RCNH Monthly Newsletter: October 2015 Issue

on 07 October 2015. Posted in News

Over 200 Years of Combined Numismatic Experience at Your Disposal.

  October 2015 Issue
A Newsletter By:
Rare Coins of New Hampshire's Logo
By Warren Mills

It was the best of times that led to the worst of times.  The major coin boom of 1979 and 1980 was a tremendous time to be in the business.  Coins were appreciating dramatically and bullion was adding fuel to the fire.  Three Cent Nickels in Proof-65 went from $300+ to $3,500.  It was a time of plenty.
Then came the crash.  Unfortunately, 35 years have passed, so I don’t exactly recall the time and dates.  I believe it was April of 1980.  I just remember it was a major coin show and, all of a sudden, trading virtually stopped.  It was as if someone had thrown a switch.  If people were trading, it was at 20% to 25% lower levels, and this all occurred within a matter of minutes.  The owner of the company for which I worked looked like a cast member of “The Walking Dead”.  You have a 7-figure inventory and the market is sliding dramatically.  In a matter of days, your value is cut in half and your liquidity is still compromised.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, so the management team thought it would be better to hire experienced salesmen and eliminate true numismatists that knew grading and had a conscience.  The problem with this strategy is that commission-driven salesmen will sell the product, but they have no true loyalty to the customer or industry.  Sure, you can optimistically grade all your coins, but your reputation will be gashed on two fronts:  poor quality and the potential for misrepresentation of false guarantees by the salesmen… a double whack for the customer. 
I read the writing on the wall in 1981 and moved on to greener pastures.  From here, Mills Numismatics was launched.  Next time, I’ll bring you to the crossroad of deciding to stay in the coin industry or to go into another field.

By Warren Mills

About 15 years ago, a beginner to the hobby called to ask me if I would look at a 1921 Walking Liberty Half in uncirculated condition and give him my opinion of the piece.  I said I’ll be happy to do so.  If it’s a great coin, I’ll tell you why, but if it isn’t, there’ll be no punches pulled.  If you think you can handle it, feel free to come in.  I hope it’s a great coin for you.
Now the moment of truth comes!  My first question is what led you to come to me.  He said, “you have a great reputation as knowledgeable and being a straight shooter.”  I then asked him if he could fill me in on how he came about buying the coin and why.   He’s from north central New Hampshire and we are located right near the southern border.  He read about the 1921 being a scarce issue, saw this one in a dealer’s case and thought the price was very good.  I said that if the price is too good on a date like this, the coin may not be genuine.  He said that he showed it to multiple dealers and they all loved it.  I asked to see the coin and in about a second told him it was an expertly altered 1941.  The date position was wrong and the coin detail was too good.  He was shocked to some degree, but not totally.  Something just didn’t seem right to him.  I showed him the proper characteristics of the date and he was able to return it for a full refund.  I think his profession in law enforcement helped.
I was pleased to see that someone just didn’t accept a great deal and delve into it… even with others saying what a great coin it was.  I then offered to look at anything he acquired and to help him hone his eye for grading.  Today, he owns a coin business in central New Hampshire; we send customers back and forth to each other.  If, however, he did not do his due diligence, he may have found out his few thousand dollars was worth $20 and left the field before he started.  The lesson here is to exercise your due diligence.  After a while, you’ll develop a relationship with dealers you respect and enjoy, and it will be a mutually rewarding situation.

By Warren Mills
I received a call from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.  A collector had a large obsolete currency and coin collection he’d amassed over many years.  All of the coins and currency were acquired through small auctions and dealers throughout New England.  Now, after decades of accumulation, it was time to liquidate and buy the property of his dreams.  He had the collection looked at in bits and pieces over the years but said that everyone was trying to rip him off!  He called Stack’s Bowers about one of his Vermont obsoletes and they said it could be valuable.  I tried to exercise due diligence and called a dealer in his area, the dealer verified that the collector was acquiring coins for many years and he heard some were nice.  This dealer sold him coins in the past but nothing of special note.  It sounded like it was worth the time and effort so I asked RCNH’s Joe Presti and another individual who was a currency buyer that had worked at Spectrum for years, to take a look at the collection.  There was also only a few days’ deadline to raise the funds to close on the property. There is always a feeling of anticipation when you are going to view a large collection.  The hope is that the collector knew what he was doing.  In this case, it was just a matter of throwing money around to amass a collection.  The scarcer items, in many instances, were poor counterfeits and copies.  Not to mention the large number of cleaned, damaged and otherwise compromised pieces.  Without going through everything, Joe told him it looked like a 10 or 15 cents on the dollar collection.  Wow, what a time to find out that you wasted time and money by not having the knowledge to discern the difference between solid graded coins and authentic ones too!  Now, the dream property goes up in smoke.
The lesson here is to find a knowledgeable dealer you can trust to help you learn.  I also see this with Registry buyers.  It is to a different degree, but just because you can spend the money, doesn’t mean it’s a good value.  Many Registry buyers just want to fill the hole or upgrade with no regard for the coin in the plastic.  As long as the insert tag has a grade on it, the ego dictates taking action.  Don’t fall for the trap.  Find a dealer that will help you learn if a coin is low-end, mid-range or high-end for the grade.  If the population on your coin increases over time, and your coin is low-end, you could compromise your liquidity and also take a substantial loss.

Partner and owner of Rare Coins of New Hampshire, Inc. since June, 1990 and a full time coin dealer since 1979.  Warren is a full member of the Professional Numismatists Guild and a life member of the American Numismatic Association.  He was selected by the Rosen Numismatic Advisory as one of the ten leading numismatists in the country for twelve consecutive years.  He was selected by PCGS and written up in their newsletter as handling and submitting some of the nicest coins they have ever seen.

I'm Not Going to Work Today 
Hard Boiled Transaction
By Dave Carleton

When a coin transaction occurs there’s a form of person to person interaction that takes place as well.  More often than not it happens over the phone, but I love it when I get to meet the collector face to face and we get to discuss his or her goals and objectives in numismatics and other areas of common ground that we may share.  As much as I love coins for all their interesting aspects I think that I find the people that collect them to be equally if not more interesting than the coins they collect.  I sometimes try to come up with an impression in my mind of how the person will look when we meet based on a previously held phone conversation, and I’m always completely off base.  

One of those times that come to mind was when I got a call from a very nice sounding young lady that was ordering some coins for her grandfather.  She said that he didn’t communicate well and even though he was paying, she thought he was going over his budget, but he was adamant that she place the order.  I thought that was a very nice thing she was doing for him and I was all about trying to accommodate her.  When she gave me her address I realized that she lived relatively close to the route I take to go to my ski house in Vermont.  So, I offered to deliver the coins and that would save on the postage. This was before GPS, so I ultimately found the farm that I was looking for and boy was it creepy, with a muddy and icy driveway and a big old German Shepherd barking like crazy.  I was thinking that maybe I’d just leave and come back in the daylight but the porch light came on and the girl that I assumed I had spoken to appeared and quieted the dog and beckoned me to come in.  The weirdness had just begun. When I went in, the house was a complete disaster area, what a mess. I really wanted to find a reason to leave but before I could, into the room burst one of the wildest old crazy men I have ever seen, kind of like a troll or someone from the Hobbit.  He wanted to look at the coins and when he did he loved them, so he ordered the girl (yelled at is more like it) who was completely normal and nicely dressed to go and get the money.  She came back and said that the money wasn’t where it was suppose to be and then he really went off.  After a while, money was being gathered from all kinds of sources, there were rolls of nickels and dimes and cents and then he pulled out two Canadian Maple Leafs that were all scratched to perdition . I didn’t know exactly what they were trading for but I quoted a price that I thought was accurate from earlier in the day when I was at the office.  Finally when we added everything up we were $20 short.  I was going to just let it slide because there didn’t seem to be another nickel in the house and I wanted to leave in the worst way but he wouldn’t have it. “Nobody leaves here short changed“ he said and then proceeded to demand that the young lady go out to the barn and get some eggs.  This was getting out of hand and I told him that it wasn’t necessary but again he wouldn’t let me leave without getting paid.  I was glad when it was over and as I drove to my house I remember thinking of all the things I could do with 10 dozen eggs.

David Carleton, a New Hampshire native was introduced to coin collecting by his father and Grandfather in the 50’s. Gold bullion speculation dominated the 70’s culminating in 1980 when focus on Numismatics returned. He became a life member of the ANA , met Warren Mills  (his coin Guru) and they cofounded RCNH in 1990.

Coin Terminology

Business Strike A coin struck as a business strike was made with no special preparation to the die or planchet.  These coins were struck for the purpose of being put into mainstream commerce, to be used for business purposes, hence the name.

ProofContrary to popular belief proof is not a grade, it is a method of manufacture.  A proof coin is struck from specially prepared and polished dies and planchets.  The coins are also given multiple strikes and sometimes at higher pressure to bring up the full detail of the coin design.

PVC  – is short for polyvinyl chloride.  This chemical was used in soft clear coin holders.  It made the plastic soft and bendable versus a more brittle plastic used in mylar flips.  Unfortunately it wasn’t discovered until years after their initial use that as the plastic decayed this chemical would leech onto the coin surface and if left untreated could ruin a coin.  If caught early enough PVC can be removed and the coin can be saved.  If you want to check your coins look for a green haze on the coin surface or a general cloudiness on the surfaces.

Pitfalls of Buying on Your Own
It seems as though people are their own worst enemy.  What do I mean?  It seems that people are always searching for the ultimate bargain or at least to be able buy something for less that it is worth and eBay seems to be a perfect avenue for this passion.
Several weeks ago I answered the phone and the person explained to me how he had some U.S. Trade Dollars and Seated Dollars to sell and wanted to bring them in for me to look at.   Now, being in the business for 35 years when someone tells me they have a small quantity of either of these series my suspicion is immediately raised.  So I set an appointment for him to bring in his stash and looked forward to seeing his coins.   When he arrived we went into the room we normally see clients in and he unwrapped his coins that he thought were worth a small fortune and low and behold they were all Chinese counterfeits.  But that wasn’t the worst of it.
After I got through explaining that the problem of  Chinese counterfeits on eBay is a major one he brought out some bullion coins and one of them was a Silver Eagle, but this was no ordinary Silver Eagle it was dated 1900!  If you know anything about Eagles you know this is an impossibility because Gold and Silver Eagles were not minted until 1986.  Not to mention the coin did not contain any silver.
On another occasion I fielded a call from a gentleman in Vermont who had a collection that he wanted us to look at, approximate value $60,000-$100,000.  This collection contained everything from classic coins to federal and obsolete paper money.  After a three hour ride it was evident within 15 minutes that this was a waste of time.  This was a case of someone with too much money and time on their hands and no knowledge.  The most egregious thing that I saw in this man’s collection was a $500 and $1000 Confederate reproduction note made on fake parchment  for souvenir purposes.  Beside each note he had $350 written in the margin of the plastic page.  I asked what he had paid for these notes and he told me that he paid $350 for each note.  Shaking my head I told him that they were fakes made as souvenirs.  Without missing a beat he told me that he bought them at auction and that there was someone bidding on them behind him.  I could not believe what I was hearing.
I am usually quick to blame dealers for taking advantage of uninformed buyers since a dealer holds himself out as an expert.  But in these cases and many more, people have a responsibility to do some homework before they make a purchase.  Either gain enough knowledge to know what you are doing or find a dealer who is willing to educate you.  Since you are reading this I assume you have done one of the above but please keep people you know from buying coins on eBay or attending local auctions and buying coins because they think they are a good deal.  Just because someone with more knowledge than you says  the coin is a gem it doesn’t mean it is, it may not even be real. 

Letters from our Mailbag
Questions and Answers:
Two different people asked the same question this month.  What magnifying glass do you use and why?
Here is my answer to D.V. and C.L.:
Actually, this is a good question and dovetails into grading.  I will touch base on the grading of coins in a future newsletter, but a good glass is essential for proper grading of a coin along with a good light source and knowledge of how to hold the coin to determine the grade.  All three of these factors are of equal importance to me.
The glass I use is an Eschenbach, which is made in Germany.  It’s a 3-6-9 achromat and costs about $200.00.  The term achromat may be one with which some may be unfamiliar.  An achromatic lens limits the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration. It may seem expensive, but a grading mistake can cost many thousands of dollars.  The edge around the lens mutes reflective glare from your light source and the split lens of 3x power and 6x power allows me to put the glass on a showcase at the show to get a quick look at a coin to determine if I want to see the coin further.  I will put the 3x power by itself on the showcase and it will give me a nice enlarged view of the coin with no blurring.  When I examine a coin in hand, I put the 3x and 6x power lens together to give the coin a good going over.  In my opinion, a good glass is worth more than its weight in gold!
Please direct any questions you wish my way… good, bad or ugly.  I’d love to see if I can help in any way.  Email your questions to
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