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This week’s letters (02/21/12)

At the Jan. 17 meeting of the Livermore Valley Coin Club, Fremont Coin Gallery dealer Vince LaCariere showed a 1901-S Barber quarter that he had recently acquired. Mr. LaCariere said that he bought the coin from a person who uses a metal detector to hunt for treasure. The coin was reportedly found “somewhere in Nevada.” The hunter did not disclose the exact location of the find.
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Club members share interesting finds

At the Jan. 17 meeting of the Livermore Valley Coin Club, Fremont Coin Gallery dealer Vince LaCariere showed a 1901-S Barber quarter that he had recently acquired.
Mr. LaCariere said that he bought the coin from a person who uses a metal detector to hunt for treasure. The coin was reportedly found “somewhere in Nevada.” The hunter did not disclose the exact location of the find.
The rare quarter appeared to have the details of fine condition and had the light porosity of a coin that had been buried. Because the weather in Nevada is relatively dry, the coin was not in a state of advanced deterioration. The net grade would be at least Good.
Also at the Livermore club meeting, member Chuck White reported finding more than six rolls of silver dimes in a large hoard of coins he purchased at a bank. Mr. White says he searches many circulating coins every month, but often finds nothing of significance. He said that the song “Silver Bells” popped into his head as he found the silver dimes, just in time for Christmas.
At a recent meeting, a member of the Gateway Coin Club of Merced reported receiving a 3-cent piece (made of nickel) in change at a retail store. The coin was passed off to him as a 5-cent nickel. He said he was gypped out of 2 cents but that he was not about to complain to the management.
Another club member reported seeing a 1935 silver certificate dollar bill taped to a cash register at a retail store with a note to employees that said “Beware of Fake Dollar Bills”. When the member attempted to purchase the “fake” bill from the cashier, the sign and bill suddenly came down, never to be seen again. The club member was unable to buy it.

Bruce Frohman
Modesto Calif.

Perdue good choice for CSNS board

I usually don’t endorse candidates in the biennial Central States Numismatic Society elections.
However, a number of people have encouraged me to do so in the upcoming one.
Bruce Perdue is an experienced CSNS board member familiar with the inner operations of the organization. He is also our webmaster. Thus, I will be voting for him to be our next vice president.
The other candidate, Joseph LeBlanc, has never several on the CSNS board and thus lacks what I consider necessary experience.

Jerry Lebo
Logansport, Ind.

Suggestions for more listings in ‘Coin Market’

I really appreciate the “Coin Market” portion of your fine magazine. I’ve noticed you’ve recently added some prices for Satin Finish coins. This is probably a work in progress, but would like to see additions if possible. These suggestions may already be in the makings so please excuse me if they are. However, I would like to see the following additions in the listings for satin finish coins: prices for 2005 nickels (both the bison and ocean in view), and prices for 2005 to present satin finish cents, dimes and quarters.
Now I don’t know how many collectors gather these coins, but I don’t know how many collectors gather coins like the 1796 dime, yet the price for such is in your magazine.
While I realize this may already be in the makings (and I hope it is), if it isn’t I hope it will be very soon. While I’m sure that most collectors have a few rolls (at least) of the Westward Expansion nickels in uncirculated form, there are some that gather these from mint sets. Call us crazy if you need to, but these are the finest examples of these unique 5-cent pieces. While I’m not into this fascinating hobby for the thought that “I’m gonna get rich, “I’d just like to know (approximately) what all my coins are worth.
Thanks in advance to everyone involved in making the decision to making my request a reality! I anticipate seeing these additional prices soon.

Jim Knapp
Roach, Mo.

Teens help dad look for silver coins in change

I love reading Numismatic News’ letters, especially around coin finds. I have been collecting for 35 years and am always excited in what I may find in my spare change.
A few years ago, I enrolled my teenagers to “keep their eyes peeled” in their cashier positions at work for silver. A quick five-minute training back then has yielded me some silver every week. Sometimes it is just a dime, or a quarter.
Recently, my son had someone pay for a soda with 1964 dimes. He offered to exchange the rest for dollar bills and ending up with $2.30 in dimes. About a year ago, I received five Mercury dimes in change from the toll collector. I ended up getting the other 70 cents worth from him, (after he had already given away the rest of the roll in change).
At their current weekly averages, I will have a $100 bag in about two more years. At today’s silver rate that is over $2,000 last time I checked. Not a bad deal for five minutes worth of effort, and some time to spare.

D. Plante
Ludlow, Mass.

Lighten up and enjoy the hobby of coin collecting

Today it seems all I read about is complaints about the U.S. Mint and its deliveries and quality. So what’s different than any other place you buy stuff? Why all the grousing?
Getting fooled by dealers: Hey, they have to make a living too and 30-50 percent is a normal mark-up in any business. If you get pimped it’s your own fault. Learn to grade!
Hoarding: I love tales of circulation finds and yes, I pull any silver I run across. But stashing away hundreds or thousands of pounds of pennies and nickels? You’re “way out there,” as they say. Other old coins I come across I just spend, all to help a newcomer along like I was at age 12.
It seems as though our whole hobby is now crabby and obsessive old men complaining about how they have been “taken” in one way or another. I’m not retired just yet, but when I do I want to finish my life better than whining about the Mint or, especially about dealers, all of whom I have found honest and honorable in my life.

Stephen Christy
Chicago, Ill.

Collecting found coins yields growing results

I wrote a letter last year about coins that I found on the road while I ride my bike to and from work. During this past year, I found a total of 122-3/4 coins. The total value was only $6.58, but I enjoy the “hunt” for coins.
One of the more unusual coins was a broken penny (about 1/4 of it was missing). There was also a Jamaican 25-cent piece, an Asian 5 piece, a 1984 quarter that was folded back on itself. There was also a quarter that was run over so many times that you cannot tell the obverse from the reverse.
For the people who like statistics here are the breakdowns. During the calendar year 2011, the total of 122-3/4 coins included 13 quarters, 18 dimes, 16 nickels and 73-3/4 cents.
During the calendar year 2010, the total of 121-1/2 coins broke down to 12 quarters, eight dimes, 12 nickels and 88-1/2 cents.
July was a big month for finding road coins. On July 14, I found all four denominations: 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents. On July 16, I found a one-day record of 11 coins (10 pennies and one nickel).
However, my best road find for the year was not a coin but a ring. On Oct. 4, I was crossing the intersection when I noticed something in the road that looked like a ring. My first thought was “no way” but I parked my bike and waited for traffic to clear. I picked up the ring and put it in my pocket. When I looked at it later in the day, I saw it had six small stones and “14 K” engraved inside. It was a good-sized man’s ring.
Over the next couple of days I took it to a jeweler and they confirmed it was gold with six tiny diamonds. The diamonds were not worth anything but the gold was worth $220. A local coin shop offered $230.
As an educational opportunity, my wife took the ring to a “cash for gold” shop. The young lady weighed it and offered $80. She was pushing for a sale. She increased the offer to $89. When my wife said no, the clerk phoned the store manager and got a today-only price of $142. Obviously, we did not sell to them. I did sell it to the coin shop and now I am looking for just the right coin to invest in with the ring cash. It will be interesting to see what 2012 will bring.

Name withheld
Des Plaines, Ill.

Don’t abolish cent, nickel just stop making them

For about a year now, I’ve been reading in Numismatic News about abolishing first our 1 cent coin and then the 5-cent coin, with fears abounding on all sides about rounding up to the nearest nickel.
I just received the Jan. 17 issue and the e-letters question is once again, with a twist, should the 1 cent be abolished or made of steel.
Personally, I think it would be great to see the lowly cent made out of steel again. Another instant collectors’ item.
But I don’t know if I’m the only one who thinks this way or not. Instead of abolishing the cent and nickel, how about the U.S. Mint get its collective heads together and chew on this.
Each year, since who knows when, it has been making billions of cents at all three mints. Instead of abolishing the cent and nickel, how about not making any more for the next five to 10 years and let what is in the vaults run low until they have all been used, to the point of actually needing to make more cents and nickels.
This way, they may not ever need slow-poke congressional action. Just continue to use what is already made.
Also, do away with the dead presidents on our daily use coinage, and put Miss Liberty back on them where she belongs. Sacagawea was a good start.

Jerry O’Nele
Fairfield, Calif.

Produce beautiful coins for circulation in U.S., Canada

I truly love Numismatic News’ editorial sections. It is the best to be found anywhere. You print interesting, controversial letters that other publications do not dare. It’s controversy that is the lifeblood of the hobby.
I particularly am fond of the two letters in the Jan. 24 issue from Mike Davis and Rusty Crawford. They are similar to a letter I wrote about a year ago that generated comments for a month or two afterwards.
My advice to them is to join a coin club and give and share one’s coins and ideas with others. Coin collecting is more fun as a sharing hobby even more than acquiring coins. The coins lay around in dusty drawers but the golden memories of assisting others like youth getting started far outshines any proof bullion coin. I never had so much fun in the hobby as writing letters going to coin clubs making friends and lobbying for new coin and currency designs.
I used to love Canadian coins. I liked the mint sets better than U.S. ones since they actually contained a silver dollar. In recent years, Canada’s total unbridled greed ran amok with all these yearly issues we see in coin publications.
Canada is probably the worst of countries in this regard but years ago, they were the best with the 1967 wild animal set, which is probably the most beautiful coin set I own. Canada does not make beautiful things for circulation like these anymore, only high priced kitsch. One of my most favorite fiascoes was the centipede or trilobite stadium on the 1976 $10 Olympic coin.
Everything now is so high-priced. I remember when Canada only made circulation commemoratives like the lovely dollars of 1939, 1949, 1958 and 1964. Not it’s big bucks. To make matters even worse, instead of keeping the beautiful circulation designs of 1967, the retrograded back to the ugly 1937 designs that they haven’t changed since. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to really see some new lovely designs in circulation as beautiful as they were in 1967? Fortunately, they redesign their paper money on a regular basis but the coins are forgotten.
So we need to change our focus as collectors. Year ago, we had fun with beautiful Buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters and halves and lovely Peace dollars in change. These were the classic coins I knew and still love more than all the others. Now we need to focus on giving joy to others by sharing out collections, ideas and knowledge with others. Also, we need to keep lobbying for coinage and currency redesign.
The torch is being passed to a younger generation. I want them to have what we had, which is now sadly lacking; 100-year-old coin designs like the Lincoln cent just don’t cut it. It’s the classic designs and the coins that people want.
The Mint capitalized on this with its silver and gold bullion coins and with the unaffordable platinum dove lady. Why not such things for circulation? We haven’t had anything for circulation as such since 1947 and Canada since 1967.
Really, who would want to collect nowadays? The two letters published in the Jan. 24 issue could not have explained things better. I certainly hope to see more of them. Perhaps if enough of us wrote, things will happen. One ant is harmless. But imagine what a whole swarm can do.
This is why I am presently enjoying the hobby so much. I am trying to be focused and with a purpose of really making a difference that will shine for generations.
It is said that Farren Zerbe of the American Numismatic Association was instrumental in creating the Peace dollar, one of our most beautiful coins. Let’s all try to become like Farren Zerbe, both in the United States and in Canada, our lovely sister country that I dearly love as I do Australia, which has lovely coins for circulation not unlike the 1967 coins of Canada. They too, like the U.S. and Canada have become greedy but not as bad yet. But only time can tell. As it seems, they may be well on their way.

Bob Olekson
Cleveland, Ohio

I have to admit I am prejudiced. I am a bibliophile: I like books. There is nothing quite like reading a book or flipping through one to find some fact or figure. There is a nice heft to most books. Books have covers and bindings. I prefer the hardcover ones with non-newspaper type paper for the pages. As long as you aren’t a hoarder or a used book dealer, books are easy to locate in our homes and quick to use, particularly if the author uses a table of contents and/or an index. In the past several years (maybe longer but I haven’t noticed), with the increasing use of the internet, iPhones and our increasing need for instant satisfaction for everything, the marketplace has developed the Kindle and other variants of it so you don’t actually have to have a real book to read the content. These electronic readers have a place for many people much like books-on-tape have made the daily commute or long road trips less of a drudge. As long as you aren’t driving, these electronic readers can be used on the daily commute on the train or bus.
As is the case with progress, these electric readers keep improving, becoming cheaper and easier to use. Bravo. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m finding, however, that the marketplace in its enthusiasm to cash in on the trend is trying to put everything in print on an electric reader. I certainly can understand War and Peace and other literature on electronic readers, but reference books with tables and pictures and illustrations of varying clarity? Not all of the electronic readers have the ability to enlarge the print area so you can see the fine print or provide a way to print a copy of selected information. Hopefully, future improvements will allow for those shortcomings but I still think certain reference books aren’t good candidates for an electronic version.
For those of us without electronic readers, the ever resourceful marketplace has decided to provide an even worse option: books in a downloadable format for the computer and I guess your iPhones. Some internet sellers aren’t mentioning that the “books” they are selling are in electronic form. Once you get a confirmation of a purchase from them they tell you to go to a website to download your book. It happened once to me. I find that appalling and particularly galling when they require you to type in physical shipping address information for something they aren’t shipping. I decided to try the new technology rather than go through the hassle of requesting a refund. Of course, the first thing you realize is that whatever you get in your download is not going to have a cover or a binding, so it really isn’t a book. It is just downloaded information. If you want hard covers and a binding, guess who pays. On top of that, if you want a printed copy, it is your printer and paper and your additional expense – so why are you paying a book price for some download of cloud digital information? Once a book is digitized, the cost to seller to download it is super minimal – remember there is no sales person and no clerk to process the order (you did that). The next thing you worry about is if something happens during the downloading so that you have to call someone to help you to download again. Of course, the website generally doesn’t provide a telephone number to call for help but in many cases, it will ask you if you want to participate in a customer satisfaction survey. If you want to, this is the time to turn the tables on the seller.
If all goes well and the download is complete, you have to struggle with what you can and cannot do with the download. However, before that you have to determine if the quality of what you see is worth printing. The download could be a fuzzy photocopy of the original book (mine was). And what if you have a cheap dot matrix printer that will lose some of the sharpness of the download? Next, will the PDF file allow other than a straight printing? For example, if you only want to make copies of some coins or currency, will it let you or do you have to print unrelated material with it? What if you want to enlarge the pictures, can you enlarge them without losing details or worse yet will the enlargement force printing on multiple pages? That happened to me. The particular currency I was interested in was split between two pages and the written description on two other pages. Now you have to cut and paste. All this experimenting is on your time and dime.
As for me, I’m through with electronic downloads – give me only hard copy, hard cover real books.

Ron Thompson
Decatur, Ga.