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This week’s letters (08/07/12)

I just wanted to share a miracle with everyone. I ordered my roll of Chaco “S” minted quarters on July 12 at 12:45 p.m. and the Mint informed me they were shipped today, July 16. I cannot believe it. I think this may be a first and a new Mint record.
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Rapid shipment from the Mint a real miracle
I just wanted to share a miracle with everyone.
I ordered my roll of Chaco “S” minted quarters on July 12 at 12:45 p.m. and the Mint informed me they were shipped today, July 16. I cannot believe it. I think this may be a first and a new Mint record.
Mike Rossetti
Charlton, Mass.

One half dollar roll yields great find for N.Y. collector
Each week my two young sons and I travel to different area banks looking for rolls of half dollars. Actually, they’re looking for lollipops from the bank tellers.
Anyway, on one recent stop, the bank had only one roll of half dollars. That one roll proved to have some great finds.
Those finds turned out to be three 40 percent silver half dollars. One was a BU 1966. The other two were a 1968-D and a 1969-D, both in VF condition.
To top it off, the roll also had a 1962 Franklin in Fine condition. After many years of searching, this roll ranks up with one of my best finds.
Keep searching, they’re out there.
Rich York II
Buffalo, N.Y.

Veteran dealer noticing reduction in silver sellers
Take it from a very longtime retail dealer. In a few short months, I will be celebrating 50 years in the business of buying and selling coins/currency. I rely on making daily, small, local purchases.
Not many can claim this fact. However, to further prove my point, in the last five to six months, I personally have noticed that I have not been able to buy much of any form of physical silver. A definite deviation from many years before this year.
No, I do not purchase scrap or broken gold teeth or broken jewelry or even non-broken jewelry.
The reason is that I feel most of that kind of buying may contain many very hot items (stolen recently). I’d rather not have folks like that, mostly younger and grubbier, looking in my storefront.
I believe I am doing the community a favor by not purchasing that stuff. Perhaps this is why I have not seen too many new purchases. I do advertise in many different areas and have for nearly 50 years.
I think the only thing that has happened lately is that perhaps the paper silver contracts in the stock market have been sold off as folks buying those contracts in the higher price ranges, needed to sell as contracts, would have had to be purchased.
All those margin calls were coming due, so physical delivery was not affordable to most holders of paper silver stock.
Yet, for months now I could not buy much of anything in real silver coins or bars at these crazy levels. Those folks who believe in the metal, physically, simply do not have to sell at the current low prices.
They just need to hold for the day when the prices go though the roof again, as more and more folks realize silver has become quite scarce in the physical sense.
Remember, the stock market pricing is not for small quantities. It is usually a minimum of 100 to 1,000 ounces, and rarely do those speculators take physical delivery. They are just speculating in primarily paper notes.
So, go into your local dealer’s store now trying to buy large quantities of 90 percent, 40 percent silver coins pre-1970 on halves and pre-1965 on all other coinage and see how really scarce physical silver coins are.
I suppose that it does make a difference in certain parts of the country where your local shops are located. However, I have spoken to dozens of dealers in other states not close to me, and they keep saying everything is tough to buy.
Also, I might add that most of the rich silver coin deposits have, in the past 50 years, already been sold to dealers and collectors.
There are very few regular folks that had saved coins that hadn’t already disposed of them. So dealers may, in the very near future, have to start paying a higher premium for those old silver coins to draw out more sellers, which has nothing to do with the physical price of silver or gold.
Neil Osina
Glendora, Calif.

Collector laments the mistakes of youth
I once owned a 1901-S Barber silver quarter dollar in 1962. I was 10 years old at the time. It was a lesson I would, for years, hold up as one I flunked.
It was springtime. My fifth grade class at Walt Whitman Grade School in Portland, Ore., were looking forward to summer vacation.
It was the last day of formal classes. I brought to school my quarter I had received several months earlier from church friends of my mother. They had heard I was a budding collector and was recovering from an appendectomy.
“It may be valuable” was their utterance to me in a soft, hushed tone. I said thank you. Later I would recall looking at the coin and determining it was a VG (Very Good), clean condition coin. On the reverse below the eagle was an “S,” which I already knew was the San Francisco mintmark from other coins I had. But this quarter was only 60 years old. I wanted an older coin. So I put it with my other accumulated coins in mass.
When I brought the 1901-S quarter to school that day, I was intending to look it up in the Red Book that was available to us club members.
That last day was also a day for trading. When I showed it to a couple of the guys, one of the older kids asked if I wanted to trade and showed me his 1904 cent from his grandmother (her wedding token).
I was collecting them in an album where there was a vacant slot. And it was almost uncirculated. I started to look in the book and he said, “Oh you don’t need to do that.” And then he produced an older Liberty nickel to add to the deal, and I said OK. I thought I was getting the better deal.
That summer I picked strawberries for some pocket money. I also decided to collect quarters, Washington type though. I was still collecting Indian cents but was finding that the earlier dates and especially the 1877 were rather costly. But I managed to fill the quarter album 1932-1940 except for the ’32-D and -S.
Finally I decided to buy the Red Book. I was 13 when I did buy it, and when I was looking at those Barber quarters I realized my mistake. Buy the book, then buy the coin. Or, as in my case, research the coin before you trade.
As seasoned numismatists know, that 1901-S silver Barber quarter dollar is the most rare of that series 1892-1916. Today it is worth $11,000, give or take.
I believe this is when I finally graduated from that school of hard knocks. It is not your friends you have to worry about, but the friends of friends that may disappoint. And knowledge is power. Thus, the folly of my youth.
Wesley Ellis
Portland, Ore.

Dealers’ priority should be their customers’ needs
Ken Parsons’ rebuttal “Viewpoint” column to Mark Thurber was brilliant.
Indeed, your responsibilities should take precedence over your perceived rights.
If I need to man the counter past closing time to complete a sale, I will do so for my employer.
And Mr. Thurber, if you plan on attending the ANA show in Philadelphia next month, I hope to walk past your table.
David Nederostek
Meadowbrook, Pa.

Honesty provides conflict within coin collecting
I got a call the other day where the person was calling trying to find an honest coin dealer who pays cash and takes no names so the caller can get away with not paying taxes when they sell their coins.
First of all, I think we all pay the government too much in taxes, but what an oxymoron when asking for an honest dealer who is dishonest about following the laws of this land.
A dealer who pays cash for coins or sells coins for cash and does not report his sales and pay his share of taxes is dishonest – no ifs, ands or buts.
An honest coin dealer might pay you cash but will take your information and give you an invoice for all sales and purchases. I was told by one person that they were an honest person, but only a little dishonest when paying taxes. This made me laugh.
Also remember, if someone is buying coins for cash and does not want your name or information, would this same person buy and sell stolen coins or currency?
We need to keep this hobby of ours around for many years and the way to do that is to be honest in buying or selling coins and currency. Being a little dishonest is like being a little dead, you either are or aren’t.
Jim Coulthard
Box Elder, S.D.

Drum of coins could lead collector to great find
I have a project. I have always read about people who find and purchase hoards of money. I guess you could say that I just purchased a hoard of pennies.
A man that I have known for 40 years has a used junk yard. Until about four weeks ago, I did not know that he had been getting all the change left in wrecked cars and had been saving it.
I purchased a 53-gallon drum of pennies filled to the top. This drum took him 35 years to fill up. He is 75 years old and was cleaning house, getting ready to retire. I completely missed a 5-gallon bucket of nickels. Don’t know about the dimes and quarters.
The guys that worked for him tell me there were 5-gallon buckets full at one time just sitting in the shop.
I will start from the bottom up searching. It will be very interesting. Give me a couple of months and will let you know what is treasure.
William L. Jackson
Address withheld

Collectors are slaves to coin grading oligopoly
Hello, I want to ask a question about the industry. When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, I collected coins. I wasn’t concerned about grades and counterfeiters but on just filling my Whitman folders. I have just gotten back into the game again and am confused.
It seems that the industry is a huge industry controlled by only a very few.
If your raw coins aren’t graded by the big two, they are scrap. I’ve seen businesses working on a profit margin up to 3 to 5 percent, but these folks are killing the collectors.
In the old days, grading was subjective by who was grading the coin. Now it’s like they are giving almost every coin a 69 or 70 rating that is coming out of the Mint.
You know if a coin is nice or not by looking at it and not the label. It’s discouraging that they grade so highly. I was of the opinion that there are no perfect coins, but I guess I’m wrong or they are very liberal with their grading standards.
Al Montana
East Longmeadow, Mass.

Order of ‘outstanding’ El Yunque quarters received
I received my order of the El Yunque “S” quarters last Tuesday (July 10) and, like you said in your (Buzz) article, they are outstanding. I ordered the bag and, just like the ones in your roll, a few were stained, some had dings and some were quite proof-like, especially on the reverse.
Why the Mint doesn’t make a proof collector version of the 5-ounce ATB is beyond me. The current ones are dull and lifeless in my opinion.
I will spend a few and give a few to some of my friends who collect ATB quarters from pocket change. I have to look a little bit more closely at the rest, but I estimate there are at least 30 keepers from the bag.
I think the U.S. Mint got this one right, and I just ordered the bag of Chaco Canyon “S” quarters.
Name withheld
New York, N.Y.

Bicentennial quarter design better than current coins
I received a bicentennial quarter in change the other day. What a beautiful design. It is superior to even the best of the few state quarters that I liked. It is monumentally superior to the very lame National Park quarters.
How many years? Eleven? Fifty-six quarters. How did we get this morsel of joy? Oh yes, our overpaid legislators don’t read the bills before they pass them. How many of you would have passed the National Park quarters if you were in Congress?
I want better designs, too. Like returning designs of Liberty to our coins on the obverse. Not hiding the Statue of Liberty on the back of the equally lame Presidential dollars. The reverse should be the Presidential Seal or the White House.
The majority of these presidents couldn’t even get on a coin. Period. Now they are front and center. Can you imagine arguing the benefits for Fillmore to be on the quarter? Bye bye, Washington. Maybe we could have Pierce on the cent, and Buchanan on the dime. Now we’re talking. And who would be on the nickel? Read the legislation before voting on it.
Wayne Pearson
Union City, Ind.

Dealer’s strong opinion leads to coin kerfuffle
One more shot on the Mark Thurber kerfuffle.
He was the dealer who wrote expressing hostility toward customers who expect him to wait, at his table, for their arrival late in a show.
The issue isn’t really his right to leave early, for whatever reason. Nor the economics of setting up at shows. The problem is his negative attitude toward customers, so palpable in his letter.
Mr. Thurber doesn’t seem to understand that he is in a customer service business. That requires tolerating the existence of customers, and their foibles, and indeed making them feel you value their business. Which you should, because it’s what keeps the whole numismatic circus going.
Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Hell is other people.” However, we’re stuck living with them, and if you feel as Sartre did, that does make life Hell. I happen to love the human species, and that makes life a lot more rewarding. Including the coin business.
Frank S. Robinson
Albany, N.Y.

Buyers and sellers need to actively eliminate fakes
This letter is regarding your article in the online edition about fakes.
It takes two people to sell a fake coin, the seller, and the buyer. Take one person out of the transaction and there would be no more sales of fake coins.
Those people who buy fake coins don’t do anything to protect themselves.
Would you buy a used Rolex watch from a total stranger? No? Why? Because it could be a fake.
Would you buy a used diamond ring from a total stranger? No? Why? Because it could be a fake.
Would you buy a raw used coin from a total stranger? Yes? Why? Because it looked OK and the price was right and the seller was friendly.
We in the numismatic hobby are fortunate to collect items that are small enough to be readily authenticated by grading services.
If we all stuck to buying graded coins, the fakes would have no demand and would disappear from the marketplace. You can’t have sympathy for someone who shoots himself in the foot because he wanted to save a few bucks.
Peter Glassman
Schaumburg, Ill.