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This week's letter (06/28/2011)

Two items in your issue of June 7 prompted me to write. First is the letter from Jim McConville, who is leaving the hobby without a smile because he did not make as much money as he thought he should when selling his collection. Coin collecting is a hobby, not an investment. There is no guarantee that you will make any profit when you sell. There are simply too many variables, such as supply, demand and retail vs. wholesale prices, amongst others.
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Thoughts on collecting and counterfeit coins

Two items in your issue of June 7 prompted me to write.
First is the letter from Jim McConville, who is leaving the hobby without a smile because he did not make as much money as he thought he should when selling his collection.
Coin collecting is a hobby, not an investment. There is no guarantee that you will make any profit when you sell. There are simply too many variables, such as supply, demand and retail vs. wholesale prices, amongst others.
In addition to collecting coins, I also collect elephant statutes. In my six-room condo I have over 2,500 elephants that I have been collecting since 1973. I have no idea what I have spent on them, but a rough estimate is $50,000. When I die, my wife will probably sell the lot of them to the first person with $1,000. A shrewd investment? Hardly. But a lifetime of enjoyment? Absolutely.
Second is the article on Chinese fake coins. This is a serious problem to be sure, but one that can be reduced substantially, if not eliminated entirely, by only buying certified coins.
I know that some people do not like certified coins, Lord knows why, but is it better to spend a few extra dollars and get a coin that has been authenticated and graded, or to save a few dollars and buy a raw coin sight unseen from a total stranger? To me, that second option is just crazy, it’s asking for trouble. When the demand for uncertified coins drops, the supply will drop as well.

Peter Glassman
Schaumburg, Ill.

NN sports an improved online look

Congratulations on the revised, revamped, new and improved Numismatic News website. It looks quite nice!

Donn Pearlman
Las Vegas, Nev.

Mishler is king of the road, congrats to YN Gibson

Cliff Mishler has to be the luckiest man on earth. I would love to ride shotgun on one of his road trips, and man does he know how to roadtrip. That old Town Car, (nice ride!) full tank of gas, hummin’ down the road, his internal GPS locked on the next show.
Like him, I love exonumia, I can spell it, but can’t pronounce it!
His dining selections are top shelf also, his choice of cuisine is right along with mine. I’ve had real Maryland blue crab cakes, and they are the best on earth. Every time I read his article, my mouth waters.
Don’t stop writing Cliff, you’re one of the last real road trip kings left.
Let’s take a moment to congratulate Daniel Gibson, the 18-year-old Young Numismatist from Perrysburg, Ohio, for winning the 2011 Young Numismatist scholarship from the Professional Numismatists Guild. I am very proud of him, and I’m sure we all wish we were in his shoes at his age.
Good job Daniel, you’ll make a great aeronautic engineer, and I’m sure that you will succeed at anything you attempt in life.

Michael P. Schmeyer
Halsey Valley, N.Y.

Paper wrappers from sale a valuable find?

I have been a subscriber for many years, and I enjoy your publication very much. I have a question for you, and your readers.
A few years ago, at a church sale, I came across a small bunch of coin wrappers, half the size of today’s paper wrappers. They were made by C.W. Lawrence-Bank Supplies of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in $5 quarters and $1 nickels.
Have they any value ? I’m very curious. I can’t find an answer.

Irv Hitzler
Riverhead, N.Y.

Editor’s note: Readers?

2011 coins make an appearance

I finally received 2011 nickel and 2011 cents in change.

Mike Brewer
Berea, Ohio

Coins in change a sweet treat too

On June 3, I was visiting a patient at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee. I stopped in at the Health and Wellness Store, and decided to treat myself to two of my favorite Lindor truffles.
When the clerk gave me my change I noticed I had two very bright cents, and one shiny nickel. I checked the dates, and sure enough they were all 2011!
The cents were both from the Denver Mint and the nickel was from the Philadelphia Mint. Talk about an extra treat!

T. Schneider
Waukesha, Wis.

Appreciate the power of diversification

I was interested to read the “Viewpoint” article by James Cucchi titled “Diversification Not a Bad Thing.”
As an early contributor, and eventually editor, of the monthly internet newsletter Numisnet World, and the bi-monthly Tasmanian Numismatic Society’s publication, Tasmanian Numismatist, I can totally understand the lure of diversification within a hobby. I also understand the inquisitiveness that takes us further afield.
As a numismatic hobbyist, I started as a coin collecting “purist,” but, like your correspondent, the lure of the unknown took me on a wonderful journey into the far broader range that enveloped exonumia of all sorts.
My own accumulation contains international coins and bank notes, tokens of all sorts, other trade and souvenir commemoratives, medals and medallions, even historical artifacts and documents that are linked in the most tenuous of ways and, of course, literature.
I am now a happy “magpie,” one who picks up the ugly, pretty and shiny bits and pieces to line my collectibles nest. Along the way I’ve also accumulated a coterie of knowledgeable friends who are just as enthusiastic as I.
All of us are extending our knowledge because of the diversification of our hobby. We are never bored, nor do we stagnate within our hobby boundaries, because we have none!
Long live diversification!

Graeme Petterwood
Address withheld

Where are new coins in circulation?

Lately, it seems each year as though the latest issues of the standard circulating coins (cent through dollar) are becoming harder to find in circulation. The new Union Shield cent, however, seems to be the exception. Still, this collector didn’t receive one (2011-P) in circulation until nearly April; and still no sign of a 2011-D. The Lincoln Bicentennial issues seem nonexistent in circulation.
I don’t expect to find a 2009 Wheat Back cent, but maybe I’ll get a surprise (and a prize) one day. I received a 2010-D cent in circulation toward the end of 2010, and only a few, about ten, since then. How many billions of these coins were produced by the two mints producing them? Where are they?
With the Jefferson nickel, (5-cent piece) the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial and beyond, I have seen perhaps 20 total, receiving both the 2010-P and 2010-D around Christmas time last year. I have yet to get any 2011 nickels. Almost all the nickels I’ve gotten back in change range in date from the 1970s to 2001. Recently, I found several 1964 and earlier Jeffersons in the coin return cup of the Coinstar counter.
The FDR dimes have fared better, in terms of coming close to current (2010 or 2011) dates. However, most of them are from the latter part of last century (1980s to present). A few times over the past months I’ve recovered some silver 1964 FDRs, from both Philadelphia and Denver Mints, from the jaws of the Coinstar, but nothing recent.
I am beginning to see, and receive, more State quarters in my change recently, followed by post-silver issues ranging in date from the 1970s to 1998. I’ve received several Bicentennial quarters in change, as well as over 20 different States from Delaware to Arizona. However, I have yet to get either the Territorial or the ATB quarters.
Occasionally, I’ll buy a few rolls of either half dollars or dollars from the bank I frequent. After searching for coins for my collection, I usually put the coins in circulation for other collectors. I get a joy out of explaining that half dollars (some young checkout cashiers think they’re dollars) and dollars are truly spendable issues. Perhaps it piques their interest in coin collecting. I put in, but as yet haven’t received any in circulation, other than from my bank.
So, I ask once again, where are all the new coins? Billions have been minted I’m sure, but I can’t really tell.

Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

Problems with ATB 5-ounce coin order, delivery

Just a short note as to the first 5-ounce America the Beautiful coin.
After many hours on and off the Mint website, I finally had my order accepted by the Mint. Mixed confirmation e-mails followed from the Mint. One e-mail stated that the order was cancelled, while another said the order was completed. It was not until I saw a UPS, yes UPS, delivery note on my door (many days later) that I figured my order actually went through to the Mint, and I was receiving a coin.
A few problems though. Why in the world would the U.S. Mint not use the U.S. Postal Service? In addition, UPS will only deliver, per directions from the Mint, before 10 o’clock in the morning. Doesn’t matter what day it is either.
I work. I am not home on Monday through Friday at any time before 10 a.m., but UPS has to deliver before 10 a.m. Oh, and after three attempts to deliver, the coin goes back to the Mint! I had to call UPS, schedule a personal pick up, in Oshkosh no less, (I live in Appleton), because UPS does not deliver on Saturday, when I would be home to sign and receive.
This chore could have been alleviated by using the Postal Service. I can, if need be, run down to the local post office to sign and pick up. Or, at my discretion and responsibility, I should be able to sign the notice left by UPS or the Postal Service to leave the package on my door step.
Now as to the coin. Very nice, except mine has a hairline scratch from the nose to the bottom of the coin. Not good. Mr. Lehman received a coin that actually had an imperfection in the neck. Again not good.
Maybe we should send the manufacturing of these coins out to Japan, China or Mexico. We can’t seem to manufacture quality products here in the U.S. anymore! Sad.
Still I did order, and will receive, the second coin, Yellowstone, soon. Hope that is of better quality.

Tim Schulte
Greenville, Wis.

With dealers melting, is end of the silver coin coming?

A recent experience brings to my attention the fact that coin collecting, as we’ve known it, is headed for the junk pile. Many dealers are now more interested in selling silver coins to the melt than to collectors.
While it is true that the high end coins are probably safe, much of the collectible material, that which makes up the small collectors’ inventory, is being funneled into the $40 (or more) per ounce melt. Dealers are taking in large collections of reasonably good material, and turning it over to the ovens for cash. That leaves a lot of clad coins, but will those become the future of the hobby?
Just the other day I visited a small dealer with the hopes of trading some extra, moderate, upper end silver encapsulated coins for some Walking Liberties for my collection. The offer I got was bullion value, not numismatic value, for my coins.
The dealer was so busy taking in silver coins for the melt that there was no time for negotiations. Where there had been two clerks, there were now five. All the clerks were fully engaged in bullion trading.
I made no transaction, and will probably not visit this dealer again, even though it is the only shop within 40 miles of my home. What is more troubling, in my mind, is the fact that people are trading in good, sound metal, gold and silver, for what is destined to be worthless currency.
If the headlines of our papers regarding our national debt and raising the debt ceiling again are any indication of things to come, one would do well to retain some of the white metal as a fall back measure.
It is my belief that the fun days of our hobby were enjoyed to the fullest by persons of my age and generation; those who were born in and before the Depression of the 1930s.
I hope for the sake of all that I’ve misread the current trend to destroy all our old silver and gold coins. They will be missed, and those of you who have never held a gold or silver coin in your hand, you may never have the chance. For that, you have my heartfelt sympathies.

R.E. Mueller
Lodi, Calif.

Topic of article applicable to numismatics?

Just finished reading this article “Ways of the past can’t help us now” in the May 24, 2011 edition of NN
I am confused. What has this article to do with numismatics or the coin collecting hobby?

Calvin S. Johnson
Richmond, Va.

Star notes a hard, but rewarding, find

Addressing previous comments about Star notes written here. I do agree that Star notes are hit-or-miss, and they are mostly misses. I did get a Star note in change here in Wisconsin, as for where, I do not remember.
What I do remember, is that I got it at the end of May. I still look, and when I do get one, I place it unfolded in a separate section of my wallet to place in my currency pages. Please do not get discouraged, Star notes will show up when they are least expected.

Name withheld

1918 Lincoln cents, and Memorial Day celebrations

I was glad to see the letter by Frank Colletti published in NN. I am also a member of the NumisSociety forum, and did my part by spending three 1918 Lincoln cents over the Memorial Day weekend. It was fun to tell the story of how the idea got started, and why we were doing it.
Some of the coins were spent without a word, and some were spent along with the story. For a while at least there will be some 1918 Wheat cents in circulation again. If a reader is lucky enough to run across one, I hope they remember those who have fought and died for us.

John Bare
Address withheld

Poor experience with Mint quality control

Louis Golino is a long-distance coin friend of mine. He got a Yellowstone “P” directly from the Mint, with a piece of white schmutz inside the capsule on the coin, and had to open the capsule and blow it off with a can of Dust-Off.
This is the second time I’ve heard of this happening.
Apparently the Mint’s quality control department, who look at expensive, encapsulated coins before boxing and shipping them, were asleep at the wheel, out-to-lunch, gone fishing or just don’t care.

Harv Laser

Nice examples of 2011 coins in change

Yesterday, May 31st, I emptied my pocket of change. I had received two 2011-D dimes, and four 2011-P Lincoln cents. All were very bright, nice examples fresh from rolls.

Richard Drake
Charleston, Ill.

An ode to the joys of coins and their use

From me of the ol’ NLG, let me see...could it be that my pockets are dancing with dimes a rollin’
Or trimes a strollin’ or is dreams of yesteryear, like sirens in the mists of my mind lurin’ me to silver sounds
and Hunt Brothers’ boasts and faded ghosts reborn again ‘mid the clarion call of our Howard Ruff.
Yes, Mr. Harper, I must tell you quite true that I’m tasting metallic from the cleat in my shoe to the stud in my ear.
That I’m handlin’ Mercs and I’m squeezin’ those eagles and I’m lovin’ those ladies with the busts of John Reich.
Then there’s the dainty ditties that stand there so pert, How could those prudies see only dirt?
Of course, Mr. Harper, we have felt far more coins now, strange as it seems
If not in this world, then deep in our dreams.

Tom C. Stires
Plymouth, Pa.