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This Week's Letters (1/7/09)

A selection of letters from readers of Numismatic News to editor Dave Harper
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State quarters the way commems should be


Your “Best of Buzz” in the Nov. 4 issue of Numismatic News expressed beautifully how I envisioned and proposed the Commemorative Quarter Program to the Congress of the United States when I appeared before the Banking Committee of the House of Representatives on July 12, 1995.
The Mint has been overpricing and over promoting special commemorative issues from the early 1980s and on to this day. The results after 10 years of holding many of these were re-sold at a loss. It did discourage collectors from starting collections with “special commemoratives.”
The idea I had was to make a face value commemorative, possible to collect all from change, and also learn about our 50 states. The program as I proposed it was a great success and, according to the ANA and PNG, helped to develop a larger market for coins than ever existed before.
It was very exciting for us to see the first one issued for the state of Delaware and the continued interest to this very day by the public as well as collectors in acquiring those history commemorative prices. I am very proud I was able to contribute to the growth of the hobby.

Harvey G. Stack
New York, N.Y.

Mint sets fit box with a little improvisation

I would like to respond to the Numismatic News readers who wrote to say that with changes to the proof set packaging this year and last, the sets no longer fit in the Mint issued storage boxes.
I, too, purchased a box for the full size set. The divider insert is held in place with only a little glue, so I carefully removed this and now can successfully fit the 11-year program in the box.
As Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood) said in the move Heartbreak Ridge, “you overcome, adapt, improvise.”

Stanley Clark

Elmira Heights, N.Y.

Our hobby could use a little more honesty

This may not be the kind of letter you will publish in the Letters section of Numismatic News, but I ask that you consider it. There are many buying and selling practices, largely by dealers, that really hurt our hobby. I will cover some of these and wonder if others have had similar experiences.
I witnessed a dealer tell a woman that her 100 Walking Liberty half dollars were valuable only for the silver content. She protested some but took what he offered and I heard the dealer tell his employee, after the woman left, that one of the coins was a 1938-D worth more than double what he paid for all the coins.
One dealer pushed the sale of a trade dollar, years ago, by telling me that the chop marks on the coin made it more valuable because these show the coin was used in the Orient. Guess who believed this?
I purchased four Seated Liberty dollars in 2003 from a local dealer and was satisfied that these were properly graded. The coins were placed in better holders and kept for several months until I decided to sell them so I could purchase another coin. I took them back to the dealer who clearly did not recognize the coins and in every case, said the coins graded much less than what he had shown originally. He was informed of this but answered that he has no way of knowing these are the same coins. I told him that I know, then left his shop never to return.
One dealer told me in 1995 that my 1831 large cent was worth only $14. There was a coin show in a nearby town so I took the coin there and showed it to several other dealers and collectors. The best offer was $85 so the coin was sold.
There are problem areas involving people other than dealers. I placed an ad for coins in the local paper five years ago and the response I got makes me question the integrity of our people. One man made an appointment for the next morning but never came and I learned he was fishing when I called to check. One woman called and said to consider the coins sold but I never heard from her again. Another man took several minutes on the telephone trying to convince me I was asking too much but never came to examine the coins as promised (I later sold these to a collector for exactly what I was asking). A third man made an appointment but did not come and advised when I called that he thought I was to come to his business, the address of which I did not know. It appears that honesty is a lost virtue.

George McGehee
Jackson, Miss

An open letter to the President-elect

Editor’s note: The following was submitted by a blogger who wanted to share his “letter” to President-elect Barack Obama with readers.

I know you are busy and have a lot of other issues to deal with, but as a numismatist and blogger on numismatic topics, I am concerned with who you may ask to run the U.S. Mint.
In the recent past, the Director of the US Mint has been a political appointment whose experience was not in areas necessary to make the Mint a success. For example, this past year, the Mint has not been able to keep up with the demand of bullion coins. Followers of the Mint are dumbfounded over these circumstances since the Mint is reporting striking fewer coins in 2008 than they did ten years ago when the demand was higher.
In addition to failing to meet the demand for its product, the Mint has mismanaged the costs necessary to manufacture their products and tried to extend their product lines in ways that even their most ardent customers found excessive. Recently, the Mint had to hold a “Clearance Sale” to rid themselves of an oversupply of collector products that never sold. Items that were available in sale, such as 1999-dated collectibles, shows that the current bureaucracy has been ineffectual in managing the Mint’s resources and misjudged the demand to the collector community.
Although collectors would like for your Mint Director to be a collector, the situation calls for a leader who has experience in manufacturing, supply chain management, and customer service. This leader should be able to manage four active factories whose well known products are as important to the public as it is to the collector. The importance and scale of this manufacturer belies the ability of a bureaucrat to manage.
News reports announcing the selection of your new leadership team indicate that you are looking for the most qualified people. When you consider who should be the next Director of the U.S. Mint, would you please consider appointing someone with a manufacturing background whose product serves a commodity community as well as a specific market? It would help if this person was familiar with managing a company in a regulated market. Such a person would be able to understand the markets the U.S. Mint serves while being able to successfully manage a profitable government organization.
Congratulations on your victory and I wish you much luck in dealing with the problems the nation is currently experiencing.

Scott Barman
Rockville, Md.

Thanks for sponsored ANA membership

I would like to thank Steve Middleton for the one year membership to the American Numismatic Association that he generously provided for me and nine others. My wife and I got into collecting coins, mostly pennies and nickels, this year and have been trying to learn all we could about the hobby. We are currently trying to collect a million pennies for the grandkids to see and when it’s all said and done we will divide it up between the eight grandkids into some kind of money market for their schooling.

Kim DeHart

Gordon, Neb.