Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Another Laughlin Coin Show - Another Learning Experience

During my annual trip to Laughlin Nevada, I was able to take in another local coin show. This one was held at the Aquarius with about 30 dealers present and admission was free. There were the usual silver coins and a smaller number of gold coins that are normally found at these types of coin shows. That included lots and lots of Morgan dollars - both those certified by the major grading companies as well as a large number of uncertified dollars (so don't believe the hype that Morgan dollars are becoming scarce). But I was able to view some amazing old coins I'd never seen before that went way, way back - coins minted just a few years after the first U.S. mint was established in Philadelphia in 1792. Many were in great condition and the prices for these historic coins ranged from a few thousand to several thousand dollars so I was a looker only. But it was great fun to see that kind of coin history.

At the first dealer display I stopped at, a customer was completing the purchase of approximately 200 Walking Liberty half dollars. The dealer's price was $7.50 per coin or 15 times face. The customer may have gotten a volume discount but in smaller amounts that is not a bad price. These were circulated coins so each would have about .3575 troy ounces of silver (versus .3617 if uncirculated). Other dealers have told me that some customers of 90% silver coins are only interested in silver half dollars with the Walking Libertys much preferred. To me that is totally understandable. Not only is this one of the most beautiful U.S. coins ever minted, it was first struck prior to the U.S. entry in World War I,  was used in daily commerce throughout the Great Depression and all of World War II before yielding to the Franklin half dollar in 1947.

One of my few purchases at the show was a one ounce silver Mexican Libertad. The dealer had a few on display but this one stood out from the others because it was struck with such great detail. Almost like a high-relief coin compared with the other Libertads he had available. One side of the coin features a winged Victoria of Mexican Independence Victory Column in front of a landscape with two volcanoes which I can't pronounce (Popocatepetl and Ixlaccihuatl). The other side features the coat of arms of Mexico surrounded by historical Mexican coats of arms.

If you are not familiar with these coins, Mexican Libertads are government-issued gold and silver coins. The .999 silver Libertad was introduced in 1982 in one ounce versions only. In 1991, fractional Libertads of 1/20 ounce, 1/10 ounce, 1/4 ounce and 1/2 ounce were introduced and in 1996 2 ounce and 5 ounce Libertads were added to the series. Also, beginning in 1983, silver Proof Libertads became available in the one ounce versions with Proof fractionals added in 1993. You can find out more about these silver bullion coins at Wikipedia.

These are really great coins to own and if you find some at a price you are willing to pay, don't hesitate to invest in them. They are universally recognized and accepted. I have not heard of counterfeit Libertads being discovered but that doesn't mean they aren't out there. It pays to deal only with trusted sources for any precious metals purchases.

Thanks for reading. JA

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Goldstur - An Automated Gold & Silver Jewelry Buying Kiosk

The Goldstur kiosk is advertised as an automated way to cash in on unwanted gold or silver jewelry quickly. A few of these kiosks were recently installed at Supervalu’s Cub Foods supermarkets in the Minneapolis/St. Paul MN area (not too far from me) - supposedly the first in the nation. I decided to find out more, starting with a visit to their web site Goldstur and clicking on the kiosk icon. 

The kiosk requires an appraisal fee of $2.00 (cash or credit card) to begin the process. The customer is then requested to enter his/her first and last name and email address. Once these have been successfully entered the user is requested to swipe his/her driver's license at which point the first item can be placed in a container for analysis. After a few minutes the analysis is complete and a price is offered for the piece. If the offer is declined the piece is returned to the user. If the user accepts the offer, s/he is given the options of a receipt for cash or a gift card.

After viewing the video on their site I decided to give the Goldstur a test. So I drove to one of the installations in the twin cities' northern suburbs. But there was a problem - it was out of order. Thinking it had not yet been activated, I asked the lady at the nearby customer service area if the kiosk had previously been working. She said it had but couldn't tell me how long it was in service or how long it had been out of service. So my test will have to wait for another time.

It will be interesting to see how well the Goldsturs are accepted by shoppers who bring along their unwanted jewelry. If a person has one or two pieces and lives in the general area, this seems like a handy alternative for cashing in on jewelry no longer worn. I am assuming the $2 appraisel fee applies to each piece although that was not demonstrated. If a person has several items, this may work against it - unless the seller is flush with cash after accepting the first one or two pieces they have presented. I don't know how it would work on silver or gold coins such as an American Silver or Gold Eagle.

Among the competitors for Goldstur kiosks would be jewelry stores, pawn shops, local coin shops that also deal in jewelry, traveling buyers of gold and silver and maybe even home "gold parties" (I haven't heard much about them lately but they will be back when gold takes off again). 

It appears the company has big plans to expand the service and even offer a mail-in service in the future. So you might discover one or more Goldsturs coming to a location near you. Here is another video on the workings of the Goldstur kiosk Goldstur Video

Thanks for reading. JA

Monday, January 11, 2016

1964 And The Last U.S. Silver Coins

As many of you reading this know, 1964 was the last year the U.S. minted 90 percent silver coins for circulation. What you may not know is the campaign waged by the U.S. to convince people to stop hoarding these coins by mass producing them before "giving in" in 1965. The campaign involved the dimes, quarters and half dollars used in every day commerce. Silver dollars are not included as Peace dollars (1921-1935) are the last for-circulation silver dollars produced. Let's look at these coins starting with the Roosevelt Dime.

The silver Roosevelt Dime was produced from 1946 through 1964 replacing the popular Winged Liberty Head (a.k.a. Mercury) Dime. The anti-hoarding campaign for this coin started in 1962 when the Philadelphia and Denver Mints produced a combined 407,398,380 dimes versus 302,876,550 the year before. This was bumped up to 545,126,530 in 1963 and a whopping 1,286,877,180 in 1964. It didn't help but gave people more silver dimes to salt away.

The silver Washington Quarter was produced from 1932 through 1964 replacing the Standing Liberty Quarter. The anti-hoarding campaign for this coin also started in 1962 when the Philadelphia and Denver Mints produced a combined 163,710,756 quarters versus 120,692,928 the year before. This was increased to 209,604,184 in 1963 and a whopping 1,264,526,113 in 1964. It didn't help but gave people more silver quarters to save for a rainy day.

The anti-hoarding campaign for half dollars involved two different coins-the Franklin Half Dollar (1948-1963) and the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar. In 1962 the Philadelphia and Denver Mints produced a combined 45,187,281 half dollars versus 28,566,442 the year before. In 1963 this was increased to 89,233,292 coins. The Kennedy Half Dollar replaced the Franklin in 1964 and the Philadelphia and Denver Mints produced 429,509,450 of this popular coin. The Kennedy coins were produced in a 40 percent version from 1965 through 1970 before converting to a clad version like the other coins mentioned.

You can expect these higher mintage coins in the 1962 to 1964 range to be worth their silver melt value and very little more. With spot silver at $14 that would be approximately $1.00 for a circulated dime, $2.50 for a circulated quarter and $5.00 for a circulated half dollar. The coins that are worth more are identified in my eBook "The Last 90 Percent Silver United States Coins - A Buying and Selling Guide". You can find it here. Read the first few chapters free on your Kindle or non-Kindle device.

Thanks for reading. Keep the faith.  JA