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This week’s letters (02/28/12)

Actually there are two things to talk about in this letter to the editor. First, I finally got the last of the Lincoln bicentennial/centennial cent. I was walking my dog through the neighborhood Jan. 24 and on the ground, by the curb, I spotted a coin and picked it up. I looked at the obverse and saw the date: 2009.
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Dog helps complete new Lincoln cent collection
Actually there are two things to talk about in this letter to the editor.
First, I finally got the last of the Lincoln bicentennial/centennial cent.
I was walking my dog through the neighborhood Jan. 24 and on the ground, by the curb, I spotted a coin and picked it up. I looked at the obverse and saw the date: 2009. I turned it over and saw it was the unfinished Capitol Building. Finally! I got the fourth one of the Lincoln commemorative cents! I’m changing the name of my dog to Lucky Dog – if she hadn’t stopped to sniff at a tree, I probably would’ve missed the coin.
The second thing is a quick question. Why doesn’t the ANA get something going with Congress and the House in changing our coins to more modern sizes, like the euro. Perhaps even creating a euro-type system for all the American countries here? There are some countries in Central and South America that are using US currency “on par” with theirs. Why does the US continue to produce Dollar Bills along side the Dollar coin?
The Canadians eliminated and demonitized both their one and two dollar bills over 25 years ago, and produced only one- and two-dollar coins. Over that time period, the Canadian government has saved almost $5 million a year in costs. We collectors who believe in Domestic Change to our domestic change should also send a letter (or two or more) to our representatives in Washington, D.C., to instigate change and stop the waste and overspending in making our currency.
Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

1825 large cent found under old steps
I read with interest your article in Jan. 31 Numismatic News regarding Tom Deck’s finding an 1825 large cent coin.
Mainly because I have one.
My wife and I live in a house that is 130 years old. In 1983 while preparing to attach a garage to our house I had to remove some steps which were wooden and slotted.
In the dirt below the steps I spotted what looked like a coin, and then another. So I started sifting the dirt with my hands. In all I found 12 large cents dated from 1798 to 1856, one of which is an 1825 cent.
My wife and I believe that the children who were raised in the house put the coins in the slots in the steps. One of those children is my wife. She will be 82 in February.
I have saved coins for approximately 70 years. Not as a collector,; I just like coins.
Thanks for printing the find of the coin. I just thought you might like to know there is another one. Keep up your good work.
Howard Stegmann
Address withheld

Editor’s note: Almost 1.5 million 1825 large cents were made. What makes the Deck specimen significant is the unique pairing of the obverse and reverse dies.

Trip to bank results in array of silver halves
While visiting my parents to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday, I stopped in at their local branch of the Bank of the West in Platte, S.D. I purchased $50 of bank-wrapped half dollars and $7 of loose halves in the teller’s tray.
Of the loose halves, I spotted two silver pieces, as did the teller as she hesitated, then counted them out to me.
Later around Dad’s kitchen table, we found eight more silver halves. All were 40 percent Kennedys: one 1967, three 1968-D, and six 1969-D, four that are uncirculated blazing with luster.
Of course, I wished that I had taken the other five rolls of halves in the tray she removed from the vault. But $100 of halves take some time to spend. Now some other silver miner will have the thrill of shouting “eureka!”
Max Vreugdenhil
Bradenton, Fla.

Reader wants a book, not an ebook or download
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.

Has NFL mimicked financial markets in 2011?
I am a resident of Eastern Pennsylvania and a fan of both the Philadelphia Eagles, and coins. I watch football games and commodity and financial markets carefully. 2011 has been an up and down year in the financial markets. And it has been an up and down year for my team and all of its division rivals. There are compelling comparisons in the fortunes of both.
I was thinking about the four teams that make up the NFC East division and their fortunes in the season and year just past, and what happened in financial markets, and the parallels started jumping out at me. Consider these four NFL teams and the financial market elements that parallel them.
• The Washington Redskins, and their counterpart, the Federal Government. Both play games in and near Washington, DC. The color of the football team’s uniforms and its nickname aren’t especially useful, but the town surely is.
• The Philadelphia Eagles, and their counterpart, the U.S. Currency. Both are predominantly green, with a little black and silverish color thrown in. Besides, the first United States dollars ever produced were produced there. Lots of money has eagles depicted on it somewhere.
• The New York Giants, and their counterpart, the equities markets, embodied by Wall Street. Both are in New York, well…, kind of. The media’s powerhouses are headquartered there, and therefore what happens there is magnified in importance.
• The Dallas Cowboys, and their counterpart, the silver bullion market. Look at the helmets. Ooh, shiny. Silver. Star on it. One of the few things more common on Silver Eagles than eagles, is, yes, stars. This is the “sexy” asset to follow. The “star” has more fans than would otherwise seem to make sense.
Now consider how this past year and season unfolded. A financial year has 52 weeks, and an NFL regular season only 17, with each team taking a week off, but still the comparisons are compelling.
Right out of the gate, the only team that started hot was the Washingtonians. They had a miserable 2010, and had changed several key skill players at the outset of 2011, but parts of the old team hung on. With renewed vigor, Washington started smartly, but very quickly slipped into the abyss of irrelevance as the year dragged on due to its own inability to function well as a team.
The Philadelphia Currencies got the stuffing beat out of them almost all year. The head coach was controversial (Reid/Bernancke), and lots of fans viewed the quarterback (Vick/Geithner) as an unrehabilitated criminal. The team’s performance most of the year was horrible. Its typically stout defense was nowhere to be seen. A new coach there had been brought in, and no one knew how to make his new system work well. The Currencies took drubbing after drubbing from teams they were expected to beat. Then, when all seemed lost, the Currencies started winning near season/year end. The defense showed up again, and they ended the season strong.
The New York Wall Streets, giants far bigger in total size than other teams, had the strangest of years. They alternately were praised for their fine recovery from past seasons, then went into a funk, only to get their act together again at year end to actually win the division, albeit with a pedestrian record. The key to their turnaround was a late-year staredown with the New York Jets/Occupiers. Yes, the game was in the Wall Streets’ stadium, but with the Occupiers’ fans in attendance. The Wall Streets shook off the Occupiers in time to smack down the Silver Guys and win the division.
The Dallas Shiny Silver Guys. Obnoxious, cocky, self-assured. Good at pointing to their ridiculously fine performances before the season is over. Commentators (Jimmy Johnson / Patrick Heller) proclaimed the Currency team and the Wall Street team “done – stick a fork in ‘em”, with glee almost weekly. They had come from a place where worshipping the “star” was normal and natural. But in the end, they collapsed at season end to finish below both of the other asset classes, although behind the Currencies only by tie-breakers, and looking way better than Washington.
The season ended with Wall Street on top, followed by Currency in second by tie-breaker over the Shineys, who ended about even but not trending well, and Washington looking to rebuild yet again. None of the teams looked anywhere near as prepared to go into next season as the San Francisco Silicon Valleys, the Green Bay Agricultural Commodities, or even the miraculously resurgent Detroit Auto Industries or Atlanta Regional Nice Weather and Not Many Union Problems or New Orleans We’re Growing ‘Cuz We’re Still Recovering, but still…
V. Kurt Bellman
Harrisburg, Pa.