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This Week's Letters (8/26/09)

A selection of letters to editor, Dave Harper, from readers of Numismatic News.
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Mint should list sale restrictions on sets


Today I placed an order for the new Lincoln Professional Life rolls from the U.S. Mint Web site. There was no written statement or restrictions on how many sets one could order, so I ordered 10.
I tried for about 30 minutes to checkout with the order and couldn’t continue. After I changed the number to five, it allowed me to continue the checkout.
If the Mint had a maximum order of five sets, it should have stated so in writing. Also, there was no restriction on how many rolls could be ordered from the same address.
The Mint needs to clarify if there are restrictions as to the number of rolls and orders from the same address. I suppose they will make about 500,000 sets this time.

Marco Ramius
El Paso, Texas

Boston area coin clubs welcome new members

I just read a query by Robert Calo in the Aug. 11 Numismatic News inquiring about coin clubs in the Boston, Mass., area.
I would like to invite him to the two coins clubs and one currency club that meet in the Boston, Mass., area 10 times a year. I can be contacted at the e-mail address below.
Since you elected me a Numismatic Ambassador last year, you can see I am qualified to make the inquiry. And again I thank you for electing me an Ambassador. It is a high honor.

Thomas P. Rockwell

Buying new coins doesn’t make a collector

I am a longtime coin collector who feels that the hype and overpricing of the newest coin releases will be bad for the hobby long term.
I saw it happen with sports memorabilia as they flooded the market with gimmicky material and I’m afraid that the U.S. Mint is doing the same with its recent bout of multiple design changes. Charging in excess of face value plus a shipping fee is tacky at best and a rip-off at the worst.
This has been a gravy train for the Mint, dealers and eBay vultures at the expense of new and often naive collectors. When a good many of them realize they’ve been had, they’ll shy away from coins for life and may distrust dealers in general. It’s the equivalent of a car dealer ripping you off big time on your first car and you never go back or a dealer who treats you fairly and you buy your next five cars from him.
While I’ve been told that the 50 state quarters program has created a wave of new collectors, I am curious if it transformed them into collectors of older material or if they are just buying new stuff. If it’s the latter then I think there will be a lot of unhappy people when, 15 years from now, they go to sell the rolls of quarters, nickels and pennies that they’ve paid huge premiums for and are only offered face value. My guess is they’re accumulators, not collectors.
I work in a bank and watch countless folks come in asking for rolls of new coins and while it’s not wise to judge books by their cover, I’d wager that none of them are also working on completing a Mercury dime collection or reading a book about grading.
As any longtime collector knows, value is based on supply and demand. Older material was not saved on as wide of a basis as it was needed for daily commerce and besides, a roll of quarters in 1910 was a load of groceries!
Today, folks are putting back countless rolls of new coins. I equate it to my parents putting baseball cards from the 1950s in their bicycle spokes while kids in the 1980s and ‘90s put them in plastic holders to keep them “mint”. The end result is that the newer material has no value and the older cards are tougher to find in mint shape thus adding to their value. Thus, it will be very easy to find MS-65+ versions of all of the new coins which will, in my opinion, render them to common status.
Not to put down a newer collector but paying a premium for a modern, mass- produced, base metal coin almost seems foolish. I just hope that the buyers of new material quickly venture off into the older material, for them and for the long term health of our hobby.
I have personally shunned the 50 state quarters program and am personally staying away from all new nickel and penny issues. My money is better spent on older key date coins. I think the price appreciation of modern coins has, to an extent, been fabricated by those selling them.

Todd Sciore
New Jersey

Thanks to all who helped with ANA show

We recently attended the ANA World’s Fair of Money Convention held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Aug. 5-9. We want to sincerely thank Executive Director Larry Shepherd, Meeting Services Manager Brenda Bishop and the entire ANA staff, along with the National Volunteers who work tirelessly at all ANA conventions.
Kudos’ also to General Chairman G. Lee Kuntz along with his local committee along with the host Coin Clubs. A special thanks to the dealers, bureaus, mints, exhibitors, judges and speakers because without them we wouldn’t have a show.
We look forward to attending the next ANA National Money Show in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 25-28, 2010. Visit for more information.

John and Nancy
Ocala, Fla.

Treat collectors like other Mint customers

I have seen a lot of pontificating on this lately, most recently from a Mr. Netro of Santa Cruz, Ca. Basically, the ongoing talking point is that the Mint exists only to enable commerce.
Let’s take his arguments one at a time. Feel free to write and correct me. It is a complex system.
1. Yes, the Mint produces coin for commerce. This is the Mint’s duty under the law. It also produces coins for collectors as part of its role. How do we know this? Because it produces coins for collectors. It has done so for much of its existence, often producing gifts for VIPs from other countries and medals to commemorate our history. Additionally, the Mint ensures that coinage is appealing to the public and acceptable to users, both foreign and domestic. By Mr. Netro’s lights, our coinage need have no markings except to indicate origin and value. I have yet to see anyone actually suggest that. What a gray place the world would be if beauty were never considered. Actually, I think that Mr. Moy needs to stop producing old designs, though they are beautiful, and create some new ones that are a bit more attractive than the Presidential dollars.
2. So, let’s define gouging. Gouging is usually defined as selling something for more than is reasonable or fair. Since you can buy two rolls of cents for a dollar at the bank, $8.95 would probably be seen as gouging by most, since the markup increases the price by much more than 100 percent. It would also be seen as gouging since the coins are sent to the Fed at face value, where again, $1 will buy you 100 cents. Cents (and other business strikes) should be sold to the public at the same rate as the Fed. As far as I know, there is nothing special (with regard to circulating coin) about the rolls of cents for $8.95, except that they can be ordered directly, the same way the Fed orders. Something wrong with equal treatment?
Mr. Netro justifies the higher retail public price as a way for the government to fill its coffers, while complaining about collector coins, which do the same thing. Irony seems to be lost on him.
3. Finally, Mr. Netro makes the assertion that collectors (Does he really believe that collectors don’t pay taxes?) want coins at cost, and this should stop them from collecting. Mr. Netro, the Mint never sells coins at cost (This year’s cent may be an exception because of material cost). This is called seinorage. It is one way the government makes money. Paying the face value alone for a coin results in a profit to the Mint. Collectors would just like to be treated as are all others who deal with the Mint.
Lastly, I would like to respond to the individual who claims that those who buy and store coins are not collectors. I strongly disagree. This is the very essence of collecting. We take beautiful items, appreciate them and then put them away for posterity. This is why we have coin sales that feature excellent specimens that are hundreds or thousands of years old. Someone thought they were worth putting away for the future.

Steven Enfield
Eureka, Mont.

Nine 1928 $2 bills bought at bank

What a find! I stopped at my bank the other day and asked for any $2 bills. The teller said that yes, they had $44 worth so I said I will take them all since bank tellers don’t like them too much.
To my surprise, I received nine old $2, all dated 1928. One was really nice and one was in XF condition. Is that a find or what? So keep looking – it pays.

Eagle McMahon
President, Elgin Coin Club
Elgin, Ill.

A few corrected facts about Australia

As a collector of Australian coins and currency, I enjoyed, in the 7/28/09 Numismatic News, David Ganz’s Under the Glass column “Violent seas slow cruise to the Perth Mint”.
Two corrections:
“In 1951 Canberra became the nation’s capital.” Actually, in 1908 the area that is now Canberra was selected as the site for the capital (a compromise between Melbourne and Sydney). It was given the name Canberra (Aboriginal for “meeting place”) in 1913 and the Australian government moved there on May 12, 1927.
The article also refers to South Australia as the “largest state,” when that distinction really belongs to Western Australia.
I thank Mr. Ganz for his informative article, the Numismatic News for publishing it and hope that there will be future coverage of the Perth Mint and other aspects of Australia’s interesting coinage and currency.

Dan Lipstein
Parkton, Md.

Quality lacking in silver coin proof set

I am a 77-year-old coin collector and have been collecting much of my adult life. I recently ordered an 18-coin silver proof set. It arrived in a very timely manner. However, the quality of the set was marginal at best.
One of the pennies had a dark mark across the rim of the obverse and the half dollar obverse background surface looked like it had been blotted by Sponge Bob. At $57 and change I felt I should be better served and so I returned it for a refund, which I have yet to receive.
Do they not inspect these coins before they ship them? My eyesight is not all that great but I could still see coin condition. The reverse of the half dollar was very good and the reverse of the penny did not show the rim defect.
Perhaps other readers have had similar experience. I would enjoy hearing from them in your column.

John M. Jenkins
Daleville, Ala.

New Numismatic Ambassador says thanks

As one of the newest Numismatic Ambassadors, I want to thank Numismatic News and Krause Publications for establishing the award and my fellow Ambassadors who welcomed me to their ranks.
I have always thought that this was the best award in numismatics. It is not just an award, it also says, “Thanks for all you have done for the hobby. Now, go back out there and keep doing the stuff that made you an Ambassador!”
I shall.

Bob Fritsch
Nashua, N.H

Eunice Shriver was deserving of commem

I was saddened to learn of Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s death on Aug. 11.
Shortly after the Special Olympics Commemorative Silver Dollar was sold by the U.S. Mint, I sent several certificates from the Mint packaging along with several copies of the Mint’s promotional brochures to Mrs. Shriver with an autograph request.
I was pleased to receive the autographed certificates and brochures from Mrs. Shriver along with a gracious letter thanking me for purchasing the commemorative coins and for my support of the Special Olympics.
Although I remember the controversy involving honoring a living individual on a U.S. coin, Mrs. Shriver’s involvement, dedication and passion for the Special Olympics certainly made her worthy of the honor – and as a collector I was quite touched by her personal attention to my simple autograph request.”

Steven Bieda
Warren, Mich.

Mint gets poor mark for bad packaging

I found what looks like a die fill damage on a Harrison Presidential dollar by the crown.
Also, sets came fast but boxing looked like crap and four of 10 sets had residue on the pennies
Wish I could take a pic of the Harrison dollar crown.
Mint gets a D+ .

J. Cole
Denton, Texas

Trip to Springfield for cent release worthwhile

I went to the release in Springfield, Ill. Thanks for putting the information in as early as you did.
With postal service the way it is, I might not have gotten the information on time. Many people were there. Limit of six rolls was crazy. Met people from a lot further away than myself, including one from Lincoln City, Ind. I know some people were going through the line more than once, but that’s OK.
After obtaining mine, I attempted to obtain other coins, such as quarters, from banks in the area. No luck, many told they were refused to get the latest coins, and had to settle for what was sent. This is what I have been told locally, and other areas.
It’s hard to believe this country is hurting for free money (Collectors are paying cash for these coins, and just holding them.), and making it difficult on all of us.
Anyway, while checking banks, I noticed a line on the next block. I guess the term Curious George applies. I went to investigate, and the line was at a Postal Substation where people were getting commemorative stamps and getting their rolls date canceled.
I thought this may be a good idea. Ient back to the car, got the rolls, and went back to the line, which hadn’t hardly moved. A postal representative was there talking to others in the line, and stated the main post office would be doing this for thirty days.
Now I may have misinterpreted something there, but it was getting warm in the sun, the line was going no where (Postal service just isn’t what it started out to be.), and I came up with an idea that I thought wasn’t bad.
I left there, and on my way home, stopped by Lincoln, Ill. I took four of my six rolls into the Post Office and (one for the P.O.) was able to get them canceled there. I kinda think a Lincoln cent roll canceled on release date, at Lincoln, Ill., is a little more special, and no waiting in line.
As a side note, is there anyway you can find out who is putting out the word, refusing to send requested new coinage to the few banks that are that are trying to serve their customers? It is unbelievable the amount of bank employees, customers, wasted gas, etc. this is unnecessarily causing.

George Walter
Galesburg, Ill.

Silver coin collector gets hooked on VAMs

I have been collecting coins for about five months. My reasons to get into it was to have silver and most of my purchases in the beginning were of the cheapest worst shape coins I could find.
About four months ago I found a mark on a coin that was interesting enough for me to look on the Internet to identify what may have caused it. I ended up at I found the coin in question to be a 1935-S VAM-3 Extra Ray. I was hooked!
I have been VAMming since, (with MAJOR help from the message board members). I recently discovered a new TOP50 Peace VAM, known as 1925-S VAM-3A. I was unsure if it was news worthy for your publication or not, but I figured since I am a reader, I would send it in to see. Even people new to collecting can make amazing finds!

Mike McCrady
Address withheld

Visit to museum yields interesting coin finds

This summer, my wife and I spent the day with our two young children at The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It turned out to be one of those fun, memorable summer day trips that I’ll always remember. Not only did the kids have a great time with the museum’s terrific interactive learning exhibits but I had a few coin finds as well.
The museum’s parking garage is automated and only dispenses dollar coins as change. I received four pristine John Tyler dollars, which I was very excited about. The vending machines in the food court as well only dish out dollar coins, no paper. I put a $5 bill in a machine for a $2 bottle of water and got back a 2000-D Sacagawea, a John Adams and an Andrew Jackson.
These finds however, were not the highlight of the day. While walking by one of the fountains in the museum I happened to look inside. I instantly noticed a coin that was obviously new. It was a 2009-P Lincoln “Rail Splitter” cent. Despite my wife’s embarrassment I stuck my hand in and grabbed it. It now resides in my collection along with a good story.

John Pauley
Bolingbrook, Ill.

Michael Jackson won’t soon be on a coin

I was going through my old issues of Numismatic News last night to put them out in the “read file.” I missed the e-question about Michael Jackson on a coin and would like to comment about that right now.
First I’d like to say that government regulations on minting coins pretty much follows the printing of stamps. Unless the person to be commemorated is a president, he or she cannot be commemorated on a coin or stamp for at least 11 years after his/her death. The reason that both FDR (dime) and JFK (half dollar) were commemorated on coins almost immediately after their deaths was that they were both Presidents of the U.S. and died (FDR) or were killed (JFK) while in office. Eisenhower (dollar) was also a president of the U.S., but he died after serving a president. The “Ike dollar” was first struck well after the year Eisenhower died.
Therefore, I don’t see a Michael Jackson commemorative coin from the U.S. for quite a while, if one will ever be struck at all in the U.S.

Bill Tuttle
Cleveland, Ohio

Proof silver dime looks to have die crack

I ordered my regular proof sets from the Mint and found that one of the cases was cracked, with a corner chipped completely off. The Mint was courteous and quick with a replacement.
I just received my silver proof sets and I noticed that the sets were flush with the side of the box, with the packing only on three sides. I checked each set carefully, but luckily there was no damage.
However, there is a line across the face on one of the dimes that looks like there was a die crack that wasn’t caught by the inspectors.

Ray Klopchin
Sugar Loar, N.Y.

Samoa quarter rolls found at local bank

Just wanted to let you know I found two rolls of American Samoa quarters at out local bank. They are neat.

Virgil Griffith Jr.
Camden, N.C.

Lincoln’s greatest achievement overlooked

I may be wrong, but I don’t think the last two Lincoln cents will be as popular as the Birthplace and Formative Years cents.
I also think it’s unfortunate that Congress and the U.S. Mint chose not to commemorate President Lincoln’s greatest achievement: the Emancipation Proclamation and the preservation of the Union.
I hope Numismatic News will print the Gettysburg Address as near to Nov. 19 as possible. It only lasted two minutes, but in my opinion it was the greatest speech ever written.

H.W. Prince
New York, N.Y.

Coin quality varies at minting facilities

Congratulations to Ronald Walling of Ottowa, Ill., for receiving “P” and “D” cents of the Formative Years in proof-like sheen and no spots, second-day delivery.
I received my two rolls in 19 days. Some had a nice sheen, but both rolls were all spotted and the surprising thing is the “D”s were worse than the “P”s. Very unusual.
I had eight-day delivery on the Puerto Rico quarters and 13-day delivery on the Guam quarters. Forty percent to 50 percent of the two were not in uncirculated condition. I received the American Samoa quarters in 12 days, which is good. Seventy-five percent of the “D”s were good and only 50 percent of the “P”s were good. Considering the money the Mint is charging us, we deserve nearly all uncirculated coins.
I was able to purchase 10 rolls of American Samoa quarters at two separate banks in Hampton, N.H. All 400 coins were spotted, which doesn’t say much for the quality control at the Philadelphia Mint.
A medal for Mr. Moy? After the quality of coins from the Mint, I think not. Maybe they will be extra careful on his medal, no spots or scratches.
The proof set was received in 12 days and as usual, the San Francisco Mint did a beautiful job.

Donat Veilleux
Hampton, N.H.

Rolls didn’t contain new cents as advertised

On May 26, I won an auction on eBay for a box of 50 rolls of Formative Years cents. My winning price was $237.05.
I received the coins on June 23 via U.S. mail parcel post. Due to a health issue, I did not inspect the coins until July 31.
I found 50 rolls with a 2009 Birthplace penny on top of 49 earlier Lincoln pennies that had been rearranged shotgun style. The rolls were sealed in a Du Quoin State Bank box from Du Quoin, Ill.
This fraud has been reported to eBay, PayPal and the Internet Crime Complaint Center. According to a representative at eBay, I will be reimbursed for my $237.05. Do elephants fly?

B.A. Koykan
Romeoville, Ill.

Good coins are in circulation if you look

I received my Aug. 11 NN and I was surprised to see one of my finds in the news. Thank you very much for letting me share my finds with your readers!
I looked through $30 worth of cents and I found 11 Birthplace cents, one of which was a “D” mintmark.
Today was a good day for me. Looking through cent rolls, I found the following:
Two 1943 steel cents, two bank rolls of 2009 cents, two bank rolls of 2009 Formative Years cents and last but not least, two 2009-P Birthplace cents.
I know that there are good coins still out there and the only thing you have to do is look for them.
I enjoy your newspaper very much and I wish that there was more room for letters about finds.

Bob Atwater
Conway, S.C.

In the Aug. 11 issue of NN, a misinterpretation was printed on the front page article, “Get new Lincolns from Old Capitol.” The article indicated that the Chase Bank was giving collectors the opportunity to purchase rolls of the third issue of the Lincolns “at face value.”
Well, I went to several branches at Chase and no one knew anything about it, not even the managers. I did wait until the ceremony with the Governer and Mr. Moy was over, about noon EST.

Bob Vinciguerra
North Bellmore, N.Y.

Editor’s note: The exchange only took place at the ceremony, as stated in the article.