US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Dec. 9, 2019: Honesty and generosity brighten hobby

This 1923 Peace dollar was struck on a cracked planchet, which the dealer offering the coin in a bargain bin did not know. Columnist Thomas Cohn informed the seller of the error, and the dealer still honored the original $17 asking price even though the error made it more valuable.

Original images by Thomas Cohn.

During the past few weeks, our email inboxes and the comments sections at our website and Facebook page have been filled with reactions to the outcome of the U.S. Mint’s Nov. 14 sale of the Enhanced Reverse Proof 2019-S American Eagle silver dollar.

Few of the reactions are positive, the comments instead reflective of wide dissatisfaction at how the sale unfolded, with anger directed at the Mint and at dealers selling multiples of the coin at prices well above the original issue price. I have editorialized on this subject as well, trying for a nuanced response to what we have seen.

This week, I would like to veer away from all of the negativity, and instead focus on multiple pieces appearing in this week’s issue that feature acts of honesty and generosity by coin collectors, a dealer, and two hobby organizations.

Thomas Cohn is one of our newest regular columnists, writing the “Coin Shop Lottery” column, which details his efforts to buying numismatic items with interesting backstories. His column this week details his discovery of an error 1923 Peace dollar in a bargain bin at his local coin shop. The coin was unidentified as an error and instead was offered at a price of $17. Thomas could have cherrypicked the coin, leaving the seller no wiser. He instead did the honest thing and informed the dealer of the error, which made the coin worth quite a bit more than the asking price. The dealer, in turn, honored the original price rather than charging a higher price indicative of its true value.

Both participants deserve kudos for their honesty and generosity in conducting this transaction. 

On the subject of generosity, I direct your attention to two articles about the 2020 edition of the annual American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar. 

Longtime readers of this column may recall our fondness for the ANA Summer Seminar and our recommendations that collectors attend the annual educational event. However, the seminar is not free, and while not terribly expensive, still carries a sizeable attendance fee.

Thanks to the generosity of their patrons, the ANA and the Professional Numismatics Guild are offering scholarships for deserving Young Numismatists to attend the 2020 seminar. I urge that all young readers of Coin World submit the required essays and applications.

The ANA and PNG deserve a lot of credit for supporting the attendance of young collectors. The scholarships represent investments by both organizations in the future of the hobby.

In the Guest Commentary by Robert Patterson that appears below, this occasional contributor shares the news of his wife’s tragic death in the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017. Robert and his wife enjoyed collecting together, and in recent times, he and his family have been sharing coins from their family collection with others in honor of their lost family member. This is an act of generosity and hope arising from unimaginable horror and tragedy.

It is easy for all of us to become jaded and angry as collectors and hobby observers. But stories like these show that this hobby is full of people who are generous and honest. 

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