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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 'May 2016'

    In the end, the sentimental value outweighs the financial reward

    May 27, 2016 6:52 AM by
    For some observers, the failure of bidders to meet the reserves for the 1804 dollar and 1822 half eagle in the Pogue IV auction was a sign of trouble for the market in high-end coins. However, the real story appears to be that of a collecting family that could not bear to part with two of their favorite coins, even with an offered total price of nearly $18 million.

    The 1804 dollar received a final bid that, with the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee, would have totaled $10,575,000, a world’s record for any coin. The 1822 half eagle garnered a final bid that, with the buyer’s fee, would have totaled $7,285,000, a bid surpassed among gold coins by only the 1933 double eagle that brought $7,590,000 in 2002. Both prices would have well exceeded what the Pogue family paid for the coins ($4.14 million for the dollar in 1999 and $687,500 for the half eagle in 1982). But still, no sale.

    Christine Karstedt, executive vice president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries, said that in the end, the sentimental value outweighed the financial reward and the family decided to keep the coins instead of accepting the bids.

    The 1822 half eagle has been part of the Pogue Collection since the current owner, Brent Pogue, was a teen. His father, Mark, who started the collection, had purchased the coin while Brent competed in a track meet with his high school team, though the younger Pogue had examined the coin during lot viewing.

    The younger Pogue wrote about the family’s purchase of the gold coin in his introduction to the book The 1822 Gold Half Eagle by Q. David Bowers. He noted in that introduction that the two coins the family has elected to keep are among his personal favorites.

    To those who choose to focus on just these two coins and see the situation in a negative light, look at the bigger picture. After four auctions, the Pogue Collection has raised $85,318,218.50. That’s a record already for any single collection, and its sale is not over.
    The Pogue Collection was clearly assembled over the decades by a family of collectors with a deep admiration of early U.S. coins. Who can blame them for deciding to keep a couple of the greatest coins in American numismatics? 

    When U.S. Mint experiments in finishes failed

    May 20, 2016 11:59 AM by

    Our cover feature this week focuses on the Mint’s recent experiments with different finishes on the coins it produces and sells to collectors and dealers. Collector reactions to Reverse Proof and Enhanced Uncirculated coins have differed, though secondary market pricing for many pieces suggests that overall, the response has been positive.

    The Mint has not always received a positive response to experimental finishes for collector coins. Indeed, the failure of experiments at the start of the 20th century actually resulted in the cancellation of sales of Proof coins for two decades.

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    From 1858 to 1915, the Philadelphia Mint struck Proof versions of most coins for customers. Until 1907, the finish on the Proof coins generally consisted of polished surfaces. However, the introduction of the new designs for the gold eagle and double eagle in 1907 and for the gold quarter eagle and half eagle coins in 1908 resulted in changes to the die curvature and texture of the fields that researcher Roger Burdette said made polishing of the surfaces to create a traditional Proof finish impractical.

    Since Mint officials still wanted to sell Proof coins to collectors and wanted those coins to have a distinctive finish to distinguish them from circulation strikes, they introduced a dull Proof finish or what we call today the Sandblast Proof finish. This finish on the 1907 and 1908 gold coins was imposed post striking through light sandblasting. A different approach requiring no post-striking treatment was used on the gold coins of 1909 and 1910, creating the oddly named Roman Proof finish.

    For the next few years, Proof finishes were not uniform, which collectors found unsettling and complained about in correspondence. The new Lincoln cent had a matte finish. The 5-cent coin and three silver coins of the old designs had traditional brilliant finishes but their replacements had die curvature and fields similar to those of the gold coins, making polished surfaces not an option.

    Furthermore, the Mint’s prices for the Proof silver and minor coins would not cover the higher production costs that would be entailed, Burdette writes. The Mint decided the hassle was not worth it, and in 1916 canceled the Proof program.

    Mint officials today must tread the fine line separating an expanded product line with multiple finishes on the same coin that collectors embrace and a product line that collectors find bloated and offputting. Let’s hope that we all benefit from the failures of the past by avoiding repeating them.

    Collectors still peeved at U.S. Mint over gold dime sales

    May 16, 2016 3:22 PM by

    As I write this editorial on May 12 it has been three weeks to the day since the U.S. Mint offered and “sold out” of its 2016 Winged Liberty Head gold dime, and yet, I continue to receive daily email, phone calls and traditional letters from collectors upset with the U.S. Mint and dealers over how sales unfolded in a period of 20 to 40 minutes.

    Meanwhile, as we now know, the program is not sold out. More than 6,200 of the dimes remain unsold because of credit card declines, order cancellations, and returns from buyers (some being returned because of damage to the packaging or coins, and others because of imperfections that might result in a grade that is unacceptable to the customer). Mint officials have said that at least some of the unsold dimes will be offered again but we are still waiting on details of how and when those coins will be sold.

    A Mint spokesman said May 12 that the remaining dimes likely would not be offered until order reconciliation is complete. He could not say how long that might take, so collectors are left wondering whether it be a matter of days or weeks or even months. And when sales resume, how much advance notice will collectors receive.

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    One thing that I can guarantee is that collectors will be even more upset than they are already if the Mint offers the remaining coins under the same 10-coins-per-household limit imposed during the initial day of sales, April 21. That approach made it easier for certain dealers and marketers to purposely circumvent the household limits to snag much larger numbers of the dimes, including at least one television seller who acquired several thousand coins.
    Many collectors who were locked out the first time believe that anyone successful during the first round of sales should be barred from buying any more (especially dealers, they say).
    In addition to waiting on the resumption of sales for the dime, the marketplace is waiting on the Mint to announce plans for the second coin in the gold centennial program — the 2016 edition of the Standing Liberty quarter dollar, which like the dime was struck in 1916 in silver. And after that coin is the 2016 Walking Liberty gold half dollar.
    Will the Mint sales and marketing division learn from the sale of the dimes and make these later offerings fairer, with lower household limits and better monitoring of customers who might be trying to exceed the limit? Or will that division’s officers continue to anger its base — the collectors of U.S. coins?

    Museums big and small benefit from numismatic donations

    May 6, 2016 10:34 AM by

    Two of our news articles this week focus on the generous donations to museums in New York City by two civic-minded and wealthy families. Paul Gilkes reports on the generosity of John E. Herzog, while Steve Roach reports on the donation by Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher. 

    Herzog is well known within the financial collectibles community. He is chairman emeritus of Spink/Smythe and the founder and chairman emeritus of the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street in New York City. In 2011 he founded the Wall Street Bourse, a now annual coin, paper money and stock certificate show held at the nation’s financial capital.

    His new donation to the museum of $5 million, to be paid out in installments through May 17, is, as Herzog puts it, “a final gift” and “a display of my confidence in the ability of the museum’s leadership to successfully carry it into the future and sustain it as a permanent institution.” 

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    The museum serves as a neutral public forum for addressing topical financial issues and events.

    The Scher donation involves their astounding collection of 450 art medals, donated to The Frick Collection in New York City. 

    The museum says, “Given its sweeping scope across historical periods and the wide range of its subject matter, [the collection] will resonate with almost every work in the Frick’s permanent holdings. As such the Scher medals will enrich the experience of the museum’s viewing audience and stimulate scholarship on existing holdings in previously unanticipated ways.”

    Museums are wonderful places for families to visit, whether they be an art museum like the Frick, a financial museum like that founded by Herzog, or the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force not far from Coin World’s home in western Ohio. And numismatic holdings can enhance a museum’s ability to tell visitors something about history, art, finance, and people.

    Donations of numismatic materials to museums don’t have to be as valuable as those offered by Herzog and the Schers. Even a small local museum might welcome a donation of numismatic material. For a collector who is thinking about what should be done with his or her holdings after death and whose family has no one interested in coins or paper money or medals, a donation to the local history museum is a great solution.