Old Pueblo Coin – Tucson, AZ

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Commemorative Bullion – Platinum Edition

The US Mint makes commemorative coins annually. These coins are often well advertised and active collectors would recognize most of them if they saw them at a coin shop. But there are entire series of commemorative coins that most collectors will never see unless they actively seek them out.


The US started producing platinum bullion coins in 1997. For the uncirculated version of the coins the design has been the same. But starting in 1998 the proof versions have had a different reverse every year. From 1998 to 2002 they produces the ”Vistas of Liberty” series which had images of New England, the Southeastern Wetlands, America’s Heartland, the Southwest Desert and the Pacific Northwest. In 2003, 2004, and 2005 they had individual allegorical images. 2006-08 saw the creation of the “Foundations in Democracy” series which featured a coin for each of the branches of government. Since 2009 they have been producing a series called “Preamble to the Constitution”.

Collecting these coins is very challenging. Not just because platinum is a more expensive metal, but because the mintages are very low. Most of the one ounce proofs have mintages below 10,000 pieces. The last three years of platinum issues have a mintage of less than 20,000 combined!

There are many nuances to collecting platinum commemorative bullion coins, including: Uncirculated, Proofs, Burnished Uncirculated coins, and a Reverse Proof. There are also fractional issues (1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz), however, the fractional coins have not been produced since 2008. So, even though the fractional issues have higher mintages, they are also hard to locate because the lower price points opens the collector market to more people. Platinum is currently below $1,000 per ounce, but most one ounce pieces trade in the $1,200-$1,800 range. The least expensive coins are the 1/10 oz pieces which trade anywhere from $110 on up.

Platinum Coins- Photo from the Red Book.

Platinum Coins- Photo from the Red Book.


Platinum Coins - Photo from the Red Book.

Platinum Coins – Photo from the Red Book.


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Arizona State Silver Bars BEWARE

Despite the outcry from consumer advocates, deceptive ads run constantly in the papers and on the TV. The uninformed public falls all-too-easily for slick ads with confusing wording.  This is evident with the new ad that is running in the AZ Daily Star. The full page ad shows large bars, “silver vault bricks”, and armed guards unloading the goods. Here is the real breakdown of what they are selling:

  • 6 ounces of silver
  • Cost is $285
  • or $47.50 per ounce

You can purchase silver locally for $17.50 per ounce (at the time of writing, silver is $15.50 per ounce) . That is $30 less per ounce than the United State Commemorative Gallery is selling their silver for. Some things to keep in mind is that this company (US Commemorative Gallery) is in no way related to any government. It is a private company. But they try to make it sound like they are official, even paying for the endorsement of former US Treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow.

They have created these bars of silver for the sole purpose of marketing them. It is true that you can not get the bars with the AZ stamp on them anywhere else, but be aware that if you try to sell the bars they are only worth the $15.50 spot price.

If all they did was advertise silver bars for the stated price without all the mumbo-jumbo-hocus-pocus then it would not be so offensive. But not only do they have advertising designed to deceive, they also have high pressure sales. When I called them to find out if there was shipping ($9 shipping on one individual piece, free shipping on orders of 2 or more pieces),  and told her I would get back with her about ordering, she went on the offensive:

  • “These are the only known pieces from the Lincoln Treasury” (another company made to sound governmental).
  • “My concern for you is they may be sold out by the time you call back” (isn’t that sweet!)
  • “The phones have been ringing off the hook”
  • “I don’t know how many we have left”

Remember to seek advice of local businesses whenever you see advertising for coins, paper money, gold, silver or collectibles. Usually you can buy the same or similar articles for a fraction of the price. And if you don’t understand what they are selling, then don’t buy it!




Posted in: Consumer Awareness, Education

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Peach Pie Public Service Announcement

In the sumer time, in Tucson, it’s hot. This comes as a shock to some as they gripe and grumble about the heat. But not all is lost. Yes summer comes with heat, but it also comes with its seasonal benefits. Perhaps the most important thing you need to know is that it is peach season. As long as it is summer, and you endure the heat, take time to enjoy the seasonal pleasure of peaches. The Village Inn has their peach pie in stock. And it is good!

If you are wondering how peach pie relates to coins, it doesn’t. But when you are located next to the Village Inn, it does. So stop by, get some peach pie and then come over and enjoy the cool AC at Old Pueblo Coin. Look around and you may find something that is just peachy.

Peach Pie Season in the summer time.

Peach Pie Season in the summer time.

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The Kit Carson Cent


Kit Carson is known as a frontiersman of the early American era. Few people make it through the history of time to be remembered by the generations that follow, Kit Carson is one of those men. But at least one man thought Christopher “Kit” Carson would be lost to history. When Carson was a teenager his father died. He was given to be an apprentice of a saddler named David Workman. Carson would rather try his fate in the wilderness and ran away. The year was 1826. Mr. Workman responded with a public reward for his valuable hand. Apparently Mr. Workman didn’t think very highly of the young boy, but would happily offer a bounty of one cent to whomever brought him back!Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 4.16.13 PM

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The coins that aren’t

It is common for people to search for coins from the year they were born. Usually they are looking for the largest coin they can find, a dollar or half dollar at least. What people don’t know is that not all coins are made in all years. This leads to the phone conversation that goes something like this…

“Old Pueblo Coin”

“I’m looking for a silver dollar from 1975”

“You can stop looking, they didn’t make any.”


“Really?! Thank you for telling me. Have a good day.”


I wonder how many places they called or how long they looked before we gave them the correct information. Do people intentionally not give them accurate information? Do people not know? Are they looking on the internet?


There are many examples of coins NOT being made for a period of time. One of the more recent examples is the 1975 Ike dollar, JFK half dollar and Washington quarter. Since it is the 40th anniversary of those coins not existing, let’s look at them. It was the advent of the Bicentennial of the United States. To commemorate the bicentennial they decided to produce special designs for the quarter the half dollar and the dollar and circulate those coins for two years, 1975 and 1976. These coins carry the date 1776-1976 on them. This means that there are no quarters, halves or dollars dated 1975. They did make a proof set in 1975, but only the smaller coins (the 1c, 5c, 10c,) are dated 1975.

imagesSo if you are looking for a gift for a 40th birthday, anniversary or reunion, you can buy a proof set, but don’t expect to find a 25c, 50c or $1 with the date 1975, they don’t exist. Happy Birthday to the coins that are not.


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2015 State Park Quarters

We just got the proof 2015 “America the Beautiful” State Park Quarters. The Nebraska, Homestead quarter is already out. But this is our first view of the other coins. It may not be an honest way to look at the coins (that being proof versions), but we are going to handicap the field based on our first impressions.
Proof versions can be very misleading versus the uncirculated coins. You’ll see what I mean as we look at the first coin. One more note, you can click on the name of the park and it will take you to the park’s official page.


Homestead, Nebraska

Proof Version. Homestead, NE

Proof Version. Homestead, NE

Uncirculated Version. Put out the fire!

Uncirculated Version. Put out the fire!

This coin features a humble wood sided home, with a water pump out in front. On either side of the home there are ears of corn. The proof version of this coin looks very handsome, as buildings often do on a coin. But what will it look like uncirculated? We already know that since the coin is in circulation. It basically looks like a house that is on fire. Many of the modern coins seem to have this problem. It appears that they were made to be proof coins with disregard for what an UNC will look like.

Bombay Hook, Delaware

Bombay Hook, Delaware

Bombay Hook, Delaware

These coins are going to the birds! Two of this years designs have a bird as the main subject matter. I’m sure someone will write in and let me know what type of bird this is, but I don’t know a Crane from a Loon from a Heron. Overall this coin looks nice, but I am concerned about how it will translate to a circulating coin. The landscape in the background may interfere.

Kisatchie, Louisiana

Kisatchie Park, Louisiana

Kisatchie Park, Louisiana

These coins are going to the birds! Oh, did I already use that line. Sorry. Once again I am not sure what type of bird flies here, but I’m getting hungry for Thanksgiving! The artist for this coin was able to design it in a way that made the bird look like it is in motion. Many coins attempt this but do not succeed. This coin should show well in the circulated versions since there are not competing images in the background of said bird!

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

I will admit that a parkway was not the first thing I think of when I think of a national park. This coin looks pretty cool in proof, but I highly doubt it will look good uncirculated. I don’t know if they could actually translate the vast park down to one coin, but if you look at images of the park, you may agree with me that the coin doesn’t do the park justice.

Saratoga, New York

Saratoga, The coolest Quarter Ever!

Saratoga, The coolest Quarter Ever!

And now for the coolest quarter of all. On a scale of 1 to 5 it is Chuck Norris. The Saratoga National Park has two hands and a sword with “British Surrender 1777” on it. The first reason this coin sticks out is because it does not have an animal, building, plant or monument depicted. The second reason is because IT HAS A SWORD. That automatically makes it cool. But not only that, it actually looks really nice. I think it will look handsome in person, but perhaps not as handsome as the proof version. I am looking forward to the 5 oz silver version.




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Harry Truman Period

The Harry S Truman Dollar is now available and in circulation for collectors to find. The new dollar has an error…er…maybe. We will start with some trivia. What is Harry S Truman’s middle name?


Harry “S” Truman

Some of you may know a person without a middle name. But do you know anyone whose middle name is a single letter? Harry S Truman’s middle name is “S”. His grandfather on one side was named Solomon and the last name of his other grandfather was Shipp. Hence the “S”. The question then comes  as to whether or not you actually need a period after the “S” to correctly annotate his name. On the coin there is a period after the “S”. The reason you would not have a period is because it is not abbreviated, but is his full middle name! I did find out that for the purpose of genealogy you would put quotation marks (” “) around the “S” to denote that it is a full name.  So did the mint mess up when they put a period on the coin? I don’t know, but I’d like to see quotation marks on the coin, that would be unique!

Oh, and he was the 33rd president, taking office on April 12th, 1945, after the death of President Roosevelt.  He ended the war with Japan when he decided to use the atomic bomb, and yet I focus on an “S” and a “.”!

On a side note, this is one of the first presidential dollars that actually looks like every picture I’ve ever seen of the man. You would think we’d have more images known to us of the man who ended WWII. Or perhaps this one image became so famous that it is engrained in our minds.


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1943 Penny -RARE?!

It seems that about once a year a local media source runs a story about the 1943 copper penny. It may be on the news or in the paper, or even in a local ethnic publication. We can always tell when this happens because we will suddenly get a large volume of calls about 1943 pennies. These media stories do not do a good job conveying the rarity (or lack of) of the 1943 penny, so let’s make this clear:

The 1943 penny is not rare

The 1943 Lincoln cents are struck on steel planchets. The US minted almost half a billion of the coins. The penny that the news stories sensationalize are a scarce variety where the coin was accidentally struck on a copper planchet instead of steel.  Yes, the copper 1943 pennies are rare and valuable, but the ones you have at home are not made of copper. Sometimes a rusted steel coin can look copper, but a simple magnet test will reveal that your coin is not rare.


1943 Steel Pennies are NOT RARE!

These coins are an interesting piece of history. The reason they were made of steel instead of copper was so the copper could be used for shell casings and other war related needs.  Necessity is the mother of invention and news articles are the mother of misinformation!

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When Stereotyping was okay-

A side effect of collecting is you can get a general feeling for cultural changes over the years. This can be seen in coins and paper money, but is even more pronounced in items with pictures and information, such as stamps and first day covers. I was reminded of this when we got a first day cover that was issued with the 18 cent “Alcoholism – You can beat it!” stamp.

Our culture has has tried to teach us not to offend others. Instead it has taught us to be offended at all costs.  Instead of taking criticism in the best possible way, we tend to twist and contort peoples words on cable TV shows until everyone is yelling at everyone else. In this climate we are all good at pointing out other’s foibles. … This comes back to the Alcoholism first day cover… the picture on it has a Scottish man in a kilt raising a glass at his local pub and simply says “ALCOHOLISM” above it. There you go folks, a stereotype. Are we allowed to laugh, or should we be offended? I can not answer that for you, but I have a feeling that if this cover came out today it would not use a bold stereotype!


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Polymer Candian Notes





Vivid. Ingenious. Sharp. Cutting Edge. Intriguing.

These are words I use to describe the newest Canadian bank notes. Canada is one of many countries that is going ”polymer”. This is a fancy way of saying they are made of plastic. Polymer notes have been around for decades now with countries from Romania to Mexico using plastic. What sets apart the Canadian notes is the design and the use of ‘windows’ and that the windows are combined with holograms.

Not only is the technology interesting, the notes have great eye appeal. The design is sharp and images vivid. The back of the ten dollar note has a train going through a mountain scape overlaid on a map of Canada. And on the five, well what says Canada better than the space program! Okay, so it is not what I think of first, but it still looks nice.

There is a continuity with the notes’ designs as well. Although the pictures change, the location of the leaf window and the main window are identical. The under print designs, although different colors, are also identical patterns. The ends of the notes have a dome design where they have magnetic strips for the vending machine world.


An added feature to Canadian notes is the use of raised dots for the visually impaired. The upper left hand corner of the note (when looking at the front) has a different number of dots for each denomination. Another feature that you may not see is the large number on the front of the note is printed with raised ink. You can feel the difference as you run your fingers over the note.
What you can’t see, and what we’ve come to expect, is plenty of microprinting. Another thing that is hard to see is the raised words and letters in the big plastic window. All these features add up to make the Canadian Polymer notes among the most advanced and hardest to counterfeit in the world.

Security is not the only driving force behind note redesign. The polymer notes last 2 – 4 times as long as paper notes. That means they have to produce a lesser quantity of notes annually. A paper note often lasts one or two years, while the plastic notes usually last 4 to 6 years. For more information you can follow this link







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