Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Next up, John Adams Dollars

I went to the post office today to buy a book of 24 cent stamps (they're needed for that 2 ounce of postage). For years, I have been buying stamps from the vending machine in the lobby and I have been getting 1999 SBA (i.e. Susan B. Anthony) and 2000 Sacagawea dollars in change.

In 2001, I got 1999 and 2000 dollars in change.
In 2002, I got 1999 and 2000 dollars in change.
In 2003, I got 1999 and 2000 dollars in change.
In 2004, I got 1999 and 2000 dollars in change.
In 2005, I got 1999 and 2000 dollars in change.
In 2006, I got 1999 and 2000 dollars in change.

Today, I got one 2000 dollar and six Washington dollars in change. Not that I'm complaining, but I'd like to know where all the 1999 SBA and 2000 Sacagawea dollars went? It will also be interesting to see after May if the John Adams dollars show up next.

Or will the future look something more like this:

In 2008, I will get 2007 Washington dollars in change.
In 2009, I will get 2007 Washington dollars in change.
In 2010, I will get 2007 Washington dollars in change.

Actually, I don't think I will be able to get dollar coins from USPS machines in the future. I few months ago, the USPS announced that they were going to remove the machines that accept and dispense the dollars from all the Post Offices around the country. Apparently it is costing them too much money to maintain and repair the machines. Just one more blow to the U.S. Mint's hope that the dollar coins will catch on and circulate alongside the dollar bill.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Presidential Dollars: Error Coins versus Die Varieties

(Check out the Presidential Dollar Image Gallery)

The new Presidential dollar series has gotten off to a well publicized, if not messy start. With all the Faceless and Godless dollars being reported, the recent release seems to have generated a lot of excitement in collectors and non-collectors alike.

I'm not sure if heads should roll at the U.S. Mint at the obvious poor quality control, or if those same heads should be promoted. It's sort of reminiscent of the New Coke marketing blunder that eventually resulted in new life being given to Old Coke under the Classic Coke brand.

The Presidential dollar errors seem to have gotten the new dollars off to a great start among collectors, breathing life into the series that reminds you of the excitement when the state quarters program first started. As for being accepted in place of the dollar bill, let's just say that I have yet to receive one of these dollar coins in change.

But with all the news about the discovery of error coins, I have seen some collectors start to complain about the third party grading service coin registries not having separate entries for the new Godless dollars the same way they do for Extra Leaf Wisconsin state quarters. They want to know what gives. It seems a lot of new (and even seasoned) collectors don't really understand the difference between error coins and die variety coins.

Well, at a high level, the definitions are somewhat similar as both types of coins result from some abnormality that occurs from the norm during the minting of a coin. These abnormalities can occur anywhere in the following three phases of the minting process: making planchets, making dies, or striking coins.

In the case of the Extra Leaf Wisconsin state quarter, the abnormality occurred during the making of dies. The new Godless dollars had the abnormality occur during the striking of coins.

"Still they are both errors," you say. True, but there is a difference.

So what is the difference between an error coin and a die variety coin?

Errors that occur during the striking process are unique to each coin struck. Although the Godless dollars all look the same and appear to exist in the thousands, the error occurred to each coin individually. Not every coin passing through the process was guaranteed to be an error coin. It was something of a lottery as to which coins had errors. The same with the Faceless dollar. The last I heard, this coin was still unique, being the only one found so far.

Die varieties, on the other hand, are problems or design alterations that occur during the making of the die. The result is that every coin struck by the die will contain this problem or design alteration. So if 10,000 coins are struck with that die, all 10,000 coins will exhibit the problem or design alteration found on that die. Being a collector of Type 1 double eagles (Click here to see the collection), I own some coins that fall into the die variety category. The $20 1853/2 overdate and the 1854 large versus small dates are just a couple of examples.

So, the reason that error coins are generally not included in registry sets is because errors are generally something unique. If a die variety is discovered, it is generally safe to assume that other examples were struck and may be out there. But in the case of the Godless dollars, this is an error that was obviously repeated thousands of times. So maybe in this case, a registry entry is warranted. I'm sure it's something that will be debated on message boards.

On a related topic, please read my article Gold $20 Liberty Head Type 1 Double Eagle Hub Varieties.

Friday, March 09, 2007

New Godless - Plain Edge - Washington Dollar Error Coin FAQs

(About:Coins is such an excellent resource for coin collectors seeking information about the hobby that I didn't hesitate last year to allow my article about First Strike coins to be published on the site. Susan Headley, the guide to the coin section of the site, does such an excellent job with putting together timely articles that I had to point you to this great FAQ article she wrote on the recently released Washington dollars. And if you like this article, don't hesitate to Sign Up Here for her free newsletter about coins. And if you were wondering, I do not work for About.com and did not get paid for this plug. I really do believe the site and her newsletter are worth checking out.)

About:Coins Article by Susan Headley

There are a lot of incorrect rumors going around about the plain edge George Washington Presidential Dollars. These are the new golden dollars with no lettering on the edge, also called "missing edge lettering" and "Godless dollars" (because IN GOD WE TRUST is among the missing inscriptions.) The hobby collectively seems to be settling on the term "plain edge" and so that is the term I will use for now.

In addition to rumors, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about what the numbers on the boxes the dollars are shipped in mean, where the coins were rolled, and other details. I did some research, and my findings are below. . . .

Full story at:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Godless Dollar Emails Misinform about the New Presidential Dollars

There have been a couple of different versions of emails floating around the internet lately claiming that the National Motto "In God We Trust" has been omitted from the new dollar coins.
Here is a an example of one of those emails:

U.S. Government to release new dollar coins.
You guessed it "IN GOD WE TRUST" IS GONE!!!
Who originally put "In God We Trust" onto our currency?
My bet is that it was one of the Presidents on these coins.
All our U.S. Government has done is Dishonor them, and disgust me!!!
If ever there was a reason to boycott something, THIS IS IT!!!


Together we can force them out of circulation.

The problem with these emails - - they are flat out WRONG!

The new dollar coins do contain "IN GOD WE TRUST" on them. The National Motto, along with the year, mint mark, and the phrase "E PLURBIS UNUM", have all been moved to the edge of the coin to avoid cluttering the design. Although a few examples have been found with the edge lettering missing, these are error coins and not some government plot to phase God out of America.

The one word that is missing from the new dollar coins is the word LIBERTY. Apparently the thought was that the word would be redundant since the reverse design for all of the coins depicts the Statue of Liberty.

So if you get one of these emails in your inbox, please do everyone a favor, don't pass it on . . . DELETE IT!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Counterfeit $100 and $50 Bills Reported in NYC

With the Secret Service reporting a recent increase in the number of counterfeit $100 and $50 bills showing up in the New York City area (Link to news story), it seemed a good idea to educate everyone, not only how to identify the counterfeits, but also how to identify a genuine bill.

How to Identify the Recent Counterfeit Bills
Here are links to the Secret Service counterfeit warnings:
Click here to view the counterfeit $100 bill
Click here to view the counterfeit $50 bill

How to Identify Genuine Bills
Here is a link to the Secret Service Know Your Money Poster