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This Week’s Letters (7/21/07)

5 Indian Head cents started a hobby

I read with interest the letter by Mr. Renberg of Paola, Kan., in the Sept. 18 issue. I, too, collect coins/currency basically for the joy of it. I don?t worry about fluctuations in the market, acquiring MS-65 coins for my sets, or what the ANA is or isn?t doing. If I want to add to my collection, I do so because it pleases me. The hobby is in my blood and has been for many decades.
As a reader of Numismatic News for over 40 years and a subscriber for over 20 (I still have every issue), I enjoy the Letters section. I have as yet to read about anyone who got started collecting in the manner in which I did.
In 1959 at age 11 I was given five Indian Head cents by an old man who kept giant (6 inches long) goldfish in a cement pond in his yard. Each fall he?d take them inside (this is in central Iowa) and keep them in old galvanized wash tubs in his basement. I don?t recall the circumstances of why I was there that day, but I held the door open for him as he carried them inside.
Afterwards, he opened up an old cigar box full of old coins and offered me the above-mentioned cents for my ?pay.? This of course led to the purchase of a 1959 Red Book and several blue Whitman folders for Indian and Lincoln cents.
Lots of holes were filled in from circulation, with no regard to condition. I was hooked. I would buy rolls of cents at our local bank, sort through them and return the rest for new rolls the next day, much to the chagrin of the teller.
I soon realized that mowing lawns for $1.50 per yard and working for area farmers for $1 per hour didn?t fill up the albums too rapidly, especially when I ?branched out? into the silver coins, which were plentiful back then.
In the ensuing years, as my finances improved, I acquired a full set of Red Books and about 200 other numismatic reference books.
In my later collecting years, I still had the ?set? compulsion and managed to fill out most of the 20th century sets and quite a few of the 19th ones. Of course, I couldn?t have done it without the help of Numismatic News? ads and local coin shows.
I?m retired now, but still collect for the fun involved. It is a good hobby to ?escape? to. The man who got me started died in 1971. He never realized what he had done for me by the simple act of giving me five cents.
By the way, I still have those five Indian Head cents after 48 years.

David Peterson
Boxholm, Iowa

Without FDR, more would have starved

I have suggested before that you do not print purely political nonsense in your paper, but Dave Reinkens? right-wing diatribe against F.D.R. was probably the most ridiculous piece of political trash that has ever appeared in NN. To suggest that he was a Communist just follows the old right-wing garbage that has been floated for years. Without FDR?s intervention, many more Americans would have starved (some did ? no question about that) because Republicans saw it as out of the government?s area to help starving citizens. Please don?t print any more of this right-wing dribble as it demeans an otherwise excellent paper.

Jim Hirtle
Westminster, Md.

Stop political comments, however, about FDR…

At least two letters from the Sept. 4 edition talked about political discussion on the pages of NN. I agree that it should not be there. That said, I cannot resist this comment.
It was a breath of fresh air to read Dave Reinken?s comments about ?one of America?s greatest presidents.? Let us not forget that Joseph Stalin was directly responsible for the deaths of more people than any other killer who ever lived. And what did F.D.R. have to say about him? ?He?s Uncle Joe, one of my best friends.

Harry Bantham
North Richland Hills, Texas

Quarter celebrates rich heritage of Wyoming

Welcome Wyoming!
The 2007-D Wyoming quarter dollar was issued and released by my Portland, Ore., bank today, Sept. 4.
Wyoming, a state of wide open spaces sand vast stretches of grasslands, joined the Union in 1890. Women were granted to vote here in 1869, hence the title, ?Equality State.?
Depicted on the reverse is a bucking bronco, half-wild horse, plus rider. In rodeo performances usually professional riders test their skills and courage when in competition. The bareback bronco cowboy holds on hand on the rigging and must remain a minimum of eight seconds on the horse to score. A saddled bronco rider must stay in the saddle also for a given time.
An outdoor rodeo pageant is stage each July in Cheyenne?s Frontier Days spectacle. Cheyenne, the capital, was known as ?Cow Town? during the times of cattle drivers.
This coins?s initials, ?NEN,? indicate it is the creation of Norman E. Nemeth of the U.S. Mint.

Zdenek Vesely
Portland, Ore.

Mint should mail order forms, not postcards

I read with interest Brian Blakeney?s letter in the Sept. 11 NN questioning why the Mint no longer sends order forms for new releases. I have received them for many years but now receive a postcard announcing new releases with instructions to place orders by phone or online.
Maybe mailing letters became expensive because of those not ordering, but they could easily cull those from their mailing list. The amount they charge for postage on orders would no doubt pay for the order forms they send out. Incidentally, I haven?t placed an order since not receiving the form.

Vergil Stephens
Nashville, Tenn.

Change machine gives proof Iowa quarter

I just got my e-mail copy of the newsletter.  An oddity ? yesterday out of a change machine on a ?check yourself out? line, I received a proof Iowa quarter in my change.  Clearly, an ?S? quarter ? proof.  How odd!  Thanks for the newsletter.  

Scott Sechrist,

Edge lettering errors found on Denver dollars

Over the past couple of weeks, I?ve discovered several new edge-lettering errors on the new Denver Mint dollars. Most involve the apparent use of incorrect die punches, resulting in extra letters and/or numerals in raised relief, as opposed to the normal incuse edge lettering. A few appear to have been run through the edge-lettering process twice, as only a faint extra letter or numeral can be detected underneath the final lettering.
One such error has an inverted, raised-relief ?N? which results in the inscription, ?INN GOD WE TRUST.? Another example has a raised zero immediately after ?UNUM,? and two extra, barely visible incuse dots elsewhere on the edge. Yet another has an extra dot on top of the ?W? in ?WE? and so on. I?ve found a few more-ridiculous pieces today but have not yet examined them thoroughly enough to report on.
I won?t describe each of my finds in detail, as this letter would quickly become too long for publication. However, I?d like my fellow collectors to know that there are many more of these edge-lettering errors to be found, and they are often quite subtle ? especially when compared to the extreme, doubled edge-lettering errors which have surfaced. I expect that these less-obvious varieties will be rarer in top grades, as most will go un-noticed and see some circulation before they are cherry picked from change.
One other thing: I would like to see an end to the excessive printing of collectors? letters, calling for the end of the cent, dollar bill, etc. Most knowledgeable collectors are painfully aware of our coinage and currency denominational problems, and new subscribers will, no doubt, become quickly aware of the situations) in due course as well. Surely, there are myriad other topics and discoveries to write about. So, PLEEEAAASE, folks, stick to reporting new finds, don?t worry about who is feuding with whom in the ANA, and enough with the, ?I think we should stop making the penny, blah, blah, blah? stuff!

David C. Egeland
< i>Linn, Mo.

Not every coin should be slabbed

I?m writing in response to a letter titled ?All coins should be graded before sold? by John Kevin McCall of Warner Robins, Ga., in the Sept. 11, 2007, issue of Numismatic News. I cut that letter out and set it next to my favorite reading chair, and have been stewing over it ever since. I was finally encouraged to write by David C. Harper?s Sept. 25 article ?Write a letter and become part of the action.?
Mr. McCall stated that all coins should be professionally graded or at least have a ?bar code across it.? His reasoning was that slabbed coins would be much more traceable than ?naked? coins if stolen. It immediately struck me as odd that he used the word ?naked? instead of raw. That is the least of my differences in opinion with his letter though.
Nearly all of the collectors I know, myself included, collect raw, uncertified coins. We like to hold the coin itself, feel its weight and admire it from all angles. We do not want to look at our coins encased in a cumbersome and often distracting chunk of plastic. My collecting friends and I generally agree that coins only need to be certified when they are especially rare and valuable, so the condition and authenticity can be confirmed by professionals. I don?t think bar codes would deter thieves. They could just break the coins out of the slabs. I for one, would take my chance of my raw collection being stolen, because I get a lot more pleasure out of coins that are free from an unnatural plastic home.
One more disagreement I have with Mr. McCall is his opinion that dealers should have a bar code on their driver?s licenses to determine if they get wholesale prices, while the rest of us pay retail. I?m surprised a collector would even suggest such a thing. I don?t think anyone who considers themselves coin dealers should automatically get a discount. It should really be about knowledge. An educated numismatist will either get a fair deal or walk away, not making the deal at all.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. That?s my two cents.

Adam Lang
Mexico, Mo.

Make room for all Mint Statistics page news

I have been a subscriber for several years and always enjoy reading the Mint Statistics page. Occasionally, the boxes get changed and moved around. Some things get eliminated because there is a lack of space. I suggest that you move some boxes to the next page. In the Oct. 2 issue, that would be page 25. If that infringes on the advertising, consider moving those boxes to page 26.
You could put all the state quarter stats on the second page. This would free up more space on page 24 for additional comments. I do enjoy reading your comments on the Stats page and your editorials. Thank you for a wonderful magazine.

Steve Beerntsen
Green Bay, Wis.

New reverse designs won?t make Sac popular

I?ve been reading in other sources about the reverse of the ?Sac? dollars changing from the Flying Eagle to ?Native Americans of Prominence,? or ?Native Americans? Achievements? on a yearly basis. Very interesting and it?s about time for those people to be recognized.  
But here?s the thought: Knowing the track record of the modern U.S. dollar coin (both ?large? and ?small?), will the ?new reverse? Sac dollar be popular? Or will it, like those before it just sit in the Treasury vaults and wait to be ?called out? only by collectors and/or investors?  
With so many of the other dollar coins already sitting in the vaults, my bet is on the latter.
It would be best if the government finally got to demonetizing the $1 and $2 bills (have a ?grace period? of six months to exchange circulating $1 and $2 bills, and require all banks to give $1 and $2 coins instead of bills during the ?grace period?) and produce the coins needed to get the $1 coin to circulate throughout our commerce, as the government first intended it in 1971 with the issue of the Ike dollar.
Bill Tuttle,
Cleveland, Ohio

?W? gold series coins a great deal for investors

In your Oct. 2 issue you said the Sept. 13 withdrawal by our Mint of the ?W? gold series had the perverse effect of stimulating sales, which at the time, seemed hard to understand.
I guess you?ve figured it out by now.
Were you, at the time, looking at the situation from an investor?s point of view, rather than a publisher?s, a few things not having to do with your column might have gotten your attention. Such as, the spot price for gold bullion on Sept. 11 was $713 per ounce at the close. For about 4-1/2 percent more one could purchase the four-coin set. Pay for it with your credit card and you?d even get air miles. So, those gold coins had gotten to be about as cheap as they could get.
The real kicker though, was the knowledge that on Sept. 18, Wall Street was expecting our Federal Reserve to lower their discount rate, which would even cheapen our dollar more and increase the cost of gold and a few other things as well.
This was a rare opportunity that the buyers realized was perishable, and their rush to buy was not caused by the Mint?s closing their window, but was stopped by it.
George Beck
Chicago, Ill.

Trip to the bakery netted special 1909 cent

I was reading your article about finding your 1909 cent. I have a similar story.
I was in seventh grade when we had a ?hobby? day in history class. One of the students was a coin collector and that interested me no end. Shortly after, I was sent to the bakery to buy a dozen doughnuts for breakfast (very small town in Wisconsin) and in change I received my 1909 cent. It was well worn, probably an AG-3 today, with a gouge and a small hole. I immediately looked for the VDB (no luck) but it was still a find. Later that week, I asked my Dad for $10 (a huge amount in 1962) and went to the bank for pennies. My search only resulted in a AG-3 1926-S.
Several years ago, I was looking through the coins and found my 1909. I took it and several other older ?duplicates? and spent them for the specific reason that some other kid might find my 1909 and experience the thrill of a ?find.?
I?m not a huge collector today but I still remember that trip to the bakery and my ?find.? Thanks for bringing back a memory.

John R. Drown
Wichita, Kan.

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