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Letters to the Editor (October 30, 2018)

 (Image courtesy

(Image courtesy

Who decides how rare a new coin issue should be?

The brilliant marketing bureaucrats at the U.S. Mint have now created their second rare palladium Eagle in 2018 with a 15,000 mintage limit, presumably as an early Christmas gift to coin dealers and wholesalers.

I went online at 12 p.m. and attempted to buy the coin. I thought I had successfully purchased the coin, but at 12:06 I received a message that the coin was no longer available. This has happened all too often in the last few years and must end.

It is unethical for the Mint, a U.S. government agency, to create “rarities” with unrealistic mintage limits as obvious gifts for dealers and wholesalers who line up their families and friends to grab the entire production in a few minutes and then sell them to collectors for a large profit. If there are to be profits, they must inure to the benefit of the federal government. The Inspector General of the Treasury should investigate the individuals who made the scarcity decisions for the palladium coin, the gold dime, and several other recent issues. They are either facilitating impermissible favors for their dealer friends or they are simply stupid. Either way, something must be done about this because it happens once or twice a year.

A rational Mint policy would provide a 30- to 60-day pre-order period for all potentially rare issues, with subsequent production only to fill those orders. Under that policy, there would be no waste for the Mint, no unsatisfied customers, and no unethical gifts to coin dealers and wholesalers.

Don W. Crockett
Washington, D.C.

Cashless future will arrive sooner than many think

I just read a review on of a new Amazon Go store, the future of retail. Here are some pertinent excerpts:

“You won’t see a single cashier, cash register, or self-service checkout stand. Such things have no place in the future. You simply walk in, grab what you need, and go. Amazon bills your credit card as you pass through the turnstile on your way out. Moments later, an app in your phone provides a receipt detailing what you’ve bought, what you paid, and even how long you spent inside.

“Imagine a world where you never wait in line, or even open your wallet. A world where stores know so much about you that they recommend products and lead you right to them. A world where shoplifting, which according to the National Retail Federation drains some $47 billion from retailers nationwide each year, is all but impossible.”

I can’t help thinking about all of the readers of Numismatic News who think they can’t live without the billions of cents that are minted every year. People, like it or not, your way of life is changing. Welcome to the future, and the future is here.

Peter Glassman
Schaumburg, Ill.

Restaurant finds begin with Wheat cent in a tip cup

My wife and I ate at a restaurant in Eden, N.C. I went to pay at the register when I saw a wheat cent in the tip cup. I pulled it out and noticed the other coin in the tip cup was also a wheat cent. I asked the cashier if I could exchange them, and she said she had more in the register. She then proceeded to pull out many more wheat cents for me. I asked where she got them, and she said the bank down the road. At the bank, they were kind enough to give 10 rolls for $5, which produced only normal finds. But the ones I got at the restaurant were G-VG: 1912-D, 1921-S, 1929-D, 1939-S; VF or better: 1942-D, 1947-S, 1951-S, 1954-S, plus many common ones starting in the teens, which I did not put into 2x2s. Keep searching, they’re still out there!

Denny Dean
Reidsville, N.C.

More readers should try collecting lowball coins

I was really tickled to read Mike Walker’s Viewpoint in the current (Oct. 2, 2018) issue on looking for “Lowball” coins.

I have been chasing these “less than perfect” critters for over 15 years and have had an absolute ball doing so. It really charges my batteries when I see the look on a dealer’s face when I go into his shop and ask to see his junk box because “I have a Type Set I want to downgrade.”

I explain that I’m assembling “The World’s Worst Type Set” and could probably use some of the doggies he has in the box way in the back of his safe.

My M.O. is that I only want coins that will grade (by PCGS) in FR-02 or PO-01. This sounds easy, but in order to qualify for a PCGS holder, the coin must have only good, honest wear, with no damage. Also, the date must be identifiable, as well as the mintmark, if it has one. This eliminates about 95 percent of the low-grade coins for consideration, with the remaining 5 percent probably falling under the pocket piece category.

If one takes up the challenge, one will soon find that this is true collecting at its finest. You must be just as critical of the prospective purchase as you would for a Mint State coin, but only after a very severe mindset readjustment. An AG-03 or better coin is “too good,” and one with the appropriate wear but with scratches, a ding, or corrosion, is unacceptable. Later-date coins are especially difficult to locate for obvious reasons, so if you uncover a qualifying FR-02 or PO-01 Ike or SBA, you’ve hit the jackpot!

As did Mike, I encourage collectors to take up the gauntlet on this and search out those “beautiful” lowball coins – I guarantee that it will be every bit as challenging as finding “normal” coins for your collection, and you’ll have as much or more fun in the search!

Bill Fivaz
Dunwoody, Ga.

Check geography of famous Americans for coins

How does numismatic activity create unity in our clubs?

As the contact person to the American Numismatic Association for The South Brevard Coin Club, the ANA sent me the questions for the 2017 Trivia Quiz just two days before our June meeting.

Remembering the year prior and how one of our members wound up answering almost all of the questions himself, I admit my very first reaction was to ignore the quiz. Those questions are difficult. But better thinking came to mind and, at the club meeting that Wednesday, I presented copies of the questions to the members.

I further went on to say that if we want to take the challenge, the best way might be for each of us to take a question and then commit to completing the answer in the next few days. We agreed to go with that plan.

Reading each question out loud, one of the members volunteered to take that question and answer it by Saturday, just three days away. On Thursday, I had received six answers by late that afternoon. I asked Jack, our secretary, to put out a notice of where we were and to keep going. We sent another update Friday afternoon. By Saturday night, we had our answers ready to be sent to the ANA.

This process added some excitement to our club’s members. Oftentimes we had been a bit lackadaisical in our efforts, failing to get much volunteer activity or enthusiasm on ideas calling for action. But now we had something with which to feel pride and satisfaction. Those feelings helped us this year as we made an exhibit for the January Florida United Numismatists Show.

We had never made an exhibit in the past, but several members volunteered to contribute to this effort on how living near Cape Canaveral has influenced us in our collecting hobby. We won first place in the Coin Club group.

We have a new spirit of cooperation among our members now as we enjoy our hobby, improve our meetings, and gain new members every month. It all goes back to working together for the unity of the club.

Tim Janecke
South Brevard Coin Club
Satellite Beach, Fla.

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

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