-69 or MS-70.

I am not sure how to spread the word to avoid this guy, but there are so many uninitiated buyers watching him who think they are getting the deal of a lifetime and will forever be turned away from our hobby for good when they see the jacked-up price they paid.

I wonder how the professional dealers feel about this guy, as I know how we collectors feel about him. Would be interested to hear from them.

Name and address withheld

Clarification on Varieties of 1873 2-Cent Piece

There was lots of good reading material in your April 27 issue. I particularly enjoyed the article about 2-cent pieces by Mark Benvenuto. It was both interesting and enlightening. As a collector of these intriguing coins myself, I always look forward to articles on this short-lived series.

I did want to offer one minor correction. While Mark correctly points out that the 1873 last year of issue was only made in proof, his number of 600 minted is only half of the actual total. Those 600 proofs were of the “closed 3” variety, but there were also 500 more proofs of the “open 3” type, bringing the official mintage to 1,100 for 1873. Curiously, there have been a surprising number of 1873s that show signs of heavy circulation. My own 1873 is a slabbed G-4, and some speculate that there may have been a small number of these that were placed into circulation. A short series, but a fascinating one.

Raymond Santoro
Oracle, Ariz.

Editor’s Note: Following is a response from Mark Benvenuto.

Thank you for a very astute comment about the proof 1873 2-cent pieces. Since the “open 3” variety is listed as a possible restrike in the Red Book, where it is stated that its mintage is included with the “close 3,” we did not mention it in the column. Even added together, though, the two varieties have a low enough total that they are deeply undervalued.

What is Cause of 1933 Double Eagle Damage?

I am curious as to what happened to cause the serious damage to the left knee and leg area just below of Liberty on the 1933 double eagle shown on page 36 of the April 13 issue of the News. Close examination of the total area suggests some lettering, but that would not make sense (to me, anyway). Can you enlighten me re: this $7.59 million (last price tag) coin’s condition?

Ted Baumgardner
Winter Park, Fla.

2021 Dollar Authorization Should Determine Listing

I thought Mr. Santoro’s question about how the new dollars with legacy designs will be listed in various reference works. While those decisions are clearly up to the authors and editors of those publications, it seems clear to me that the 2021 dollars with legacy designs are not minted under the same authorization that the original series were minted under. They are expressly commemorative coinage and should be listed as such in places that describe coinage.

The 1999 Anthony dollars are listed with the other dollars in that series because they were minted under that authorization. The director of the Mint only needed to demonstrate the business case (as in demand) for these, and this was done so the 1999 Anthony dollars were produced.

Henry Mensch
Syracuse, N.Y.

Editor’s Note: The 2021 Morgan and Peace dollar designs are not technically commemorative coins. They are multi-year programs, according to U.S. Mint Director David Ryder.

Mint, TV Coin Dealers Cause Collector to Stop

I just sent off two gold coins, a 2014 Kennedy half and a 16W mercury dime. I’ve also sold my Lincoln set, Buffalo nickel set and silver Eagles 1986 to present. I’m through with coin collecting, the Mint is no longer the collector’s friend, just look at the way they have been treating coin collectors since 2000. The TV crooks are worse. It is unreal how they cheat the collectors. So yes, my collecting habits have changed, a lot.

Dennis Clark
Alamogordo, N.M.