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The Coin Geek

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

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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

http://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/bank_note_fact_sheets.pdf

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The Euro and The Franc

Post date: January 15, 2015

Place: Switzerlandeurofranc

Information: The Swiss franc ”decouples” from the Euro.

Reaction: Franc goes up 15% versus the Euro

 

Some times interesting history is created right before your eyes and you never see it happen. January 15, 2015  is one of those days.  I do not think that the change in the Swiss franc’s relationship to the euro will register with the average American. The good news is if you are reading this you are above average! The Swiss bank’s move will have serious financial repercussions throughout the world.

Starting September of 2011 the Swiss National Bank (SNB) pegged the Swiss Franc (SF) at 1.2 Euros. As of 1/15/15 they announced that that was no longer the case. The Euro has been falling over the last 6 months and it seems the SNB had had enough of the euro dragging the franc down.

After the announcement the SF rose 30% against the Euro. It settled at +15% for the day.  The change made many Swiss companies that export their goods upset, as a strong franc makes their business less profitable. The biggest splash was made in foreign currency exchanges where people are allowed to borrow, and basically gamble, on currencies. People who physically possessed SF had an increase in value, but people who gamble by trading went the opposite way. The federal government allows foreign exchange (FX) companies to leverage at a 50 to 1 ratio. This means that a 2% change in a currency can wipe a day trader out.  Hundreds of millions of dollars were lost by traders putting some brokers out of business.

I’m not sure what lesson you want to take from this move. Perhaps Switzerland will not ”peg” it’s price to anything else. Perhaps new FX trading laws will be brought to legislation. Perhaps day traders will learn their lesson. But perhaps, just perhaps, most Americans will move along with their daily lives without thinking twice about what the euro or the franc is worth.

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Top Gifts for Christmas from OPC

Everyone loves lists. Everyone loves shopping. Let’s put them together for our top gifts for Christmas.

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1. 2014 Silver Eagle- Uncirculated. These one ounce silver coins make great gifts for all occasions. $20-$22

2. Morgan Silver Dollars MS64. These pieces of history are always a hit and are one of the most popular us coins ever minted. Retail $70

3 2014 Silver Eagle – Proof Condition. See number 1. The proof version has mirrored fields and come in a plush velvet case. They retail at $70

 

copperrrrStocking stuffers!~ These novelties are fun for collectors.

1 Copper rounds and bars. From 1/4 ounce to 1 kilo. $2-$35

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Shark’s Teeth $5

2 Shark Teeth. Great for the kids only $5 each. {For the big kid in your life- Megalodon teeth $60-$600}

3 Silver Certificate $1.00 bank notes – $1.50 each.

 

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Everglades Quarter

Everglades Park Quarter

Everglades National Park Quarter

 

The 25th coin out in the America the Beautiful series is the Florida Everglades National Park. It became a park on December 6th, 1947. It covers over 1.5 million acres. Don’t mistake the big bird on the back for a Blue Heron. It is an Anhinga. Yup, I didn’t know what an Anhinga was either without looking it up!  The other bird is a Roseate Spoonbill. Overall it is a very nice looking coin. There have been some in the series that were hard to see, but this one is clear.

 

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Anhinga

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Martha Washington

US currency is rife with famous political figures. From Presidents to Secretaries of State to Generals, there are many men to collect. Many of these figures  you probably have never heard of unless you are a political junkie or history buff. Most of the women on US notes are allegorical, that is to say they are not real people but a figure representing a concept or a belief.

The exception is Martha Washington. She was prominently placed on the left hand side of the 1886 United States Silver Certificate. The portrait used is the famous Charles Francois Jalabert painting. It was engraved by Charles Burt. The front design for this note was used for 10 years. The back of the note was changed halfway through, in 1891. The 1886 note is very popular and is often simply referred to as a “Martha”.

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Martha Washington on US 1891 Silver Certificate

I think it speaks to the spirit of the times when you look at who is on the currency – both in the past and present. Here is a list of the other people featured on the 1886 Series Silver Certificates.

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  • $2 General Winfield Scott Hancock, Union General – Civil War
  • $5 Ulysses S Grant, 18th President and Union General – Civil War
  • $10  Thomas  Hendricks, Vice President March 4, 1885-Nov 25, 1885.  Died in office.
  • $20 Daniel Manning, Secretary of the Treasury from 1885 – 1887

Although higher denominations circulated at the same time, they were not from the 1886 series. When a knew series came out in 1896 (the so-called Educational series) Mrs. Washington was on the back of the note opposite her husband, president Washington. They are the only husband and wife together on a US note. Together the 1886 and 1896 Silver Certificates are among the most popular with collectors.

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Back of the 1896 US Silver Certificate

Posted in: Currency, Education

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Lying

Statistics. Politicians. Advertising. What do these things have in common? Lying!

Perhaps that is a bit harsh. Would you put coin dealers, mechanics and car dealers in the same group? Most people would. Let’s face it, those reputations are there for a reason. But how do you counter the liars and their lying lies? The  best way is through education. Q: Who is less likely to get ripped off by the mechanic? A: Men, because the shop owner assumes the man has a higher level of knowledge compared to his female counterpart. Q: Who do the mail order and advertisers try to deal with. A: The novice, because they have a lower level of knowledge.

What if you are a novice, how do you stop getting burned?

A great way to spot a bad deal is in the newspaper!

A great way to spot a bad deal is in the newspaper!

There are things to look for in advertising, especially in coins and paper money, that are misleading.

  • “Up To”
  • “Hurry”
  • “Prices Subject to Change”
  • “Actual Prices may vary”
  • “Members of…”

Up to is the catch all you use to give people big dollar signs in their eyes. “I’ll pay up to $2,000,000 for a coin”. That may be true, but what do they normally pay for coins. And what if that coin is worth $4,000,000? Would you sell it for $2M?  In fact the ad we picture was just in the local paper and they say they will pay $100,000 for a 1913 Nickel. Well shoot, ain’t that generous! Except there are two problems. 1) All 5 known specimens are accounted for. 2) The coin is worth $1,000,000+ !

Hurry is a term that all advertisers use. They try to convince you that time is limited or that an item may sell out, or prices may go up (or down depending on the business). One day only! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

The prices changing line is used in large volumes of print and radio ads. That price sounds great! And then you call and….oops, so sorry, you missed that price, it changed. So in other words, we just told you want you want to hear to get you in the store or to call, and while you are here perhaps we can do some business!

Members of may need some explanation. Businesses use these pay for memberships to prove they are trusted or reliable. The only problem is that anyone can PAY to get the membership and logo. It does not mean they are trustworthy. The other problem is that many of those associations do not actually weed out the bad guys.

Although these ads may not be lying, they are certainly designed to deceive. Be careful who you deal with, and always educate yourself. Also, take time to ask other people who they deal with. Word of mouth is often a good indicator of who you will want to deal with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: All, Consumer Awareness

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Insurance, Coins and Deductibles

What do you need to have, hate to buy, don’t want to use, but are glad you have it when you need it? No, not an umbrella…insurance!  This post is not an in depth study of insurance practices and coin collecting, but it is a quick reminder to check your policy. Here are some things to check up on.

  • Do I have coverage for my coins
  • What do I need for evidence in case of loss
  • What are my deductibles

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Many homeowner and renter policies have some type of coverage for coins or jewelry. That coverage, however, is often very limited in nature. Depending on your coverage it may be $500-$2000. This may cover your needs, if not you may need a special rider on your policy. A rider is additional insurance for items not normally covered.

The next thing to look into is what type of proof of value you need to get to the insurance company. They will need to know what you have and what it is worth. But they will want evidence of value. Some ask for receipts. Others will want an appraisal. Others may ask to physically see what you have.

One more important thing to know is what your deductible is. The deductible is an upfront charge from the insurance company when a claim is made. You pay the deductible to the insurance company and then they settle the rest of the claim. (This is to stop people from filing claims willy nilly). Here is a tricky thing for you to look into, make sure your deductible is the same no matter what type of claim it is. Many policies will have a different deductible for an act of nature versus a burglary. So look at your fine print and ask your agent if there are different deductibles on your policies. You may think you have a $500 deductible, and then when you have a theft find out it is $1500!

Those are some quick pointers that will hopefully help you be prepared. Here’s to making our insurance agents rich and to hoping we never have to make a claim!

Posted in: All, Coins, Education

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PCGS Price Guide

I have written about the many rip off artists that are wolves in sheep’s clothing. But what happens when your trusted advisor turns out to be a sheep, but the Benedict Arnold of sheep?

The tele-marketers harm the coin market. They give everyone in the industry a bad name. They cause confusion. They misrepresent item’s values.  So I would like someone to tell me how that is different than PCGS’s price guide.  It causes confusion and misrepresents the true value of coins.

Here is what I mean. Today I had a gentleman come in with some high grade Lincoln cents, all PCGS graded. He used the PCGS price guide to value them. Many of the coins are modern (1940s and newer). Many of the coins are not listed in any reputable price guide. So I did some research of recent auctions to try to find prices. Many of the coins on his list were selling for half (or less) of the PCGS price guide.  What good is a guide that is wrong by 50%? Perhaps the weatherman would like to answer that question.

The problem of coins being overpriced in guides is nothing new, but PCGS has positioned itself as a highly trusted brand. So when they portray values, collectors believe them. I’m wondering if there is any brave souls in the industry that are willing or able to tackle this problem. It is a black eye to coin collecting. It isn’t as bad as what the stamp dealers did in the 80’s, but numismatists need to be careful so we don’t go down that same road.

It is very confusing for new collectors to understand value when the first thing they are told is to only buy certified coins and to only trust NGC and PCGS. Then they look at the PCGS price guides and buy based on it. But what happens when they go to sell the coins? No coin dealer likes to be in the position of trying to explain to a collector why their coins are worth 20%-50% of what they paid for them. PCGS doesn’t have to worry about the pricing, they aren’t paying those prices.

As a community it would be helpful if more collectors (hello ANA!) would cry wolf on price guides put out by the “independent” coin grading companies. PCGS and NGC- please just grade coins and don’t set prices. It is a conflict of interest and it causes confusion and misinformation in the marketplace.

Posted in: Coins, Consumer Awareness

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Sand Dunes Colorado Coin

Great Sand Dunes Colorado Quarter.

Great Sand Dunes Colorado Quarter.

The mint has released the newest “America the Beautiful State Park Quarter tm”.  It is the Colorado Great Sand Dunes National Park. The coin features two figures by the river with the dunes in back and a snowcapped mountain in the background. The park was created by a law signed by Herbert Hoover in 1932. The land for the state park was expanded in the early 2000s. Around 285,000 people visit the park annually. You can visit the park’s website here.

 

 

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