• paul-gilkes

    Mint State


    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 protracted 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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    • Sleeping bear needs to come out of hibernation

      Nov 2, 2017, 12:13 PM by
      This piece, with the general appearance of a 2009 American Eagle gold $50 coin, is actually a base metal counterfeit that was included among other counterfeits and genuine coins submitted to a dealer for sale.

      Images courtesy of Dollartowne.

      Counterfeit United States coins, including bullion issues, have been infiltrating the American market on an ever-increasing basis for nearly a decade with little or no intervention from the federal government.

      That is, until now.

      Two congressmen, Reps. Alex Mooney from West Virginia and Frank Lucas, an avid coin collector from Oklahoma, are seeking answers from the U.S. Mint and Secret Service as to what measures are being taken to stem the tide of the fake coins entering the American economy from China and elsewhere.

      The congressmen are also seeking answers as to what the Mint is doing with technology to ensure the integrity of coinage products produced by the U.S. Mint.

      Lucas and Mooney were prompted to action based on the tireless efforts of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets’ Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force, and its director of anti-counterfeiting, former Coin World editor Beth Deisher.

      David J. Ryder, the 34th director of the U.S. Mint and President Trump’s pick to become the 39th, said during his nomination hearing that anti-counterfeit initiatives would be among his top priorities if confirmed.

      And Ryder has the credentials to back it up, with 25 years since his first tenure as Mint director spent working in coin and paper money security.

      illustrated above, a plated base metal counterfeit of a 2009-dated American Eagle gold bullion, is just one example of the type of fakes that have entered the marketplace.

      Tackling the proliferation of United States counterfeit coins has been largely ignored for way too long. It’s time the sleeping bear wakes up and takes action before the problem gets any worse.

    • Lost opportunities with platinum, palladium

      Oct 13, 2017, 14:01 PM by
      The quality of this 2017 American Eagle palladium bullion coin was such that NGC graders saw fit to assign it a Mint State 70 Prooflike grade.

      Images courtesy of NGC.

      The U.S. Mint needs to reexamine how it produces its bullion coins.

      While the 1-ounce gold and silver American Eagle bullion coins, 1-ounce gold American Buffalo and 5-ounce silver bullion America the Beautiful quarter dollars are being struck to order, the 1-ounce bullion versions of the platinum American Eagle and inaugural palladium American Eagle are being treated more like numismatic issues, with limited mintages.

      None of the Mint’s bullion products are sold directly to the general public.

      The Mint sells the bullion releases through its network of authorized purchasers at a set premium above the closing spot price of the specific metal per troy ounce on the London market.

      The authorized purchasers, who offer a two-way market buying and selling the coins, then sell the bullion issues into the secondary market at a markup.

      For 2017, the U.S. Mint struck and issued for sale to its authorized purchasers 20,000 platinum American Eagles. They were all sold on Jan. 29, the first day they were offered. Authorized purchasers wanted more, but the U.S. Mint has not had any more platinum Eagles struck and offered since.

      And for the first year of the palladium American Eagle, only 15,000 were made available on Sept. 25, the one and only day the coins were offered to authorized purchasers.

      These approved buyers wanted more platinum and palladium American Eagle bullion coins based on customers wants. I know, because I asked the authorized buyers. They needed more coins to meet the public demand. The U.S. Mint didn’t meet that demand.

      You would think that the Mint, which is in the business of making money in more ways than one, would accommodate the demand and strike the palladium and platinum bullion issues to order.

      It means more revenue for the Mint, since the bullion issues can’t be sold back to the bureau. And it provides the authorized purchasers with the coins their customers demand.

      If the Mint is going to continue to strike the platinum and palladium Eagles in limited quantities, it should announce the specific numbers.

      I believe the bureau is making a big mistake by not increasing its production of these two bullion issues. It’s a lost opportunity.

    • It's nice to be appreciated

      Sep 12, 2017, 11:44 AM by
      Seven-year-old Lillian Napier used Lot 2014 of a Moffatt & Co. $16 pioneer gold ingot as inspiration for a design submission for the Kagins' Auctions Sept. 15 auction catalog.

      Images courtesy of Kagin's Auctions.

      My late father always found the time to express words of encouragement to me and my siblings in the form of an “Atta, boy!” or “Atta, girl!” It was nice to be recognized for our accomplishments and that somebody was taking notice even though we weren’t expecting any accolades. It still felt good, though.

      And those words still ring true, today.

      I’d like to shout out an “Atta, boy!” to Don Kagin from Kagin’s Auctions in Tiburon, California, and an “Atta, girl!” to 7-year-old Lillian Napier for her “Honorable Mention” design sketch submitted for Kagin’s auction catalog design contest for its Sept. 15 Santa Clara sale.

      Lillian contributed a colored pencil sketch on manila paper of a rendition of Lot 2014, which features the Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. example of a circa 1849 Moffat & Co. $16 gold ingot, one of just 20 examples traced. The ingot is graded About Uncirculated 50 by Professional Coin Grading Service.

      Don was thoughtful enough and compelled to reward Lillian’s creative work with items that hopefully will keep her numismatic spark alive for many years to come.

      Lillian was recognized with a full membership in the American Numismatic Association, a mega, deluxe edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins, commonly known as the “Mega Red,” and a PCGS certified Mint State 60 1881-S Morgan dollar.

      I’m sure Lillian appreciates Don’s gesture, and the numismatic community does, too.

      Lillian’s design contribution is illustrated on the inside back cover of the Sept. 15 Kagin’s auction catalog.

    • Show us the assets!

      Aug 14, 2017, 15:45 PM by
      The U.S. Mint holds under its control tens of thousands of "heritage assets" tracing its history, including this aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent that the bureau put on public display in Denver Aug. 1 to 5 during the American Numismatic Association's World's Fair of Money.

      Images courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Services.

      Collectors and others who attended the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money August 1 to 5 in Denver had the opportunity to see a 1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 gold double eagle exhibited by the U.S. Mint. In fact two of them.

      The venue also served as the stage to display of the lone known example of an aluminum 1974-D Lincoln cent that Mint officials claim was never officially authorized to have been struck.

      The numismatic items are among tens of thousands of items that constitute what the Mint calls its “heritage assets.”

      The two 1933 double eagles are among 10 secured at the Fort Knox Gold Bullion Depository in Kentucky that the Mint “recovered” in 2005 after those in possession sent them to the Mint for authentication.

      After years of litigation leading all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, the government was awarded ownership of the 10 double eagles, all of which were put on display in 2006 by the U.S. Mint at the ANA convention in Denver.

      Only three other examples are publicly known – two in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, and the purported King Farouk I coin, sold for $7,590,020 in 2002 and the only example deemed legal to own.

      The examples at the Smithsonian have been on public display off and on. The purported Farouk coin is on display at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

      The 1974-D aluminum cent was returned to the Mint in March 2016 after originally being given to a former Denver Mint deputy superintendent upon his retirement in 1980, a transfer U.S. Mint officials dispute.

      The U.S. Mint holds thousands of examples of “heritage assets” across the country. Some are on public display on the self-guided public tour at the Philadelphia Mint and guided tour at the Denver Mint.

      The San Francisco and West Point Mints as well as Fort Knox are off-limits to public access, but boast exhibits in their offices, hallways and common areas. Most items are hidden and haven’t seen the light of day since being placed into storage.

      These "heritage assets” include experimental, test and trial strikes of U.S. and foreign coins, U.S. medals, plaster models, galvanoes, production tooling, design sketches, and other materials associated with coin and medal production.

      The U.S. Mint sparingly has brought select materials out of the dark for display at ANA conventions, but those times have been few and far between.

      Since 2008, U.S. Mint Curator Robert Goler has spearheaded the documenting of 50,000 to 70,000 items that constitute the heritage assets that are added to on an almost daily basis.

      The goal, according to U.S. Mint officials, is to one day display some of the assets on a rotating basis to showcase the Mint's rich history.

      Let’s hope that the Mint follows through — and soon.

    • Spreading numismatic knowledge brings lesson in return

      Mar 8, 2017, 15:20 PM by
      2017-P Lincoln cents began showing up in circulation in Coin World's home city of Sidney, Ohio, during the first week of March.

      Coin World images by Ray Wilder.

      When I first reported early in January that the U.S.Mint was striking 2017-P Lincoln cents bearing the Philadelphia Mint’s P Mint mark for the first time in the bureau’s 225-year history, I wondered how long it would take me to find examples here in Coin World’s home city of Sidney, Ohio.

      Two months to be exact. I came across my first one March 7 at the local Tim Horton’s fast-food restaurant. I checked with the cashier to see if they had any more in their cash register, but no luck. 

      I did happen to find five more 2017-P Lincoln cents in a change jar sitting on the counter next to the register. I politely asked if I could swap out to the one-year type cents with older ones. I think the cashier thought I was nuts, but she agreed after talking to the manager.

      ”2016-WWho should protect the coin hobby from predatory sellers?: Inside Coin World: “Should the numismatic community ‘police’ the sellers of coins, medals, and related objects, even those dealers who fall outside of the mainstream dealer network?”

      The P Mint mark was added to the Lincoln cent for circulation strikes and the cents to be included in the 2017 Uncirculated Mint set, as part of the Mint’s year-long celebration of its 225th anniversary.

      The circulation strikes are coins collectors can add to their collections at face value. They’re likely not going to appreciate in value, since it’s anticipated the Philadelphia Mint will be striking billions of them.

      Since my reporting of the Mint’s unannounced decision to add the P Mint mark, I’ve checked with the staff working the registers at many of the places which I frequent or do business in searching for the cents — McDonald’s, Wal Mart, Walgreen’s, Kroger supermarket, and any restaurant.

      I also regularly checked a half dozen or so bank outlets.

      I tried to educate those I encountered about what I was looking for and why, in hopes that I may make a collector or two in the process.

      While trying to spread a little knowledge and being mostly greeted with blank stares, I learned a little lesson of my own. All of the coin handlers I dealt with, including the bank tellers, had no clue about the coins they received or dispensed. They paid no attention to the coin designs, date, Mint mark, or lack thereof. They just looked at the color and diameter and took it from there.

      I wonder why the Mint didn’t disclose they were adding the Mint mark and just spend a few dollars educating the public on the nation’s smallest denomination and most encountered coin. Maybe such a small gesture would be enough to spark an interest for a whole new generation of collectors. The hobby needs the boost.

    • Should there be two coin advisory panels?

      Oct 21, 2015, 11:05 AM by Paul Gilkes
      For the 2017 Frederick Douglass National Historic Site quarter dollar, the CCAC recommends a design depicting Douglass orating, while the CFA included his District of Columbia home.

      Images courtesy of United States Mint.

      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?

    • Eager anticipation: Breaking down the gold 1916 centennial coins

      Jun 17, 2015, 15:10 PM by
      The 2016 Winged Liberty Head dime to be struck to mark the centennial of the coin's 1916 introduction into circulation in .900 fine silver will be produced as a tenth-ounce, 24-karat gold release. Shown are mock-up images for the coin.

      Images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

      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.

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

      Jan 13, 2015, 13:57 PM by
      Coin World Senior Editor Paul Gilkes, left, met with Pawn Stars television show star Rick Harrison Jan. 9 during the Florida United Numismatists Convention in Orlando.

      Coin World image

      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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    • Give the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders the medal they are asking for

      Oct 24, 2014, 12:34 PM by
      The Commission of Fine Arts recommended for the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders congressional gold medal the designs preferred by the four surviving raiders. The Treasury secretary should give the raiders the designs they want.

      Images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

      This is an open letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob “Jack” Lew:

      Dear Treasury Secretary Lew,

      By statute, you have the final say for what designs will appear on the nation’s coins and medals, regardless of what the two congressionally authorized review panels — the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee — and even the U.S. Mint recommend.

      Public Law 113-106, signed into law May 23, 2014, by President Obama, authorizes the issuance of a congressional gold medal recognizing “the World War II members of the ‘Doolittle Tokyo Raiders’, for outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States in conducting the bombings of Tokyo.”

      Of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who launched on the April 18, 1942, raid, eight were captured, two died in crashes, and 70 returned home.

      Of the eight captured Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, three were executed and one died of disease.

      As of February 2013, according to the text of the enabling legislation, there were only five surviving members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.

      Today, only four survive, all in their 90s — Lt. Col. Robert Hite, Staff Sgt. Robert Thatcher, Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, and the senior member, Lt. Col. Richard Cole.

      As a lieutenant, Cole was Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead plane. The crew had to bail out as the aircraft ran out of fuel and eventually crashed. Doolittle, Cole and the remaining three men in the crew were rescued by the Chinese.

      On Oct. 14, the CCAC made their recommendations after design review, and two days later, the CFA made their picks. The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders made it known to both panels the proposed designs the association wants to see on the final medal.

      The CFA backed the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders' preferences. The CCAC recommended different obverse and reverse designs.

      Simply put, give the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders what they are asking for.

      They earned it.


      Paul Gilkes

      Coin World

      Senior Editor, U.S. Coins