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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 'September 2016'

    Numismatic literature excitement reigns with a sale and a sellout

    September 30, 2016 3:41 PM by

    The Sept. 21 auction by Bonhams’ Fine Books and Manuscripts in New York City of a copy of the 1850 book New Varieties of Gold and Silver Coins, Counterfeit Coins, and Bullion; with Mint Values by Jacob Reese Eckfeldt and William E. Du Bois for an astounding $10,625 is an illustration of the power in the marketplace of numismatic literature.

    This book, written in 1850, includes reports of the new gold finds in California. The historical value of the book is enhanced by the presence of gold fragments and a tiny gold bar from the California fields behind a sheet of mica. The Gold Rush connection gives owners of the book a historical connection that few works provide.
    Numismatic books have been leading the news recently. In the past month, the newly released fifth edition of Q. David Bowers’ A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars sold out almost immediately. Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker explained: “Part of the strong demand for this edition comes from the recently revealed discovery of hubs, dies, and models for a 1964 Morgan dollar. This exciting announcement was made in late August, and demand for the book skyrocketed in September.” The book features on its cover the photograph of a hub for the 1964 Morgan dollar, with more photographs and details of the discovery inside. Since the existence of models, hubs and dies for an 1964 Morgan dollar were unknown until the book was announced, collectors were eager to share in this exciting news by purchasing a copy. (And Dennis promises that thousands more copies of the book will be available soon.)

    Not all books, however, qualify as classic works, as columnist Joel Orosz ex­plains in his “Numismatic Bookie” column in this issue. He cites The Profit March of Your Coin Investment, 1935–1971, written by a man Joel describes as “the Barnumesque” George Haylings. Haylings was wildly optimistic in his 1960 book, in which he predicted that a roll of 1950-D Jefferson 5-cent coins would be worth $10,000 in 1971. They were actually worth $50.

    Numismatic literature can inspire, inform, educate and, on some occasions, give bad advice. For collectors, a good library is a vital tool in their hobby.

    Read any good books lately? 

    Why you won’t see a U.S. Star Trek coin series

    September 16, 2016 11:32 AM by
    World mints generally have much greater latitude than the United States Mint when it comes to selecting coin themes. That is both a good thing and a bad thing

    Our World Coins section this week includes Louis Golino’s Topical Topics article on world coins commemorating the 50th anniversary of the debut of the American television program Star Trek, and Jeff Starck’s New Issues coverage about the Perth Mint’s Star Trek coins for Tuvalu. You won’t be seeing, however, any U.S. coins celebrating the television program.

    In the United States, the legislative branch, Congress, has sole authority over regulating coinage, though it has ceded some authority for gold and platinum coinage to the executive branch, specifically the Treasury Department. This legislative authority dates to the U.S. Constitution’s Section 8: “The Congress shall have power to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures. ...”

    In the United States, commemorative coin programs originate in Congress, not with the Treasury Department or the U.S. Mint. In other countries, authority over coinage may originate at a nation’s central bank or its mint, with commemorative and coin themes selected at the discretion of those governing bodies. And since sales of commemorative, bullion and other coins can be very lucrative for issuers, many nations are very innovative with their coin programs, as they seek themes that may appeal to coin collectors and noncollectors alike. That is why we see so many coins with pop culture themes — comic book heroes, cartoon characters, popular movie franchises and more. Issuers of these coins hope that a Star Trek coin series might attract Trekkies even if they have no real interest in collecting more traditional coins.

    There is something to be said about this approach. Some of these pop culture themes might attract younger collectors who love, for example, the characters from the movie Frozen. These young collectors may never graduate to, say, Lincoln cents or Indian Head 5-cent coins, but they may keep collecting character-themed coins.

    Please note that I am not advocating the United States go the same route. I'm really not. But is it wise to reject a change in direction without giving it some consideration? What do you think? Would you collect an American Star Trek coin? Or would following the path taken by so many other national and private mints be a huge mistake?

    A possible solution (or not) to the Mint’s fast sellouts of limited products

    September 13, 2016 9:21 AM by
    Our Letters to the Editor page recently has often featured submissions from readers on the same topic — fast sellouts of high-demand limited-edition U.S. Mint products. Readers continue to be angry about the difficulties many experience in ordering products like the 2016 Winged Liberty Head gold dime and 2016 American Liberty silver medals, especially when dealers seem to be able to acquire large numbers.

    Letter writers often offer potential solutions that Mint officials should consider. We also have offered various solutions and here is a another one: The United States Mint should consider emulating the Royal Canadian Mint by introducing a Masters Club — a program that rewards regular customers with advance access to new products, among other benefits.

    Here’s how the RCM describes the program: “Designed by and for the Mint’s most dedicated clientele, our Masters Club program delivers features and benefits providing recognition and rewards that offer innovation, value, and exclusivity.

    Essentially, the RCM tracks a customer’s purchases of qualifying products and enrolls the customer at a Silver, Gold, or Platinum level. The biggest benefit is early access to new products; for example, a customer at the Silver level gains access to a product two days before the rest of the public, while Gold and Platinum customers gain three- and four-day advance access, respectively.

    And how do you qualify? Simply purchase a certain amount of product — coins, sets, medals — during a year. As a customer buys more products, he or she advances from Silver to Gold to Platinum member status.

    This program rewards customer loyalty; if you routinely spend X amount with the Mint every year, you gain recognition for your loyalty, and better access.

    The RCM’s purchase limits are moderately high, with $1,000 in purchases necessary to qualify a customer for Silver member access, $1,500 in purchases for Gold member access, and $2,000 for the Platinum level. The United States Mint would not have to follow these levels since a number of customers might find those bars set too high; the U.S. Mint could set the lowest level much lower if it chose. Still, even at the $1,000 level, many collectors could easily spend that much on annual sets, special sets, and the year’s commemorative coins.

    With such a program at the U.S. Mint, what might the practical effect for collectors be?

    Better luck in snagging a limited-edition product, for one. It is no secret that some retailers and wholesalers commission individuals to purchase high-demand products on their behalf to circumvent household limits. Since it is likely that some if not many of these customers are noncollectors and are infrequent or even first-time Mint customers, they would not gain access to these products until days after qualified longtime customers would have already been able to purchase the coins under a Masters Club program. Of course, wholesalers could still stack the deck in their favor by enlisting clients to buy products at sufficient levels to reach Masters Class levels.

    Nonetheless, early access could also lessen the severity of Mint website crashes and delays, and the inability of customers to connect with customer service representatives by phone, effects that are typically experienced when hot coins go on sale, like the 2016 Standing Liberty gold quarter dollar that went on sale Sept. 8.

    A solution exists. It might not be following the RCM’s approach. Still, Mint officials and collectors should work together on finding a solution that benefits collectors.