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This week’s letters (07/10/12)

We want to thank show owner Lyn Knight, along with show chairman Doug Davis, for providing the American Numismatic Association (ANA – a free table at your 36th International Paper Money Show, held at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn., on June 7-10.
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Thanks from ANA for paper money show
We want to thank show owner Lyn Knight, along with show chairman Doug Davis, for providing the American Numismatic Association (ANA – a free table at your 36th International Paper Money Show, held at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn., on June 7-10.
We were able to sign up 15 members and provide information regarding the Association and its upcoming coin conventions. A special thanks to Champion Stamp Company in New York for providing the money for the shipment of the coin show kit.
The show, once again, had something for everyone. Outstanding exhibits, a major Lyn Knight Currency Auctions sale, that covered around 8,000 lots that were sold at the show and internet auctions after the show, educational programs, club meetings, a huge diversified bourse covering all paper money, ephemera, stamps and postcards, grading services, Numismatic News, Bank Note Reporter and Coin World, an SPMC breakfast, great security and a well done program.
We look forward to attending next year’s show on June 14-16, 2013.
John and Nancy Wilson
ANA National Volunteers
Ocala, Fla.

Advice for purchasing coins on eBay
I have had a mostly positive experience buying from eBay. The most important lesson is becoming familiar with the eBay system and culture.
I initially dipped my toe into these waters by purchasing very modestly priced world coins, usually for $3 or less.
After about three to six months, I gained enough courage to buy more expensive coins like graded (slabbed) silver quarters. The most expensive piece I’ve bought so far was a MS-69 $50 platinum coin.
Of course, I sweated bullets until it arrived in the mail. However, this dealer gained my trust over time and I am sticking with him. In my opinion, the risk is mostly with the people, so cling to the best dealers you know.
The most important advice is always buy graded (slabbed) coins from the top services. Online, the photo is everything. Unfortunately, many coin sellers are not adept to photographing coins. Admittedly, it’s not an easy task. Often, coins look blurry, are overexposed and lack essential detail. If you are going to sell, you must master photographing coins.
Below is my condensed buying guide to eBay newbies.
Checking the seller’s four dimensions of background, location, content and feedback are all extremely important.
Background: How many years has the seller been on eBay? This statistic ensures avoiding fly-by-night operations? I like sellers more who have been online for at least two years.
Location: Is the seller in the U.S? In general, I only buy coins from sellers located within the U.S. It gives me piece of mind because the U.S. has many tools to address customer grievances.
Is the seller located in China? I avoid sellers in China at all costs. Sure, there may be some honest dealers, but considering the massive amount of fraud and rampant counterfeiting in China, avoiding this location seems like a great idea. Remember that it is not illegal in China to counterfeit foreign coins.
Content: Does the seller specialize in the numismatic class in which you are interested? Specialists often can offer more competitive Buy It Now prices. Does the seller also sell many Chinese coins? Maybe I’m abundantly cautious, but I will generally avoid buying from dealers with a lot of Chinese inventory. Even if the dealer is honest, I don’t want to risk of being inadvertently being passed a fake slab.
Feedback: Check quantity and quality of feedback. First, ensure the dealer has at least 10-12 sold items to his name. This helps avoid fly-by-night operations. Second, ensure the feedback quantity is for items sold and not items bought.
Christopher Kiefer
San Francisco, Calif.

Brockton coin week inspires young collector
I just wanted to share my thoughts on the experience my son Chris and I had at the Brockton Public Library’s National Coin Week Celebration run by Richard Hand in April 2012.
My son, an active YN for the Worcester County Numismatic Society, thoroughly enjoyed the speakers, particularly Norm Totten on primitive money and James Johnston on the Life of a Pirate.
Chris walked away with coins, tokens, world paper money, auction catalogs and a red book.
He also learned about world coins at the world coin table and then went to the next table and put them in flips after they were identified.
Kudos to Richard Hand, the Brockton Public Library and distinguished visitors for a very enjoyable kid numismatic experience. There must have been 75 kids, parents and grandparents there.
George and Christopher Bilodeau
Brockton, Mass.

National Coin Week celebration a success
I’m writing to you to let you know what a wonderful time we had at the Brockton Public Library’s National Coin Week celebration. This is an annual event here in Brockton that Richard Hand makes possible.
It has become one of the highlights for the area with dignitaries all the way from the State House attending. I would like to thank Richard for bringing the awareness of coin collecting to not only the adults, but the children here in Brockton. We are already looking forward to next year’s program.
Susan McCormick and Family
Brockton, Mass.

Mint should have learned lesson from Canada
I enjoyed Paul M. Green’s article in the June 12, 2012 issue about the stupidity of minting the 20-cent piece.
But, I would have also mentioned that it could have been prevented if we had looked to our northern neighbors’ experience. Canada tried them for only one year (1858) before admitting it was a mistake.
Meanwhile, I keep my eyes peeled for a circulated 1876-CC 20-center in change. I can’t understand my lack of success since I live only three blocks from the mint.
Ron Cameron
Carson City, Nev.

Dealers should stay until end of shows
This is in response to the letter from Mark Thurber, coin dealer from Carrolton, Texas, regarding a complaint from Sharon and Kevin Blocker about dealers leaving shows early.
I find Mr. Thurber’s letter quite disturbing, to say the least. I’m assuming that dealers sign some sort of contract in order to have a table at a show. I’m also assuming that the contract requires them to be there during certain days and certain hours. If this is incorrect, then I apologize. If no such contracts are required, then perhaps the problem is as much with the show as with the dealer.
If in fact a dealer does sign up for a table and is required to be there for certain hours or days, then Mr. Thurber is way off base. Collectors come to shows to view and to purchase. They normally pay a fee to enter the premises, and like the Blockers assume that dealers are there to purchase from. If not, then the show should owe the customer a refund.
Otherwise, Mr. Thurber tries to put the blame on the Blockers and all customers who come with the expectation that dealers will be there during show hours.
I often man a booth for a national organization at various meetings across the country, and the contracts we sign require us to pay an extra fee if we tear down our booth early. This is, of course, to eliminate what Mr. Thurber seems to assume is his right to do.
If a person chooses to use his retirement income to go into business as a coin dealer, then that’s the risk he takes. It’s not the customer’s fault, or the show’s fault, that what he has to sell is something the customer wants and is willing to pay for. If his business is bad, there’s probably some specific reason for it: too high prices, not what customers want, bad weather, poor advertising by the show sponsors, etc. In any event, his tantrum against the Blockers is uncalled for and reeks of self pity.
I wish him well in the future, but he needs to look further than any letter to the editor that the Blockers may have submitted to determine why he feels the way he does. He appears to me to be a very unhappy man.
Dan Sowards
Austin, Texas

Problems with delivery of proof set
Over the past years I had read all the complaints about the poor delivery of Mint products by the United States Postal Service. I finally had one of those events occur after many years of great service.
This time I didn’t receive my silver proof Eagles even though Fedex/USPS had documentation that it was delivered into my lock box. After checking with Fedex and obtaining a signed copy of the merchandise received at my local post office, I then spoke with my local post master who just gave me an 800 number to call. I called and filled out a missing package report along with the Fedex information and a promise that I would receive a call back in 24 hours.
I then called the U.S. Mint and found out that the $4.95 I spent on shipping also covered insurance for the package. The representative at the Mint guided me to a link on their web site to fill a form and send it back either by mail or fax.
It was within three days after faxing back the form that I had notice that a new package was on the way, via UPS this time. Within a week I received my coins and to this day I am still waiting to hear from the USPS. As much as we complain, the U.S. Mint did me fair on this occasion.
Denis Watson
St. Charles, Mo.

Dealers should honor commitment to shows
Dealers like Mark Thurber are what give numismatics a bad name. I have said for years that the hobby has been going in the wrong direction because of people like him. No one asked him to invest his money in a coin business, no one asked him to go to the shows and spend $400 to $1,000 for a table and $500 on airfare, food and hotels. He chose to do all this himself.
He signed up to do the show and it is his responsibility to honor the show times and stay until the very last minute as stated on the fliers. If he does not want to stay, he should not go in the first place. With his attitude he should not be allowed to participate in any shows.
And who am I to complain, I might be the person that has $1,000 or $2,000 in my pocket or I might have $10 or $20, that is not the point, he chose to do the show and he should honor the contract.
I would never do business with a person like Mark Thurber.
Larry Marshall
Alamo, Texas

Anniversary sets destined for failure
It’s now barely five days since the anniversary proof sets were made available and we’re well over 115,000 units sold. At this rate, assuming the daily purchase rate will slowly but steadily decline as dealers realize the market will have all the sets it will ever need (except for those PF 70 first release gimmick sets), I’m fairly sure this is not going to be a big after market item.
At least the Mint got an extremely nice premium for themselves this time around. It would almost be funny if some huge mass marketer dug into their coffers and bought most of the sets – effectively cornering the market and selling them at a big profit.
But the item seems doomed (or should be) and shows, that for all the bright ideas the Mint has come up with to gouge the collector market, even they didn’t think this one all the way through.
First off, these common circulation coins should have been included in the uncirculated sets and not made available as stand alone rolls or bags. The profit margin per coin would have been much higher. But, in addition, they could have approached this from two different angles, in deference to the dealers they appear to be in bed with.
As has happened a few times in the past four decades, the Mint could have failed to advertise that the “S” coins would not be made for actual circulation. Remember the 1970-D and how well its price has held up?
Or, better yet, and far more fun for collectors, would have been to mint a small number of “S” mint coins for actual circulation. But again, not say how many they were going to ultimately make (maybe something like 25 million total).
They could easily handle producing these circulation quality coins (which in general are very poor quality) and simply reduced output of “P” and “D” mint quarters so the FED would not have to buy more than they needed.
To make it really exciting, they could then have distributed the “S” mint coins evenly across all the Federal Reserve Bank districts, giving everyone in the country a chance to find one. That’s how new collectors are born.
In either case, UNC Mint set sales would have been higher, along with the profit margin, and beginning collectors would have some fun again.
I use to spend hundreds, and at times thousands, of dollars with the Mint every year prior to 2007 (a few gold coins add up quickly), but have long stopped buying anything from them.
There are way too many product lines and variations, at way too inflated prices, and crazy marketing schemes.
Steve Gregory

Price of silver Eagle set does not matter
This email is in response to your blog “Is silver Eagle set price too high?” I do not care how high it is. The last items that I bought from the U. S. Mint were Guam, Virgin Island, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and Northern Mariana Islands 100 count bag boxes (P & D) and two roll boxes.
They are not getting any premium over face value or silver value from me anymore. As far as I’m concerned, they can go out of business. Just as other jobs in the U.S.A.
George Furr
Archdale N.C.

Girls Scout commemorative year late
I see that next year the dollar is to be issued commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Girl Scouts.
The first meeting of the Girl Scouts was held by Juliet Low on March 12, 1912, with 18 girls present. How come the dollar isn’t being issued this year?
Matt G. Juppo
Address withheld