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This Week's Letters (4/7/11)

A selection of letters from readers of Numismatic News to editor, Dave Harper.
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Gettysburg quarters found in change don’t disappoint

Just a few lines to let you hear from me again. Just a few days ago, I received a couple Gettysburg 2011 quarters in change, and they are neat. I like them.
Virgil Griffith Jr.
Camden, N.C.

Honoring shuttle good reason to change dime

Now that the shuttle has flown its last mission, to commemorate the shuttle(s) I propose a one-year reverse change for the dime depicting a shuttle. Design taken from the Florida state quarter designed by T. James Farrell. All of our six circulating coins have had either obverse changes (Jefferson nickel) or reverse changes including Bicentennial design, except for the dime. Even the newest coin, the Sacagawea dollar, is receiving new (Native American) reverse designs. This would be a collectible and give the dime a new look in 2012 after 66 years.
Wayne Pearson
Union City, Ind.

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Does seller have to stick with first price quoted?

I hate to bother you with a question about bourse etiquette and ethics, but I figure you’re the man to ask.
Saturday I was at a swap meet. I was there as the secretary/treasurer and to try my hand at selling some of my collection.
I was collecting table fees, dues, paying bills on hand, setting my stuff out for sale haphazardly, trying to answer questions, talking and being introduced to people I only correspond with and had never met face to face, and stuffing bites of pastry in my mouth, all at the same time. You get the idea.
A couple of people stopped by my table as I was trying to multi-task as an officer and as a dealer. I had a nice Santa Fe silver American Eagle set in the Capital holder and a price on the back from when I bought it in 1999.
A collector asked how much I wanted for it and I threw out the price of $120. He said he would look around and be back. By the time he came back, I had looked at what he was interested in and knew the silver piece was 4 ounces alone and that with silver at $36-plus an ounce, $120 was not what I wanted to sell the set for.
So when he came back I told him I had misspoken and that I wanted $160 for it. He replied that I told him the price was $120. I said sorry, but I wanted the $160. He walked away, but he came back later, put $120 on the table and picked up the set and tried to walk away. I tried to stop him but he wouldn’t listen.
A while later, he came back, laid another $10 on the table and said he had the American Eagle and holder at home and was only buying the set for the silver, and walked away again. How should I have handled the situation?
I was dealing with another collector at the time who was buying some love tokens from me, and he witnessed what happened.
Was I bound by what I had said first?did I have any leeway to rescind my original price and ask what was appropriate for the set, or as the member walked away just eat the loss?
I would really appreciate your input on this matter.
Name withheld

Editor’s note:
I’d say you committed a breach of etiquette and the other party is a thief.

Dollar coins cost too much by the roll to use

I just turned 69 and been collecting since I was in high school. Now the government wants us to use the dollar coins. OK, I would like to do that but can’t afford to pay $39 a roll to spend as a $1 coin. Does the government really think we are that stupid?
I am retired here in Panama and the Panamians really like the dollar coins. Hay, Mr. Goverment, send some here to Panama.
Ed Case
Dolega, Chiriqui, Panama

Vending machine returns new Gettysburg quarter

Today I had my usual workday breakfast of a Power Bar and a bottle of orange juice. I put two dollar coins in the vending machine for the juice. Among the change received was a 2011-P Gettysburg quarter.
Ginger Rapsus
Chicago, Ill.

ANA holds successful show in Sacramento

The ANA National Money Show (NMS) was held on March 17-19 at the Sacramento Convention Center. It was another successful coin show that had lots going on for everyone who attended. Public attendance and dealer business seemed pretty steady. ANA was in Sacramento in 1999, and this time around it appeared the area had improved with more hotels, restaurants and things to do.
Lots of people did a great job in preparing and running this NMS. Thanks to General Chairman Jeff Shevlin and his committee, along with the host Sacramento Valley Coin Club; the ANA National Volunteers; Executive Director Larry Shepherd and his staff; Convention Director Rhonda Scurek; President Cliff Mishler and the board; ANA Museum Showcase; the official program and mementos; the exhibitors, judges, speakers and scout clinic instructors; YN Programs, Treasure Trivia and Kids Zone; kickoff dinner and wine tasting tour, SVCC dinner on the Delta King riverboat and Mining and Minting in Carson City Seminar; publicity and security personnel; U. S. Mint, Post Office and special cancellation and FedEx; Numismatic News; coin club tables; Heritage Auction Galleries; the dealers with tables; the visitors; and all the sponsors, who helped to make this NMS the huge success it was. Thank you all.
See you at the World’s Fair of Money in Chicago on Aug. 16-20.
John and Nancy Wilson,
ANA National Volunteers
Ocala, Fla.

Makes sense to use dollar coins instead of bills

Debbie Bradley’s article in your April 5 paper makes a lot of sense. We spent vacations in Canada most years and were there in 1987 when the $1 loony coins were released.
We didn’t hear anything about too many coins at once because of the $2 bill used there. The most $1 coins per transaction was one. After a few years the $1 bill was discontinued.
In 1996 a $2 twoonie coin was issued and the same thing happened to the $2 dollar bill as the $1 dollar bill. With the life of a $1 bill being less than two years and a coin being a lifetime, it seams if Washington wants to decrease economic hardships on our grandchildren it’d make sense to start printing $2 bills again for a few years and save billions f
or future generations.
I hear the glut of $1 coins is going to require a new bigger warehouse costing millions plus millions more to provide security. Our banker bought a $2,000 bag of 2000 Sacagawea dollars at face from a customer and wished he hadn’t because he had to pay to return them to the government when he couldn’t get anyone to take them at face.
Bill and Linda Allen
Blue Springs, Neb.

Calculation of Penelope’s pennies off in Viewpoint

I don’t usually write to criticize another writer, but I just have to on this one. In the Feb. 15 issue of Numismatic News, Nicholas Szempruch wrote an article in the Viewpoint section about “Penelope Penny Pincher.”
He began by trying to make us believe she picked up barrels and barrels of pennies off the ground. That’s a stretch. But Here is what I want to correct: as a president of a coin club, he should know that it takes 145 pennies to make a pound, and $50 worth actually weighs 34 pounds, not 26. This alone throws his figures out of kilter. A gallon jug (filled to the brim) will hold $50 worth of pennies. So, 55 gallon times 34 pounds equals 1,870 pounds, not 996. He goes on to say the ratio of copper to zinc is 37 percent, which is probably accurate. Now Penelope has seven barrels (55 gallons each), which is 13,090 pounds, not 2,000 pounds as he quoted.
The seven barrels he says hold 38,000 pennies. Here is the way I figure it: 5,000 pennies to a gallon times 55 gallons to a barrel equals 275,000 pennies to a barrel, times seven barrels equals 1,250,000 pennies, not 38,000 as he quoted.
Now for the dollar value. Five-thousand pennies is $50. Since he stated that the barrels are filled to the brim, there should be 55 gallons to each barrel. So, 55 gallons of pennies times $50 a gallon equals $2,750 a barrel, times seven barrels equals $19,250, not $3,800 as he quoted.
Copper is $4.25 a pound as he quoted, but the melt value is more like 3.8 instead of 2.8 as he quoted. So, $19,250 (the value of the seven barrels of pennies) times 3.8 melt value equals $73,150, not $10,640 as he quoted. I’m glad Penelope didn’t take the $20,000 she was offered from the coin dealer.
If Mr. Szempruch is accurate in saying “Penelope Penny Pincher” actually has seven 55-gallon barrels filled to the brim of copper pennies, then he must have failed his math.
I, like Penelope, go through thousands of pennies a month. I started collecting in 1999, so she has a few years’ collecting on me. I count my coppers and put 5,000 ($50) worth in a cloth bank bag and keep them in an oversized safe. I have 68 bags at the present. That’s 340,000, or $3,400. I’ve counted 145 several times and they weigh one pound. I just took a $50 bag in and weighed it. It weighed 34-1/8 pounds.
My figures are correct. I don’t know about Mr. Szembruch’s. I imagine those were actually five-gallon barrels, not 55. I hope they are wooden barrels, not metal, because metal will draw dampness and could ruin the coins. I purchased three 10-gallon milk jugs full of pennies from one guy but he kept them in the living room where the temperature was controlled and I didn’t have any problem out of them.
Or does “Penelope Penny Pincher” even exist?

Mint’s contractor has poor shipping procedures

I have been on the Mint’s subscription list for a long time and order most of their products. Many of the products are shipped on the same day because they have the same availability. The Mint’s contractor, PBGS in Plainfield, Ind., ships the products in separate boxes and charges two shipping fees.
Yesterday I received one box with a 100-quarter bag containing Gettysburg “P” and another box with the bag of Gettysburg “D” with a shipping fee on each box. Both bags would have fit easily in one box. I have received many of the Mint’s products in nearly empty boxes. Extra shipping fees.
Also, people have complained about tampering with the outer boxes. PBGS should affix the shipping label over the carton’s flaps. This way, if the carton is tampered with, the shipping label would be damaged. I have received shipments with shipping labels on either side of the carton.
Name withheld
Ellisville, Mo.

Today’s grading services not worth high fees

I am 80 years old and started my coin collection when I was 10. I earned my first Indian Head penny by cutting the lawn of my neighbor. Actually it was 25 pennies.
I have read about coins and have collected over the years by buying, trading or finding. What disturbs me now is the new breed of rating officials.
The companies that are most dominant are Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and Professional Coin Grading Service.
I discovered that their charge for rating of a coin is extremely high! Do those companies have better eyes than us, or do they have higher grade of microscopes or special loupes? I just can’t understand why they charge such a fee (very high fee) for telling a customer that his or her coin is a VG, AU, MS or whatever grade they give it, then explain to the world that their grading is very important in order to sell a coin.
What happened to those years back in the ’30s and ’40s when a grading was not necessary, just a man’s good word or good common sense?
Do you really need a grader to tell a good coin from another? Maybe we do, but at least don’t charge a huge price!
A.P. Rowe
Campbell, Calif.

The last paragraph of Bill Tuttle’s letter “Realign U.S. coins with the euro” in the March 15 issue of NN should ahve read, “The $5 coin would have 13 sides (for the 13 “original” states), while the $10 coin would have the shapeof the current British 50-pence coin.”

Veteran, Army commem designs don’t measure up

There is an obvious reason for the slow sale of commemorative coins: poor design. The Disabled Veterans coin looks too much like the Little Rock commemorative. There were other designs submitted that were better but for some reason were rejected.
The same holds true for the Army commemorative. The designs selected for the $1 and 50-cent commemoratives do not excite (at least not this collector) the average Army veteran as depicting the history of our branch of service. If the design on the $4 gold commemorative was applied to the silver dollar coin, I would have bought it in a heartbeat. I believe with that design it would have already been sold out.
As for the proposed design approved by CFA for the September 11 commemorative. The obverse choice is OK, but I would have chosen #8 obverse, and the one for the reverse would be #4. Take a poll from fellow collectors and I think most would agree.
On another topic, we are fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the minting of the Kennedy half dollar. One way for the Mint to save money would be to discontinue minting the half dollar after this milestone is reached. They are not longer minted for circulation and this denomination could be used exclusively for use as a silver commemorative.
Also with the discontinuance of minting of the Kennedy half dollar, this will enable collectors to complete a design series.
In addition, I assume, the Mint will probably or may be asked to produce a 50th anniversary commemorative of the assassination of President Kennedy. I feel a 5-ounce silver coin in the $50 denomination would be appropriate. Maybe some of your other readers may have comments to make on this subject.
Clifford Douglas
Clymer, Pa.

Anyone hear collectors’ design suggestions?
I read a lot about putting Ronald Reagan on a dime. It is OK with me. Someone recently suggested having a conjugate portrait of both Roosevelt and Reagan on a dime. Much like Washington and Lafayette on the Lafayette dollar. Better still, why not issue a Reagan dime along with the Roosevelt dime like is don with the Sacagawea and Presidential dollars?
People suggest putting Theodore Roosevelt on the national parks quarter. I suggested we could have Theodore Roosevelt and Washington on the quarter together along with Lincoln and Jefferson if we use Mt. Rushmore. My suggestions fall on deaf ears. Is anyone listening? No one ever has in the past.
Bob Olekson
Parma, Ohio
2011 cent rolls from Walmart a satisfying purchase
I picked up two rolls of the 2011 cents from my local Walmart story in Wooster, Ohio. They are nice looking coins. I asked for them on March 10.
Paul Stangelo
Orrville, Ohio
Schroeder’s view in March 15 issue right on money
I agree with Mr. Chuck Schroeder’s view in the March 15 issue on the coin collecting hobby and career politicians’ contempt of the average citizen’s needs.
He hit the nail on the head!
Robert Vysther
Miamisburg, OhioWere consecutive FRN star notes worth holding on to? I was reading the March 22 letters. There was a letter about FRN star notes.
Two years ago, I stopped at my bank to load up on cash to take to a coin show. Among the bills I received were 15 consecutive serial number star note $100 bills. Crisp mint. Stuck together new.
I do not know if they were worth anything, so I asked at the coin show and I was told no. So I bought a couple of large cents. I do not know if I was told the truth, but I know who told me.
Dave Brunning
New Hampton, Iowa
Coin picking while biking provides interesting finds
Most coin collectors are familiar with “FIR” as Found in Rolls. I ran across a different classification: “FOR” as Found on Road. Over the past few years, I’ve been riding my bike to work for enjoyment and exercise. Quite often I’ve seen coins on the road. When there is no traffic, I pick them up. I decided to put all the FOR coins in a container. During the calendar year 2010, I picked up 121-1/2 coins. Some were very run over, while others were 2010 coins in AU condition.
The breakdown of the Found on Road coins are as follows: 12 quarters, eight dimes, 12 nickels and 88-1/2 cents. The half cent was literally half of a zinc cent. No way of knowing how it broke but finding a modern half cent was unexpected and makes for an interesting conversation piece. A couple other notable finds were a 1955-D wheat cent and a 1943-P nickel.
The most memorable find happened one morning on the way to work. I noticed a bright red penny and circled back to pick it up. It was a 2010 shield penny. As I was picking it up, I saw two more pennies. I looked down the street and saw five or six more pennies. Then I thought back to my early education watching the Road Runner cartoons. Before I moved to pick up the additional pennies, I looked up into the tree to see if there was an anvil or safe poised to drop on me. All was clear, so I collected the pennies for a total of 10 that morning.
2011 is off to a good start with a quarter, dime and three pennies.
Name withheld
Des Plaines, Ill.Tradition, change, dedication make club show a success “Tradition” and “change” are two words that have very different meanings. Tradition is a long-established action or pattern of behavior in a community or group of people, often one that has been handed down from generation to generation. Change occurs when something is exchanged, substituted or replaced, thus, changing that tradition.
On March 5, the Massapequa Coin Club of Long Island, N.Y., sponsored its annual coin show. This has been a tradition for many years now. It is a coin show that collectors and dealers a like anticipate in with enthusiasm and look forward to every first Saturday of March. People actually plan their schedules around this show each year. It is amazing.
The tradition of planning and volunteering for this show remained the same. But this year we had a very big change. Two of our club’s Young Numismatists, brothers Antonio and Vincenzo Gargano (12 and 13, respectively) were responsible for the design of the flier that was distributed by the thousands to promote the show. It is the first time that youngsters got involved in the planning of the club’s coin show. And let us tell you, they did a magnificent job.
The combination of tradition and change resulted in one of the best MCC shows ever put on. About 450 collectors walked through the doors between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The MCC conducted a YN program at noon time, which attracted over 35 YNs. Sandy Sadwin, Eileen Gargano, Amy Herman (club secretary) and Jim Grim did a wonderful job of educating the youngsters and distributing bags of free “stuff.” Many dealers, coin stores and grading companies donated a tremendous amount of coins and supplies, which resulted in the young collectors walking away in awe.
Besides the donations made by our club members, we also want to thank Scott Mitchell Numismatics Associates, New World Rarities, The American Coin and Stamp Co., grading company ICG and the American Numismatic Association, among others, who generously donated for our show.
There was a free drawing every hour for all those that attended the coin show as well.
Our thanks go to club members Joe Messana, president; Eric Krauss, vice president; Steven Kelmenson, coordinator; Tony Zito; and Al Sadwin. This letter would not be complete without personally thanking each and every member of the club for another job well done! It takes many, many volunteers to make a show like this a success: the set-up and clean-up committees, the food stand committee, the welcoming committee, advertising committee, etc. The coordinated effort but our members of the Massapequa Coin Club is to be highly commended. And lastly (but not least), the measure of success of a show lies with the attendance and support of the collectors who came. You have our gratitude and appreciation for making this a fun day for us!
To sum this experience up, we’d like to quote what a member said to us: “I have the same people year after year remember me ... and that makes this show so special to me. It is not the money, it is the people that make it so great!”
We couldn’t have said it any better. For all the tradition and change this year, we say thank you to our friends at the Massapequa Coin Club.
Lorraine and Tony Langan
L&T Collectibles
MCC Members

To buy-up all the 90 percent silver, and gold coins, at face value scheme, all over again?
On March 21, 2011 (as a example) Silver closed out at $36.33 per ounce. Let’s use those figures here. $100 face value of 90 percent silver dimes would give you after melted down into pure silver about 36.17 troy ounces, around $1,300.31, on Washington Quarters, $100 face value, $10 a roll times 10 rolls, silver per coin $6.50 each coin, (about $2,600), on half dollars, there’s 20 per roll in coins face value $10 per roll, 10 rolls $100 face value, silver per each coin value $13.65, you can figure that out. I see some kind of history repeating its self here, a parallel that lo
oks kind of suspect and very suspicious. From some that ignore the fact, when you come into this world, you also leave this world the same way, naked and broke. You can’t take it with you. Then there are those other’s. It’s called money, greed, corruption, above the law, (ignore us common people unless they need your votes), career politician’s who will take money from any special interest and say or do anything to keep his hold on power. It’s secret government by and for the insiders. And big business only. Utah that made a back stage deal with the State House on legislation that would recognize gold and silver coins issued by the federal government as legal currency in the state. We all know it’s been nearly 80 years since the U.S. stopped using gold coins as legal currency, and nearly 40 since the world abandoned the gold standard, but the precious metal could be making a comeback in the United States beginning in Utah. Attorney and Tea Party activist Larry Hilton, author of the original bill, said he doesn’t foresee any roadblocks. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week dismissed the notion of the gold standard returning to the U.S. Bernanke also said that gold couldn’t return as the world standard because there’s not enough gold in the world to effectively support the U.S. money supply. I guess in Utah, they must be related then to these two brother’s hey?. Let’s take a short look back in history here. Nelson Bunker Hunt (born February 22, 1926) is an American oil company executive. He is best known as a former billionaire whose fortune collapsed, after he and his brother William Herbert Hunt tried but failed to corner the world market in silver. Beginning in the early 1970s, Hunt and his brother William Herbert Hunt began accumulating large amounts of silver. By 1979, they had nearly cornered the global market. In the last nine months of 1979, the brothers profited by an estimated $2 billion to $4 billion in silver speculation, with estimated silver holdings of 100 million ounces. During the Hunt brothers’ accumulation of the precious metal, prices of silver futures contracts and silver bullion during 1979 and 1980 rose from $11 an ounce in September 1979 to $50 an ounce in January 1980. Silver prices ultimately collapsed to below $11 an ounce two months later. The largest single day drop in the price of silver occurred on Silver Thursday. Hunt filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code in September 1988, largely due to lawsuits incurred as a result of his silver speculation. In 1989 in a settlement with the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Nelson Bunker Hunt was fined US $10 million and banned from trading in the commodity markets as a result of civil charges of conspiring to manipulate the silver market stemming from his attempt to corner the market in silver. This fine was in addition to a multimillion-dollar settlement to pay back taxes, fines and interest to the Internal Revenue Service for the same period.
Chuck Schroeder
St. Petersburg, Fla.
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