Hidden Treasure in Bank Rolls, Double Eagles, Chicago and More
News, comments, musings, and items from here and there, about this, that, and the other, or whatever.
Do you have one? Among our favorite modern coins is the 2005 Ocean in View nickel. On a whim we bought a box full of them from the Mint. We have yet to see one in circulation, however.
Statistics: A study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that kids age 8 to 18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using media, up from 6 hours and 19 minutes a decade earlier. This includes watching TV and movies, playing video games, and being on the Internet. Reading a book every day is characteristic of 47%, unchanged in the past ten years, but those who read a magazine every day have dropped from 55% to 35%, and it’s even worse for newspaper readership, down from 42% to 23%. In the survey, an amazing 76% owned i-Pods. (USA Today) This obviously has an effect on collecting things, such as coins. Kids only have a certain amount of time, as we all do, and the interest of the younger set in numismatics has declined markedly in recent years, ditto for stamp collecting and other related fields. (This sort of ties in with our Notes this issue, in that time is precious, “time is money.”)
We hear tell that bank-wrapped rolls of half dollars obtainable for face value often yield silver-content coins and other old issues. Half dollars do not circulate any longer, and some of these rolls have remained in place in banks for a long time.
A recent survey conducted by Jay Melrose and Matt Duddy, quoted in Maine Antique Digest, revealed preferences of collectors of antiques. Year spans that buyers specialized in were quite interesting: 51% sought items made from 1900 to 1930, 49% from 1851 to 1900, 34% from 1801 to 1850. “More people were interested in items from 1931 to the present (32%) than in items before 1800 (25).”
What will be the last resort? The Wall Street Journal recently report that the word “resort” is being dropped left and right from hotel names, as this designation is deterring some corporations from booking business conferences there. For example, the Westin Stonbrier Hotel & Resort, in Texas, is now simply the Westin Stonbrier. The Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, North Carolina, is now the “Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge.” Wonder if the Holiday Inn will change its name sometime soon?
The 2011 Guide Book of U.S. Coins was just released – as interesting and as information-packed as ever. The Whitman staff in Atlanta and the various consultants are paying more attention than ever to each yearly edition. For an appreciation of this, take a 2011 version (or 2010 if you don’t have the latest) and compare it to an edition of 10 years ago.
But Reagan turned out to be okay: “The latest USA Today/Gallup poll puts Obama’s approval rating at 50% to 45%, which is lower than any post-World War II president starting his second year in office except for Ronald Reagan who was at 49%.”
Paper money! Our upcoming June auction in New York City will have a wondrous selection of currency – ranging from eye-popping rarities among state bank notes to some breathtaking proofs of federal paper. While the prices of rare United States coins make a lot of headlines, it may be worth considering that in terms of surviving examples, many notes are available for tiny fractions of what a comparable coin might sell for.
Nice sign: “Tiffany raised its profit outlook, another sign that the recession’s impact on luxury retailers is easing. The jewelry company also reported that sales in November/December were 17% higher than a year earlier. Sales in Europe went up by 30%.” (The Economist)
Double eagles to the fore! Following all of the gold excitement last December, more than just a few new buyers of coins made from this precious metal have stayed on as clients and are now more serious. Acquiring one of each different double eagle date and mintmark, among those that can be bought for, say, less than twice bullion value, has been a popular pursuit. And, there is something special about owning a $20 gold piece.
“In January, U.S. hotels had a record low 45.1 occupancy rate, the lowest January since industry statistician Smith Travel Research began tracking data in 1987.” (USA Today) No wonder: traveling anywhere on the airlines is a big hassle, a very forgettable experience, and a pain. (Again, see our Notes this issue.) Moreover, the Internet has in many areas replaced the need to travel to attend business conferences. “The total property value of U.S. hotels has fallen by up to 50% from its peak in 2007,” noted the same article.
The American Numismatic Association recently announced that Chicago will be “branded” as the permanent (until voted otherwise) venue for the annual summer convention. We presume this really does not mean Chicago, but refers to, for example, the Rosemont suburb out by O’Hare Airport? Convention revenue, including auction fees, account for more than 60% of the Association’s revenue, which just might prompt some careful study on the future of this (again, see our Notes this issue).
Winston Churchill once remarked, “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing – after exhausting all other alternatives.” (Jon Meacham, quoting him in Newsweek) Speaking of Meacham, he does a first-class job as editor. Trouble is that advertising revenue of Newsweek has fallen off a cliff, and the typical issue is half the size of what it used to be. Business Week has the same problem, but the Bloomberg folks, the new owners, promise in a recent April issue that great changes are coming – probably to make the publication more interesting and relevant, but we’ll wait to find out.
E-Sylum, conducted by Wayne Homren for the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, is posted free on the web each Sunday night or, occasionally, on Monday. Well over a thousand readers tune in every week. Curiously, the NBS itself, which publishes The Asylum, mainly about out-of-print numismatic literature, has only a few hundred dues-paying members. Apparently, there has not been much luck in converting Internet viewers of free content to become members who receive the printed magazine.
Interesting change: In 1980, Japan was riding on top of the world; there were fears in America that the microchip and other computer businesses would be completely controlled by Japan, which would make decisions on who got what. Since then the economy has slumped, as has its stock market. And, in the current issue of Newsweek, the country’s population is predicted to fall from 127 million to 95 million by 2050.” It is interesting how things change. Right now it is China’s turn.
“Later this year a federal judge will decide if the protection of polar bears can justify a cap on greenhouse gases – clearing the way for lawsuits nationwide against the country’s worst polluters.” (Newsweek) Sounds sort of convoluted reasoning, hard to figure out what logic is involved, but then we are not in politics. Also, as seals (including warm and fuzzy cubs) are the main diet of polar bears, do environmentalists think that fewer polar bears is a good idea? Just wondering.
Unusual find: An 1868 nickel three-cent piece was found in change given at the Chik-fil-A franchise in Richmond, Virginia. We suppose it must have passed as a dime.