By Coinweek ….
Welcome to the latest edition of CoinWeek’s Weekly Coin and Currency News Roundup. In this series we recap some of the cool, interesting, offbeat, ludicrous and maybe even disturbing news items that we’ve read over the past week.
1.) The Iron Bank Will Have Its Due
No, that’s not a Pat Heller quote.
Instead, it’s a saying from the HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones. In the show, based on the best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series of books by Tolkien-fanatic George R. R. Martin–which were themselves inspired by English and French history–various political factions ruthlessly compete against each other for power (worldly and otherwise) as events beyond anyone’s control loom larger and larger.
The books and the show have a devoted fandom, and at least one corner of it has created products of numismatic interest. Tom Maringer of the Shire Post Mint is responsible for an excellent series of fantasy coins that cover almost every denomination of coin, token and miscellaneous monetary object from the books. If you’re a coin collector and a GOT fan, it’s nothing short of impressive.
He also has a selection of fantasy coins from other book series, such as the Lord of the Rings, John Carter of Mars and Conan the Barbarian
Speaking of Game of Thrones…
2.) Why Doesn’t Westeros Have A Central Bank?
Two members of CoinWeek’s editorial staff, Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, wrote an introduction to numismatics in video games a few years back (podcast available here) as a spur to the numismatic community to check out what a younger generation already knows about coins and money. They found the topic to be surprisingly vast; now imagine how immense the numismatics of fiction – or even just one genre of fiction, such as fantasy or sci-fi – must be.
But before you dismiss the idea as frivolous or irrelevant, read this essay that Adam Ozimek wrote for Forbes.com. In it, he goes to some length discussing the peculiar economic situation of the Game of Thrones universe and asks the question: why doesn’t it have a central bank?
After listing the socioeconomic prerequisites for a functioning central bank, Ozimek runs through a handful of candidates powerful enough and rich enough to serve as one.
Who would it be? The answer may surprise you.
A must-read for fans of A Song of Ice and Fire and money in general.
The Future Is Now
3.) Use Bitcoin, Go to Jail
Bitcoin is dead. Haven’t you heard?
Apparently Russia didn’t get the memo.
When Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology started to move into the larger global consciousness a few years ago, Russian authorities reacted as many governments and entrenched financial institutions would: they banned it. Then they relented somewhat.
Now, however, the Ministry of Finance has proposed draft regulations that would punish Bitcoin users with jail time.
Oh, but don’t worry. If the legislation is enacted, only Bitcoin business owners will be eligible for seven years in Russian federal prison.
Regular users will get four.
4.) Newman Numismatic Portal Goes Live, Becomes Self-Aware
The last part of that header may not be entirely accurate, but if the Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP) keeps accumulating data like it is now then it’s only a matter of time before Skyne… er, the NNP achieves recursive self-awareness.
The project is funded by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES). Its goal is to be the most extensive numismatic research tool on the internets, free to the public forever.
5.) Creator of Canada’s Big Nickel Passes Away
Ted Szilva, the creator of Sudbury, Ontario’s “Big Nickel”–a giant facsimile of a 12-sided Canadian nickel and one of the most famous roadside landmarks in Canada–passed away on March 10, 2016. A man with a vision who never gave up despite popular opinion, the story of his life and the creation of the Big Nickel is a great example of how one person, dedicated to an idea, can make the world a little more interesting.
By the way, Ted’s family has a website where you can order his book, The Big Nickel: The Untold Story: How Sudbury’s Ted Szilva Turned a Five Cent Coin into $1 Million (2014).
We happened upon several items related to counterfeiting this week.
6.) Counterfeit Banknotes in Zambia
According to this press release (source: PDF), counterfeit K100 and K50 notes are being produced with digital scanners and uttered into circulation.
At the time of writing, one Zambian kwacha (ZMK or K) trades for approximately $0.00019 USD.
7.) Beware Fake PAMP Suisse Bars
Everett Millman of Gainesville Coins warns us about a new round of counterfeit PAMP Suisse gold bullion products.
8.) Counterfeiting in Europe
Barry Stuppler, chairman of the Gold & Silver Political Action Committee, wrote in the March 2016 edition of the Gold & Silver PAC e-newsletter about recent counterfeiting trends in Europe. We repost the column below:
Europe has been seeing a significant rise in counterfeiting coins unlike any other time in history. During the last year, we have been chronicling the problems in the United Kingdom with counterfeit one-pound coins. Now the rest of Europe has been seeing fake one- and five-euro coins entering circulation in greater numbers.
When the problem began in 2014, the European Union governing body recommended that their member nations strengthen their laws and increase penalties on counterfeiters. This past month Portugal increased their penalties to comply with EU directives.
Portugal, whose economy has not recovered from the last downturn, has blamed counterfeiting as part of its problem. Government officials claim it is the lack of trust in the currency that prevents the movement of money.
In related news, coins made in mocking protest of the Swedish king in 2012 revived a debate over counterfeiting. The story began with a press release issued by the Swedish Central Bank about interest rates that included what was thought to be a stock photograph of coins. Instead, the photograph contained the 2012 protest coin that was seemingly mixed with the imaged pile.
The debate sparked discussions ranging from eliminating the coin, a low value one-krona coin, or accelerating the discussion for eliminating physical currency in favor of an electronic economy.
Even though the European Central Bank announced that there were fewer reports of counterfeiting in January, law enforcement officials on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean believe that counterfeit activity is on the rise. While targets remain the higher denomination banknotes, European officials are bracing for more attempts to counterfeit the one- and two-euro coins.
Worthy Additions to Your Library
9.) AJN 25 Reprint
Volume 25 of the American Journal of Numismatics (AJN) is back in print. According to the American Numismatic Society (ANS), it sold out quickly after its first printing. But thanks to Casemate Academic and Oxbow Books, the ANS is able to offer reprints on demand. The price is $75 for non-Members and $52.50 for ANS members; email Andrew Reinhard, ANS Director of Publications, for discount code.
10.) Inside the Vault – Australian Coinage by Peter Rees
Australian author and journalist Peter Rees has written a nicely-illustrated book about the evolution of Australian coins and other numismatic items, including never-before-seen coin design sketches. The 192-page hardcover is available for purchase from the Royal Australian Mint website.
11.) David Lange’s Latest Book on Coin Albums Now Available for Pre-Order
CoinWeek contributor, NGC research director and regular columnist for The Numismatist David W. Lange has collected coin albums and coin collecting boards for 35 years. He also devotes his time to writing about them, and the first volume in his landmark study of historic coin albums came out in 2013.
Volume 2 is now available for pre-order, with a discount price of $45 if you order before the expected publication date of May 1.
12.) Support the ANS Library
Here is a press release from the American Numismatic Society regarding its library duplicates sale:
The American Numismatic Society is excited to announce its first sale of auction catalogs and fixed price lists, originating from the early 20th and late 19th centuries. Duplicate catalogs from the ANS collection are being offered through an e-auction by Classical Numismatic Group (CNG), which began on March 9, and ends on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 (e-sale 371). All proceeds will benefit the Society’s Library Acquisitions Fund.
The variety of ANS holdings being offered covers a wide-range of numismatic areas and interests, providing especially important research materials for those interested in provenance and past pricing. The Society plans to hold regular sales of its various holdings of duplicate, rare auction catalogs and numismatic literature. Support the Society while enhancing your collections with an auction purchase!
The CNG sale also contains other important numismatic libraries, including the collection of late ANS Trustee Lawrence Adams, who passed away last year.
To view the catalogs for sale, visit http://www.cngcoins.com/Coins.aspx?CATEGORY_ID=5261&VIEW_TYPE=0.
To view the entire offering of numismatic literature in CNG E-Sale 371, please visit http://cngcoins.com/Coins.aspx?CONTAINER_TYPE_ID=2&VIEW_TYPE=0
To read last week’s Roundup, click here.