The Art of Collecting
Steve Roach, Coin World’s editor-at-large, has been deeply involved with numismatics for more than 20 years, starting as a young coin collector in Michigan. Two years spent as a coin grader, nearly three years at a major coin wholesaler and a stint as a paintings specialist at an international auction house have given Steve a rich understanding of the hobby, its market and the unique personalities and exceptional objects that make collecting meaningful. He joined Coin World in 2006 as a columnist, and has served as associate editor and editor-in-chief. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, a juris doctorate from the Ohio State University and is a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers.
Apr 17, 2015, 17:29 PM byA federal court has ruled in favor of the Langbord family in the ongoing suit involving ownership of 10 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagles. Images by Thomas Mulvaney, courtesy of United States Mint.
It's wild for me to think that I started full time at Coin World in 2009, and the Langbord 1933 double eagle case was in full swing. Now, six years later, the case continues to have twists and turns as it evolves.
From daily trial coverage at the 2011 trial in Philadelphia, to dozens of follow-ups, it’s a case that has never bored me. Here’s the latest development, which is a game-changer for the coins and potentially the hobby.
As I reported earlier today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on April 17 vacated a previous declaratory judgment by a district court that declared the coins as government property that was unlawfully removed from the U.S. Mint.
That decision vacated a July 21, 2011, jury decision where 10 jurors unanimously ruled in favor of the government, concluding that the coins were illegally obtained from the U.S. Mint.
While the government is now weighing its options, the Langbord family’s attorney Barry Berke is optimistic, stating, “The Langbords are thrilled to receive their property back after fighting to vindicate their rights for over a decade.”
So the big question is, what exactly are these 10 1933 double eagles worth?
I did my best to answer that question at the outset of the 2011 trial.
Here's what I wrote in Coin World just before the original trial began that July:
We know what the coins grade since Numismatic Guaranty Corp. reported Nov. 3, 2009, that it had graded one coin Mint State 66, two MS-65, six MS-64 and one with an NGC Uncirculated Details, Improperly Cleaned grade.
When pricing any object, one first looks at comparables — other objects of similar type and quality and the prices they sold for. In 2002, the 1933 double eagle allegedly owned by Egypt’s King Farouk sold for $7,590,000 at auction. It graded MS-65 and was — and currently is — the only 1933 double eagle that can be legally owned by an individual.
So if the coins are ruled private property, are the “Langbord 10” worth around $7 million each?
That's unlikely. When multiple examples of an object enter a market, the demand/supply ratio changes. While the added publicity helps — meaning that more people know what a 1933 double eagle is and may want one — it’s not enough to compensate for the fact that the coins are not unique.
A parallel in the art market is when an artist’s estate is valued for estate tax purposes, a blockage discount is sometimes used. This assumes that the works are sold at once, depressing the market. To maximize value, prudent estates use long-range marketing, which places objects into the market slowly, responding to the ebbs and flows of demand and artist reputation.
What pricing comparables do the 1933 double eagles have?
Perhaps most obvious is the 1927-D Saint-Gaudens double eagle, considered by some the rarest regular issue coin of the 20th century. Around 10 are collectible today from a mintage of 180,000. They are sold infrequently. The last example at public auction was an MS-66 that realized $1.495 million at a January 2010 auction.
Seeing that the prices for the top objects in many collecting categories are going sky high, with proper marketing to buyers beyond the existing coin-market, the 10 Langbord 1933 double eagle coins could be worth around $2 million each, perhaps more.
But how many more examples remain to be discovered is a troubling, lingering question.
Especially as the market for multi-million dollar rarities expands, there could be a wider market for these 10 1933 double eagles than there was in 2011.
And I look forward to continuing to cover these coins as they proceed though the legal system and potentially enter the numismatic marketplace.
Apr 7, 2015, 14:20 PM by
Shifting state tax laws as they relate to the retail sales of coins and bullion continue to cause headaches for our hobby.
Dealers, collectors and numismatic organizations including the Industry Council for Tangible Assets should be applauded for their efforts to bring attention to this area and make changes at the state legislature level.
For example, Virginia recently passed a bill that provides a sales and use tax exemption that includes gold, silver, and platinum purchases totaling more than $1,000.
This could not have happened without the work of many dealers, including David Lawrence Rare Coins’ John Feigenbaum and ICTA. The groundwork for this exemption took hundreds of hours of effort and many months. The law becomes effective on July 1, 2015, and it makes Virginia as the 32nd state to have an exemption, according to ICTA.
Yet, the exemption could have been wider. Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe did not elect to expand the exemption to all legal-tender coins (regardless of their metal content) and paper money.
So, the effort will continue in Virginia as it does in other states.
Sales and use taxes have a real impact on dealers and collectors.
Pennsylvania’s proposed $78.6 billion 2015–16 budget includes various ways to address a $2.3 billion budget deficit, including raising the state sales tax from 6 percent to 6.6 percent and removing an exemption on investment metal bullion and rare coins.
The budget notes: “An unknown number of individuals and businesses engaged in the purchase and sale of investment bullion and coins benefit from this tax expenditure.”
However, while the state doesn’t know the number of individuals impacted, it has a firm handle on the money it’s lost, and what it stands to gain with the additional taxation.
The state estimates that the coin and bullion exemption during 2013–14 cost the state $9.3 million and forecasts the potential revenue for taxing coins and bullion for 2015–16 as $12.2 million. This number increases to $14 million in the next budget cycle before concluding at $21.1 million in 2019–20.
That steady rise in forecasted tax revenue assumes that numismatic business will stay in the state.
However, when state sales tax laws become unpredictable or punitive to coin dealers, dealers often move.
Several large dealers that I’ve chatted with in Pennsylvania are considering moving to more tax-friendly climates such as Florida or Texas.
Should the exemption be lifted and coins be subject to state sales tax, this will surely put a chill on the 2018 American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money, scheduled for downtown Philadelphia. While ANA officials have expressed concern, the sales tax threat is becoming more real with each passing year.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:44 AM by
Are numismatists oddballs, and is that necessarily a bad thing?
Several of our eagle-eyed readers picked up on Jessica Pressler’s March 20 review of Kabir Sehgal’s new book Coined: The Rich Life of Money and How its History Has Shaped Us published in New York Times Book Review.
Pressler writes that the book’s author (an investment banker) is “not unaware of his privilege, and his thoughtfulness comes across as a pleasant surprise, particularly in the latter half of the book, where he introduces a gang of numismatists — coin collectors — whose hobby in the social food chain probably ranks somewhere below gold bugs and just above Civil War reenactors.” She adds, “Sehgal is respectful, even affectionate toward these oddballs,” ending the review, “Cool story, bro.”
Perhaps a harsh assessment.
Considering that, generally speaking, numismatists are financially successful, well-educated and among the most interesting people I’ve encountered, as a numismatist, I suppose I’ll wear the oddball badge with pride.
Feb 6, 2015, 13:08 PM byThe varied depictions of Liberty in proposed designs for the 2015 High Relief $75 gold coin are nontraditional, at least by U.S. coin standards, in that some depict Liberty embodied as an African-American woman.
Many of our readers have applauded these designs, while others have provided harsh criticisms.
My take is that it’s about time that Liberty on our coins goes beyond generalized representations of Liberty in the Greek and Roman classical forms.
But the designs were unusual in another sense (although one deeply rooted in history) in that many of the Liberties were overtly sexy.
Now, U.S. coins have been sexy in the past. Think of Liberty’s décolletage on Robert Scot’s Draped Bust design used on silver coins from 1795 to 1804. There was the scandalous exposed breast on the Standing Liberty quarter dollar design used in 1916 and 1917.
Liberty’s body is clearly revealed through clinging drapery on Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ gold double eagle of 1907 to 1933. She was even made “sexier” to a new generation in 1986 when she was slimmed down for the new American Eagle gold bullion coins.
Our trusted proofreader Fern Loomis had some thoughtful comments on the disconnect between visual depictions of Liberty and nudity.
She questioned, “Why is American liberty constantly touted as best represented on coins by a semi-clothed, often barefoot (why not pregnant, to go with that?) and bare-breasted young Caucasian woman? Any clothing she may carry, draped over a shoulder perhaps, or flimsily floated about her otherwise naked form, is of ancient style, from a time when, most American women today might agree, their fellow women were not granted much liberty.”
She added, “ ‘Liberty as naked white woman’ has very little to do with any factual representation of either liberty or any portion of the population, and everything to do with who has long financed, and therefore shaped values of and creation of, what is considered ‘best’ in the worlds of money and art.”
How does the concept of Liberty stay modern and relevant to today’s audiences? The varied depictions of Liberty should be representative of the diversity of America.
Fern’s point is well-taken.Is Liberty relevant to modern audiences if it is wearing tight, revealing or seemingly wet clothing (as seen on some of the proposed designs)?Is a sexualized depiction of Liberty really necessary to fully represent concepts of social and political freedom?More from CoinWorld.com:
2015 High Relief gold $75 coin is a misfire by the Mint on many levels
Star Trek's Captain Kirk, USS Enterprise featured on new Perth Mint silver coins
CCAC concurs with CFA on designs for 2015 High Relief gold coin
Several 2015 U.S. Marshals Service commemorative coins already 'out of stock’
'Sons of Liberty' TV mini-series misses the mark when it comes to Colonial coins
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Jan 26, 2015, 18:32 PM by
Social media, especially Facebook, give us at Coin World a different perspective on what we publish as they allow our stories to reach out to an audience beyond our subscription base (and often beyond the coin collecting community).
It’s tough for us to predict what will generate discussions. Stories on silver American Eagles and Morgan dollars are always popular, but so are ones that tie into news and current events.
For example, on Jan. 19 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — we revisited a question we asked our audience in July 2014: Should MLK replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill?
The resulting comments were wide-ranging.
Some were thoughtful and logical, some were emotional. A few were indifferent (yet took the time to share that indifference) and others were irreverent (evidenced by a brief debate on whether Garth Brooks or Carrie Underwood was more deserving).
Social media allow us to have a type of conversation with our readers that is enlightening in showcasing the wide range of our audience and their views.
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Jan 20, 2015, 12:24 PM byCollectors love sharing stories and their hobby, and Coin World led a roundtable discussion on 2014’s top stories in the hobby at January’s Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando.
History is the entry point for many new collectors in our hobby.
Coins have the ability to take us back to points in time. None of our readers were around in 1815, yet as Bill Eckberg shares in his feature on the activity at the Philadelphia Mint in 1815, contemporary coins provide tangible evidence of the struggles of a new nation and Mint coping with war.
It’s a popular trivia question (at least among coin collectors): what year were no cents produced?
The answer is usually 1815.
But numismatists love the details, and as Eckberg explains, that traditional answer is likely not that simple.
He writes, “Cents were struck in 1815, but no cents dated 1815 exist.” He suspects that the cents produced in 1815 were actually struck from a leftover die dated 1814, adding, “The surviving population of coins tells us that if the entire mintage for the date was the recorded 357,830, 1814 Classic Head cents are far more common, relative to the original mintage, than other Classic Head dates.”
Alternate explanations exist, including one that relates to a rumor in the 1830s that erroneously suggested that 1814 cents had trace amounts of gold, which could have led to hoarding and melting.
Questions like this keep coin collectors enthralled with our hobby and it is the connection to history that keeps many people involved in numismatics over the course of a lifetime.
Coin collecting is often called a lifetime hobby and at the recent Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando, more than 50 collectors attended a roundtable discussion where we chatted about the top 10 stories of 2014 and how they could shape collecting today.
From the discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard, the continued exploration of the SS Central America, to more recent issues like the questions surrounding the discovery of a 1974-D Lincoln aluminum cent, there is always something new happening in our hobby and discoveries abound.
It keeps us busy, and we hope that each issue of Coin World’s weekly and monthly publication educates, entertains and inspires you to explore your hobby in new ways.?
Jan 12, 2015, 15:58 PM by
Entering any new endeavor can be intimidating. What’s equally challenging can be taking the next step and becoming involved and engaged.
We love sharing stories of people who have stepped up to the challenge of taking their interest in coins and numismatics to the next level: growing the hobby.
The broadness of our hobby — from the first ancient issues to the modern era’s coins, paper money, tokens, medals and everything in between — provides opportunities for individuals to use their unique skill sets to keep numismatics strong.
Our Guest Commentary this week by Andrew Blinkiewicz shows how one person stepped up to the challenge. He asked himself: How can I go beyond normal hobby activities like collecting, writing and exhibiting, and make a difference through leadership? How can I take my interest, enthusiasm and experience and help expand our hobby?
He challenged the status quo by saying that, as a young person, he has a voice that needs to be heard to keep our hobby relevant.
Everyone comes to our hobby with a unique story, a set of circumstances that draws them to numismatics and can be applied to leadership positions.
It’s encouraging that several members on the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors fall well below the average age of our hobby and that young(er) people around the country are stepping up, accepting responsibility as leaders and keeping our hobby strong.
As we enter 2015, how will you help our hobby thrive?
It could be as simple as visiting a local coin shop and buying a few coins, joining your local club or renewing a subscription to a hobby publication. All of these seemingly simple activities help keep our hobby strong.
Or, you could move numismatics forward and take a leadership role. Around the country, clubs and specialty groups are searching for capable people to take responsibility.
Longtime volunteers are looking to transition out of their roles. They are seeking new enthusiasts to train, guide and mentor.
Are you up for the challenge?
More from CoinWorld.com:
Jan 2, 2015, 17:14 PM byChinese counterfeit coins like this fake 2008 First Spouse gold $10 eagle, with the Capped Bust Liberty obverse and the reverse design showing Andrew Jackson on horseback, do not bear the inscription "COPY" as required by the Hobby Protection Act.
The Collectible Coin Protection Act, which President Obama signed into law on Dec. 19, is an important tool to protect our hobby.
The bill amends the Hobby Protection Act to increase consequences for distributing and selling prohibited items. It also provides protections to keep third-party certification service trademarks secure.
This law is not designed to target an individual who mistakenly passes along or sells a counterfeit coin.
Instead, it prohibits “knowingly engaging” in any act or practice that violates the law. It allows counterfeit coin protections to be enforced across a broader spectrum of the life-cycle of a counterfeit item, going beyond the mere manufacture of the item to include the importation, shipping and sale of it.
The passage of the Hobby Protection Act in 1973 was a game-changer for coin collecting in the United States. It requires that replicas and imitation numismatic items be clearly marked “COPY.”? What the new law does is provide some teeth to the Hobby Protection Act.
The influx of counterfeits from Asia, along with advancements in technology such as 3-D printing have made counterfeiting a continued problem. The flooding of counterfeit U.S. coins from China seems to have eased, due in part to eBay cracking down on the sale of these and also through the advocacy of many in the hobby, including Coin World’s former editor Beth Deisher.
The Industry Council for Tangible Assets should be applauded for its steady effort to keep this in front of legislators.
As long as there is demand, there will be counterfeits, so it’s essential that all of the various parts of our hobby keep vigilant to make people aware of the presence of counterfeit coins and the danger that they pose to numismatics.
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Dec 22, 2014, 17:34 PM byOne’s collecting areas can change over time. Before Leonard A. Lauder committed to his collection of Cubist paintings, he built a world-class collection of posters that he also donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This one, by William Henry Bradley, dates from 1896.
There is no magic answer to how one should invest in coins to maximize profits.
Historically, the most successful coin investments have been the result of years of careful collecting.
Our cover feature this month looks at a case study of how smart collecting can lead to a solid coin investment.
It is drawn from Whitman Publishing’s new book by Robert Shippee titled Pleasure & Profit: 100 Lessons for Building and Selling a Collection of Rare Coins.
In the foreword, Q. David Bowers reflects on Shippee’s advantage in the marketplace: he was well-informed by carefully studying numismatics and by spending time learning about coins.
Looking at the stories of people who put together great collections in other collecting areas — collections that are often very profitable for their owner when sale time arises — seems to provide a universal lesson. The key to success is understanding the material that you’re collecting.
For example, Leonard A. Lauder, an art collector whose world-class collection of early 20th century Cubist paintings was just gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, learned everything he could about what made a picture important.
That education informed all elements of his collecting.
In an interview, he gave advice on how to work with dealers when trying to acquire great material: “Don’t haggle, and pay your bills promptly, even in advance. A well-respected collector sends the check over to the dealer by messenger as soon as the handshake is made. That’s a good way to be first on the list.”
Shippee’s advice is similar, since developing relationships with dealers is a key part of building a solid collection.
Seizing opportunities and educating yourself is key to building a great, meaningful coin collection that will hopefully, over time, prove to be a good investment as well.
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Dec 15, 2014, 11:29 AM by
The coin market tends to slow down a bit in December, but the U.S. Mint is keeping busy selling American Eagle 1-ounce silver bullion coins to its authorized purchasers. With nearly 44 million already sold in 2014, last year’s record sales of 42,675,000 pieces has been shattered.
Local coin shops around the country count on an increased flow of traffic during the holiday season, as people give 2014 Proof and Uncirculated Mint sets, along with silver and gold American Eagles as gifts.
From the popularity of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins to the hullabaloo surrounding the gold 2014 Kennedy half dollar, the Mint has provided a lot for us to work with this year.
The way that holidays fall this year means that our list of the top 10 stories that shaped collecting in 2014 will appear in an upcoming January 2015 issue.
What were some of the stories this year that stood out to you? Send me an email or comment below and let me know.
Thank you from all of us at Coin World for allowing us to join you on your collecting journey. We continue to work hard each day to help share the news and interpret the events that make our hobby move, teach you about items in your collection, and introduce you to collecting avenues.
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Dec 1, 2014, 18:03 PM by
The holidays mean many things. Tradition, family, faith, being thankful and spreading cheer. A big part of the holiday season involves giving and getting gifts.
Few things give me as much pleasure as selecting the perfect gift for someone, but to those in my life who know me as “Steve the Numismatist,” finding a coin-related gift has proven a definite challenge.
I’ve received chocolate coins, a variety of banks, and basic books that are already in my library but were the only coin books at Barnes & Noble. One friend even purchased me a Whitman Lincoln cent folder, which ended up being a fun project that took me back to my childhood days filling out those blue boards.
In this issue we look at some of the different types of holiday gifts available to those with collectors on their lists. From bullion coins of the United States and around the world, paper money items and even (for the especially well-off) custom safes that would bring to mind an image closer to James Bond than a numismatist, there are plenty of options.
The U.S. Mint makes it easy, publishing a holiday gift guide with categories including “Stocking Stuffers” and “Gifts Under $25” (both of which include the fun National Baseball Hall of Fame Young Collectors Set with a 2014 Baseball half dollar).
Of course, numismatic publications — including Coin World — are generally always welcome gifts (but because you’re reading this, I trust you already know this).
As a young numismatist I treasured the coin-related gifts my parents gave me. The holidays are a perfect time for introducing someone new to our hobby. After all, it’s better to give than to receive.
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Nov 24, 2014, 14:38 PM by
Coin World Senior Editor Paul Gilkes’ story on a 12-year-old young numismatist who is making his mark on our hobby brings up a point that is worth repeating: it takes a supportive team of adults to cultivate a young person’s interest in numismatics.
Garrett Ziss may only be 12, but his ambition to learn about the hobby and develop as a numismatist provides examples that all hobbyists can learn from.
Like the majority of young collectors I’ve observed, Garrett’s parents aren’t coin collectors, but they support their son by taking him to coin clubs and shows, and providing a firm foundation for him to base his hobby upon. They note that those in the hobby who work with Ziss are generous, welcoming and treat him like a young adult rather than a kid.
That is one of the great things about our hobby: YNs who are responsible, enthusiastic and receptive to learning are treated as peers. This in turn raises the ambition of young people to make their mark on numismatics. For example, Ziss is working on refining research on emission sequences for Capped Bust half dollars, expanding on research presented at a Coinage of the Americas Conference.
What were you doing when you were 12?
Many young people will always be drawn to coins and their connection to history. As Paul told me, a parent doesn’t have to collect coins, but support of a young person’s curiosity about coins is essential.
In Paul’s case, his parents nurtured his interest in coin collecting even though they weren’t collectors themselves. Paul’s dad was a zone supervisor for newspaper circulation, and as he collected money, Paul would go through the coins. “I would get to go through the money and pick out interesting things to add to my collection. I purchased my first car by cannibalizing my Whitman folder,” Paul shared.
Cultivating a young person’s interest in the hobby is essential, and established collectors and parents play an essential role in this.
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Nov 17, 2014, 14:31 PM byIn coming months, many great coins and collections are set for auction, including this 1907 Saint-Gaudens, Ultra High Relief $20 double eagle that will highlight Heritage’s 2015 Florida United Numismatists auctions.
What’s going on with the gold market?
Should I buy rare coins? Is now a good time to purchase silver?
Since you’re reading this publication — aimed at coin collectors — chances are that you’re either asking or get asked these questions on a regular basis these days.
The answer to each depends on many different factors and I don’t have the magic answer. Even after reading dozens of dealer recaps each month that seem to address every nuance of the market, I have seen no “one-size-fits-all” answer.
For the past few months, pessimists were saying that the art market had peaked. Then during the first few weeks in November, Sotheby’s and Christie’s set multiple records during their fall Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art sales, with strong totals that in the aggregate exceeded what were considered ambitious expectations for individual works. Quality works sold well.
Many are looking with a cautious glance at the state of the rare coin market currently. True, gold and silver have fallen (and may fall further, just as they may rise again). But what many market observers are seeing as a potential weak spot in the market — the presence of many great coin collections coming to market in 2014 and 2015 — is also a magnificent opportunity.
Yes, the prices for some coins have fallen and some coins are selling for less at auction than they sold for several years ago.
But like any market with multiple sectors, in the coin market there are always items going up in price while others go down.
If you were bullish on coins last year at this time, chances are that your dollar will go further in today’s coin market. That’s a solid opportunity. Further, by educating yourself on what makes a coin great, by learning about rarity, condition, originality and taking those factors with a long view, these bumps in the market should be of little concern.
As our cover feature by Tom Hockenhull of the British Museum points out, coins have been around long before any of us and will outlive us all.
So, while others are nervous, be bold. Go out there and buy the coins you’ve been waiting for. Who knows when a rarity from a great collection will come to market again.
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Nov 10, 2014, 15:16 PM byThe U.S. Mint debuted its new website and order management system in October.
Ask anyone who has developed a website how it went, and the answer will typically incorporate these points: it is always harder than expected, nearly always more expensive than anticipated and an often thankless task.
For several years the U.S. Mint had taken a piecemeal approach to improving its website, which had become antiquated. This approach often left collectors frustrated and the system showed its weakness most prominently during launches of popular coins and sets.
Collectors became used to waiting long period of time and then hoping that an element of luck would click in, allowing them to purchase the coins that they had waited for.
It turned coin buying into something akin to a pilgrimage, rather than a simple business transaction.
The Mint launched its new site on Oct. 1, promising that it would be more user-friendly and faster. The dreaded “waiting room” for high traffic days with product launches was eliminated and users could more easily track their orders.
The new site saw its first major test with the launch of the four-coin Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollar set on Oct. 28.
With a total limit of 300,000 sets and a household limit of five sets, it was a good product to test the capabilities of the new system in that the 300,000 sets would likely not sell out immediately. In fact, during the first 12 hours of sales, 85,670 sets were sold.
Those buying coins reported that the Mint’s site worked as one would expect it to and that the shipping was fast, the coins were handsome and that it was a positive experience.
In a year of ups and downs for the U.S. Mint, the launch of a new website and a successful product launch ends the year on a high note.
In chatting with Tom Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Corporate Communication, he said that the Mint was obviously delighted and that while the upgrade was long overdue, the new system is state of the art and gives the U.S. Mint the same tools as the largest online retailers.
He stressed that the Mint is constantly looking to improve its communication channels with collectors, making sure that it produces products that collectors want and that these coins get to collectors promptly and easily.
He said that this integration of sales, manufacturing and customer service channels is something that the Mint’s been working hard at improving, and that successful integration of these systems could possibly change the dynamics of coin collecting.
It’s a welcome change that has been long overdue for collectors.
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Nov 4, 2014, 10:33 AM by
Note: The following is S?teve Roach's Editorial Opinion from the Nov. 17 issue of Coin World, which pairs with Paul Gilkes' feature on the status of club journals in today's digital world.
Surveys of membership organizations (both numismatic and otherwise) typically confirm one fact: that members view a publication as the primary tangible benefit of membership.
Each week in Coin World’s offices, we get publications from organizations across the country, big and small. Some are excellent publications with a regional emphasis, such as The California Numismatist or the Central States Numismatic Society’s quarterly The Centinel.
Others are specialty publications with in-depth research of the sort that is necessary for the growth of numismatics, but goes beyond what a mainstream publication like Coin World can publish.
As publications — both commercial and nonprofit — move toward digital platforms, they must be careful not to alienate their print subscribers.
Our own surveys confirm that a surprisingly high percentage of Coin World’s audience does not use computers for their collecting and that they view printed publications as providing a break from the normal day. Further, in removing the print publication, a club risks losing members. Member engagement and happiness need to be weighed against any cost savings when a move to discontinue a club’s publication is under consideration.
There are ways to reach new audiences without alienating existing members, such as the Numismatic Bibliomania Society’s excellent (and free) weekly email E-Sylum, which complements its print journal The Asylum.
It is sometimes forgotten that behind all of these publications are patient, dedicated editors and writers who often work solely in a volunteer capacity. The quality of research in many specialty publications has never been higher, and they provide a wonderful complement to more broad-ranging publications like Coin World.
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Oct 24, 2014, 12:14 PM byTwo exhibits in Columbus, Ohio, challenged the author to think about the intersection of art and money.?What happens when an object’s value becomes more important than the object itself?
These types of questions keep our hobby interesting in a way that goes beyond dates, grades and Mint marks.
Oct 17, 2014, 11:18 AM byAt the recent Virginia Numismatic Association convention, dealer John Cunningham and his daughter showcase some of the many innovative modern coins that can serve to introduce new people to the hobby.It’s autumn and local and state coin clubs are busy hosting their coin shows.
Oct 9, 2014, 10:25 AM byThe Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee recommended the above designs Sept. 23 for the 2015 Jacqueline Kennedy First Spouse gold coins.As the First Spouse gold $10 coin series winds down, 2015 will see the release of four coins including one for Jacqueline Kennedy.
Could the launch of “Jackie O’s” coin breathe some life into this series that is in desperate need of attention?
The series has had some unfortunate twists of circumstance that have hurt its popularity with collectors. The Mint has been inconsistent with its release dates, often releasing all four (or five) coins in the final months of the year. Add to that a roaring precious metal market that saw gold rise from $660 an ounce in the summer of 2007 to more than $1,800 an ounce in the summer of 2011, meaning many collectors were priced out of the program.
With few collectors building sets, mintages have dropped. The 2007-W Thomas Jefferson’s Liberty coin saw nearly 40,000 pieces produced across both Proof and Uncirculated formats. Total sales across both formats of 4,000 to 5,000 are likely for each of the five 2013 First Spouse coins.
As gold settles down to more reasonable price levels, and the First Spouse designs celebrate first ladies who many coin buyers remember, the program could get a nice bump.
The set has a lot going for it, including handsome designs, with often very interesting reverse designs emblematic of themes of the corresponding first lady’s life, low mintages and accessible entry points with the higher-mintage pieces from the first few years of the program.
It is a series that is worth a second look.
Sep 26, 2014, 16:24 PM by
It seems that many collectors today are content having a virtual experience with their coin collecting.
They buy and sell coins online, socialize with collectors online and get their information online. These collectors are likely not maximizing their collecting experience.
Going to a coin show is a refreshing break from the routine. Many of us spend our days in front of a computer screen, and what’s great about coin collecting are the tangible aspects: putting a coin into a Whitman board, holding a coin by its edge, examining one slabbed coin against another one to figure out which one is better for the grade.
I continue to be inspired by local, state and regional organizations expanding their shows to attract new audiences.
Many show organizers are taking proactive steps to keep their shows relevant through advertising, expanded marketing and by letting people beyond their membership know that a show is happening.
But once you get someone in the door, how do you turn that person into a collector?
The best shows are realizing that mere attendance numbers don’t tell a full story of a show’s success. Great dealers offering a range of material, a warm welcome when newcomers enter, and rich educational programs and exhibits, all combine to create an environment that is conducive to cultivating a new collector.
Our Guest Commentary this week shows how the Michigan State Numismatic Society is keeping its fall show, which has traditionally anchored the show schedule over Thanksgiving weekend, relevant.
It’s neither cheap nor easy.
The $5 million rarities that are on loan from the American Numismatic Association (a 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent piece and an 1804 Draped Bust silver dollar) bring in curious visitors, but also cost a club thousands of dollars in transportation and security fees.
Advertising is expensive. Prizes for educational exhibitors can be pricey. Renting a venue costs money (and renting a nice one costs more).
These expenses add up, but smart clubs consider them investments, as a thriving coin show is a key factor to keeping local and state coin clubs — and our hobby — relevant.
Sep 19, 2014, 13:11 PM by?What do you hope to get from collecting?Is it a connection to history?Perhaps it is because you enjoy objects?Or, are you in it for potential profits?Those who put together the best collections — and have the most fun doing it — put these three elements together.Collecting doesn’t have to be expensive. This month’s world coins feature by Rita Laws highlights sets of Canadian and Mexican coins that can be put together inexpensively. Our venerable columnist Q. David Bowers points out that thousands of varieties of copper tokens, fractional currency notes, Confederate notes, encased postage stamps and more issued during the Civil War can be purchased at reasonable prices.He has a great point: some collecting areas are ripe for discoveries. Take carved coins that combine art and numismatics. Artists today are taking as a model the traditional “Hobo nickels” that were first carved as the Indian Head 5-cent piece, 1913 to 1938, was circulating. These artists are applying their creativity to create small sculptures on a variety of different coins. Depending on the skill involved in the carving, carved coins can be found for as little as $5 or $10, while the most skilled pieces can be priced in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.Nor does coin collecting have to be dull.Our October cover feature ties coin collecting in with the macabre as depicted on coins, medals and paper money. Skeletons, skulls and the like. Rita extends the seasonal theme in her monthly column “Going Topical” where she looks at creepy, crawly critters depicted on coins.Our interview subject this month, Thomas Hockenhull of the British Museum said that he entered his role as curator of modern coins “through the side entrance,” meaning he didn’t initially set out to be a numismatic curator. Instead, his interest in coins and paper money grew over time.Our paper money editor, Michele Orzano, pointed out in a conversation as we were editing the issue that, in his answers, he gave great advice that’s applicable to situations beyond numismatics. Keep your eyes open, be flexible, and opportunities appear.
Sep 15, 2014, 10:06 AM by
To most collectors, buying coins is fun.
Owning coins can be even more rewarding.
Even selling coins can be a boost to the spirit, especially when you’re using the money to buy new coins.
But estate planning for your coin collection, well, that’s not as fun.
However, it is necessary.
When I speak on estate planning for coin collections to coin collecting audiences, I tell the audience: You know what’s in your coin collection. But does your significant other? Do your kids? Does your estate planner?
When I speak on estate planning for coin collections to attorneys and estate planners, I remind them that a coin collection can be a hard-to-value asset that could make up a significant amount of a client’s total net worth.
A hard fact is that most people don’t like to think about what happens to their things after they are gone. This includes their coin collections.
The first step toward some preliminary estate planning for a collection doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as basic as an inventory that lists enough information for a non-numismatist to locate and identify items and for a numismatist to provide a value on them.
Photographs help, as does a list of trusted resources that non-collecting heirs might turn to for guidance.
The second edition of Cash in Your Coins: Selling the Rare Coins You’ve Inherited, the useful book by Coin World’s longtime editor Beth Deisher, has just been published by Whitman Publishing. The cover says it all, defining it as “the book that belongs in every collector’s safe deposit box.”
It’s one of those rare numismatic books that offers something for multiple audiences. For noncollectors, it provides a basic guide to identification of items, determining value and how one should go about selling a coin collection.
For collectors, her book provides a primer on collection management including how to write an effective inventory, rare coin appraisals and managing an unfortunate truth: taxes.
This week we’re sharing part of Beth’s chapter on taxes because it has important information that is relevant to many of our readers.
She writes: “As a collector, neither you nor your heirs should pay more than is legally required. To ensure that you and your heirs don’t overpay requires action now, not later (after you depart planet Earth). Awareness and good planning are the keys to peace of mind for you and protection for your heirs.”
Collections should be thought of as investments and cared for as such. With some planning, a collection can create a legacy that may provide for one’s loved ones.
But absent a thoughtful plan, a collection may end up being sold for a fraction of its value, or worse, may simply disappear.