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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 'January 2016'

    What’s going on with the U.S. Mint and its many packaging problems?

    January 26, 2016 8:43 AM by
    The United States Mint’s packaging woes keep getting worse and they need to stop.

    As Paul Gilkes reports this week, the Mint had to postpone sales of three 2016 annual sets featuring the year’s America the Beautiful quarter dollars because the sales and marketing team messed up, again, in approving the production of packaging with a serious problem. In this case, the error was an “incorrect image of the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park,” according to a Jan. 20 press release from the Mint.

    This problem is the latest in a continuing series of packaging problems for the Mint.

    The Mint canceled the Jan. 14 launch of sales for the 2016-P Mark Twain silver dollar when it discovered that the certificate of authenticity cited the wrong novel for the small scene on the reverse of the coin showing Huck and Jim on a raft traveling along the Mississippi River. As anyone who has studied American literature could tell you, that life-changing voyage for the two occurred in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, not in the pages of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as the COA and earlier Mint promotional materials stated.

    On Nov. 4, Mint officials announced that the Nov. 23 launch of sales for the 2015 Limited Edition Silver Proof set had to be postponed because of “issues with the packaging.” While a delay in sales of that annual product ordinarily would not have been catastrophic — the 2014 edition did not go sale until March 2015 — it contributed to the Mint’s later decision to cancel the set altogether. The cancellation was ordered after Congress passed legislation in December requiring that numismatic versions of American Eagle silver dollars sold in 2016 should sport distinctive edges. The 2015 set would have contained a Proof 2015-W American Eagle silver dollar with a standard reeded edge.

    On Sept. 3, the Mint acknowledged that it was “looking into the packaging issues for the 2015 American $1 Coin and Currency sets.” Some customers buying the sets complained that the $1 Federal Reserve note slipped out of position and became stuck to the adhesive intended to keep the packaging together.

    Do you see a really ugly trend here?

    I’ll be the first to admit to being guilty of making errors in the news articles, features, and opinion pieces I have written during the past 39 years. All of us make mistakes. I try to learn from my errors and not repeat them.

    The seemingly never-ending problems the Mint is experiencing suggests two serious problems: a leadership problem at the Mint, especially in the sales and marketing area, and to a lesser degree, a problem with testing packaging before releasing a product to Mint customers.
    Moreover, such errors affect the Mint’s bottom line. Destroying old packaging and replacing it with new costs money. Continued problems threaten to drive away Mint customers. The four agencies that stand to benefit from sales of the Mark Twain silver dollar could end up with lower surcharge payouts because of a shorter sales period and higher costs associated with the program, which have to be recouped before payments to those agencies can begin.

    Most importantly, these kinds of problems make the Mint look stupid. The mistake with the name of Twain’s novel should never have occurred. Huckleberry Finn is one of the greatest works in American literature; how could the Mint sales and marketing staff not catch that error?

    Every time the Mint suspends or postpones sales for a product, Coin World’s editorial and advertising staffs get calls and emails from customer wondering what is going on. Mint customers are clearly upset.

    United States Mint management needs to take immediate steps to stop these kinds of problems from occurring in the future. Otherwise, the Mint could stand to lose future revenue as customers stop purchasing the Mint’s products.

    The unexpected results of an assassination

    January 15, 2016 12:49 PM by
    Senior staff writer Paul Gilkes’ cover  on the centennial anniversary of the Winged Liberty Head dime kicks off our celebration of the 100th birthday for the nation’s most beautiful silver coinage issued for circulation. It’s an event that we might not even be celebrating had an unemployed wire mill worker from Detroit chosen to not attend the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sept. 6, 1901.

    At 4:07 p.m. that afternoon, Leon F. Czolgosz stood in a receiving line at the Temple of Music on the grounds of the exposition. Those standing in line were waiting to greet the distinguished visitor at the expo that day — William McKinley, president of the United States. 

    Czolgosz, however, carried an Iver Johnson revolver in his right hand, which was wrapped in a cloth as though bandaged for an injury. When Czolgosz reached McKinley, he fired two shots at the president. The first was deflected by a button on McKinley’s clothing; the second bullet entered the president’s abdomen. Afterwards, at first McKinley  seemed to be responding to treatment, but then he suffered a relapse and, on Sept. 14, he died.

    Upon McKinley’s death his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, was sworn in as president. At 42, Roosevelt, “that damned cowboy” in the words of Republican boss Mark Hanna, was the youngest man to enter the office of president. With his youth he brought a new outlook to the office, and a goal to make the nation a world power.

    Not long after entering the office, he met, through Henry Adams (grandson and great-grandson of two presidents) the nation’s leading sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The two men became frequent companions and their many discussions led Roosevelt to order a complete redesign of the nation’s coinage. Saint-Gaudens managed to redesign the gold $10 and $20 coins before dying of cancer in 1907, but the process had begun, leading to new designs in 1908 for the rest of the gold coins; to the Lincoln cent in 1909 and the Indian Head 5-cent coin in 1913; and finally to the three silver masterpieces of 1916: the “Mercury” dime, the Standing Liberty quarter dollar, and the Walking Liberty half dollar. The nation was set on a new path in 1901 with an assassin’s bullet, a path that would a few years later lead to the Golden Age of U.S. Coinage Design.