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This week’s letters (11/22/11)

I enjoyed your article about coin clubs and it made me want to tell you that Art Blom, an active member of the Lincoln Cent Club in Westland/Livonia, Mich., passed away this week. He was 87.
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Fellow coin collector, family member dies at 87

I enjoyed your article about coin clubs and it made me want to tell you that Art Blom, an active member of the Lincoln Cent Club in Westland/Livonia, Mich., passed away this week. He was 87.

A member of my wife’s extended family, I enjoyed visiting with Uncle Art and even went to a couple of coin shows with him. He was an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic coin collector who enjoyed not just viewing his vast collection but providing the history behind many coins. While I call myself a passive collector, I always enjoyed Art’s coin stories. Not only will he be missed by his family, he will certainly be missed by his fellow coin collectors. Rest in peace, Uncle Art.

Bill Wilson

Tecumseh, Mich.

1829 half dime research leads to gule education

I was recently researching online for ways to add a lower grade 1836 3 over inverted 3 half dime to my humble collection without having to pay for a certified one. We don’t all have budgets that allow us the option of higher grade items. A raw undiscovered lower grade online example was what I was hoping to spot and steal away. Two interesting points popped up from an ad online from a large Eastern rare coin dealer.

The first thing he mentioned is that the die marriage that contained the invert was the most common one of the year and that the invert is not rare despite the prices asked by most dealers. The second item he pointed out was mention of the two varieties of the 1829 shield. Everyone knows that there are no varieties produced in 1829. Or are there? I spent two days online looking for reference to the two- and three-line shields he so casually mentioned. I turned up nothing. I then went to eBay and pulled up all listings for 1829 and checked the reverse photos. There they were. A very few three-line shields and a significantly larger number of two-line varieties.

More online research and I discovered the word, “gule.” A gule is the dark line of the shield as represented on a coin by two or three raised close parallel lines. Again very little found other than the fact that three lines were considered too much intricate design for such a small coin so two lines were used instead.

The point in this rambling is this. If a large or small motto makes such a difference in a 2-cent coin, an outline around a star on a 3-cent silver, a raised plain on a Buffalo nickel, or chain mail on a quarter all constitute a rare collectible variety then why has this been ignored all these years? All are first year corrections for a series initial flaws.

I have been collecting these little silver jewels for over eight years and have the Valentine guide for reference, but this is the first I have ever heard of a variety for the 1829 half dime.

Roger Jorgenson

Address withheld

ANA team colors should be obvious to collectors

I loved the Oct. 25 Class of ’63 “It’s root, root for the home team.” You ask what the team colors should be. Come on, you know it should be gold and silver.

Ed Case

Dolega, Chiriqui, Panama

Collecting a contagious but optimistic ‘disease’

In reference to the Nov. 1 letter by Joseph P. Gerloff of Norfolk, Va., Mr. Gerloff, people like you and I don’t understand why other people aren’t excited at the sight of a pristine, shiny coin.

First, you have to understand that we have a disease that over time can be contagious. Lucky for me, it was with my wife. But remember, it has to be in their heart first for it to catch, so just keep on searching. That big prize penny is out there waiting to be found. I know mine is and that’s from one Lincoln cent lover to another.

Michael P. Schmeyer

Halsey Valley, N.Y.

Minor correction on Oct. 4 NN auction story

We have just one minor correction regarding the story we did on the Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection Part V by Stack’s Bowers at the 2011 World’s Fair of Money in Chicago (Oct. 4, “Bass sheets at $1.3 million”).

Our story mentioned that only one of the 55 lots didn’t sell in this magnificent sale. After viewing the press release for the sale, we found that all 55 lots did sell, which is unusual for any sale.

John and Nancy Wilson

Ocala, Fla.

ATB quarters spotted in Shawnee, Kan., bakery

I have obtained most of the America The Beautiful coins from, of all places, our Wonder Bakery outlet here in my city. The lady says they get their coins from the bank just a block from their location. My regular bank brings in the Presidential dollar coins, but they do not get the ATB quarters. The ladies at the store do try to save the ATB quarters for me and a couple of times, I’ve given them an Ike dollar as a token of my appreciation.

At my regular bank, the tellers are good about keeping rolls of the newly released dollar coins available for me. I asked the branch manager to accept a couple of boxes of chocolates for my appreciation. A gesture, regardless how small will be remembered along with those “Thank You’s.”

Of course, the only other place to get the ATB coins is at the local pawn/coin shops, but expect to pay a premium.

Ken Kassen

Shawnee, Kan.

Grading both sides of coin not a new practice

In an Oct. 4 Letter to the Editor, a reader made the logical suggestion that each side of a coin be graded separately. I agree. The system he suggested was in use about 40 years ago as two-sided grading was incorporated into the grading system Charles Hoskins and I formulated to identify coins sent to the American Numismatic Association’s Authentication Service in Washington, D.C.

That system was developed further to become the Technical Grading System we used at the first third-party grading service at the International Numismatic Society’s Authentication Bureau (INSAB). Initially, our grading was offered at no additional charge and predated the ANA’s grading service by almost two years.

Technical grading sought to identify a coin’s state of preservation and the best way to do that was to describe both sides. Let me offer an extreme example to make my point.

Which coin can you visualize best in this example: An 1881-S Morgan dollar graded MS-64; or one graded MS-64, weak strike (obverse)/MS-65 prooflike (reverse)?

According to the ANA Grading Guide, a typical MS-64 coin has some light marks (none very detracting), no wear, and pleasing luster. A prooflike surface on the reverse has no bearing on the commercial MS-64 grade and its ��gem” reverse would not either. An MS-64 coin may also be a coin with great luster, no wear, virtually no contact marks - a real gem; yet have a weak strike. Finally, there are many cases where an MS-65/MS-63 coin is given a grade of MS-64. With so many variables, what does a sight-unseen MS-64 coin look like?

In the future, as the value of our coins goes up or with a new 0-100 grading system, we may be destined to repeat the past and grade both sides of a coin again.

F. Michael Fazzari

Tampa, Fla.

Collector had best year in 60 years of searching

I am one of those old people – late 70s – with a small pension, so I scrap out metal and old PCs. It helps pay for my hobby of coins and this year has been a good one for me. I am still finding some wheat cents and many different errors in Lincoln cents.

Jefferson has been very good to me. How about from 1939 and up? My best friends that Mr. Jefferson has given are 12 2009-Ds plus 10 rolls of 2010-D. Now the 2010-Ds gave me some nice errors, die break on dome (20 of them) plus die break on dome and die chip on the “F” in “FIVE” – 41 of them.

There is more. First window at 3 o’clock. Inside the window there are two spikes, one upper and one lower. It could be a doubled die. I have 96 of them. But this is not the end. Obverse doubling – LIBERTY – 76 of them. Reverse doubling – Monticello (“LLO”) and CENTS (“TS”), probably ejection double. But so many alike.

Dimes – one blank and one flip.

Kennedy halves – I found on reverse no Fs to NO F.G. A weak strike 197?, just like the one in Strike it Rich with Pocket Change, on page 242.

Ike dollars – different dates, peg legs.

Now for proofs. RPMS, wire marks, incuses, no FG but E.C., broad strike, die cracks – Jefferson obverse three-point stars, die breaks, double rims.

I will say this is my best-ever find in more than 60 years. There is a lot more that I did not write about. It is time for my nap, so keep looking out there.

Frank Hennings

Cascade, Idaho

Remember ANA’s mission when judging expenses

When we look at the American Numismatic Association budget and the various coin conventions that they sponsor we should not overlook the mission of the ANA which is stated on their website,

“The American Numismatic Association is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. With nearly 33,000 members, the Association serves the academic community, collectors and the general public with an interest in numismatics. The ANA helps all people discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of programs including its education and outreach, museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars.”

The bottom line is do the expenses in the budget support this mission statement? Assuming the answer is yes and the ANA wants not only a balanced budget at the beginning of the fiscal year but an actual profit at the end of the year, then management needs to find the income source(s) to pay the bills. This income source could be from bourse and auction fees, convention admission fees, membership dues, advertising fees, donations, interested on investments, etc. This budget process in not an easy undertaking by the ANA staff nor taken lightly by the ANA board. Difficult decisions need to be made and are made by ANA Senior Staff and the Board of Governors in support of the ANA long term strategic plan.

Gary Lewis

Cape Coral, Fla.

Many ATBs found in change in Chicago

I see lots of America The Beautiful quarters, as well as the usual mix of state quarters and the occasional bicentennial cent here in Chicago. I took a couple out of my farmer’s market change just this weekend, and I will watch more closely to see which ones are showing up.

Paul Dolan

Chicago, Ill.

Reader overlooks numismatic value in theft

In a letter to the editor in the Oct. 25 Numismatic News, Rick Notkin complains that when figuring the amount stolen from the Mint by William Gray one should use face value to determine the “size” of the theft rather than numismatic value. This can be easily shown to be totally ridiculous by considering what crime you would consider charging someone who stole one of the 5 known 1913 Liberty Head Nickels? If, as Mr. Notkin would suggest, you charge them with stealing a nickel, then it would be a petty crime that wouldn’t even make it into the courts – but I’m pretty sure the owner would consider the theft a considerably bigger issue.

Jeff Proehl

Cornish, N.H.

First fall ANA show successful

The first Fall American Numismatic Association National Money Show (NMS) in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Oct. 13-15, was successful, though we think attendance could have been better. Attendance for the Scout Clinic on Saturday was huge and overfilled the testing area. After the clinic ended, well over 250 scouts and their families invaded the bourse floor. The Kids Zone had long lines almost up to the end of the convention. We want to thank General Chairman Sam Deep, his committee, and the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN) for hosting the event. Thanks also to President Ken Hallenbeck and the Board for their work and dedication to the ANA.

A convention of this magnitude wouldn’t be possible without the hard working ANA staff and in particular, the convention department and its director, Rhonda Scurek. Thanks also to the local committee, the ANA National Volunteers, exhibitors, Museum Showcase (and special exhibits), judges, speakers, sponsors, Heritage Auctions, Krause Publications, the numismatic press, great security, coin club tables and dealers who had tables at the convention. Without the dealers and sponsors, we wouldn’t have ANA conventions.

A well-deserved kudo to everyone who worked hard and contributed to the success of this convention. We look forward to the next NMS in Denver, Colo., on May 10-12, 2012.

John and Nancy Wilson

ANA National Volunteers

Ocala, Fla.

Vietnam token found in circulation in U.S.

I wanted to share a unique find in circulation this past week. While I was in a restaurant paying my bill, I reached into my pocket to get some change. Looking for a dime, I noticed a silver-colored coin a little larger than a dime, but it was not a dime.

It was a Vietnam War era token. The obverse reads “enlisted mess open NAF Cam Ranh Bay.” The reverse reads “Fly Navy” in a triangle.

The piece is almost uncirculated so it has been stored somewhere in a collection of Vietnam War memorabilia. Probably brought back by a veteran.

This goes to show to keep watching your change for a unique “find.”

Robert Jaques

Hartselle, Ala.

Appraisal fair treasures and common finds

For the last five years, I have been a currency appraiser for Milwaukee’s Channel 10 “Appraisal Fair,” which is run just like the Antiques Road Show, only local. Appraisal tickets cost the public $10 and help support public television. They sell out at 2,000 tickets.

Most of the items brought are framed, and the line is long for people to find out their inherited painting was bought at a starving artist show.

I have a table next to the coin appraiser, Dave Hunsicker. It is very interesting to see what the public has and they all are hoping for fabulous fortune. We are very lienient, and for $10, a person can have their whole collection or accumulation evaluated.

I got to see two series 1899 $2 silver certificates still carefully folded into baptismal folders of a century ago. There was plenty of German inflation paper money. It will be available forever.

The coin appraisers got two $10 appraisal tickets from one person to evaluate her 2 circulated Eisenhower dollars. Another woman brought a Barber quarter and Indian cent, then proclaimed to have a few more coins in her purse and produced $25,000 in gold coins.

A gentleman had an 1836 Gobrecht dollar all wrapped in tissue paper. One woman was told her framed montage of 1890s trade cards was not worth much, then proceeded to ask the opinion of every other appraiser not busy at the moment, regardless of their area of expertise.

Tom Snyder

Waukesha, Wis.

In San Francisco, only one ATB quarter spotted

I just read the Oct. 18 “Class of ‘63” about having to wait a few months for new quarters. I have been looking for them in pocket change since they have started. I’ve received a total of one America The Beautiful quarter. I live 12 miles south of San Francisco, so I’m not in an isolated area.

Steve Carlson

Address withheld

Coupon inquiry for readers

Several years ago, I acquired a small hoard of Raleigh/B&W coupons from both Bellaire and Raleigh brand cigarettes. I attempted to write the B&W Corporation, getting the address from the coupons, but my letter was returned labeled, “RETURN TO SENDER – ATTEMPTED – NOT KNOWN/ UNABLE TO FORWARD.”

I would like to know if there are any readers out there who might have information about the coupons’ system for the various series (for “dating” and organizing my coupons in order in my collection). I have some extra coupons which I can trade, if any respondent is interested. Send your reply to this inquiry to:

William B. Tuttle

600 Quilliams Road

Cleveland, Ohio 44121-1932

Thanks to all in advance for your help.

Bill Tuttle

Cleveland, Ohio

Editor’s note: Brown and Williamson merged with R.J. Reynolds in 2004 and the combined firm is Reynolds American Inc. Address is P.O. Box 2990, Winston-Salem, NC 27102-2990.

Gold, silver fever threatens the future of coin collecting

After reading the reviews since the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in the last two issues of Numismatic News, I know now that it’s all about gold and silver and how much money you can make, and not about collecting. I don’t own any gold but I do have some silver. I’ll try to keep my coins off the furnaces so there will be some left for others to share when we are all a pile of dust.

Bob Atwater

Conway, S.C.

Vicksburg nice addition to parks quarter program

Just a couple lines to let you hear from me again. I want to report that I have found more of the new Vicksburg, Miss., quarters. I think they are pretty neat. Most of the national park quarters are nice.

Virgil Griffith Jr.

Camden, N.C.

Hollis book makes for good, informative read

If you ever attended college, you are aware of what is considered required reading. Well, if you are going to collect coins or currency, it should be required to read American Numismatist by Paul Hollis. I started reading the Foreword by John Albanese and got so excited, I could not stop reading. I read the first seven chapters, before I looked at the clock and it was 2 a.m.

If you like coinage or history, then get yourself a copy of American Numismatist. It will be the best thing you’ve read in some time, except perhaps Numismatic News. Albanese graded the book a Mint State 70.

Michael P. Schmeyer

Spencer, N.Y.