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Letters to the Editor (Oct. 6, 2015)

Writings of Asian languages differ

I am writing this in response to Klaus Schwalfenberg’s letter in the Sept. 8 issue of Numismatic News.

A Republic of China 1 yuan.

A Republic of China 1 yuan.

To us Westerners, the characters and symbols of the Asian languages, specifically Chinese, Japanese, and Korean all appear to be the same. However, there are differences.

The Korean writing appears to be boxy and more of a modern art form of the Chinese and Japanese writings. Though they appear the same, both the Chinese and Japanese writings are different. One needs a catalog like Krause’s Standard Catalog of World Coins to tell the difference.

However, in the days of my youth (55 years ago), I was in the Navy and aboard a ship that deployed in the West Pacific. The Republic of China coins are not to be confused with the People’s Republic of China coins. The date of the ROC coins date back to when ROC revolted against the Emperor and became a republic in 1911 (“Year 1”). Both Chiang-Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung were contemporaries and fought side by side against the Japanese in World War II.

However, after the war, Mao took a socialist path and probably with the help of the USSR, drove Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic off the mainland to Taiwan in 1949 (“Year 38”). Mainland China then became known as the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The coins of the PRC are dated with Western Dates (1949), while ROC coins continue the count from “Year 1.” To tell the difference of the two, ROC has a sail-like character at the right end of a series of characters which include the date of the coin.

PRC coins have a symbol looking like /\ appearing third from the left in a row of characters usually above the central design. Both Korea and PRC date their coins in Christian dates (“AD”).

The Japanese coins will have a “two-pane window” character at the right end of a series of characters, but won’t include the date. The dates on Japanese coins start with the first year (“Year 1”) the emperor ascended to the throne. The coin catalogs will show the Chinese and Japanese symbols for numbers in the introductory section of the catalogs.

Although the picture of the ROC 1 yuan is not too clear, I believe it is dated “70,” or 1981.

Bill Tuttle,
Cleveland, Ohio

Media must balance bullion, numismatic interests

I recently watched on the website the wonderful Numismatic Literary Guild Symposium that was held at the recent Chicago ANA convention.

The focus of this symposium was to hear some of the most influential people in the world of numismatic media discuss the current state and future state of the industry, in particular as it relates to print and internet coin news and resources.

As Dave Lisot panned the audience, I was disappointed to see a poor turnout of perhaps 25 people with just about all of the participants with grey hair (i.e. senior citizens). At several points in the talk, just about all of the members of the panel admitted that it has been a great struggle to attract a younger crowd into the hobby, and therefore they are struggling with ways to maintain or increase their print subscription media, and are also struggling with their internet content and forum and ways to monetize that forum.

During the talk, Dave Harper acknowledged that the “current gateway” for precious metal stackers to get introduced into numismatics is through the bullion market.

Further, Steve Roach outlined an absolutely wonderful bullet point list of the items that his search engine optimization (I needed to look that up!) folks put together – a report on what they need to write about. The list would include the following: gold, silver, bullion, eagle, Morgan, dollar, investment and “make money now.

Well, at a very high level, they have hit the nail on the head of the current state of the market and the market that numismatic and coin media markets should be gearing to. It was further mentioned that indeed if that was the subject matter of the articles that 90 percent of the people in that room would be bored to tears about it.

The folks in that room are not the emerging markets that are buying up all of the precious metals, such to the point that there are shortages at the U.S. Mint and with the silver planchet manufacturers. Further, go ahead and try to buy any bulk junk or constitutional silver such as Mercury dimes, silver Washington quarters, and Franklin halves. Most large suppliers are sold out. Truly, the emerging market for numismatic study is then going to be through the bullion type silver markets because once someone is “stacking” or collecting they are going to want to learn more about the coins that they are holding.

This is where the media publications should be blitzing into a marketing frenzy and emblazing on the covers of their magazines bullion-related type headlines. Again, the articles can be cleverly shrouded in bullion topics but revealing the numismatic side of the market as well. There is a balance there that needs to be written about and sought after.

At the end of the talk, Mike Fuljenz of Universal Coin and Bullion, who was in the audience, pointed out that to reach the younger crowd – the 18- to 25-year-old market – requires great video productions. has been doing a wonderful job at this, however the other media outlets, as well as the ANA have not. If you searched YouTube under Silver Bullion Stackers, there is an entire community.

Collectors want to learn more. Folks are hungry for the professional guidance and instruction that these wonderful experts can give to them. They just don’t know about you – yet.

Robert Matitia
Address withheld

Coin images of Johnsons far from realistic

Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson are the U.S. Mint’s latest coin releases.

I wanted to write you before with the release of the President Kennedy coin, but did not, so I decided I cannot hold back any longer.

Who are these people on these coins supposed to look like? Surely not the 36th President of the United States and his first lady!

I know that you mentioned some time ago that the Mint reads Numismatic News.

Great. Let me and many other collectors go on record to say your engravers are doing a poor job representing real people on coinage.

The Johnsons don’t look anything like the images on the coins. They look like something out of the Simpsons. The same goes for Kennedy and believe me I’m no Johnson/Kennedy sympathizer; but what’s right is right.

That’s my two cents.

Chet Chetkauskas
Phoenix, Ariz.

Mint purposely creates rarity with limited mintage

I am writing with respect to your comments in the Sept. 8 Numismatic News on the U.S. Mint’s handling of the Truman and Ike Coin and Chronicles sets. You say, “The Mint can be criticized for estimating demand wrong, not lack of honesty.” I cannot agree.

U.S Coin Digest continues to be a great reference for any U.S. coin collector.

U.S Coin Digest continues to be a great reference for any U.S. coin collector.

I believe the Mint can be criticized for knowingly creating a rarity that will benefit professional coin dealers rather than collectors.

Until now, the Mint has not produced a reverse proof in the presidential series. Then suddenly it creates the first reverse proof in a special edition limited to 17,000 coins. If I am a collector of the presidential series, I will need these new coins for a complete set.

The Mint obviously knows there are far more than 17,000 collectors of the presidential sets because it sold more than 1 million presidential dollar proof sets in 2014. Therefore, the Mint necessarily knows that 17,000 reverse proofs will be a rarity and sell out on the first day, if not the first hour.

Moreover, this is not the Mint’s first venture into creating rare reverse proofs for the benefit of coin dealers and not the collecting public. I was not pleased when I was forced to pay $700 for the 2011 special silver Eagle set because coin dealers scooped up multiple copies of these rare sets in a similar sellout.

In my view, there are only two possible reasons for the two-hour sellouts of the Truman and Ike reverse proofs – either the federal employees who conceived these sales are stupid and cannot learn from past fiascoes or the sales were set up to benefit connected coin dealers to the detriment of the individual collector. To set matters straight with collectors, the Treasury Inspector General should investigate all of the Mint’s reverse proof imbroglios since 2011.

Don W. Crockett
Washington, D.C.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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