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This Week's Letters (1/7/10)

A selection of letters from readers of Numismatic News to editor, Dave Harper.
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Nickel Hlousek received was actually 1969-S


Thanks to Frank S. Robinson of Albany, N.Y., (NN, Dec. 8) and my poor eyesight, I do feel like a complete fool and I do stand corrected.
The nickel I received was an 1969-S and I have since purchased a good lighted magnifying glass.
Thanks, Frank, and I do apologize.

Richard P. Hlousek
Sheridan, Wyo.

Runner finds four Peace dollars in road

I was running around my small town on the day after Christmas and noticed some unusual shapes in the road as I went through an intersection. I typically find cents while running, plus the occasional nickel, dime, or quarter. Once I found a dollar bill.
This time there were four Peace dollars on the road. I picked them up and put them in my running pack for closer inspection at home. Then I looked around for a couple of minutes to see if any other treasures were to be found. Back at home I discovered the Peace dollars are all dated 1922, three from Philadelphia and one from Denver. They’re pretty beat up from being in the road, but I’m still wondering how four silver dollars made it to a busy intersection.
Definitely my best find while running.

David Ray
Jefferson, Ga.

Keep comments by NN critics in perspective

Just a counterpoint to the views expressed by your unnamed critic in your Dec. 22 Numismatic News column. Of course it is important that all readers read NN or any other publication carefully, and point out both errors and praiseworthy items, with the aim of improving the publication.
For example, the writers of the recent “State of the Numismatic Industry, 2009” seem to have little awareness of the difference between “affect” and “effect” as verbs, and “lets” in your Dec. 22 column doesn’t need the apostrophe it was printed with.
However, to figuratively scream for your head because of errors in Numismatic News seems rather “over the top.” Even if your unnamed critic had never made a mistake in his personal or professional life (and how likely is that?), his evident eagerness to seek your dismissal would be extreme.
Count me as one who appreciates Numismatic News, even with its occasional errors, and has valued the professional direction you have provided to NN over the years. Keep up the good work – and continue to keep harping critics’ rants in perspective, as you work to improve both Numismatic News and yourself.

Bob Bair
Denver, Colo.

2009 brought interesting circulation finds

I am one of those old-fashioned people who seldom uses credit cards and checks, except to pay big bills or utility bills. Therefore, I use a lot of cash each year when making many small purchases.
I have no use for anything under a $5 bill, unless something costs exactly a dollar, a quarter, or whatever, then I’ll use it. The problem is, most items cost over $1 today, or, if it’s priced under $1 the price requires multiple coin use.
Therefore, using a single coin or note won’t do the job like it once did, as one needs two or more coins or notes when purchasing most items. I find it easier to hand the cashier a $5, $10 or $20 bill, receive the change and put everything below $5 in a container and save it for the calendar year. When early December comes, I cash everything in and start over for another year.
I usually average about $600 a year doing this, roughly $300 in coins and $300 in $1 bills. That’s how I save money for my gift giving at Christmas time. Naturally, before I cash the currency in I do check it out. I would like to report my findings for this year. I did not make a listing of every date and mint of each denomination as a few readers have done and reported to Numismatic News in past editions, but I did generalize my findings to give the reader a good idea of what they might expect to find if they did the same thing.
I had $9.22 in cents. Of the 922 pieces, 222 of them were pre-1982 copper cents, which surprised me a bit because in the past five years I have noticed that the copper/zinc ratio had been roughly 20 percent copper versus 80 percent zinc. This year it’s more like 24 copper versus 76 percent zinc. I did not find a single wheat cent. Of all the copper cents, I did not find any S mint memorial cents (1968-74), otherwise I would have had at least one specimen of each date and mint from 1959 to date. I had 25 1982 dated cents, but did not break them down into copper or zinc.
I had $12.25 in nickels. Of the 245 pieces there was nothing before 1960. Just a few years ago before the Westward Journey nickels came out, finding pre-1960 nickels wasn’t real easy but if one went through a $200 bag (4,000 pieces) you could find perhaps 100-150 pieces, so you can see where this is heading. There were only seven nickels from the 1960s in the pile. I found 13 Westward Journey nickels of all three dates and types (2003-2005). There were 64 nickels dated 2006, 2007 or 2008, but no 2009 nickels were found. So, just those last three years accounted for over 25 percent of the nickels.
I had $55 in dimes. I found no silver nor 2009 dimes. There were no slightly better dates such as 1969-P either. It was a very boring group of coins to say the least!
I had $225 in quarters. $118 was 1965-1998, $107 was state and territorial quarters. I didn’t find any silver nor did I find any slightly better dates as 1968-D or 1969-D. In state quarters, I had roughly half the state designs in the pile and I had one D.C. quarter and one Guam quarter. No Bicentennial quarters were in the pile either.
There were no half dollars or dollar coins. I had about $300 in $1 bills and almost all of them were either the current series in production, or the two preceding series with John Snow’s signature. I found three or four notes before then, but series 1995 with Robert Rubin’s signature was the oldest series I encountered.
May 2010 be a good year for all of us. Good luck to everyone!!

Stan Kijek
St. Charles, Ill.

Professor gives Harper an “A” for the year

I just read Dave Harper’s Dec. 22 editorial. We are all humans who make mistakes over time.
Communicating with Dave over time I learned we are the same age and began our coin collections around the same time. So we share some common history. The major difference is Dave took his hobby more seriously than me and numismatics became his profession. I stopped going to shows years ago and mainly purchase U.S. Mint items. I try to keep my numismatic knowledge current by reading Numismatic News and other publications.
I am a university professor and I also make mistakes. I am thrilled if there is a bright student who informs me of my error. And believe me, it’s easy to do teaching quantitative courses. I’ve noticed a few of Dave’s errors (like “President Robert Kennedy) and have e-mailed him without the need of a letter.
Dave Harper represents a wealth of numismatic information for all readers of this great newspaper. I learn from his articles and editorials each week. So don’t forget we are all human beings and we all err occasionally. Dave, keep up the excellent work. As a professor, you earn an “A” from me.

Dr. John G. Hamer
Bradford, Mass.

Honor Margaret Taylor on ‘Mint Stats’ page

Zachary Taylor’s wife was named Margaret. On the “Mint Statistics” page, would you please substitute her name for his in the “First Spouse” section to be consistent with the rest of the spouses? I appreciate the Mint Statistics page a great deal.
Thank you for putting out the best numismatic newspaper in the nation. You just keep getting better.
Regarding the typos and errors, if you were perfect, the paper would be less enjoyable to read. I love reading critics’ comments. They get worked up over so little! Yes, Robert Kennedy was never President, but he should have been.

Bruce Frohman
Modesto, Calif.

Doubling on 1995 cent found for second time

It only took 14 years, but it happened again. I found a 1995 doubled-die reverse cent. My first one is graded MS-65 Red by PCI. My second one is graded XF by myself using ANA grading standards.
Concerning my first one: All the letters of the words ONE CENT have doubling in them. The “O” of the world ONE, the strongest doubling. The “E” of the word CENT, the least. And all the letters of the word UNITED have some doubling in them as well, as does “S” that begins the word STATES.
Concerning my second one: All the letters of the words ONE CENT have doubling in them. The three letters of the word ONE, the strongest doubling. The “E” of the word CENT, the least. And all the letters of the words UNITED STATES have doubling in them as well, as does the letters “IN” an “ST” at each end of the statement, IN GOD WE TRUST, found on the front of the coin.
This all excites me, mind you. I heard of this type of doubling from a Numismatic News classified ad back in 1995, but never thought that I’d find one. Well, I guess I was wrong about that. Hurrah.
Problem, though. After finding one I couldn’t get anyone to believe me when I said that I did find one. They all said that that type of coins just doesn’t exist. Not in the books and all that. Thus, I had it graded by PCI for proof. However, as luck would have it, PCI soon went under and I was back at square one.
I don’t care anymore, though. I have two of them, and I know they exist. Therefore, I think I’ll just keep the second one raw in a 2 by 2 flip. I won’t even worry about other peoples’ opinions. I know the coins are real, and I know they’re mind, and that’s good enough for me.

David W. Newcomb
Braintree, Mass.

YN scholarships offered for ANA Summer Seminar

If there is one event which can transform a young person from “just a collector” into a full-fledged numismatist, it has to be the American Numismatic Association’s Summer Seminar. It’s held every summer on the campus of Colorado College in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colo. The week-long course, affectionately known as “coin camp” by longtime attendees, is the pinnacle of the numismatic learning experience.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of Dwight Manley’s $250,000 donation, more Young Numismatists (YNs) have the opportunity to attend Seminar on scholarship than ever before. The ability to earn seminar scholarships is probably the greatest benefit of Junior membership in the ANA.
You’ve probably heard the old numismatic adage “buy the book before you buy the coin.” Well, the seminar courses are taught by the people who wrote the books! Your classmates are preeminent collectors, dealers and numismatists from all over the country. It’s a wonderful experience when you are immersed in a group of people who love coins just as much as you do! During the course of the week, close friendships develop between numismatists young and old. I am always surprised how everyone is genuinely friendly and is on a first name basis with everybody else!
After classes, there are several YN activities, such as pizza parties, games, and the YN Scholarship Auction. Each year, generous attendees donate items for this special auction, unlike any other you have ever seen! The lots are gathered, cataloged, and displayed by the YNs, then auctioned by a professional auctioneer. Laughter and hilarity often ensue, and all proceeds go toward YN Scholarships for next year. Last year, YNs raised more than $50,000!
I can’t tell you how much I have learned during my attending coin camp, first as a YN and more recently as a chaperone. (Yes, parents, your YNs are closely chaperoned day and night.) Every course offers unique insight and information, so participation in any class will make you a better collector and numismatist. Grading and counterfeit detection skills gained at coin camp have probably prevented me from purchasing low quality coins several times already! Access to the million dollar rarities and exhibits at the ANA Museum alone is worth the cost of attendance.
If you are a YN aged 13-22 who has always wanted to learn more about coins or make lots of new numismatic friends, then the Summer Seminar is the place to be! The application process is easy, and the application and scoring breakdown can be found at Be sure to complete it quickly though, as the application deadline is Jan. 18, 2010! Full scholarships include airfare, tuition, lodging and food for the entire week. If you are not a YN, but know a YN who might qualify for a scholarship, please share this information. More scholarships are available than ever before, and there is no better or more complete numismatic education than the ANA Summer Seminar!

Jeff Swindling
Chairman, ANA YN and Scout Committee
Jacksonville, Fla.

Good finds to report after searching rolls

Today I found 16 wheat cents while roll searching. I’ll list here just a few of the dates that I found:
1956-D XF+
1958-D AU+
1954-D XF
1952-D XF
1953-D XF
1938 XF
1937 VF
And last, but not least, a 1918 in Good and a 1909 in VG. Boy, that was a blast.
I also went to my bank and they offered me two boxes of the Professional Life cents. But I only purchased $7 worth.

Bob Atwater
Conway, S.C.

Now is a good time to change cent’s obverse

In reference to the front page of the Dec. 1 Numismatic News. I look forward to the shield reverse design for the U.S. Lincoln cent coin in 2010.
But after 100 years of the V.D.B. portrait of Lincoln on the obverse of the coin, it would be very appropriate and fulfilling for the Mint to come up with a different portrait of Lincoln for the obverse side.
It is obvious to me that a complete change in the design of a coin (except for minor modifications) is better than confining the design change to only one side.
If I were a congressman or someone of more influence, I would talk to Edmund Moy about this, but I’m just the “man in the street.”

Edmund DeLaurentis
Havertown, Pa.

NN’s value in positive and negative reports

This letter is in response to the Viewpoint regarding “Negative letters to NN harmful to hobby” in the Dec. 15 issue. I think everyone can agree that sometimes views, good and bad, are beaten to death in the letters section. How many times do I need to read how an Ultra High Relief gold coin was left on a doorstep without a signature, or how the Mint screwed up someone’s order? The answer to that question is easy: only as many as I want.
I can pick and choose what letters and articles are important to me. I believe that the negative articles and letters can be just as important as a positive letter. I think reading about how someone lost money because they purchased a counterfeit coin can be taken as a negative occurrence, but I am glad I am able to read about that experience as it may help me not make that same mistake in the future. I want to know what a hassle it can be to order directly from the Mint, maybe I will just buy my items at the next coin show and not deal with the Mint all together.
I would encourage that people share their experiences, good and bad. I think it would be a disservice to “hide” the bad things so people won’t get the wrong idea as the writer suggests. I don’t read Numismatic News to get an edited version of the coin collecting hobby, I read it to learn more and educate myself and to view other people’s experiences, whether they be good or bad. I think we can each decide what is helpful for ourselves.

Brian Lee
Address withheld

Two unc. sets contain Philly, Denver Mint coins

I was reading my Numismatic News paper from Dec. 15 and I read the article on the 1982 and 1983 uncirculated coins from Carol D. Haynes. My 1982 uncirculated set says on the envelope that they are uncirculated coins from Denver and Philadelphia.
On the 1983 envelope it says that they are a souvenirs set from the Denver and Philadelphia Mints. Everyone I show them to says they are not authentic. Glad to know I am not the only one to have these two sets of coins in my collection.

Lee E. Rogers
Fair Play, Mo.

How is Helen Taylor related to Taylor family?

Noticed an article in the Dec. 15 issue concerning the new Taylor dollar.
It mentioned Helen Marie Taylor, a descendent of President Taylor.
I was acquainted with someone who worked with my father in Joplin, Mo., on the Frisco Railroad in the ’50s and ’60s.
His name was Zachary Taylor and he had all sorts of documentation of who he was.
Just wondering what kin Helen Taylor was to the family. They resided in Dunequeg, Mo., at the time.

Bob Russell
Idabel, Okla.

Genealogy research reveals medal theft

I would like to call the attention of collectors everywhere to the thefts of the “Fidelity” medallions that were given to David Williams and John Paulding by George Washington.
I am the fifth great-granddaughter of the patriot David Williams and have recently learned of these thefts through my genealogy research. Although numerous historical records and books detail the account of the capture of Major John Andre, none of them mentioned the thefts of two of the three medals that were given to the captors for their patriotic act.
The medals are apparently quite rare due to being hand-stamped with the recipient’s initials, and being presented to the three captors by George Washington. As I traced the history of the medal that was presented to David Williams specifically, I learned that for some time it was held at the State Library at Albany for safe keeping and that the last family member to have had it was William C. Williams, my third great-grandfather. In an article dated July 9, 1905, from The New York Times titled, “Gift to Historical Society,” it appears that the medal was then given to the New York Historical Society by a woman who had purchased the medal from William C. Williams. Mr. Williams apparently wished for the medal to be in a secure place where others could view it and remember the treason of Benedict Arnold.
However, when I contacted the New York Historical Society to inquire about the medal, I was shocked to learn that it had been stolen along with a few other items. I received a letter from the NYHS dated Aug. 31, 2009, which states that on Thursday, June 5, 1975, three items (two of the medals and a watch belonging to John Andre), along with their description labels, were stolen from a locked flat table case from within the Revolutionary War exhibit at the Society.
Even though a report was evidently made with the NYPD (Lt. James Wagman, Complaint #11545, which I am still trying to obtain through F.O.I.L. requests), nearly three decades have passed and the thefts remain unsolved and the medals are still unaccounted for.
The letter I received from the NYHS relating to the thefts mentions that the case was locked and that the items were placed in the case with the labels and locked by R.J. Koke. Also according to the letter, the items were last seen by Betty Felton “either on Friday, May 30th or Tuesday, June 3rd.” How can items be stolen from a locked case and no one knows who did it or who would have had access to do it?
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect about the thefts is the lack of information in new articles, magazines or on the Internet about the missing items. In stark contrast, the amount of information about the capture of Andre, the captors themselves, the treason of Arnold, even historical articles telling of the Centennial Celebrations marking the event of the capture in Tarrytown are overwhelming. Additionally, some may also find it interesting that the whereabouts of the third medal belonging to Isaac Van Wart is also unknown and has apparently not surfaced in well over 100 years.
Again, my purpose for writing is to call attention among collectors in the hopes of locating these medals. Please contact me by e-mail at with any information that may help locate them.

Angelique R. Abeare-Welch
Address withheld

More Resources:

2010 U.S. Coin Digest, The Complete Guide to Current Market Values, 8th ed.

• State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money, 1928 to Date

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition