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This Week's Letters (9/16/09)

What's on your mind this week? A selection of letters from readers of Numismatic News to editor, Dave Harper.
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Mint’s return policy isn’t customer friendly


After reading the letters from collectors who have had problems with the U.S. Mint I had to share a recent experience with your readers.
A few weeks ago I ordered two rolls of Polk Presidential dollars, one each “P” and “D” mint. I just received my order which contained two “D” mint rolls. I have been ordering coins from the U.S. Mint for many years and have never had an error in shipment although I was one of the shocked customers when I received my 2009 UHR Double Eagle and didn’t have to sign for it.
The order form had simple, well-written instructions on how to return merchandise, but I was concerned with having to send back one roll and pay for the insurance and shipping charges since this was the Mint’s error. I called the 800 number, spoke to an employee and explained my problem.
I was immediately informed that “the Mint does not guarantee the items sent are the same as the items ordered” and since there was no damage there is nothing that can be done. I immediately asked to speak to a supervisor or manager and was put on hold for about five minutes. The employee returned and advised me to send the roll back and fax the shipping and handling expense receipt and then they would make a decision regarding reimbursement. She would not put a supervisor on the phone.
When I told my wife what happened she said I should try calling the Social Security department if I felt this was odd. Believe me, I now sympathize with those who have written about their experiences with the U.S. Mint previously.

A. Robison
Franklin, Tenn.

Denver cent received in change in Michigan

Recently I received a 2009-D Lincoln Birthplace cent in change from a Kroger grocery store in Warren, Mich.
I was surprised to get this coin because it was from the Denver mint.

Greg Taylor
Warren, Mich.

Why pay high premiums for high mintage coins?

I couldn’t agree any more with the letter Todd Sciore wrote about collectors purchasing modern type coins for large premiums.
I’ve been telling my fellow collectors that I completely don’t understand why the hype for all these coins. As far as the State quarters and new Lincoln cents, if everyone was patient enough they can obtain these coins from their local banks or just from circulation. Maybe that’s why the Mint and coin dealers are able to sell these coins at a large premium.
All state quarters and Lincoln cents are minted in the hundreds of millions. Other modern coins may not have a very high mintage but they will have a very high survival rate. Think about it. If someone purchased all the 50 state rolls both “P” and “D” issues including postage it would have cost probably the same amount of money to buy a set of silver Washington quarters with the 1932-D and 1932-S in AU condition, which would cost about $800 for both. This figure is $200 less than the face value of the roll set of state quarters.
Another concept I can’t understand is collectors that must have MS-69 or MS-70 coins. This is another hype. You are not paying a premium price for the modern coins you are really paying for the high grade. As for me, I’ve been a serious collector for 40 years and I can’t even tell the difference between all the grades above MS-65.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling anyone what to collect; that’s their business and money. But Todd Sciore pointed out an important premise that when collectors eventually got beaten to a certain degree they tend to leave this great hobby, which is the last thing I hate to see.

Joe Trezza
Bronx, N.Y.

Bank has plenty of new 2009-D Lincoln cents

I just left the Bank of America drive through here in Houston, Texas, (Aug. 28), the proud owner of 10 BU rolls of the newest 2009-D Lincoln cent, the third in the series.
My teller friends know I collect coins and they offered me a brick unopened with the new coins, but I really only needed $5 worth, so the rest are for other lucky individuals. Additionally, I obtained a used roll of Ikes, which I will go over later. They still exist.
Just wanted to inform NN readers that for a change we got the new cents and they look reasonably good. Hope they’re limited in number.

Louis Schain
Houston, Texas

Buy from dealers who put prices on coins

I enjoyed the article about picking the right dealer at a coin show written by Greg Heim in the Aug. 25 issue. I came back to the hobby by accumulating “slabbed” coins after a 35-year hiatus from the collecting field.
I look to accumulate excellent condition certified coins of all denominations as an eclectic interest. I will often find an appealing coin on a dealer’s table and find that 90 percent of the time it isn’t priced and I get sized up by the dealer as they consult their price list. The usual explanation is that the coin market is volatile and prices can change by the minute. I don’t find this to be true of non-bulllion coins.
I now select dealers who put the price right on the front of the plastic case and will tell them why I am buying from them. They are in agreement.
A dealer’s attitude will often influence my decision to buy or look over their offering. If they seem annoyed that I am asking about a less than $1,000 coin, I move on. There is a good chance that I can find the same coin on another table.
I applaud the sellers that will clearly price their items and take the time to make the sale.

Rick Wright
Diamond Bar, Calif.

Future looks bright for paper money collectors

Dave Harper’s Class of ‘63 comments in the Aug. 18 issue of Numismatic News made some good points about inflation creating new currencies throughout the world at various time frames. The end result is that there are more types and issues of paper money to collect worldwide.
Economic problems throughout the United State’s 233-year history has caused various types of U.S. paper money to be issued. From Demand Notes to the present Federal Reserve Notes and every issue in between we have been blessed (or at the time of issue, cursed, some might have said) with a colorful array of notes to collect.
I’m not a big collector of foreign paper money or coins so I won’t comment on those items as I don’t feel qualified to write about them or their future as collectibles. I can say, however, that despite the huge run up in prices over the last 10 years or so in U.S. paper money, many items are still underpriced. We can even disregard quality and just discuss availability.
For starters, many issues had low printages. For some of these low printages, many notes were never even released, they were just destroyed. The small amount of notes that got issued circulated until they were worn out. Very few people had the means to put aside a $1 note for collecting (or speculation) prior to World War II, let alone collecting higher denominations. Therefore, many scarce or rare items remaining today were due to the rest of the notes being withdrawn from circulation by the Treasury during the Great Depression.
I envision many national bank notes as “sleeping giants” waiting to awaken. My logic for this is relatively simple. The government states that there is $50 million to $65 million in national bank notes still in existence. National bank notes were issued in denominations of $1 through $1,000, although only three $500 notes and no $1,000 notes are known. Almost all of the $1 and $2 notes were redeemed. If we use $10 as the average denomination and divide it into $50,000,000 that comes out to 5,000,000 notes remaining. So far only about 500,000 notes have been recorded by pioneers such as John Hickman, Dean Oakes and Don Kelly as to what is still in existence. Certainly there are more notes left than 500,000. There were 12,635 banks that issued national bank notes.
For simplicity’s sake let’s presume there are 2,000,000 national bank notes still in existence. If we divide 12,635 into 2,000,000 it come out to 158 notes per bank; not very many. There are still banks where no surviving note has surfaced. Many banks have less than 30 pieces known and in many cases some of these notes can be bought for $200-500 depending upon condition.
There’s no way one can buy any U.S. coin with even a couple thousand mintage (1880 Trade dollar and 1883 or 1884 quarter eagles come to mind) for that kind of money. While $200-500 is still a lot of money to many of us, some of these notes look like bargains when comparing them to coin values.
Some might say that there’s a lack of demand keeping the values lower. If someone could figure out a way to market items that there aren’t a lot of in the marketplace, that would spark a lot of interest and competition. On second thought, maybe us true collectors don’t want that to happen so we can still afford to collect!
Nevertheless, for the small amount of notes remaining, I find it fascinating that they are available at all. There are many other series of U.S. paper money where this rarity factor exists. I just used national bank notes as an example. Do diligent research, go to shows, surf the Internet and read articles to keep informed on what is easily available (hype) and what isn’t. The results might surprise you.

Stan Kijek
Naperville, Ill.

Offers to pay Cucchi’s way to Summer Seminar

I really enjoyed the “Viewpoint” by James Cucchi, a self-described “young, college-aged numismatist.” It could have been written by me 20 years ago (and you did publish some of mine back then, and even bought an article from me when I was 17, a tremendous confidence boost for me then!).
I’m writing for two reasons: first, to encourage James to look for 40 percent and 90 percent silver half dollars in rolls from his banks. I used profits from them to further my collection and once in college to buy beer; and second, I really think he is exactly the kind of collector who needs a scholarship to the ANA’s Summer Seminar to fully open the doors of this great hobby for him.
To that end, I’d be happy to pay for a full scholarship for him to attend the class of his choice at next July’s Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs. I’d appreciate it if you could pass this information on to him, and ask him to contact me, and I’ll take care of it with the ANA, provided he wants to attend. Please tell him that many classes do fill up early, so if you or he contacts me, it would be a good idea to think what about what he wants to take. Susan McMillan at the ANA will be able to guide us in that regard.
There are, as for the past few years, two weeks of Summer Seminar at the ANA, so he’d be free to pick the week and course of his choice, and I’ll pay for tuition, room/board and travel. He would make all arrangements (including travel) through the ANA and Susan McMillan there, and I’d send the funds to the ANA.
Please pass this information on to James, and thanks very much for your strong encouragement over the years to so many young people in the hobby. It has made a difference in many of their lives, including mine, I assure you.

Don Bonser
Clarcona, Fla.

Editor’s note: Thanks for your generosity. We seem to have purged the system of the e-mail address, so if Mr. Cucchi would e-mail Don Bonser at, we can get the ball rolling.

Could it be Pretty Boy Floyd’s lucky coin?

It was said that Pretty Boy Floyd had carried around a coin called his lucky piece that he notched out everyone he had killed on this coin. My father has had a coin for around 60 years in his safe deposit box that he saved when he saw an article in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not years back that had a picture of this coin and the notches. The coin matched up identical to the notches and was the same year.
I have tried to find out after Pretty Boy Floyd was killed if this coin was ever turned in anywhere. Some stories say that this coin also had a hole drilled in it and that he wore it around his neck. This coin does not have a hole drilled in it, but neither does the one in the picture from Ripley’s.
I was wondering if you could steer me in the right direction as how I could authenticate whether the coin is the real deal or not. I have made calls around the country and can’t seem to find out anything. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. You can contact me by e-mail at .

Bob McQuade
Address withheld