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This Week's Letters (9/22/09)

A selection of letters from readers of Numismatic Nes to editor, Dave Harper.
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What’s the story with sale of uncirculated Eagles?


I just got a coin catalogue and inside is an offer for 2009 uncirculated silver Eagles. I didn’t think the US Mint had them available for sale, including the proof version.
Did the Mint release silver dollar coins earlier this year? Did the public have a chance to buy them? If you have a subscription for the proof and uncirculated version does that offer you a better chance of getting your coins or must your order them as soon as they are released?
Lots of questions out there and few answers. Thanks in advance for your help.

Jack Hodges
Address withheld

Editor’s note: The U.S. Mint has been striking 2009 bullion American Eagle coins all year and selling them through its authorized buyer network. What it has not been selling are the uncirculated and proof versions of the American Eagle with the “W ” mintmark. It still expects to do so later this year, but says it is contingent on its being able to meet demand for the investment bullion Eagles while selling the others to collectors. If you have a subscription at the Mint, you will get the coins if the Mint does indeed offer them.

Quantity issues result in poor quality at Mint

Kudos to Gary Huskey who wrote the “Viewpoint” in the Sept. 8 issue of Numismatic News. He voices opinions that quite possibly 95 percent of collectors would second.
About the only item that he did not touch on concerns the propensity of Congress to legislate into being such a plethora of issues that the Mint is sorely taxed to produce so many coins. As one result the quality of their product is abysmal. The circulating coins suffer most, but even the proofs of the circulating series are not apt to grade higher than Proof-64. They are prone to spots, hair-lines, breaks in the frost on the devices, so-called “milk spots” and all manner of imperfections.
To credit the Mint where it is due, some of the lower mintage issues among the commemoratives are excellent and occasionally really superb. Some even reach the pinnacle of Proof-70 and Proof-69 examples are abundant enough that a few dealers have even made a market for them.
Now if Congress would finally recognize that the time-worn designs on the obverses of all our regularly circulating coinage are ridiculously past due for change, and gave the Mint’s artists and designers free rein to develop some really fine designs we might have coins of which we could be proud.
The single exception to limiting the longevity of a series might be the Lincoln cent. Most Americans harbor a special sort of admiration and respect for the president who literally saved the nation from division. To perpetuate this national icon is probably acceptable. But the Presidents’ images have occupied the obverses so long that many noncollectors would find it difficult to tell you whose image is on what coin. It becomes like recognizing the street sign on the corner of your residence street but not being able to answer the question “Is the word ‘Street’ abbreviated? Does it have a period after the word or is it spelled out fully?”
Concerning the inscription of the dollar amounts, I would guess that the reason why it is kept way below intrinsic value for the bullion coins is that the Secretary of the Treasury is aware of the probability of some of them making their way into circulation via a child who sneaked one from his parents hoard, or by a non-informed person who didn’t realize the value of the silver content. Imagine the confusion that would result if they started to turn up as substitutes for Federal Reserve Notes.
However, they could be valued sufficiently below spot price so they could not need to be periodically adjusted to follow drops in the spot price. With the inflation that is likely follow the almost unbelievable rise in the national debt precious metals are not likely to drop to levels where the increased valuation would constitute a problem. The change would be a bit of consumer protection in that the $33 dollar coin they purchased would never drop below about one-third of what they paid for it. The same thing would apply at much higher levels to gold bullion coins.
I know that my criticisms will not change anyone’s thinking, but I still believe they are valid points and I believe most collectors would agree.

Merle J. Hyldahl
Rochester, N.Y.

Restaurant change yields 1944-P war nickel

They are still out there!
The morning of Aug. 26, my wife and I ate at Steak ’n Shake here in Warner Robins. When I paid, I received a 1944-P war nickel in change. I was excited. So this proves that good coins are still out there.
My wife and I love Numismatic News and are excited with each copy received.

Carl Coleman
Warner Robins, Ga.

2010 cent should adopt Lincoln dollar design

Believe it or not, today, Aug. 24, I received a series 3 Lincoln cent in change. I notice now both series 1 and 2 are coming in circulation. Seems they took forever to get into circulation. Now type 3 is in circulation.
I certainly hope they don’t use the 100-year-old Lincoln obverse for 2010. Why not redesign it with the same design as was used on the sold-out Lincoln dollar. The design is as refreshing as a spring breeze.

Bob Olekson
Parma, Ohio

2009 Lincoln cent finds thrilling for new collector

I am a new coin collector, only been collecting for two years. I got into it when my son was born in hopes that it will be something we can do through our lives together and give him something to share with his children.
I have read several articles in Numismatic News about finding coins in your pocket change. Additionally, I have read Mr. Potter’s book, Strike it Rich with Pocket Change. Although I have never found the “mother lode,” I want to share two experiences with you.
On Aug. 6 my family and I went to Willoughby, Ohio, to visit some family. While there, I went into a Rite Aid pharmacy to purchase milk for the baby. I was excited to find three 2009-P childhood Lincoln cents in my change. I immediately shouted, “Yahoo!” The cashier looked at me like I was crazy, and my wife told her, “You just can’t understand.”
My second experience was just yesterday, Aug. 24. Again my family and I went on a small vacation to Kennywood Park near Pittsburgh, Pa. Upon buying a drink at a cafe in the park, I was given a 2009-P Formative Years Lincoln cent. Again, I was thrilled.
Although neither of these coins will yield a fortune, it was great finding them. Thanks for letting me share my experience.

Denny Field
Connelsville, Pa.

Toys for Tots token comes with request

I received an appeal from the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program in the mail today.
I thought readers may like to know about the token that comes with it. It says, “United States Marine Corps” on the obverse, and the reverse says, “Every Child Deserves a Little Christmas.”
I am sure that the foundation would send one to any collector, especially if a small donation is made.
The address is: Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Marine Corps Base, P.O. Box 227, Quantico, VA 22134-0227.

Darrell Laning
Grand Haven, Mich.

Measure coin success by collector purchases

Concerning your e-letters on a Ronald Reagan coin: The real proof of the success of any coin is not how many coins the Mint produces and not how many big dealers buy them, but how many small collectors are willing to pay the price to add it to their collections.
Myself, I would rather spend the cost of that coin to add gold or a Morgan silver dollar to my collection.
On the new pennies and new nickels, I am finding quite a few of the new nickels and new Lincoln pennies where you buy gas at a convenience store. That has a tray to put pennies in if you do not want them. So when you buy gas, check the penny tray and exchange it for another one like I do.
Continue to check change.

Larry Stanfield
Bernie, Mo.

Strange that Mint won’t take coins for purchases

Aug. 13 I attended the release ceremony of the third Lincoln cent in Springfield, Ill. After the very entertaining ceremony, I tried to purchase the new rolls with Presidential and Sacagawea dollars. The cashier said they didn’t accept coins.
It seems strange that the Mint, who spends a lot of money to try to get us to use the dollar coins, won’t accept the coins themselves. Fortunately I had ample cash to purchase all the rolls I wanted.

James Davis
Palatine, Ill.

NN should conduct poll on quarter designs

Now that we have almost reached the end of the statehood/territories quarter series, I would like to suggest that Numismatic News. Conduct an “election” by its readers to determine the most liked and least liked designs. This could be done exclusively online or both online and by enclosing printed postcard “ballot,” to be mailed back by the reader, in one of the issues of NN.
Although it is totally the prerogative of the NN staff to determine a good way to do this, and the right of other NN readers to improve my suggestion, this is what I propose:
Each “voter” would list their five most favorite in order, with one to five points assigned to each. Then they would list their five least favorite, with 52 to 56 points assigned to each. After all the ballots are tallied, the total number of points assigned to each design by all the voters would be totalled up. The design with the least number of points would be the most favorite, and the design with the second least number of points the second most favorite, and so on down to the deign with the most number of points, which would be the least favorite. I think that this would be preferable to having each voter rank all 56 designs, which would take too long and discourage participation.
My guess is that since coin collectors are an independent and opinionated group of people, there will be no clear consensus on any of the designs.
Here is my ballot of most favorite and least favorite quarters:
1 Utah
2 Wisconsin
3 Iowa
4 Montana
5 Arizona
52 New Hampshire
53 Pennsylvania
54 Idaho
55 Maryland
56 Michigan

Should NN decide to conduct this “election,” the main thing is for the “voters” to have fun with it, and not take it too seriously. Thank you for considering my idea.

Alan Schiffer
Washington, D.C.