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This Week's Letters (7/14/09)

A selection of this weeks letters from readers of Numismatic News to Editor, Dave Harper.
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I enjoyed Paul Green’s “Item of the Week” in the June 23 issue of NN.
I just purchased a 1903-S Barber dime at a local coin show this spring. I have been working on a Barber dime set for a few years and just got serious about completing a partial set from 1900-1916. Along with going to the coin shows I have been requesting price lists and responding to the classified ads for Barber dimes.
I was able to complete the partial set with all the dates and mintmarks in May. The last one was a 1909-D. There are still some from the 1890s that I need to complete the entire set, but for now it’s a good feeling that I accomplished my goal.
Barber dimes may not be the most popular coin collection, but they can be a challenging and fun set to put together.


A. Verhaeghe
Swartz Creek, Mich.

On June 24, my coin box was taken from my garage. It had several thousand dollars of silver and copper coins within it. One of the coins is easily identifiable. It is a Liberty Walking half dollar dated 1921-S and has a punch mark to the right of the eagle.
If any coin shop owner or pawn shop dealer of one of your many readers spots this coin please call the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 861-5800. It is case No. 0947369. An appropriate reward will be in the picture.
I appreciate your assistance in this matter. If anyone can help us it is you and your staff. I have been a subscriber to your publication for over 30 years.

John Daniele
Osprey, Fla.

I’m pleased to say that I have found a 2009 log cabin cent! I found the coin about two weeks ago at a convenience store I often visit. A clerk there gave the cent to me out of the “Give a penny take a penny” jar.
Design wise, the Mint did well with the small space the cent has. I was amazed that the lines of the logs on the cabin were so faint. Is this normal?
Overall I’m very happy with the find. However, my happiness is tempered by the fact the Mint has been slow getting the cents and the DC-territories quarters out to the public. Norman Mineta, a former cabinet secretary under Clinton and Bush 43 once said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency were the only people that – in his words – “could screw up a two car parade.” I think the same could be said of the Mint given its record over the last few months

Joshua Holman
Havelock, N.C.

I’ve been away at Goose Pond Scout Reservation at Lake Ariel, Pa., for almost a week. I am the Trading Post Manager there. When I came home, besides checking my e-mails and such, my son said he found a new Lincoln cent in Rhinebeck, N.Y. It was the first one in the series. I guess if one waits, one will finally find the cents in circulation.
Now I go back to finish out the eight weeks of Boy Scout camp. There are a lot of coin collectors there. I usually keep some of my May and June NN and hand them out to anyone who would like a copy and maybe this way they will get there own subscription.

Dean Davis
Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

I got my 2009 cent proof set and on the back of the state capitol there is a dent. It looks like a UFO.

Joe Scofero
Rochester, N.Y.

It’s just amazing that with all the publicity on the Chinese counterfeit coins and the mass producing of such, that some publishers of numismatic material are having their books and literature produced in China. I realize it may be less expensive, but to sell one’s soul to the devil is absurd.
This was a rude awaking I had when at a recent coin show while reviewing Colonial and Early American Coins by Q. David Bowers. Just after the cover page, there it was “Printed in China.” I know that these books can be sold online, but to hand this reference material over to the Chinese counterfeiters on a silver platter is a tragedy for all collectors in the hobby.

Dennis Berube, President
Ocean County Coin Club N.J.

I have been a collector for about 20 years now, and have always checked the change given back to me. Last weekend (6/20), I was at JFK Airport flying in from Salt Lake City en route to Portland, Maine, to join family in New Hampshire for Father’s Day. I stopped at a Burger King in JFK for a breakfast sandwich after my red-eye flight. After paying cash, I received back in my change a 1909 Liberty Head nickel! I noticed the coin has a lot of wear. All the type was legible, but the Liberty Head was very worn with none of the “Liberty” lettering on the head visible. I did not make out a mintmark, I just saw a dot on both sides of the CENTS on the reverse where is supposedly the mintmark location. I checked with the 2009 Red Book and a G-4 is about $2.50. Not a bad discount on my breakfast that morning!

Ken Morley
Salt Lake City, Utah

I just returned from my local bank and purchased 40 cent rolls. I had asked if they had any 2009, but they said no. I was delighted to find 11 Formative Year rolls.
Also, if people want some try looking in circulated rolls. I’ve found 40 or so Log Cabin and a couple Formative Year cents.

Doug Higginbotham
Phoenix, Ariz.

After reading and enjoying your publication, including the letters, for many years, agreeing and disagreeing with many viewpoints, I felt it was time for me to put my two cents in, or one cent as the case may be.
Regarding the new reverse for the 2010 Lincoln cent: I believe the Commission of Fine Arts should change its name to simply “The Commission,” because their choice for the new reverse has nothing to do with fine art. The new coin is very ugly and looks like a wooden token.
On the front page of the April 28 edition, the rendition of the beautiful eagle in flight with arrows and olive branch was my choice before I even turned to the inside pages to see the rest. The eagle has been a part of the most beautiful coins of the last two centuries and should remain so. The American flag was meant to be made of material and flown from a flag pole, not stamped on a coin.
Having started my penny collection with my Dad back in the 1960s along with many other Americans, I have an almost complete collection with the exception of two of the key coins. I think it is safe to say that after the 2009-S VDB, my Lincoln cent collecting days are over. It was a good 100-year run.
Do I want to bring up the Presidential dollars and the National Parks quarters? Only to say that I feel pretty much the same way about them as the new penny. Oh, for the good old days when Lady Liberty, in a flowing dress or an Indian head bonnet and the American eagle or the majestic Buffalo adorned out coins.

Tom Gurnee
Vancouver, Wash.

I was going through my change last night to cull out the cents I’ve accumulated the day before and I found that I had received a Formative Years Lincoln cent (2009-P). It was a pleasant surprise since I was told by my bank that they couldn’t get new issues until “the reserves (of earlier issues)” were “run out.” I’ve tried asking around at other banks in the neighborhood and was told I had to have an account with them before I could get “any of their” coins.
Getting the new issues this way – out from circulation – saves me a lot of time and money going here and there to get a new issue at (sometimes) a premium price. To others who become disappointed when the “event” runs out of its stock and turns people away, have patience; it’ll get to you eventually.

Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

I am a very basic coin collector who spends around $1,200 to $1,500 a year to fill my albums and add to my silver, mint and proof set collections. I have subscribed to NN for 20 years and have come to an observation regarding the coin industry that may be prevalent among other modest income collectors.
Only once in 20 years have I seen any competitive pricing between major advertisers. They all have exactly the same pricing. At the end of 2008, there was a dollar difference in Christmas silvers and the cheaper price was a mistake, or so they told me.
Are the same prices coincidental, or a matter of collusion? Are the major advertisers a corporate group or are they independent companies? Can it be that the large advertisers simply add 50 percent or 60 percent to their cost and it always comes out the same, or is pricing a cooperative rather than a competitive business agreement?
My local coin dealer (now defunct) priced everything according to a blue sheet price list, as did thousands of other dealers. I assume all that is now computerized. I believe that lock step pricing will ruin the coin industry in the long run. Everyone wants a bargain to save a buck.
At any rate, David, I think NN is the best thing the industry has going for it and you are the best guy in the world for Numismatic News!
I have observed that the industry gives most of its attention to the ANA, rather than to the collectors and what makes them tick. What the coin industry needs is a collector’s ombudsman. If the squeaky wheel gets the grease, then maybe we should squeak more often.
There may be competitive pricing in rare coins, but I have seen none in current coinage and if dealers want to spike sales, let’s see them offer some bargains – or is that controlled by the ANA? The industry’s is in profit; the collector’s interest is in coin collecting. One supplies the money and the other spends it.
Without you and NN, there is no way to be heard, so thanks for giving collectors like me a voice.

George D. Oliver
Floral Park, N.Y.

On July 4, I received my first 2009-P Rail Splitter Lincoln cent. I received this coin from change and I really enjoy the new designs of the Lincoln cent.
Just think, I received this coin in the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth year and on our great nation’s 233rd birthday.
Thank you for your excellent and informative magazine.

Robert L. Foreman
Chambersburg, Pa.

Regarding the Odyssey treasure ship article by David Ganz in the June 23 issue, I think we all lost an important freedom, the freedom of discovery. The U.S. magistrate judge has traded righteousness for political tact. The poor sailors and civilians that perished so many years ago have long been beyond anyone’s help.
Lost remainders of the age of discovery will be dissolved by the sea long before posterity has the opportunity to learn from it, if we persist this path. Exploration has been our moral imperative through the ages and the open waters are no exception.
I guess we do live in interesting times. What’s past is not prologue.

Ron Gelb
Address withheld

I received a 2009-D Puerto Rico quarter in change from a vending machine on July 3. The drink was good too! Glad to hear Clifford Mishler won the election! Wish I could be at the show and the banquet. Maybe next year, in Boston.

Ginger Rapsus
Chicago, Ill.

I am usually a pretty quiet kind of guy but please do not let them put a stack of wheat on the reverse of our Lincoln cent. I’m a big fan of the older coins that have character build in them, like a Morgan dollar, look at the O in dollar it sweeps up and down, it has depth it is not flat and square looking like today’s coins (for the most part). Go look at an older quarter or half dollar (1800’s through 1835 or 1838) look at the individual craftsmanship that went into each coin, if someone had a good or a bad day it shows up in the carving of the dies in the pressure applied to create each coin one by one. I’m not saying we should go back in time and make one coin at a time or have one individual carve their own die from a generalize picture but try to keep in mind our past as well as our future and attempt to add some bling to the dull, mass produced, flat, and squared designs we see so much of. PS: personally I like the shield or shield/eagle reverse design for my friend Mr. Lincoln. Just my humble option.

Jim Bonney
Glassboro, N.J.

Enjoyed Bob Frtisch’s viewpoint in NN. Bob has it right. I really am afraid that the Mint has lost touch with the collecting public. Thr Presidential Dollars are a disaster. The next mint Director needs to talk plainly and tell the Congressional Masters to back off on all these proposals for new coin designs. I predict that the mint will have a significant number of Presidential dollars siting the various Federal Reserve Coffers around the country. The dollar coins are neither interesting nor atttactive. Is anyone in government really listening...?

Bart Bartanowicz
Sarasota, Fla.

Found a Puerto Rico quarter from a roll I obtained in a beach arcade in Cape May, New Jersey,
as well as a 1914 Lincoln cent from a CoinStar. Forget asking the banks for quarters; I say,
head to the arcade!

Les Peters
South Riding, Va.

I was too impatient and two days ago bought on e-bay the Lincoln Formative Year’s penny for my penny collection. Using a credit card, I rarely get change back. Well, yesterday I received three of them in change at the Macklin Dry Cleaners in Dallas, Texas. Now I have more than I need.

Ed Miller
Dallas, Texas

First, I’d like to say thanks for your wonderful Numismatic News Publication, I look forward to each issue because I find it superior to Coin World and U.S. Coins magazine, both of which I subscribed to before. Your articles are more informational and less pretentious than those in the other publications, with metals and coin production information more accessible
I have ordered coins from the U.S. Mint for 41 years, and I am on the verge of discontinuing this tradition due to my recent experience. I ordered (3) Clad Proof Sets, (1) UNC Braille Dollar, and (2) Sets of Formative Years Pennies. Two of the (3) proof sets, the Braille coin and all the pennies had to be returned. The proof sets had spots and small scratches on ALL of the coins, a fingerprint on one AND what appeared to be a small 2 mm piece of chocolate on the edge of one coin embedded inside the mint package. The UNC Braille coin had a 1.5 mm crater-like hole above his right eyebrow, filled in with a whitish/cream-colored substance. Every single penny in all four rolls had dried liquid spots, and most had black discolorations that appear to be corrosion on them. (By the way, none of the Philadelphia coins had any indications of doubling.)
I allowed time for the Indiana Return Center to receive my returns, with the exception of the pennies, which I will give away to youngsters in the hope that our hobby will survive. In my conversation with the U.S. Mint this morning, I was told that even though the U.S. Mint acknowledged receipt of my returned insured items with my delivery confirmation number, they said that “There is no guarantee that we have received your items, or that replacement items will be sent out.” I was somewhat upset by this contradiction, and asked if I should re-order the items so as to insure that I will not miss out entirely on this year’s issues. The Mint employee said not to re-order, that it would only confuse their accounting system, and that I should wait the 4 to 6 weeks for my returns to be processed and returned. She then repeated that “We have no record of your returns.” She told me that she would email the warehouse with an inquiry, but that no guarantee is offered or implied by this action. So, I must wait another 4 to 6 weeks and then inquire again, hopefully the items will still be available when (and if) the Mint finally resolves my returns issue, if ever.
I told the Mint employee that in 41 years I have never seen such poor quality of product, and that the lack of quality control leads me to consider not ever ordering again. Perhaps many other longtime customers of the U.S. Mint have had similar problems, but I have also read of many satisfied customers in NN. I think that the U.S. Mint considers the loss of the unsatisfied customers as inconsequential or unimportant to future business, or that perhaps these unhappy people are simply “DE-MINTED”

James Porter
Las Vegas, NV

Today I purchased $10 in cents and to my surprise there were five rolls of brand new 2007 cents. That was a good find for me.

Bob Atwater
Conway, S.C.