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This week’s letters (07/24/12)

I just received my $23.90 roll of “S” quarters from the Mint. Is anyone else seeing coins with what appear to be water spots on them? This roll was filled with them. About 60 percent of the coins had these spots. Any idea on what they are?
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Water spots found on San Francisco quarters
I just received my $23.90 roll of “S” quarters from the Mint. Is anyone else seeing coins with what appear to be water spots on them? This roll was filled with them. About 60 percent of the coins had these spots. Any idea on what they are?
Tim Breslin
San Marcos, Calif.

2012 El Yunque quarters reviewed and graded
Today, June 27, much to my surprise, I received the first five bags of the 2012-S El Yunque quarters. I ordered five bags of 100 coins each on June 21. Receiving them six days later on June 27 was a welcome surprise and a welcome change from my otherwise hectic and stressful day as a lawyer playing Mr. Mom with my wife away for a few days.
I am an amateur numismatist and have been collecting coins for 57 of my 60 years. I have had a lot of experience in grading coins and precious stones.
Occasionally, experts come to me for a second opinion before buying a diamond or gem stone.
I believe that I am right 90 percent of the time in my grading, although, for the life of me, I cannot distinguish between a modern day NGC or PCGS MS-69 and MS-70 coin.
Generally I am a purist, leaving my purchases intact. In the case of bags and rolls I leave them in their original sealed condition and leave it to someone else to open them and cherry pick from them if they want to.
I feel that I missed out of what the last generation experienced when they were able to buy Mint sealed dollar bags at face value, or close to face value, and then have the thrill of going through them.
I still remember reading the Los Angeles Times which advertised 1,000 sealed Morgan dollar bags for the astronomical price of $1,100.00. Of course, to an 11-year-old kid who barely had enough money to buy a carton of milk at lunch time, it may have been a king’s ransom.
This time, in the interest of numismatics and to satisfy my own curiosity, I opened one of the five bags at random, went through each quarter meticulously using my KAYA Triplex 10X loupe, which is designed for grading gem stones, and I separated those coins, making a stack of MS-66 or better coins on one edge of my desk and stacked the other coins in piles of 16 on the other edge of my desk.
I could not justify or afford to spend $14 a quarter to have a coin grading service grade the 100 coins. However, if any service is interested in duplicating my test in the interest of science, I will be delighted to send them the quarters exactly as I found them and see how my grading compares with that of the grading service.
The coins are marketed by the Mint as circulation strikes, although they appear to have mirror surfaces, something that could explain the water marks on some of the coins because they appear to have been burnished before striking. Eighty-seven of the 100 coins have scratches, ranging in severity from minor to quite pronounced. A small percentage of the quarters are discolored, taking on a dark almost gray color.
Unless the San Francisco Mint decided to give the blanks a special treatment before striking, I cannot understand why a circulation strike coin would appear to have been washed before striking and why the cleaning and drying process at the San Francisco Mint did not get rid of the water spots.
I base my observation on the interesting articles published by leading coin magazines which go to meticulous detail on the striking of the 2012-S proof Eagles and the process of preparing coin blanks. Also, as the coins were only released six days ago on June 21, the toning that appears to be the result of aging of some of the coins is perplexing to me.
Of the 13 coins that stand out, it is my opinion that eight of the 13 would grade MS-66, three would grade MS-67 and two MS-68. Those 13 coins do not have detracting water marks, dark coloring and scratches that appear on the other 87 quarters taken from the Mint sealed bag.
Unfortunately, even though the majority of the coins have a mirror finish, none of those examined have frosting, and although they are definitely uncirculated I think that the grades of the 87 coins not making it to the second tier in my grading scale will range in grades from MS-63 to MS-65.
My review did not disclose any errors.All of the coins look like they were struck with the same dies, and they all have crisp and sharp rims, although some of them have small dents in the rims of the quarters.
I believe that for a circulated bag of quarters, marketed as circulated with no special handling of striking procedures which are typical on mint and proof sets, that the quality of the 13 coins that I singled out is outstanding and would make a welcome addition to any collection.
Also, unless the Mint changes its policy regarding 2012 Mint sets, the only way someone can have a complete set of 2012 circulation strike quarters is to buy them separately from the Mint, and that means either as a roll for $18.95 or a bag for $34.95, currently back ordered to July 12, on the secondary market or try to find one in circulation, an almost impossible task.
For someone who missed out on going through the hoard of silver dollars available to my father’s generation in the 1960s, I found it interesting and educational to go through the Mint sealed and brand new 2012 El Yunque quarter bags. The results of which were, in my opinion, somewhat disappointing, and the hour plus that I spent to look through 100 coins hardly compensated me for the hour of lost billable time. However, I am not in numismatics for profit. It is a passion, like going out with my children or enjoying a concert with my wife.
In closing, congratulations to the San Francisco Mint on its 75th anniversary and to George Washington for looking as good today at more than 280 years old as you looked when you were first put on the 1932 quarter celebrating your 200th birthday.
William H. Brownstein

Clarification needed on wording of NN ads
A good number of your individual ads at the back of NN issues use the term “average circulated” to describe the coins they are offering for sale.
Since NN normally requires advertisers to meet certain recognized definitions when describing the grades of coins offered for sale, exactly what does “average circulated” mean?
Please keep in mind that some of these same ads say “full date and mintmark” even when referring to “average circulated.”
What exactly can a reader expect when answering an ad where the seller refers to the coins as “average circulated?”
Dan Sowards
Austin, Texas

Editor’s note: Average circulated is a term that has been used in the hobby for many years. It basically means you will get a coin that you will be able to recognize as the type that is being offered and the seller is not bothering to evaluate it precisely enough to give it a proper grade.

U.S. should learn to embrace the dollar coin
Last year I read in Canadian Coin News that Americans still love their paper money. The article pointed out that 76 percent of Americans oppose abolishing the $1 note.
I agree that the majority of Americans “love” the $1 note and feel that the coin substitute is unnecessary. However, this author feels that this thinking is old-fashioned and now, in the 21st century, we, as Americans, should think modern and get on with the new as the rest of the world has since about the 1980s.
Our paper dollar should be demonetized and no longer produced as our “sister” country, Canada, did nearly 30 years ago. The paper dollar is better than the coin for carrying germs and disease. Germs can hide in the cracks and crevasses of the fabric weave better than on a coin’s surface.
While the note is lighter and more flexible than its metal counterpart, it does not last as long as a coin. The note in continuous circulation lasts only a number of months, whereas a coin will last many years in continuous circulation.
It might be easier to put 10 $1 notes in your wallet or purse than 10 $1 coins, but that is the reason there are higher denomination notes in circulation. If there were no $1 coins and notes available, this author would certainly not want to carry around $10 in quarters (that’s 40 coins of about the same weight as the $1 coin).
Again, that’s why there are higher denomination notes in circulation. Excluding the large silver and “Ike” dollar coins and the small gold dollars of the 19th century, the dollar coin weighs only about 8 grams, slightly heavier than the smaller quarter (5.67 grams). Even still, were there no $1 notes, this author would rather carry a single $1 coin (8 grams) than four quarters (22.68 grams).
Some will argue that eliminating the $1 note in favor of the coin will ruin the economy. This author feels the opposite to that thinking.
The feeling that converting the older machines will cost millions, or perhaps, billions, and ruin the economy is incorrect. Converting and readjusting those machines will actually help to stimulate the economy by putting some unemployed people back to work.
Building new coin operated machines to accept the dollar coin will create new jobs in both the technology and industrial fields.
Naysayers to the $1 coin say the cash drawers in the registers would have to be converted, thereby costing the merchant to convert. This is also irrational thinking. Since the half dollar does not, or rarely, circulate, there is a spot for the $1 coin next to the quarters. However, most cash registers already have slots or places for all the current coins of the last century.
Eliminating the note and producing only the coin will also help the government save millions per year and free up space in all the government warehouses where all the previously minted billions (1979 - present) of dollar coins are currently stored. We taxpayers are paying the fees for the storage of those idle dollar coins that should be circulating.
As far as the coin being unnecessary, this author agrees, but only in the aspect of the many different designs on the coins at the time of this writing. The Susan B. Anthony dollar is totally unnecessary and should be recalled and melted.
The SBA was a failure from the start; it is just a little bigger than a quarter and made of the same materials (copper-nickel clad on a copper core). Being roughly the same size and color of the quarter, SBAs are often confused for a quarter.
The other unnecessary dollar coin is the Presidential dollar. In another attempt to get the now golden dollar circulating, the government authorized this program, similar to the States and Territories and America The Beautiful quarter programs.
This author has yet to see any Presidential dollars past Andrew Johnson. Even the Native American heritage dollar is a failure because it is tied to the Presidential dollar program.
This author feels that an Native American heritage coin should have been created separate from the Sacagawea dollar.
Even though the reverse design is similar to those of the past, the obverse of the Sac dollar is unique in that the design does not involve a former President, like all the other lower denominated coins currently in circulation.
Should the $1 note be discontinued and demonetized in order to cut both waste and cost (in having both a note and coin circulating at the same time), this author elects the Sac dollar, as it was originally designed, to be the only dollar coin to circulate.
It is time to get modern, America. Discontinue and demonetize the old inefficient note you love, and learn to love the new clean and efficient $1 coin. If the Canadians did it in the 1980s to stop the waste and increasing costs, we can do it now.
Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio