New Coins for the New Millennium
Now that newspaper ads have stopped offering "the last . . . coin of 1999," I predict they will be trying to sell "the first . . . coins or medals of the new millennium." Many will be the same, old, 1-ounce silver bullion Eagles; something enhanced by coloring the design; or a 1-pound knock-off of a United States coin. Most novelty items have been tried before.
One thing is sure: imitators have plenty of material to work with this year. There will be five new quarter designs, a brand-new dollar coin, several commemorative coins, and some different signatures on paper money. Taking a cue from the government, copycat artists should be able to make jewelry, paperweights, buttons and off-metal strikes.
Apparently there is nothing wrong with the government making special dollar coins of 22kt gold or copper-nickel coins of silver, but that should not mean it is okay for outsiders to make gold-plated copper versions of our gold and silver coins, even if oversized. Yet, that seems to be what is happening despite some minor protest from the Mint and much resentment from collectors. Perhaps everyone is making too much profit at the collectorUs expense to put a stop to these abuses.
If you are weary of being besieged by offerings of pseudo-coins and coin-like replicas, there is a way to combat this plague. Vote with your pocketbook and refuse to purchase these items.
Morgan and Peace dollars remain the coins most frequently offered for sale in non-numismatic publications. I sometimes wonder how any thinking person can believe they are rare or will be available for only a limited time. They are everywhere, and sometimes it seems every offering quotes a different price. I can only hope that some potential buyers take the time to telephone or visit a coin dealer to get realistic values on similar pieces.
One recent offering was for a pair of Morgan and Peace dollars in Mint State (MS) condition for $39 plus postage. A competitor was charging RonlyS $18 per coin, but postage and handling was higher. Another ad wanted to sell you MS-63 coins for $28 per coin; two others had basic brilliant-uncirculated (BU) Carson City Morgans for $99 each. Be cautious of grading; be sure you can return unwanted coins; and check with other dealers for competitive prices.
A national advertiser has launched a campaign selling an American Eagle Silver Dollar "at our cost." I am convinced this is an accurate statement. The price is "only $9.95 with free delivery" - not horrible, but it does need some explanation.
In actuality, collectors can purchase only one dollar at that price. I imagine that $9.95 probably is the promoters' cost, considering that they are paying postage and doing a lot of advertising. They are offering this special deal to get names for their mailing list and approval service. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is a pretty nice way to get the attention and business of new clients. Still, there is a discrepancy between these prices and what some other dealers charge, and it pays to shop around.
At the same time, at least one other newspaper ad is offering similar coins for only $6.95 each. I think it is safe to assume that both companies will supply no-problem, BU government coins. However, in this offer, you must purchase five or more coins and pay $3 postage and handling for a minimum order that actually will cost you $7.55 per coin. The $6.95 price applies only to an order of 20 coins, making the unit price $7.35 with postage. And under the terms of this rival ad, the prices are for a limited time only and subject to change without notice. There seem to be more than enough warning signs to make one cautious.
Did you celebrate the 30th anniversary of America's Greatest Adventure? If you didn't remember that last year marked 30 years since the moon landing, then you probably also failed to honor the event by buying an "Official U.S. Moon Landing Coin" for only $5. In case you don't remember the United States making such a coin, you might know it better as a 1971 Eisenhower dollar.
According to the full-page ad that appeared in a national magazine, only a small supply of these rarely seen coins is available, and this may be your last chance to own one. You will remember the event of 1969 much better by owning one of these 1971 coins. Besides, this is a vintage Eisenhower dollar that disappeared from circulation decades ago, and the only remaining coins are in the hands of dealers and collectors. There is no mention of condition, but with an advertised price of $5 plus $3 postage, they must be pretty nice. As a kicker, you will get double your money back if the coin is not genuine.
It seems as if lately all the coins being offered are the greatest, most significant, or somehow superior to any other of the past. Now the Statehood Quarters Collection (not a government agency) is offering the "Most Important New Coin Collection in U.S. History." I don't deny that the new 50 State quarters are making history and doing wonders for our hobby, but I think it is too early to call them the most important coins ever.
An impressive flyer describing the quarter program and all 50 State quarters that will be produced over the next 10 years came with my Sunday newspaper. This was a great endorsement for coin collecting. I question, however, how great this offer will be for anyone who subscribes with the intention of building a complete collection of these coins through their sales program. One good thing about their offer is that you do not have to make a commitment for the full 10 years, and you can cancel your subscription at any time.
By signing up, you receive two State quarters (one from the Philadelphia Mint, and the other from the Denver Mint) every time they are issued. They will be sent to you in a special holder with a story and interesting information about each state. Somewhere along the line, you also will receive a free holder for the entire collection.
It is a well-conceived program except for the price - $14.95 per panel, plus $2 shipping, handling and insurance. That amounts to a whopping $847.50 for those who stay with it for the full 10 years and get all $25 worth of quarters.