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William T. Gibbs

Bill’s Corner

William T. Gibbs

William was appointed the managing editor effective May 1, 2015. He joined the Coin World editorial staff in 1976 as an assistant editor for "Collectors' Clearinghouse" and later became a senior staff writer before being appointed news editor. As managing editor, he manages the day-to-day editorial operations for Coin World, both print and online, and leads the editorial staff. He also serves as chief copy editor for all Coin World publications, including for all books published by Coin World since 1985. He has been project editor of mulitple editions of the Coin World Almanac. Bill began collecting coins at the age of 10 and soon discovered Coin World. As a teen interested in numismatics and journalism, he identified a writing position on the staff of Coin World as a dream job, which was realized shortly after he graduated from Bowling Green State University with a major in journalism. He collects store cards and medals depicting Adm. George Dewey of Spanish-American War fame.

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Archive for 'November 2015'

    Counting down to the end of 2015 and pondering the top 10 stories

    November 25, 2015 2:50 PM by
    Every year about this time, the Coin World editorial staff begins thinking about the most important stories we’ve covered since the first of the year, narrowing the list to 10 after several rounds of voting. We then recap the year within our pages and at our website. While we haven’t finalized our plans as yet, you’ll see our list of the top stories for 2015 in about a month.

    We also want to know your top stories of the year. Will your list include the release of the 2015 Coin and Chronicles sets by the U.S. Mint?  (While the editorial staff hasn’t voted yet, I can confidently say that one will make our list.)  How about the impending record sales of American Eagle silver bullion coins? 

    If paper money is your focus, we’ve covered a lot of news in that area as well. Will your list include confirmation that a woman’s portrait will be placed on the $10 Federal Reserve note in 2020? How about the surfacing of a number of previously unknown national bank notes?

    For world coins, a lot has happened during the year, including a new portrait for Queen Elizabeth II on the coinage.

    Let us know your picks for the year’s top stories at www.facebook.com/coinworld and at cweditor@coinworld.com

    A coinage revolution began 50 years ago this month with silver's replacement

    November 11, 2015 9:38 AM by

    ​On Nov. 1, 1965, Washington quarter dollars unlike anything that been released before — the first U.S. copper-nickel clad coinage — were poured into circulation by the Treasury Department through Federal Reserve System channels.

    Until that first day of November 50 years ago, three kinds of U.S. circulating coinage were legally classified: minor coinage, those pieces made of a nonprecious metal (in 1965, just the cent and 5-cent coin remained); silver coinage (the dime, quarter dollar, and half dollar in 1965); and gold coinage (none of which had been struck or circulated since early 1933).

    The Coinage Act of 1965 upended nearly 175 years of federal coinage laws, converting the dime and quarter dollar into what was essentially minor coinage, and lowering the silver content of the half dollar from 90 percent to 40 percent.

    This was a change of historic proportions and collectors were accepting though not thrilled.

    As Coin World editor Margo Russell wrote in her Editorial in the Nov. 17 issue, collectors had been awaiting the new coins with mixed feelings:

    “Coin collectors knew why and how the coins were being manufactured — they were just waiting for a look at the finished product,” she wrote.

    “The collectors’ verdict?” she asked, and answered, “Most agree the new coins will serve their purpose as coin of the realm, their sole function from a Treasury standpoint, but it is the collecting consensus that few people will collect clad coins in quantity or for their aesthetic qualities.”

    Margo wrote that this collector disinterest would serve Treasury goals. Concurrent with the rise in the price of silver that drove the conversion to a copper-nickel clad coinage was a nationwide shortage of coinage. The vending industry demanded higher and higher numbers of coins every year and the Bureau of the Mint had taken several steps in the early 1960s to ramp up production: reopening the San Francisco Mint for coinage production,which had last occurred in 1955; increasing the number of production shifts;and adding additional coining presses to its facilities.

    Treasury officials had blamed collectors and “speculators”for much of the coinage shortages. The collector sentiment was “good news for the Treasury,” Margo noted, adding “its task will be made easier by the initial lack of collector interest in the new pieces.”

    The hobby was doing what it could to repair relations with those who governed the Mint, even to the point of refusing to profit by the change, at least immediately. Margo noted, “Major segments of the numismatic press have agreed not to accept advertisements offering the new clad coins inbulk quantities until there are sufficient quantities in circulation.”

    Attempts at repairing the relationship had begun several months before release of the new coins, Margo revealed, crediting both major   hobby organizations and a receptive Treasury Department for working toward the thaw. She especially hoped that improving relations would prompt government officials to offer collectors something more; the Mint had stopped making Proof sets and Uncirculated Mint sets in 1965 to focus on circulating coinage, and had gotten authority to remove all Mint marks as well (collectors would have to be satisfied with a single 1965 quarter instead of three coins, one each from the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco facilities). The Mint would offer 1965, 1966,and 1967 Special Mint sets, but production of the traditional annual sets and restoration of Mint marks would have to wait until 1968, so Margo was right about the Mint’s resumption of collector-friendly outreach, if a bit optimistic.

    As for the Nov. 10 news article, there is a statement collectors today will find laughable.

    Treasury officials expected the silver coins to circulate alongside the copper-nickel clad ones “for their normal 25-year life span.”

    We know how that went, don't we?

    Getting edition sizes for collectibles vital to keep collectors happy

    November 3, 2015 8:34 AM by
    “You could have manufactured enough of this edition so that everyone who wanted one could have one.”

    This lament, voiced by a collector at a collector’s forum after a limited edition collectible sold out in mere minutes, could have been about one of the U.S. Mint’s recent Coin and Chronicles sets.

    So could this comment found at another social media site: “I'm so disappointed I couldn't get a [blank] because of your unperfect sales strategy. ...”

    In fact, neither comment was made by a collector shut out of buying a Harry S. Truman or Dwight D. Eisenhower Coin and Chronicles set. The first comment was made by a collector who was unable to buy a limited edition Hot Wheels die-cast version of a Dodge 330 car that was offered Oct. 26 at the collector’s website operated by toy giant Mattel for collectors of Hot Wheels. The second comment was from a collector unhappy about being unable to buy a replica Pepsi Perfect bottle on Oct. 21 on Amazon in commemoration of the date that Marty McFly visited in the movie Back to the Future II (Pepsi Perfect was promoted as a “future” product of PepsiCo in the movie).

    Collectors like being able to buy a limited edition product at issue price and then watch it rise in value on the secondary market. Collectors don’t like being unable to buy the collectible and then see prices rise on the secondary market. Collectors especially hate it when they see quantities of limited edition collectibles available for sale, at rising prices, on eBay or elsewhere, all being offered by the same seller, despite restrictive household limits, when they themselves were unable to buy just one.

    For manufacturers of collectible products, getting the edition size right is one of the most important decisions a marketing team can make. Make too many of the collectible and unsold quantities can sit on the issuer’s website for weeks, months, or longer. Make too few of them and the collectibles can sell out in minutes, frustrating hundreds or thousands of collectors who couldn’t reach the checkout step of ordering online in time.

    Mattel’s Oct. 26 sale of the Dodge 330 was a good example of the type of sale that can frustrate collectors. The edition was limited to 3,000 units and of that number, 2,000 were reserved for collectors who had earlier subscribed to the year’s core product line. When the sale of the remaining 1,000 began at noon Eastern Time Oct. 26, collectors rushed to buy those examples.

    Some buyers saw their orders sail through. Others encountered roadblocks; Mattel recently introduced a new edition of its Hot Wheels Collectors website, and problems with logins, browser incompatibilities and other technical matters have occurred ever since (U.S. Mint website customers would understand). The car sold out in a half hour or so, while some collectors were still sitting in the online waiting room (also something Mint customers remember).

    Post-sale comments were so similar to those about the Mint’s limited edition issues that all one would have to do would be to trade “Dodge 330” for “Coin and Chronicles set” and nothing would be lost in the translation.

    As for the joint Pepsi-Amazon offering of 6,500 bottles of Pepsi Perfect (identical in appearance to the bottles seen in the movie), confusion arose as to when sales of the product were to begin on Oct. 21. Sales of some of the bottles apparently began early according to news accounts, catching many collectors unawares. Given the much higher visibility of the Back to the Future movie trilogy, it is likely that the numbers of upset collectors were much higher than those shut out of recent U.S. Mint and Hot Wheels limited editions. The sellout certainly got a lot of attention from the media.

    What all of these recent sales show is that government and private manufacturers can anger their customers when sales methods allow products in hot demand to sell out early. Anger customers too often and they will stop buying the products, or so the unhappy customers say at forums.

    Many U.S. Mint customers want the Mint to stop imposing artificial mintage limits on special products and, instead, make them to order. Mattel does that with some Hot Wheels, producing them to the quantities ordered during a set sales period. But most of its special collector products are limited to editions of 2,500 to 4,000, and there are rarely enough to go around.

    If you’re a U.S. Mint customer who couldn’t buy one of the Coin and Chronicles set, you’re not alone. There’s a collector at the Hot Wheels site who knows exactly what you’re going through.