Tips and News You Can Use

Signing books at Central States show April 24-25

Posted by Beth Deisher on April 7th, 2014 in Coin shows and book signings with No Comments
2014 FUN show book signing

Collectors often purchase Cash In Your Coins for family members who will likely inherit their collections.

Some people collect autographed books as well as buying books for the valuable information they contain. Your chance to purchase Cash In Your Coins — Selling the Rare Coins You’ve Inherited and get your copy autographed in person awaits in the greater Chicago area.

Plan to attend the Central States Numismatic Society’s 75th Anniversary show at the Schaumburg (IL) Convention Center the last full week of April.

I will be at Booth 100 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24th, and again from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 25th, selling and autographing Cash In Your Coins. I will also have limited quantities of the third edition of Making the Grade and the eight edition of the Coin World Almanac for sale and autograph.

The CSNS show is open and free to the public. The convention center is located at 1551 North Thoreau Drive, adjacent to the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel. Show hours are from 10 a.m to 7 p.m. April 24 and 25th. The show closes two hours earlier (5 p.m) on Saturday, April 26.

Booth 100 is located on the main bourse floor inside Discovery Hall of the convention center.

2014 FUN show book signing-Image courtesy of Erin Leigh Copyright 2014

Signing books during January FUN show in Orlando.

Hope to see you in Schaumburg!

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How to identify 1982 copper-plated zinc cents and Small Date, Large Date varieties

Posted by Beth Deisher on April 3rd, 2014 in Coin identification with No Comments

Because of space limitations, I did not go into a great amount of detail regarding the seven varieties created during the change from the 95 percent copper cent to the copper-plated 97 percent zinc cent in my Coin World column published in the March 24 issue.

Judging from readers’ questions, many people were aware of the change in alloys in 1982 but were unaware of the Large Date and Small Date varieties.

The varieties were created when the U.S. Mint changed its master die in 1982 and the difference in size of the date created Large Date and Small Date variants in each composition of circulating cents.

The seven 1982 varieties comprise the 1982 copper Large Date, 1982 copper Small Date, 1982-D copper Large Date, 1982 zinc Large Date, 1982 zinc Small Date, 1982-D zinc Large Date and 1982-D zinc Small Date.

2 in Small Date variety<em>Copyright images courtesy LCR</em>

2 in Small Date variety.

2 in Large Date variety<em>Copyright images courtesy LCR</em>

2 in Large Date variety. 

The quickest and best way to distinguish the varieties is to look at the numeral “2″ in the date. The numeral 2 on the Large Date Variety is thicker and has a fat base with no curve. The Small Date variety is elegant. The numeral 2 is slender with a delicate base that has a slow curve within it. These characteristics have long been known and documented by variety collectors.

In reporting mintages for 1982 cents, the U.S. Mint did not distinguish cents by alloy. It reported only the number of coins struck at each facility that produced cents dated 1982. Since the Mint does not recognize varieties in its reports, there are no official records of the number of each variety produced. Variety identification and estimates of quantities produced have been deduced by collector specialists over time.

Today’s coin market places a slight premium on the Small Date varieties of both the copper and copper-plated zinc 1982 cents. The premium is more evident in higher grades such as Mint State 65 and MS-67 Red. Check values for both Small Date and Large Date varieties in price guides such as Coin World’s monthly magazine value guide or Whitman’s Guide Book of United States Coins, popularly called “The Red Book.”

For additional information on Lincoln cent varieties, I recommend  Lincoln Cent Resource’s web site. It is an excellent source of information — complete with great images — of the top Lincoln cent varieties.

It is easy to distinguish between the 95 percent copper and the copper-plated 97 percent zinc cents if you have a good digital scale.

The 95 percent copper cent weighs 3.11 grams or 0.10 ounce and the 97 percent zinc cent weighs 2.50 grams or 0.08 ounce. Weights this precise require a scale accurate to at least 0.00 grams. I like Lighthouse’s pocket-sized digital scale. You can purchase it from Lighthouse at major coin shows or from Coin World (Amos Advantage) for $42.95. Click here to go to Amos Advantage’s web site to view the digital scale.

If all of your 1982 Lincoln cents are from circulation, it may not pay you to invest in a digital scale, just for this project. But a portable digital scale is quite handy and I usually carry one with me anytime I attend a coin show or if I am giving presentations. I usually also take with me a digital caliper. They are two essential tools for collectors.

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From the Memory Bank, part 15

Posted by Beth Deisher on March 25th, 2014 in In the Numismatic Realm with No Comments

The magnificent seven
By Beth Deisher

First published in the March 24, 2014 “From the Memory Bank” column of COIN WORLD available here.

During 1982 the U.S. Mint transitioned from the 95 percent copper, 5 percent zinc alloy to the copper-plated 97.5 percent zinc planchet for Lincoln cents. Due to a master die change, Small Date, top, and Large Date, bottom, variants were produced in both compositions. Shown are the two date varieties in copper-plated zinc.

During 1982 the U.S. Mint transitioned from the 95 percent copper, 5 percent zinc alloy to the copper-plated 97.5 percent zinc planchet for Lincoln cents. Due to a master die change, Small Date, top, and Large Date, bottom, variants were produced in both compositions. Shown are the two date varieties in copper-plated zinc.

Collectors looked forward to 1982 with great anticipation. They knew new coins were on the way. One would be available in circulation and another would restart the U.S. commemorative series.

First off the press was a new composition for the Lincoln cent. Although the Lincoln cent would retain Victor David Brenner’s portrait of Lincoln on the obverse and retired Mint Chief Sculptor-Engraver Frank Gasparro’s Lincoln Memorial on the reverse, 1982 versions of the lowest denomination coin offered the promise of collecting opportunities.

When the Reagan administration took office in 1981, it faced rising copper prices and the reality of a cent coin costing more than its face value to produce. Mint officials had a wealth of research. They had seen the same dilemma in the early 1970s and had proposed changing the composition of the cent to aluminum.

A lightweight, different-colored coin had met opposition in Congress. As the debate reached its zenith in 1974, the price of copper receded, and the Mint continued striking the 95 percent copper, 5 percent zinc alloy cents.

Seven years later, in April of 1981, Treasurer Angela “Bay” Buchanan went before Congress, noting that Treasury already had the authority to change the cent’s composition, and she declared it would.

By changing to a copper-plated, zinc alloy (97.6 percent zinc and 2.4 percent copper) Mint officials stated they would save an estimated $50 million per year, just in production costs.

The copper-plated zinc alloy had two important attributes: It was more cost effective and visually it would not signal a change to the public. Although technically 19 percent lighter than the 95 percent copper alloyed coin, unless one was holding literally a handful of each at the same time, it was difficult to distinguish between the two coined alloys.

The Mint ramped up its production facilities in the fall of 1981. Both the West Point Bullion Depository and the San Francisco Assay Office produced cents made of the new alloy. Since neither was officially a Mint, no Mint mark was placed on any of the copper-plated zinc cents dated 1982 struck at the two facilities. Since the Philadelphia Mint at the time did not place a Mint mark on the cents it produced, it was impossible to tell at which of three facilities the new composition coins had been struck.

The Denver Mint placed the D Mint mark on both alloy compositions it struck in 1982.

The 1982 Proof set included a 95 percent copper cent bearing the S Mint mark, since Proof sets were made at the San Francisco facility.

Collectors were rewarded with seven variants in 1982.

The Mint changed its master die in 1982 and the difference in size of the date created Large Date and Small Date variants in each composition of circulating cents.

The seven 1982 varieties comprise the 1982 copper Large Date, 1982 copper Small Date, 1982-D copper Large Date, 1982 zinc Large Date, 1982 zinc Small Date, 1982-D zinc Large Date and 1982-D zinc Small Date.

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From the Memory Bank, part 14

Posted by Beth Deisher on March 18th, 2014 in In the Numismatic Realm with No Comments

Commemorative Roadblock
Olympic coin bills hit snag
By Beth Deisher

First published in the February 24, 2014, “From the Memory Bank” column of COIN WORLD, available here.

U.S. Rep. Frank Annunzio, chairman of the House Consumer Affairs and Coinagle Subcommittee

U.S. Rep. Frank Annunzio, as chairman of the House Consumer Affairs and Coinage Subcommittee, quickly became known as the “coin czar.”

S. 1230 and its companion bill, H.B. 3958, calling for the U.S. Mint to strike 29commemorative coins to honor the 1984 Los Angles Olympic Games, hit an unforeseen speed bump during the July 14, 1981, Senate Banking hearing.

Lobbyists working on behalf of the Olympic community and powerful members of Congress who were backing the 29-coin bill that called for turning over the marketing to the private sector had not factored into their plans opposition from the collector community. Hobby leaders vigorously questioned Olympic officials’ projected sales numbers and their marketing plan that would steer most of the profits to the private sector, not the Olympic committees for use in building facilities in which U.S. athletes could train.

During the fall of 1981, the Olympic lobbyists and private marketers regrouped and floated the idea of scaling back from 29 coins to 25. The “idea” materialized in the form of an amendment to S. 1230, which sought four gold $100 coins, four gold $50 coins, 16 silver $10 coins, and one copper-nickel clad $1 coin.

By early December, Olympic officials were growing anxious. They needed to know how to plan their budgets for the Olympic Games.

With little fanfare, the Senate Banking Committee gave its stamp of approval to the amended bill and on Dec. 9 it sailed through the U.S. Senate.

Before the 97th Congress recessed for the Christmas holidays, the amended S. 1230 was communicated to the House of Representatives and was referred to the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs.

Following procedure, the Senate-approved bill was referred to the subcommittee with jurisdiction over coins, the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Coinage.

The chairman of the subcommittee was Rep. Frank D. Annunzio, D-Ill. Annunzio had introduced his own Olympic coin bill on June 11, 1981, that would authorize one Olympic silver dollar that was to be struck and marketed by the U.S. Mint. Annunzio’s subcommittee had taken no action on his bill. When the amended Senate bill landed in his subcommittee, the veteran lawmaker and strategist had things right where he wanted them — under his control. Before leaving for Christmas break, Annunzio quietly asked the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to examine the Senate-approved bill as well as his bill.

On April 6, 1982, when Annunzio gaveled the House Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Coinage hearing on all Olympic coinage proposals to order, it suddenly become clear that the most important battle to determine the scope and marketing of Olympic coins had just begun. And Annunzio, who would become known as the “Coin Czar,” was prepared with a formidable arsenal at his command.

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From the Memory Bank, part 13

Posted by Beth Deisher on March 11th, 2014 in In the Numismatic Realm with No Comments

Shoulder to Shoulder
Treasury, hobbyists unite
By Beth Deisher

First published in the January 27, 2014, “From the Memory Bank” column of COIN WORLD, available here.

At times, the collector community and the U.S. Treasury (read that U.S. Mint) are at odds with each other, akin to a family squabble. But when faced with an outside “threat” they put aside their differences and stand together. One such moment was July 14, 1981.

Olympic commemorative coin programs - Copyright Coin World, printed by permission

Coins produced in connection with the 1952 Games in Helsinki were in one of only three successful Olympic commemorative coin programs as of 1981.

Outside observers had predicted S. 1230 and its companion bill, H.B. 3958, which called for the U.S. Mint to strike 29 commemorative coins to honor the 1984 Los Angles Olympic Games, would sail through Congress.

The legislation had the backing of the Olympic community and powerful members of Congress. But perhaps more significantly, the bills had been carefully shepherded by high-powered lobbyists funded by captains of industry, such as Armand Hammer.

The lead witness at the Senate Banking hearing that day was Treasurer Angela “Bay” Buchanan. She took issue with the fact that the proposal, as written, would put the sales and marketing of the coins in the hands of a private entity, beyond the scrutiny and oversight of the Treasury.

Those pressing for the private marketing scheme may have been successful had not two prominent and respected members of the numismatic community buttressed Buchanan’s testimony.

George D. Hatie, president of the 37,000-member American Numismatic Association, was an astute collector and a skilled lawyer. He used his legal training to highlight inconsistencies and pinpoint problems. For example, he noted that the formula for establishing the specified surcharge of 15 percent on either the face value or the cost of manufacture of the coins, whichever was greater, excluded the cost of gold or silver in calculating the surcharge.

Even more compelling was his practical observation that the cost of acquiring a complete set to a collector “could well be in excess of $5,000.”

Considering that most collectors in 1981 were spending less than $250 a year to keep their collections complete, Hatie raised for the first time the specter that Olympic planners could be overly optimist on their anticipated sales and profits.

Hatie said from his own perspective that 29 coins depicting a single event would not appeal to him and he would lose interest in collecting the entire series.

Publisher Chester L. Krause also testified, presenting research his staff had conducted that directly contradicted Olympic officials touting the massive Olympic issues of Canada in 1976 and the Soviet Union in 1980 as programs to emulate. Krause asserted that only three Olympic coin programs had been successful: those produced for the Helsinki Games in 1952, Tokyo in 1964 and Mexico in 1968. Each had produced fewer coins, but had sold out. The later Olympic programs, such as Montreal and Moscow, had issued large numbers, but had sold far fewer coins.

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From the Memory Bank, part 12

Posted by Beth Deisher on March 4th, 2014 in In the Numismatic Realm with No Comments

Commemorative roadblocks
Opposition to initial Olympic bills
By Beth Deisher

First published in the December 23, 2013, “From the Memory Bank” column of COIN WORLD, available here.

Sen. Jake Garn, Treasury Secretary William E. Simon - Copyright Coin World, printed by permission

In the image at left above, Sen. Jake Garn, left, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee in 1981, talks with former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee. In the image at right above, U.S. Treasurer Angela “Bay” Buchanan, flanked by the U.S. Mint’s Alan Goldman, testifies against provisions of a Senate coin bill.

With the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games just a scant three years away, virtually everyone — Olympic officials, members of Congress, U.S. Treasury officials and coin collectors — was excited about the prospect of the U.S. Mint issuing coins to commemorate the Games.

But, as often happens, the parties were wide apart in their thinking as to mintages, pricing, marketing and beneficiaries.

When Sen. Jake Garn, Republican chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, gaveled a packed July 14, 1981, hearing to order, most Washington handicappers thought approval of companion bills S. 1230 and H.B. 3958, introduced by Sen. Garn and by Rep. Trent Lott, R-Miss., respectively, would be a slam-dunk.

The companion bills called for the issuance of 29 different designs that would include denominations of dollar coins in copper-nickel and 90 percent silver, $50 coins in gold and $100 coins in gold struck in both Uncirculated and Proof, all bearing 1983 and 1984 dates.

Following protocol, Treasurer Angela “Bay” Buchanan was the lead witness. She expressed support for the concept of Olympic coins, but cited problems.

“The Department, however, has serious reservations about the magnitude, scope and nature of S. 1230, and does not consider this bill, as proposed, to be in the best interest of the public and the government,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan expressed Treasury’s opposition to the proposed methods of marketing and distribution, which directed the U.S. Mint to strike all of the coins and then deliver them to the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for distribution and sale through a marketing entity selected by the LAOOC. With an eye on the clock, the LAOOC had already signed an agreement with an international consortium to market the U.S. Olympic coins. The consortium was formed by three firms: Lazard Freres & Cie, Paris; Lazard Freres & Co., New York; and Occidental Petroleum Corp., Los Angeles. American industrialist Armand Hammer, one of the richest men in the world, headed Occidental Petroleum.

Buchanan noted that the proposed bill would interfere with Treasury’s “obligation to the American people to assure … the proper and equitable distribution of its products.” She sounded the alarm, reminding Congress that no commemorative coins had been issued in the previous 30 years because they “often resulted in the exploitation of the public for private gain … improper handling of proceeds from a coin of the realm, inaccuracy or poor taste in advertising and inequities to the public in pricing and distribution.”

On that day, two leaders within the numismatic community supported the Treasury’s position. They were American Numismatic Association President George D. Hatie, and Chester L. Krause, founder of Krause Publications.

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From the Memory Bank, part 11

Posted by Beth Deisher on February 25th, 2014 in In the Numismatic Realm with No Comments

Olympic proportions
Commems help support Games
By Beth Deisher

First published in the November 25, 2013, “From the Memory Bank” column of COIN WORLD, available here.

Two headlines dominated page 1 of the May 20, 1981, issue of Coin World.

The Los Angeles Coliseum - Copyright Coin World, printed by permission

The Los Angeles Coliseum, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 1932, needed extensive renovations to accommodate the 1984 games. The sale of commemorative coins was one source of funding.

The first, a double-decker banner, announced the unanimous subcommittee passage of a proposal to honor George Washington on the 250th anniversary of his birth in 1982.

The second headline, “Olympic committees offer commem plan” was a shocker.

Even before the Washington commemorative legislation could be voted on by the full House of Representatives, legislators from California joined by other influential leaders in Congress, at the behest of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, were introducing bills in both the Senate and the House seeking a massive 29-coin commemorative program.

Fundraising was of prime concern for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. Unlike many other Olympic host nations, there would be no U.S. government (taxpayer) funding. Money to pay for refurbishing some sports venues and building new ones had to come from the private sector.

Los Angeles had hosted the 1932 Summer Games, but the 1984 production would be larger and grander than anything ever planned in the United States. Plus, U.S. prestige was on the line. The United States had boycotted the Moscow Olympics in the summer of 1980. It was important to not only have showplace venues, but to train athletes to “bring home the gold.”

Los Angeles Olympic planners did what many fundraisers do. They devised a budget and then set about raising the money to fund the budget.

Recent Olympic coin programs of other nations pointed to large commemorative coin issues. Canada had issued 28 silver coins and two gold coins honoring the 1976 Montreal Games.

The Soviet Union had issued 28 silver coins and six gold coins to honor the 1980 Moscow Games.

From the perspective of Los Angeles Olympic planners, domestically it would be a patriotic sell. Everyone in the United States would buy Olympic coins to support staging the Los Angeles Games and to ensure U.S. athletes would have the best of Olympic training facilities. But planners had their eyes on the world market, also.

Since the U.S. Mint, at the time, had little marketing experience, the legislation called for the coins to be delivered to the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for distribution and sale worldwide through a marketing entity that LAOOC would select.

The legislation appeared to be on a fast track, with a July 14 Senate hearing already scheduled.

Next: Standing tall.

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From the Memory Bank, part 10

Posted by Beth Deisher on February 18th, 2014 in In the Numismatic Realm with No Comments

Commemorative resurrection
Production resumes after years
By Beth Deisher

First published in the October 28, 2013, “From the Memory Bank” column of COIN WORLD, available here.

George D. Hatie - Copyright Coin World, printed by permission

Hatie

Two headlines dominated the cover of the May 20, 1981, issue of Coin World. Both had to do with new commemorative coins. One was on the collecting community’s radar screen. One was not.

The story on the minds of most collectors had to do with resuming the striking of U.S. commemorative coins after more than a quarter century of absence. The banner headline at the top of page 1 announced: “Subcommittee unanimously approves Washington commemorative coin.” The subcommittee vote was the much-hoped-for first step.

Few had predicted such dramatic and swift action of the House Consumer Affairs and Coinage Subcommittee after testimony during a May 7, 1981, hearing on a proposal to honor the 250th anniversary of George Washington’s birth with a commemorative coin in 1982.

George D. Hatie, then president of the American Numismatic Association, and Anthony Swiatek, a commemorative specialist and author, had been invited to testify by Subcommittee Chairman Frank D. Annunzio, Democrat, of Illinois. Both Hatie and Swiatek had done their homework, and they tapped their professional training to deliver sound and persuasive testimony. Hatie was a lawyer. Swiatek, before becoming a professional numismatist, had been a classroom teacher. Both not only backed the Washington commemorative proposal but also built a powerful case for the resumption of commemorative coinage.

As customary at congressional hearings, witnesses representing the sitting administration are accorded the honor of testifying first. Thus, the lead witness was the new treasurer of the United States, Angela “Bay” Buchanan.

Prior to Buchanan taking the witness chair, no one knew what position the Reagan administration’s Treasury Department would take.

Members of the numismatic community sitting in the audience assumed Buchanan would espouse the opposition Treasury Department officials had stated for more than 25 years and cite abuses in the early commemorative coin programs. Hobbyists were prepared for a long, uphill battle. However, they were encouraged that key members of Congress had suddenly begun to take interest in the idea of a new commemorative coin.

As Buchanan began to speak, hearts began to pound.

“While the Department of the Treasury has a history of objecting to the issuance of commemorative coins for the benefit of private sponsors and organizations, it has not objected to special coinage authorized by Congress for the government’s own account.” She cited as examples the Eisenhower silver-copper clad dollar in 1970 and the American Revolution Bicentennial silver-copper clad set approved in 1973.

Then the historic statement: “The Treasury Department believes that the 250th anniversary of the birth of the ‘father of our country’ is an occasion which justifies the issuance of a special non-circulating commemorative coin,” Buchanan said.

Hearing the Treasury Department’s support, Swiatek recalled recently, “We knew it was a done deal!”

But both Swiatek and Hatie calmly and professionally delivered their prepared testimony and happily witnessed the unanimous subcommittee vote.

Next: The off-radar headline.

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From the Memory Bank, part 9

Posted by Beth Deisher on February 11th, 2014 in In the Numismatic Realm with No Comments

Life-changing meeting
Encounter leads to chief engraver
By Beth Deisher

First published in the September 23, 2013, “From the Memory Bank” column of COIN WORLD, available here.

A few hours of “work” during a Christmas vacation dramatically changed Elizabeth Jones’ life.

Eva Adams - Copyright Coin World, printed by permission

A chance encounter by Elizabeth Jones, above left, with a U.S. Mint official in the nation’s capital late in 1980 eventually led to her becoming the first woman chief engraver of the United States Mint. Longtime Mint Director Eva Adams, right, was influential in encouraging Jones to seek the presidentially appointed post.

In late November 1980, Jones had returned to the United States to visit family and friends. She had intended to stay no more than six weeks. After Christmas she planned to return to Rome, where she had worked as an artist and medallic sculptor for 18 years.

While visiting her sister in suburban Maryland, Jones decided to stop by some art galleries in the nation’s capital. Her medallic sculptures were widely acclaimed internationally, but she was not as well known in the United States. Upon entering one of the galleries, she introduced herself to a young man who seemed interested in seeing her medals. Just as she began to place some on the counter, he said he needed to make a phone call. He returned within a few minutes.

“My father is Roy Cahoon. He asked if you would call him as soon as possible.”

The name Roy Cahoon rang a bell. Jones had met him in the early 1960s when he accompanied U.S. Mint Director Eva Adams on a tour of the Italian Mint in Rome. Jones had served as their translator. At the time she was studying at the Scuolo dell’Arte della Medaglia inside the Italian Mint. Director Adams tried to persuade the young American to return to her homeland then and become a sculptor-engraver at the Philadelphia Mint. While flattered by Adams’ enthusiasm for her work, Jones declined the invitation, noting that she preferred to stay in Rome.

Jones called Cahoon, who put her in touch with Adams. Both encouraged Jones to apply for the chief sculptor-engraver’s post at the U.S. Mint. Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro had announced he would be retiring as of Jan. 16, 1981.

Jones lost little time in submitting her application. She was interviewed by a number of Treasury officials, including Treasurer Angela Buchanan and Treasury Secretary Donald Regan.

Recently, Jones recalled her interview with Regan. Buchanan accompanied her to Regan’s office. “He was sitting at a big desk in the middle of his large office. After greeting me, his first question was, ‘Why do you want the job?’ ”

Jones recalls, “I looked him in the eyes and said, ‘because I think I’m highly qualified.’ ”

Her response was convincing.

Upon leaving the interview, Buchanan advised her not to leave the United States. Jones was sworn into office Oct. 27, 1981, becoming the first woman to be chief sculptor-engraver of the United States Mint.

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From the Memory Bank, part 8

Posted by Beth Deisher on February 4th, 2014 in In the Numismatic Realm with No Comments

1981 taxing time
Legislation catalyst for ICTA
By Beth Deisher

First published in the August 26, 2013, “From the Memory Bank” column of COIN WORLD, available here.

ICTA - Copyright Coin World, printed by permission

Prevention of laws and regulations harmful or burdensome to the coin and precious metals markets is the focus of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets, formed in 1983.

The American Numismatic Association’s annual summer convention is the show of the year for many coin collectors and dealers alike. Some call it the granddaddy of all coin shows because most of the specialized collector clubs and organizations hold their annual meetings in conjunction with the weeklong ANA extravaganza of special exhibits, educational forums and blockbuster numismatic auctions.

The atmosphere is electrifying as you step onto the gigantic bourse floor amid the loud “buzz” of people talking and transacting business.

So it was during the summer of 1981. The ANA show opened on a seasonably hot July 28 in grand style at New Orleans’s Rivergate Convention Center. Precious metals had backed off of their meteoric highs of early 1980, but enough investors remained in the coin market to spread optimism and smiles down every aisle of the bourse. A “hot” market seemed solidly intact.

It was my first summer ANA convention. Editor Margo Russell had assigned Coin World’s editorial team to cover what in her seasoned judgment would be the top news events of the week.

Friday, July 31: Margo and I were to meet at noon to take in the spouses’ luncheon — work, but also an opportunity to sample New Orleans cuisine. Approaching Margo at our appointed time, I sensed something “big” was happening. As we made our way to the luncheon, she related she had just been briefed that Congress was about to enact legislation that could prove to be devastating to the coin market. She had decided that the two of us would go on to the luncheon, but she would “eat and run.” I was to stay to take pictures of a special presentation. She would cover the developing story.

Back at the convention center, ANA leaders and a who’s who of leading coins dealers were huddled, devising a plan of action.

Just after 11 that morning, Donald Kagin and Ken Bressett had received a phone call from a friend in a brokerage firm asking what they knew about two sentences that had been inserted in the 600-page-plus tax cut bill moving on the floor of the House of Representatives. The language would have the effect of eliminating the use of tangible assets (collectible coins, stamps, works of art, rugs, antiques, precious metals) as tax-sheltered considerations in self-directed Individual Retirement Accounts and Keogh accounts for the self-employed. Favorable tax treatment had been a prime factor in the growing coin market in recent years.

Throughout the afternoon and into Saturday, telephones wires were sizzling with calls from New Orleans to Washington as hobby leaders talked with members of Congress and their staffs. But, despite their herculean efforts, the infamous “Section 314B” would remain in the Economic Recovery Act of 1981, which President Reagan signed into law Aug. 13.

Coin dealers and hobby leaders vowed they would never again be caught unaware. Within two years, they formed a national trade association based in our nation’s capital, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets. Prevention of laws and regulations harmful or burdensome to the coin and precious metals markets is ICTA’s focus.

Thirty-two years later, the language of “Section 314B” remains in the federal tax code.

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