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This Week's Letters (2/11/10)

A selection of letters from readers of Numismatic News to editor, Dave Harper.
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Putting up collateral for a loan makes sense


Your column of Jan 12 was great. I really loved the story about the $2 bill as collateral. I think a lot of our “too much debt” problem could be eliminated by having the borrower put up something of value to him as collateral for the loan.
Another idea that was given to me some 63 years ago by a very smart businessman friend of my dad’s, was to borrow $200 from the bank for 90 days. Put the money in a savings account at another bank, and then pay off the note at the end of the term. A couple of months later go back to the same bank and borrow $300 for 120 days and do the same thing. Just keep doing it, upping the ante a bit each time.
This pays off when you really need to borrow money somewhere downstream to take advantage of a great opportunity.

Ludy Langer
Sacramento, Calif.

A few suggestions for selling off collection

In response to the 73-year-young collector writing in NN on Jan. 26, my first advice is to join a coin club in his area as they are experts and quite honest. Auctions are held at the meetings.
My second advice, start an on-line auction account and start selling the collection that he is willing to part with. He will possibly receive the amount he likes. I recommend he advertise items with no reserve (minimum). If he wishes, he can have a responsible and honest relative or friend to assist him, especially in mailing out the items.
For 50-plus years, I have accumulated world coins through foreign travels with the U.S. military (retired), rural antique stores, coin clubs, coin shows, eBay, coin dealers’ scrap silver, and friends.
No one appreciates one’s collection as much as a collector even though I tried to get my daughter and grandkids involved in my hobby. Their desire in a coin hobby is not as strong as ours. So for the next 12-plus months my goal is to auction my most valuable coins, but retain my pride and joy ones.
With these sales I will retire again after my short stint U.S. Census decennial manager’s job and tour the U.S. and overseas with my wife of 42 years.
My collection consists of numerous 1921 Peace dollars, Morgan CC collection, error coins, bullion, vintage comics, stamps and sports cards, No, I do not collect door knobs nor kitchen sinks.
This is just one senior collector’s suggestion.

Name Withheld
San Antonio, Texas

Silver half dollars abundant in bank rolls

Last year I wrote to NN telling of my wonderful find of a roll of silver Kennedy halves at my local bank. Well, jackpot again!
In 2009 I went to my local bank and asked the teller if she had any rolls of halves like I always do every time I go to the bank. In that trip last year, I got a roll of Kenndy silver halves, both 40 and 90 percents. But this time it was even better.
Only the third week into 2010 and I hit the motherload again, but better. This time my roll of silver contained four Walking Liberty, six Franklins and eight Kennedy 40 percent halves. Only 2 of the halves in the roll were non-silver. I can’t believe my luck. I am amazed that people out there still don’t know the value of silver coins and cash them in at the bank for face value. That’s OK. More for us collectors.
Keep searching rolls at your local bank!

Jeff Cunningham
Wellsburg, W.Va.

FUN show was great experience for collector

I have been a long-time subscriber to NN and have enjoyed it immensely each week. Until a few weeks ago the only coin shows I had attended in my 37 years of collecting were local club shows. This winter I am a snow bird in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and had the pleasure of attending the FUN show in Orlando on a Saturday. I was amazed at how wonderful, exciting and friendly it was.
There have been many articles in NN regarding the lack of interest in the small buyer at shows, big or small, and I wish to dispel that. I was treated with interest, courtesy and a helpful manner from each vendor I stopped at to review there tables (and buy from a few). Even when there were several “high spenders” at a table, there was always a helpful staff member to inquire of my needs and interests. No one was terse, putting me off or negative in any way.
I also want to give kudos to the U.S. paper money exhibit. I bought two inexpensive items and the engraver, Christopher Madden, was kind enough to sign them in a flowing, clear handwriting. Chris also spent several minutes with me to enhance my knowledge of the money printing process and engraving of plates. The exhibit presentation was fantastic as well and did an excellent job of the history of various notes as well as presenting a great collection of “big dollar” specimens.
As a side note, I felt the prices asked from the vendors I did purchase from were quite reasonable. I had a lengthy wish list, filled a small part of it, and left knowing I would return each and every year in the future.
Having just renewed my next threeyear subscription to NN, I continue to look forward to being further educated, entertained and even perplexed once in a while, with knowledgeable authors and novice questioners.
Best of luck in 2010 to you and your staff. Keep up the excellent job.

Glen McClary
Cocoa Beach, Fla.

Fourth Lincoln cent appears in Iowa

I received my first example of the 4th reverse Lincoln in change on Jan 2.

Rev. Ron Lashmit
Tipton, Iowa

New Lincoln cents show up in Puerto Rico

While in Puerto Rico for a wedding on Jan. 16, I received the 2010 Lincoln cent with the shield design on the reverse. Also, that weekend I received the 2009 Lincoln cent with the second design on the reverse. I think that is called the fFormative Years.
While showing the coins at the February Manatee Coin Club meeting, a member suggested that the new cent may have come from one of the military bases there. The banks don’t need more new coins, but the military makes payroll with the new minting.
I have not received any other Lincoln cents except for three of the 2009 Log Cabin cents while I was on vacation in South Dakota in July 2009.
Perhaps, I should spend all my time traveling!

Max Vreugdenhil
Bradenton, Fla.

First Spouse coin best chance for low mintage

I can remember the anxiety over Y2K and the run up in precious metal prices, and the high gold mintages in 1998 and 1999.When the problems didn’t materialize, the 1998/1999 material came back on the market and year 2000 had a “moderate” mintage.
If metal prices fall in 2010 (gold to $916.60 to $882.30 or silver to $12.63 to $11.90) then maybe some people will bring their “loosing trades” back onto the market and year 2010 might have reduced mintages.
I believe anybody looking for “low mintage” silver Eagles will have to buy 1994-1998 dated material.
If metal prices stabilize or move higher, then I think the public may get more involved and demand gold and silver in such quantity that a “low mintage” year 2010 would not result.
If we coin collectors are speculating in U.S. Mint products in year 2010 (Where will the low mintages be?), then I think First Spouse coins offer the best potential. The Lincoln commerative dollar sold out. The Braille did not. Will the Disabled American Veterans dollar sell out? Probably not, but the coins will be bought and leave the marketplace for years. They will become momentos of “family heritage.” Will the Boy Scouts coin sell out? Maybe, but would the “speculation” be more like “Law Enforcement” or more like “Military Academy?”
Where will the year 2009 mint set sales end up?
Thanks for a “must read” publication.

 Jerome Curtis Watts
Vacaville, Calif.

‘Don’t be a dummy’ when assembling collection

Once again I see a letter from a “longtime” collectors who gets less than he thought he should when selling his collection. This is not my first letter on this subject and, likely, it will not be the last. I worked in the computer industry for some 30 years and we had a very important motto, which was “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” which meant that if you were not careful what you put into your database, you could not expect to get good information back. Unfortunately, the same is true for coin collections. If you are not very careful what you buy, you will get poor results when you go to sell. And – this is very important – don’t get the dumb idea that buying only slabs protects you, as I see badly graded slabs on a regular basis.
There are many pitfalls out there for the buyer and they are generally what is known in the trade as “problem coins,” which refers to pieces that have something wrong with them – whizzed, cleaned, bad planchets, pitted, slightly bent, scratches, edge dents, etc. I once had a widow bring me her husband’s collection of “rare” coins. The guy had bought all junk even though they were rare dates There was not one good, clean piece in the whole collection that would have been worth about $11,000 if they were nice coins. As the collection stood, it was worth no more than $2,000, as it would be very, very hard to sell the pieces to any knowledgeable collector. Not that I say “knowledgeable,” as there are plenty of collectors around who are not knowledgeable and they pay the price for their ignorance.
So, don’t be a dummy. Learn what a nice coin of the series should look like and avoid the ones that do not and you will have a collection that you can be proud of and sell for a fair price when the time comes.

Jim Hirtle
Chesapeake Coin Company

Checking pocket change still proves profitable

Just a few lines to let you hear from me again. I want to let you know I was looking through my change and I came across two Jefferson nickels, a 1940 and a 1946. Also I found a couple of wheat pennies in change, a 1928. I think it pays to check your change.

Virgil Griffith Jr.
Camden, N.C.

Shop around before selling your coins

I am writing to tell you my experiences of the last two coin shows I attended in the metropolitan St. Louis area. They really opened my eyes.
I have been collecting off and on (as funds permit) since I was 15 years old. (I am now 46 years old.). I was one of the 50,000 lucky people who received one of the Lincoln Chronicle Sets, but thought I would sell or trade it at one of the local coin shows.
The first show I attended was at a VFW Hall located in Collinsville, Ill., in December. I approached two different dealers. The first bargained with me. I knew the sets at the time were selling for around $180 (from an advertisement in Numismatic News). The first dealer asked what I was looking to get out of it. I said about $125, and he said he would offer me $100. I asked if we could trade and unfortunately, a deal was not consumated.
I proceeded to another dealer. He must have thought I fell off the turnip truck. Again, he asked me what I was looking to get out of it. I said I know what I paid (about $60 from the Mint), and I said I know they were selling for about $180. His comment to me was, “I guess you want $180?” This was the first thing to tick me off. He then offered me $80. I looked at him and said, “You really insulted me with your offer.” With that, I left the coin show without buying, selling, or trading anything I had.
This past weekend I attended another coin show at the Ramada Inn located in Fairview Heights, Ill. The first dealer I approached offered me $48 for my Lincoln Chronicle Set. Again, I said no thanks. The next dealer I approached said he would offer me $90 stating the sets were coming down in price. His only mistake was asking how much his brother what the last Lincoln Chronicle Set sold for at their shop. His brother answered $160. We were able to strike a deal where I received a credit toward a trade in of $110. I was happy and I hope he was too.
To sum up my experiences, I’d suggest anyone buying coins, don’t do it for profit – do it because you enjoy it. And when the time comes for you to sell your collection (or your heirs are going to sell it), shop it around. There appears to be at least more than one dealer who is willing to “take” your collection off your hands at a fraction of what you paid. And before you sell, ask the dealer if he is willing to share the profit instead of raking you over the coals.

Name withheld

Don’t stop direct ship program due to abusers

May I offer another opinion of the Mint’s action regarding dollar purchases and frequent flyer programs? Perhaps the Mint is really trying to do what it says, to put this new product into the hands of the under-informed public. If the program is being abused, penalize the abusers.
I have ordered one box of Native American dollars, and use them as “tip bait,” (a no-no) in my profession as a bartender. Comments the coins cause have to do with the legitimacy and beauty of these items. I allow swaps if the customer wants one, never offering them as change.
Is this not what numismatists would like to do? Get the word out? I would not like this direct ship program to end due to some frequent flyer fools.

Kevin Coyle
Address withheld

More Resources:

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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