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Paul Gilkes

Mint State

Paul Gilkes

Paul is a senior editor and has been a member of the Coin World staff since 1988. Paul covers the U.S. Mint beat and has memorably reported for more than two decades on many of the hobby's most important stories including the record sale of the Farouk/Fenton 1933 double eagle and the ongoing legal proceedings of the Langbord 1933 double eagles. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and collects autographs and memorabilia from The Andy Griffith Show.

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Archive for '2015'

    Design competition ahead for 2018 World War I silver dollar

    December 15, 2015 10:32 AM by

    Sometime early in calendar year 2016, the U.S. Mint will begin soliciting proposed obverse and reverse designs in a juried competition for the 2018 World War I American Veterans Centennial commemorative silver dollar.

    It will be interesting to see the strength of designs that are submitted under the strict guidelines set forth in the enabling legislation, Public Law 113-212, signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 16, 2014.

    The designs for the maximum combined authorized mintage of 350,000 Proof and Uncirculated silver dollars are to be emblematic of the centennial honoring U.S. participation in The Great War, the war to end all wars.

    While the start of World War I was triggered by the June 28, 1914, assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, duchess of Hohenberg, U.S. military involvement did not begin until 1917 when President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress on April 2, 1917, seeking a declaration of war against Germany. The Senate approved the declaration on April 4, with the House concurring two days later.

    Armistice ending the war was reached on Nov. 11, 1918.

    The coin design competition calls for a seven-person jury chaired by the Treasury secretary, and three members each chosen from and by the respective memberships of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and Commission of Fine Arts.

    The final design selections are to be made by the Treasury secretary, who will set the rate of compensation to be not less than $5,000, according to the authorizing act.

    The act further mandates that each design submitted must be accompanied by a plaster model otherwise the designer risks having their submission rejected. That limitation for talented professional and amateur artists not schooled in or otherwise proficient in sculpting or modeling might preclude their participation.

    It will be several weeks before the Mint outlines the complete rules for the design competition. Among the issues to be considered are whether the current outside artists comprising the Artistic Infusion Program will be eligible to participate. Same for the members of the U.S. Mint’s engraving staff, who are tasked with sculpturing the approved designs, regardless of the winning designer(s).

    The engraving staff members receive no additional compensation beyond their government salaries for approved designs that they submitted or for sculpturing the own approved designs or the approved work of another artist. That likely won’t change with the 2016 design competition.

    Each 2018 World War I Centennial silver dollar sold will carry a $10 surcharge in its purchase price. Net surcharges after the U.S. Mint has recouped its production and related costs will be distributed to the United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars to assist the World War I Centennial Commission in celebrating the centenary of World War I.

    Let’s hope the winning designs strongly reflect the sacrifices made by the 4 million men from the United States who served during World War I. They deserve nothing less.

    Should there be two coin advisory panels?

    October 21, 2015 11:05 AM by

    Is there still room for two congressionally authorized panels to both provide advice to the Treasury secretary on what designs should appear on United States coins and medals?

    For the Commission of Fine Arts, the review of coin and medal designs is one of its many authorized responsibilities. For the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), it is the group’s sole responsibility.

    Withdrawing the design review responsibility from the CFA would still leave the panel with an extensive slate of projects to oversee. Doing so for the CCAC would, in effect, all but abolish the panel.

    The CFA was established by Congress on May 17, 1910, under Public Law 61-181, to advise the government on matters pertaining to the arts, but more specifically, to guide the architectural development of the nation’s capital.

    Subsequent legislation and presidential executive orders expanded the scope of the CFA’s mission. Executive Order 3524 ( issued July 18, 1921, by President Warren G. Harding), specifically defines the CFA’s responsibility over “essential matters relating to the design of medals, insignia and coins, produced by the executive departments. …”

    During its early decades, the Commission of Fine Arts played a leading role in the Renaissance of American coinage that featured designs by sculptors Augustus-Saint-Gaudens, Adolph A. Weinman, Hermon A. MacNeil and many others. Sculptor Daniel Chester French, who sculpted the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, was a founding member of the commission, serving from 1910 to 1915, including as chairman from 1912 to 1915.

    All but one of the CFA’s current seven members are specially qualified in architectural matters or landscape design, with only the chairman, Earl A. Powell III, having an extensive background in 19th- and 20th-century European and American Art and serving as director of the National Gallery of Art since 1992.

    The CCAC was created in 2003 as a successor advisory panel to the more than decade-old Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee (CCCAC) which was abolished under provisions of Public Law 108-15, approved April 23, 2003.

    Some members of the CCCAC were held over for service on the fledgling 11-member CCAC, which was given extended advisory powers beyond those of the CCCAC.

    While the original committee only addressed matters pertaining to U.S. commemorative coins, the CCAC’s members consider designs and themes for all U.S. coins and medals, but not insignia.

    The 11-member CCAC is appointed by the Treasury secretary, with four members recommended by congressional leadership from both houses. The remaining seven members are selected from the general public and those with special qualifications in American history, museum curatorship or numismatics.

    For each new U.S. coin or medal approved for issue, both the CFA and CCAC are provided by the U.S. Mint with proposed designs executed by the Mint’s engraving staff and outside artists in the Artistic Infusion Program.

    The design process can be dragged out longer if one or both advisory panels reject the designs provided for consideration, choosing not to recommend any to the Treasury secretary or his designate for final approval.

    During its two-day meeting Oct. 7 and 8, for example, the CCAC rejected all of the designs proposed for the 2017 Effigy Mounds National Monument quarter dollar for Iowa as being unsuitable. The CFA followed suit with its rejection of the same designs Oct. 15, one of the few times both panels agreed.

    Out of those same sessions came two different design recommendations for the reverse of the 2017 Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C. The CFA, arguing the design was about the site, opted for a design depicting Douglass, but with special focus on his historic home.

    The CCAC’s recommendation was for a design featuring Douglas, alone, orating in front of a lectern.

    Removing the CFA’s responsibility of coin and medal design review would still leave that more than century-old panel with its primary mission of architectural oversight in the nation’s capital.

    Is it really necessary to have two separate panels rendering opinions, from 18 combined panel members, or can reasonable review be accomplished with just one panel?

    What do you think?

    U.S. Mint should consider fractional platinum Eagles

    October 14, 2015 11:32 AM by

    Collectors and investors in anything labeled American Eagle from the U.S. Mint are patiently waiting for officials to launch sales for the Proof and bullion versions of the 1-ounce .9995 fine platinum coins.

    The Mint’s principal deputy director and President Obama’s nominee for Mint director, Rhett Jeppson, told Coin World in August that both versions are likely to be released during the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2016 — Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. As of Oct. 14, there is nothing new to report from the Mint on the American Eagle platinum coins.

    Collectors and investors welcomed the return in 2014 of the 1-ounce platinum bullion coins, the first since American Eagle platinum bullion coin production stopped in November 2008.

    2014 sales totaled 16,900 of the 1-ounce platinum coins, compared with 20,800 sold in 2008. And the second half 2008 sales were with the spot price of platinum more than double the current London PM closing price, at $983 per troy ounce on Oct. 13.

    And in 2008, the Mint was offering fractional versions of the platinum coin — the half-ounce $50 face-value coin, $25 quarter-ounce coin and $10 tenth-ounce coin — to go along with the 1-ounce $100 coin.

    The fractional versions were popular with collectors. Dealers and collectors alike have periodically expressed to Coin World an interest in the fractional alternatives.

    With platinum trading several hundred dollars per ounce below gold, maybe it’s time Mint officials take a second look at offering the fractional American Eagle platinum bullion coins again. 

    Collector ire raised over Ike set sales

    August 17, 2015 11:32 AM by

    Coin World received multiple complaints from collectors peeved they were unable to order the 2015 Dwight D. Eisenhower Coin & Chronicles set Aug. 11, which sold out of its 17,000-edition limit in 15 minutes. The primary problem was a computer software misfire blocking access to the U.S. Mint’s website.

    Not until I interviewed Rhett Jeppson, the Mint’s principal deputy director and President Obama’s nominee for Mint director, two hours after the Ike set went on sale, did I learn that the Mint has two portal components on its website (See the story I wrote, in this week’s Aug. 31 print issue and online at http://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/2015/08/eisenhower-set-sells-out-in-15-minutes.all.html).

    Seems that www.usmint.gov has the news link to the catalog options. The usmint.gov site is operated by the Mint. The glitch was a software problem at the site, totally unrelated to the Ike set sales launch.

    Catalog.usmint.gov, however, did function without problems and is where most of the orders were successfully placed. Catalog.usmint.gov is maintained by PSFWeb, under a multimillion-dollar contract. PFSWeb is a Mint contractor located in Texas. PSFWeb also operates the toll-free 800 ordering and customer service telephone line, and the order fulfillment center in Memphis, Tenn., from where the Mint’s packaged numismatic products are shipped.

    Orders taken via the 800 line are input online by PSFWeb to maintain inventory control. Order processors at PSFWeb may or may not have accurate answers for the questions customers ask who use the ordering-by-telephone option or simply customers calling to ask a general Mint-related question. However, answers to many of the general questions posed to the Mint can be found under FAQs on the www.usmint.gov site.

    Another beef we heard a lot of from collectors was a belief, based on misinterpreting advertising claims, that dealers or others with deep pockets had been able to order thousands of sets despite the two-set-per-household ordering limit imposed by the Mint. Not so.

    Nothing prevents orders being placed through multiple accounts as long as each account has a different delivery/mailing address and credit card for payment. Multiple orders for a single address or credit card will be flagged.

    A number of high profile dealers did send requests to their customers to order the two-set limit. When those customers passed the sets on to the dealer, they would receive a premium several times the $57.95 purchase price from the Mint.

    Those dealers did end up with large numbers of the sets that they re-marketed themselves, some after having the Reverse Proof 2015-P Eisenhower Presidential dollar and the silver presidential medal certified by a third-party grading service, or they peddled the sets directly to shopping channels like Home Shopping Network. The sets are now generating secondary market retail prices in the hundreds of dollars per set.

    The sets are in demand for the Reverse Proof Presidential dollar and silver medal which are available only in each featured president’s respective set.

    Mint officials have not announced whether they will further limit household orders, to one per household, to spread out the set distribution, when the John F. Kennedy Coin and Chronicles set goes on sale Sept. 16 or for the Lyndon B. Johnson set release sometime in October.

    Decreasing the household ordering limit to one might make customers who obtain a lone set less inclined to sell it to a dealer, even for a premium. Secondary market prices may rise further, though, as dealers work harder and offer more incentives to pry sets loose for resale to collectors still seeking the relatively low mintage items.

    More from CoinWorld.com:

    Federal government to return millions of dollars in Liberty Dollars seized by authorities in 2007

    Watch a $150,000 starting bid turn into a $400,000 final price

    Repeat performance: Collectors angry over Eisenhower sellout

    Principal Deputy Mint Director Rhett Jeppson reveals bureau's upcoming plans

    1851-O Coronet $20 double eagle from Newman Collection resurfaces, sells for $17,625: Market Analysis

    Keep up with all of CoinWorld.com's news and insights by signing up for our free eNewslettersliking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. We're also on Instagram!

    Eager anticipation: Breaking down the gold 1916 centennial coins

    June 17, 2015 3:10 PM by

    The United States Mint released mock-up designs June 17 that tentatively depict what the 2016-dated Winged Liberty Head dime, Standing Liberty quarter dollar and Walking Liberty half dollar 100th Anniversary gold coins will look like.

    Members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee previewed the designs during two days of coin and medal design review June 16 and 17.

    The most prominent of factors in the centennial coin’s production is the Mint’s decision to employ sculptor Hermon A. MacNeil’s original Bared Breast obverse introduced in 1916, and not the modified 1917 Mailed Breast version that masks Liberty’s previously exposed right bosom

    The three 2016 coins’ mock-up designs appear to replicate the original .900 fine silver versions that MacNeil designed for the Standing Liberty quarter dollar and sculptor Adolph A. Weinman did for the dime and half dollar.

    As illustrated in the mock-up designs, the precious metal composition would be given as AU, its elemental symbol on the periodic table, instead of GOLD. The weight would be given as 1/10 OZ. for the dime, 1/4 OZ. for the quarter dollar and 1/2 OZ. for the half dollar. The fineness inscription would be 24K (for 24 karat), and not .9999 FINE as it appears on American Buffalo gold coins.

    The fineness, weight and metallic content are tentatively slated to appear on the obverse of the Standing Liberty quarter dollar, but are set for the reverse side of the other two denominations. Each coin will retain its respective face value — dime, quarter dollar and half dollar.

    All three coins are expected to be eagerly awaited by collectors.

    Here’s what some Facebook fans are already saying, specifically on the gold dime, from our initial June 17 posting at Coinworld.com announcing all three denominations:

    Christopher Brant: I think they should mint this in gold and platinum.

    Noah T. Wright: I’ll take one.

    Vernon Peterson: I think the 2016 date is to large & doesn't look right. Since it shows 1/10oz of gold + "ONE DIME", why not place the date in Roman Numerals - MMXVI instead of 2016...

    Steve Elam: Waste of Time! Not A Dime!

    As Coin World learns additional details of any design modifications, surface finishes, release dates, mintages and product options, we will report them to you.

    Kennedy half dollar in circulation

    June 2, 2015 4:02 PM by

    How often do you come across a Kennedy half dollar in circulation? I’ll bet not very often.

    In fact, despite being Coin World 's senior editor for U.S. coins, I haven’t seen a Kennedy half dollar in circulation or received one in change for years.

    That is, until May 30, in, of all places, Ohio Stadium, home to the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes football team.

    I was attending with my girlfriend the Rolling Stones Zip Code tour, among the tens of thousands other rock and roll fans at the Columbus concert venue, when the need to take advantage of the overpriced concessions took hold.

    All of the food and drink items were priced in even dollar amounts or in 50-cent increments.

    I was actually slightly dumbfounded when the concession worker handed me a well-circulated 1972 Kennedy half dollar in change.

    I asked her how often Kennedy half dollars are dispensed in change there, versus quarter dollars or any combination of minor coinage.

    She replied that all transactions requiring 50 cents in change are presented in the form of a Kennedy half dollar. The cash register was full of them.

    Federal Reserve Banks and contracted armored carrier coin terminals are likely still stockpiled with the bags of Kennedy half dollars that were struck and released into general circulation before 2001, when the Fed stopped ordering them and the Mint stopped producing them for circulation.

    The next time you attend a stadium rock concert or sporting event and you’re due change of less than an even dollar amount, you might be surprised what you’ll receive.

    More from CoinWorld.com:

    Collectors discover doubled dies on America the Beautiful quarter dollars

    1893 commemorative coin found in roll 122 years after issue

    U.S. Mint explains depletion of inventory of 2014-W Eleanor Roosevelt First Spouse gold

    Louis Golino: March of Dimes secondary market taking shape

    American Eagle silver bullion coins sales by U.S. Mint dip 29 percent in May

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    Doolittle Raiders congressional medal set for B-25 delivery on raid anniversary, April 18

    March 20, 2015 2:53 PM by

    I’m looking forward to visiting the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, on April 18. On that day, the 73rd anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders bombing of Tokyo and other strategic Japanese cities during World War II, the museum will see the delivery, via B-25 bomber, of the congressional gold medal recognizing the heroism of 80 United States airmen. The museum is the medal’s final resting place.

    Congressional leaders will have formally presented the medal to the Doolittle Raiders on April 15, at Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.

    Just three of the 80 airmen, who took off in 16 five-man crews in B-25 bombers from the flight deck of the USS Hornet, on what was billed as a suicide mission, are still alive today

    One of the three is expected to attend both the Washington, D.C., and Dayton, Ohio events, and a second survivor is anticipated to join him at the Dayton event.

    Of the 80 Doolittle Raiders, several died from injuries sustained when their aircraft was downed by enemy fire. Some died in captivity under enemy control. By the end of World War II, 17 of the original 80 who participated in the mission were gone.

    Among those who made it back, three survive today – Lt. Col. Robert Hite, 95; Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, 93; and Lt. Col. Richard Cole, 99.

    Commissioned as a second lieutenant and rated as a pilot on May 29, 1941, Hite, the co-pilot of one of the 16 B-25 bombers, was captured after the Tokyo raid and imprisoned by the Japanese for 40 months. Hite was liberated by American troops on Aug. 20, 1945, and remained on active duty until Sept. 30, 1947. Hite returned to active duty during the Korean War.

    Thatcher was an engineer-gunner. After the Tokyo Raid, Thatcher served in England and Africa until discharged from active duty in July 1945.

    As a second lieutenant, Cole was the co-pilot in the lead plane piloted by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle. Following the raid, Cole remained in the China-Burma-India theatre of operations until June 1943, and served there again from October 1943 to June 1944 before being relieved from active duty in 1947.

    The heroic efforts of these three brave airmen and their comrades on a mission targeted to end the war in the Pacific as soon as possible is now being recognized with the awarding of the congressional gold medal.

    Collectors and the general public have the opportunity to support that recognition when the U.S. Mint offers for sale 1.5-inch and 3-inch bronze duplicates of the gold medal.

    FUN's over: Closing the book on 60th convention

    January 13, 2015 1:57 PM by

    The 60th Florida United Numismatists convention, staged Jan. 8 to 11 in Orlando, is now one for the history books.

    I and the other 10,000+ visitors privileged to have attended the numismatic extravaganza were treated to a wealth of collectibles and numismatic education.

    Numismatic rarities offered by Heritage Auctions generated tens of millions of dollars in prices realized, with several issues, including the finest known 1792 Birch cent pattern, garnering more than $2 million each.

    The numismatic collectibles found among the 630 dealer tables offered collectors with every size budget the opportunity to add to their collections. If action on the bourse wasn’t of interest, meetings of specialty collector clubs and numismatic education programs on topics of interest were open to the public.

    The combined booths of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and U.S. Mint were popular visiting stations on the bourse. Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios put her signature on more than 300 Federal Reserve notes and other collectibles during her show visit Jan. 8. During the convention, the U.S. Mint sold 12,500 of the Proof 2015-W American Eagle 1-ounce silver dollars, the only 2015-dated numismatic product the Mint had available for sale at the FUN show.

    U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Donald Everhart II was also on hand to demonstrate traditional sculpturing methods for coins and medals.

    The large exhibit area mounted by the 1715 Plate Fleet Society for the 300th anniversary year of the fleet’s demise shared with the public artifacts retrieved from the shipwreck and now part of the state of Florida’s extensive collection of treasure salvage.

    The competitive exhibit area provided show attendees a glimpse at what other areas of collecting interest one may pursue. Pennsylvania collector Tom Uram took home the Best in Show award for his display on “The Kings and Queens of England Through Maundy Money.”

    If there was one experience that generated a considerable buzz on the bourse, it was the daily appearance of Rick Harrison, one of the anchors of the popular History Channel television series, Pawn Stars. Hosted by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., Harrison was on hand to assist in the casting of collectors with items of numismatic and historical interest to appear on a future segment of the television show.

    Each time Harrison appeared on the bourse, the public followed his every footstep as if he was the Pied Piper. Harrison’s scheduled appearance the afternoon of Jan. 9 at NGC’s booth on the bourse brought the public out in force, requiring bourse security to keep the aisles clear. The line of people wanting to try out for the show or simply meet Harrison stretched across the NGC booth area and past Coin World’s booth, providing us a captive audience with which to talk hobby interests.

    Now that the 60th installment of the FUN show is complete, what will the 61st edition have to offer? You’ll have to find out for yourself when the show travels Jan. 7 to 10, 2016, to the Tampa Convention Center. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.

    More from CoinWorld.com:

    Big Ben silver £100-for-£100 coin sells out from Royal Mint

    Here are 12 photos from Tuesday's opening of the Boston time capsule

    Pawn Stars' Rick Harrison spotted at Heritage's FUN Platinum Night auction

    Knowledge is the first step to hobby fun and the secret of longtime profitable collecting

    1792 Birch cent another coin to top $2 million at Heritage FUN auctions

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