At the risk of sounding like a jaded and cynical old numismatist, I have to write about a friend who asked me the other day how much their “really old silver dollar coin” was worth. I must admit to being intrigued initially, however, she then informed me that it was “really old, something like 1977 or ’78”!
She didn’t seem too impressed when I advised her that in slightly worn condition it was probably worth a pound or 2 at best!
I do enjoy passing on my knowledge on such subjects but I must admit that it is always slightly sour pleasure when one has probably disheartened a potential new collector with honesty!
One blog I enjoy reading a lot is Dave Harper’s ‘The Buzz’ and I highly recommend you take a look if you haven’t found it yet. I must take issue with one paragraph he writes later in his article entitled “New coin age coming”. He states that it is certain that the future will not ‘be bound by’ the collection of coins from circulation.
My experience is that increasingly, in the UK at least (or perhaps just in Scotland!), younger collectors ARE picking up the slightly unusual coins they find in circulation and collecting them – indeed a large part of what I write about involves this hobby. Perhaps things are different across the pond but I believe this is a point that requires more balanced thought!
He is a very knowledgeable man so please read his blogs!
Why are the Americans not taking to these beautiful coins?!
The United States Mint has been producing some excellent new designs over the past decade or so such as the state quarter series and of course the Sacagawea dollar but for some reason unintelligible to me, the state quarters have been widely collected by, according to the US treasury webiste ~140 million people! Meanwhile, the equally attractive Sacagawea dollar wasn’t even minted from 2002-2008 and again last year due to low public acceptance and demand.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I like a lot of the state quarter editions too (indeed I have a small and growing collection) but I can’t understand why the contemporary dollar coins have been so poorly received?
I’ll concede that the first design (up to 2008) wasn’t the most spectacular, but since then there have been lovely designs featuring peace pipes, arrows, horses and the lady herself planting a field.
Some weeks ago, I wrote about an idea floated in the US about minting a $1,000,000,000,000 coin – now we know it is not going to happen (for the time being at least!).
Has this story just caused fantasies and dreams about such a unique coin? Or has it taught us anything?
I believe it has reminded us that the economy is not outwith the control of those in power and that debt does not mean the same to large sovereign nations as it does to the populus.
A few days ago I posted about being duped with a very authentic looking Morgan Silver Dollar that when weighed came in at 17% lighter than it should have done! Thankfully I can report that the seller has fully reimbursed me now for the purchase price PLUS postage charges (not the cost to post back to them however). I think I have been fortunate here – probably because the seller themselves had been fooled by the coin too but I do believe it serves a salutary warning to always check the basic parameters of any coins bought on Ebay. Highly collectable and valuable coins like these are more likely to be counterfeited but I always check every coin I buy now as soon as I receive it! Just for reference, a Morgan Dollar coin should weigh 26.73g (although a little less may be ok if very worn) and measure 38.1mm across. Obviously a convincing forgery might match these specifications but the vast majority will weigh 10-20% less if they are fakes as they will be made of a lower silver content alloy.
What is the Trillion Dollar coin?
The USA, like most of the western world has a huge government debt. One way to pay it off would be to actually create more money and give it to their debtors! In America, section ‘k’ of the ‘Denominations, specifications, and design of coins’ law states :
“The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time”
Normally, to meet debts that are due for payment the government will borrow a bit more as bonds and use these ‘loans’ to pay off the older ones. The idea here (in very simple terms) is that if the secretary [of the treasury] decided to make a few of these coins, he could in effect just pop them in the government’s bank account – this way there is plenty of money in their account and the cheques owed to debtors can be issued and cashed!
What is the downside?
If enough of these coins are introduced to the US economy, there is a worry that inflation will spiral out of control. Most people in the know seem to be of the opinion that as long as the government exercises restraint and only produces enough to get by (not to pay off all government debt) then this won’t be too much of a problem as the federal reserve can essentially negate (or sterilise) this influx of currency by cancelling some of its reserves.
What will it look like?
One thing we know is that if such a coin is produced it has to be made of Platinum. As far as I can gather, it would have to have someone’s face on it and I have gathered that it has to be someone no longer living (I can’t find any cast iron proof for this). The most talked about person to adorn such a coin seems to be Ronald Reagan.
Will it happen?
From an interest point of view – I hope so! In reality, I don’t think anyone really knows!