By Charles Morgan, Scott Purvis, and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
In a hobby already prone to hyperbole, the recent release of the Kennedy Gold Proof inspired a mixture of vocal opinions and raised many questions.
Some saw the hysteria and dealer-driven speculation as a blight on the hobby, calling the coin’s roll-out the straw that’ll break the camel’s back for modern coins.
Others were more measured in their criticism, mostly concerned with how the U.S. Mint re-tasked American Numismatic Association staff and transformed the bourse floor and surrounding areas into an unwieldy queue. And yes, some considered the coin launch (and its attendant publicity) good for the hobby, overall[1a].
Several dealers told CoinWeek that they felt less safe at this year’s ANA, and many convention-goers we spoke to felt uneasy about the endless line that had formed around the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Many felt that the hullabaloo surrounding the Kennedy Gold Proof show release distracted customers, who normally come to the show to shop for coins from hundreds of the nation’s top dealers.
But whatever the complaints may be, one thing is certain. The release of the Kennedy Gold Proof was a bonanza for some.
Setting a Price at the ANA
Predictably, the limited supply of coins at the show caused prices in the secondary market to skyrocket.
On the issue’s first day of release, many dealers at the ANA World’s Fair of Money adopted a wait-and-see approach before establishing a price for the coin, which made it even more difficult to acquire certified examples. In fact, most convention-goers found that show-graded coins were not readily available for purchase until the closing days of the show.
Other dealers decided to stay on the sidelines.
John Maben from ModernCoinMart chose not to participate. In a letter to CoinWeek, Maben stated:
“We were prepared to buy 100 or so of the gold Kennedy half dollars at a big premium from others that took the time to stand in line [sic] however … at the conclusion of the show, we bought exactly one”.
Raw coins were selling for more than double the issue price by the last day. On Saturday afternoon, one dealer was offering a Kennedy Gold Proof, in its original box, for $3,000.
“Unethical but Not Illegal”
The release of the Kennedy Gold Proof made the evening news, especially in areas where the coin physically went on sale.
Denver’s ABC7 reported it this way:
“Several people in line were being paid by casting directors and coin buyers to be there. The Mint tells us it had no idea that was happening, calling it ‘unethical but not illegal’”.
The “casting directors” and “coin buyers” mentioned in the report turned out to be representatives of well-known coin dealer Kevin Lipton, the 2012 winner of the Professional Numismatists Guild’s (PNG) Lifetime Achievement Award. His Beverly Hills, California-based firm also recruited hundreds of Denver-area homeless to buy the coins.
This created an unexpectedly surreal environment for the collectors that showed up to buy the Kennedy gold proof coin on the issue’s first day of release.
Mitch Spivack, another California-based coin dealer and a prominent collector of modern coins, happened to bring his daughters with him to Denver to purchase the coin. The unusual makeup of the line made him wonder if he was in the right place.
“It was 99% homeless people and folks thinking that they were waiting in line for a casting agency,” Spivack said. “There was virtually no one in line who was excited about buying a coin for themselves”.
According to CBS4 News in Denver, Lipton’s homeless stand-ins had their hands marked and were given $20 to wait in line.
They did so for more than 12 hours.
And, according to Spivack, those 12 hours were not without incident.
“Some of the homeless brought dogs with them. The dogs would fight each other. And some people were not well. Several people couldn’t make it to the end for health reasons,” he said.
Although the CBS report doesn’t state what the buyers were paid after delivering the coins to Lipton’s representatives, several dealers who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the firm paid each homeless person a total of $100 for their services.
We spoke with Lipton last week about the coin’s roll-out. The first question we asked concerned his use of area homeless to buy coins and the reported $100 payout. He said the number was wrong but wouldn’t specify, only saying it was more.
When asked how he recruited such large numbers of area homeless to wait in line and whether he thought he was exploiting the economically vulnerable, Lipton said, “We found people milling around. We fed them and paid them to stand in line. If it wasn’t for us, they wouldn’t have been fed or earned any money. We were thanked by hundreds of people. We helped them pay rent and put food in their stomachs”.
Lipton was not alone. Several other dealers also hired surrogate buyers but were more selective. Bob Higgins of The Argent Group, for example, reportedly paid the spouses of active-duty service members from nearby Ft. Carson $300 each. Still others enlisted the help of the general public by placing ads on Craigslist.
2014 Harry J. Foreman Dealer of the Year Lee Minshull reportedly paid his proxy buyers $400 each. Our calls to Minshull have so far gone unanswered.
For the most part, the scene in Chicago at the ANA World’s Fair of Money was more orderly but not much different.
On the eve of the coin’s release, several dealers–including Lipton, Minshull and SilverTowne’s Dave Hendrickson–secured Early Bird Access for stand-ins at the World’s Fair of Money. The fee is $150 per person, but to even be eligible a buyer must first be a member of the ANA.
This means that scores of new members were enrolled into the ANA just so dealers could acquire Early Bird Access for them.
There were also several reported incidents where Early Bird Access credentials were handed off to other buyers on the show’s second and third days. The ANA began checking buyers’ identification after they were apprised of this. We were told by officials at the ANA that they verified multiple instances of abuse of the Early Bird system and were able to track them back to specific dealers, but the officials that talked to us wouldn’t say whether the Association will levy any disciplinary action against them.
Meanwhile, the lines themselves caused headaches for convention-goers and auction houses.
On the show’s first day, representatives from both Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers complained that the lines prevented customers from viewing auction lots. ANA President Walter Ostromecki, Jr. told CoinWeek that the two firms were so upset about the situation that they threatened to terminate their contracts with the ANA if something wasn’t done about it.
The problem was remedied quickly.
But access wasn’t just a problem for the major auction houses. Other organizations, such as the Numismatic Literary Guild, were unable to gain entrance to their meeting rooms due to the “holding pen” the ANA set up to keep Kennedy Gold buyers off the bourse floor until groups of 20 could be brought in to make their purchases.
Not helping matters was the Mint’s checkout system, which was erratic throughout the show. Many customers faced checkout times exceeding five to 10 minutes per transaction.
In Philadelphia, the event was calm and the process was orderly but again, shill buyers made up a sizeable percentage of those waiting in line.
Philly.com reports that armed security personnel representing coin firms accompanied some buyers to a local hotel where they were reembursed for their time. The going rate in Philadelphia, according to the website, was $300 to $600 each.
Similar scenarios played out in Washington, D.C.. Proxy buyers there reported being paid $300 to $400 each.
Article Continues on the Following Page(s) ……….
There has been a lots of press and discussion regarding this whole fiasco. I hope something was learned from it, and will be better next time,
I hope the greedy dealers that tried to corner the market on these coins at Chicago lose money on them. This launch was a disaster for both the U.S. Mint and the A.N.A.
Anyone who blames the ANA clearly isn’t thinking straight. The ANA is purely a victim here. They were legally hamstring. Every “idea” I’ve seen floated that the ANA “should have done” was illegal and would have gotten them sued, as seems to be a popular sport. The irony is that the ANA’s Harry Forman Dealer of the Year embarrassed the ANA by being one of the most virulent wholesalers and recruiters of “street urchins” to buy Kennedy gold. The decision on the Forman was made weeks in advance of the show. I say, “oops!”
Sorry Kurt, but I disagree. The A.N.A. never should have allowed the U.S. Mint to set up a line specifically for the sale of the Kennedy coins prior to the convention opening and outside of the convention facility. This arrangement is what kept most real collectors from getting the Kennedy coins at the convention. Also I’d suggest that DOTY should lose his award.
Sorry Scott, but neither the ANA nor the Mint set up ANYTHING outside the convention center or before ANYTHING. In fact, they did everything they could to prevent it. The lines formed THEMSELVES spontaneously and they were “worked with” only to avoid a literal riot situation. The ANA had NO jurisdiction outside, the Rosemont PD did, and even THEY were overwhelmed. They only brought in more police on Day 3 because people outside were pulling illegal and dangerous stuff. No Scott, this whole mess is a creature SOLELY AND COMPLETELY of greedy dealers.
Kurt: Things do not happen in a vacuum. The situation at ALL distribution locations, especially Chicago would have been totally different if the “One per Customer” limit did not exist, or was increased to 100 coins. There would have been virtually zero non collectors in line as most dealers could be assured of getting as many coins as they want? Why limit the number sold to 500 Total per day. They could have brought 20,000 coins to the show to sell. Ultimately, these were the US Mint’s decisions. They set the rules, the limits and had the final say, not the ANA, not Dealers, Not collectors. Whomever made those decisions, and for whatever reason, they set the ball in motion and all of the unintended, but foreseeable consequences that followed were a result.
Kurt, Apparently you didn’t get this memo from the A.N.A. on Friday, July 25 “The U.S. Mint previously announced that 500 Kennedy coins per day will be sold at the show, and in order to purchase a coin, a buyer must receive a ticket from the U.S. Mint. The line for receiving tickets will form outside of the bourse floor at 8 a.m. each day of the show. There will be signs on site to guide collectors to the correct area. Mint officials will distribute tickets to the first 250 people in line between 10:30 and 10:45 a.m. each day. At 11 a.m., collectors with tickets will be led onto the bourse floor through a special side entrance that will take them directly to the U.S. Mint booth to complete their purchase.”
By allowing the line to form outside the bourse floor, the A.N.A. basically screwed many of it’s own members out of a chance to get a Kennedy gold coin at the convention. Things didn’t happen this way when the 2013 RP Buffalo was launched. I was there both times and yes, the A.N.A. bears some responsibility since it was their convention.
Outside the bourse floor, but INSIDE THE CONVENTION CENTER, AND AFTER REGISTRATION, Scott. It really does help to have been there, Scott.
Dear non-CoinWeek Scott,
PLEASE find a way to get a clue, PLEEEEEZE?
The US Mint did not consult with the ANA, they did not ask, they did not even well inform the ANA. They did kinda sorta if they got around to it inform the ANA as an afterthought. The supply side of this “market” was ALL the US Mint’s baby, and the demand side was ALL the greedy super-dealers. how you find a way to blame the people who got whipsawed in the middle is a mystery to me!
I WAS there Kurt, I know exactly what happened. I tried to post the link to the A.N.A. press release, but this website won’t allow it.
Scott: All comments are moderated. We got the link and it has been posted in the thread
Not EVERYTHING the private sector dba the “free market” does is virtuous. This was a prime example why extreme belief in “free market capitalism” is often very unwise. In this case, it very nearly got people killed and injured. The Mint and the ANA were legally and ethically hamstrung. The dealers flat out didn’t give a damn.
Kurt – extreme belief in almost anything is unwise, but can’t agree with your conclution that the Mint and ANA were “legally and ethically hamstrung” or the generalization that “dealers” didn’t give a damn. Great sound bites but untrue. It was the US Mints product. They could sell it any way they want. They were not under any Legal or ethical constraints any more than other booth holders at the show. And to assume you know what was in the “dealers” minds is a gross generalization. Paying homeless people just on it face is a stupid idea, I grant you. But what about paying active duty military wives? I think that was actually quite creative, and honerable. Might be more helpful not to paint things with such a broad brush
The notion that any party involved here was legally bound to allow this fiasco to happen is ridiculous.
Scott, or as we now see, you’re speaking for CoinWeek again (convenient to switch it on and off at will, isn’t it?), you simply have no bloody idea what in hell you’re talking about! The ANA was hamstrung by its rules set FAR in advance as to who gets onto a bourse floor when. The Mint, as a full-fledged agency of the Federal government, is COMPLETELY unable to favor any person or group over or behind any other. They BRIEFLY tried to take out of line anyone with a non-US photo ID, until informed that a nearby federal courthouse was beckoning them.
And PLEASE Scott, the Mint could NOT bring 20,000 coins; they didn’t have that many TO bring to Chicago, nor did they have anywhere NEAR the personnel or point-of-sale assets to do any more transactions per day than they did.mat one point on Day 1 they were down to one cash register and their wireless network architecture was failing on that one.
So let’s name real names as to who the perpetrators of this fiasco were, to one extent or another:
Lee Minshull Traders
LiveanDieVarieties of Spokane
Marc One Numismatics
Chicago Coin Company
Modern Coin Mart
and some Chinese guy in a grey sharkskin suit who had a booth and was jumping unregistered Chinese people in line all 3 days.
Kurt: Calm down my friend……
1) The “Scott” you refer to posting comments is NOT me. Anything and everything I post is under the CoinWeek name, as I am the Editor of CoinWeek. So, your assumption is not only 100% wrong, but insulting. I own the site, I do not need to mask who I am or what I choose to say.
2) If you actually read the COINWEEK comments (mine) I made no comment on the ANA’s legal or ethical issues. I spoke directly about the MINT.
3) The launch of this product was conceived and known to the Mint over a year ago. They could have manufactured and brought as many coins as they saw fit; a hundred or a hundred thousand. The Mint was making a gross profit of $280 per coin. Oh…. I sorry, I forgot, its the government. Of course that couldn’t do any of that. Come on. It takes as much time to sell one person one coin as it would take to sell the same person 50 coins. You just need a bigger bag to carry it. and to use the excuse that they only had one cash register and a bad wireless network…Oh my God. We can put men on the moon 40 years ago but we can’t have more than one cash register working at the largest coin show in the world when we are releasing a new gold coin. Wow….Guess we are in worse shape than I thought.
4) Finally, insteresting that you know who all the “perpetrators” were, problem is you are wrong, and I’ll give you just one example, Modern Coin Mart. I mention this one becasue right in the article we quote John Maben as saying in an email he sent directly to us as we researched this story that ““We were prepared to buy 100 or so of the gold Kennedy half dollars at a big premium from others that took the time to stand in line [sic] however….at the conclusion of the show, we bought exactly one”.” THEY DIDN”T PAY PEOPLE TO STAND IN LINE!!!!!! and had nothing to do with the issues surrounding all this.
It is always fun to read your comments and to benefit from your perspective. I may not always agree but you are a hightly intellegent man with a generally reasoned approach to things. However I think on this one you have poped your cork. Disagree with me or others all you like. You are certainly entitled to your opinions and conclutions, but you don’t get to make up your own facts!
BTW my email address is [email protected], and I can send you the name and email address of the “other scott” if yopu don’t beleive me….
And Scott, we both know we’ve spoken at some length at various shows. I simply do not share your near-religious reverence for the “invisible hand” of an unrestrained so-called free market, either in direct commerce or promotional statements made in a quasi-editorial content setting. I never have believed what you apparently do and I’m not about to start now. I reserve my religious fervor for the highest conceivable ethical behavior, which is EXTRAORDINARILY RARE among coin dealers.
It may be ridiculous, Scott, but you weren’t there and I was. I saw more than even the numismatic media did. I WATCHED lawyers coming down on ANA staff if they tried to create a fairer system, Scott.
I named every dealer that I personally saw that EITHER hired ringers to stand in line, OR advertised with signage or t-shirts that they were buying, OR were distributing flyers to people waiting in line that they were buying. ALL THREE types contributed to the unhealthy and dangerous things that went on outside the Stephens Center on Rosemont.
Kurt, there is a HUGE difference between hiring homeless people to stand in line and paying them to do so, and having signage at your table saying your are buying Kennedy gold. There is NO equivalency to the two. What created the issues both in and outside all locations was the introduction of paid Non collector buyers who were not vetted. That was and is inexcusable by any standard. Rail against those dealers all you like. But handing out a flyer or having a sign wasn’t the problem.
Just so you know, CoinWeek Scott, and the other one too, I guess, the Mint had VERY LITTLE pre-done inventory for this release. They even did an 11th hour redesign, moving the W mint mark from the modern obverse spot to the 1964 classic reverse location, so pre-ramping supply was never done. That’s two in a row the mint blew. They underproduced both the Baseball HOF and now the Kennedy’s for the initial releases.
Kurt, That speaks directly to my point. The Mint had over a year to conceive, manage, produce and market the release of this coin. On a mint to order coin there is no excuse not to have enough available when you KNOW there is going to be a huge demand based on previous released of the Profs Buffalo and the HOF coins. There is just NO excuse for being ill prepared in not having more than enough coins available and the means to efficiently and quickly handle transactions. And if they can’t handle it themselves, then outsource it to people who can go it right. BTW, to not spend the $200 a day to have a dedicated hard line to your cash register to process transactions and relay as you said on a wireless network is an example of poor planning and execution.
Also, for the record, I love the US mint. They do so many things well and I know they have a difficult job with many more constraints on them then we realize. But they are institutionalized and have that Big Business / Government mentality that seems to prevent them from effectively getting the job done. That is the thing many find so frustrating
What about walking the line handing out flyers and cards. Where on the spectrum does that fall?
Again, flyers and signs don’t equate in any way , shape or form with paying non collectors and most specifically homeless people to stand in a line for hours. The two actions just can not be compared or remotely linked on the same level.
What the sign and flyer dealers DID CREATE was an ersatz “auction culture” among the 20-30% or so of the line waiters who were at least semi-real collectors. Even former ANA President and frequent ANA press release writer Gary Lewis waited in line overnight one night, and he’s not a young fella. That’s what it took to get a gold Kennedy. You had to “waste” a $200 a night hotel room to camp out and hope the Chinese guy didn’t jump so many people in line you fell above #500 in line. Nobody at the Mint or the ANA did that- only the dealers’ actions did. There simply was NO WAY to get a gold Kennedy without sleeping on a sidewalk overnight.
I’m going to nitpick a little here but I believe there were a few military *husbands* in line, too, if the CBS4 video is anything to go by.
Active duty military wives? Please! I know one thing, I am a 100 percent service connected disabled vet! I need people to drive me to shows in order to be able to go. I am wore out after 2 hours of moving. I had NO CHANCE of getting a coin AS WELL AS ANYONE who is disabled had one! WHY? The PREPLANNED STUNTS OF THE DEALERS. They had it planned out to pay people to stand in line DAYS before the show started. I BELIEVE the show is supposed to be for the COLLECTOR,NOT the DEALER!
Also, ONLY the oft-canonized PCGS “whored out” ANA show labels to non-ANA coins. Why are they considered to be so virtuous? NGC made people prove the provenance.
One would think by now that people would learn that the first day of issue slab is just a gimmick and there is no reason whatsoever to pay a premium for it. To pay around $3k for this on Ebay is also ridiculous.
If you want one, go to the USmint.gov and buy one unless you can get it below the Mint’s asking price.
Only an idiot would pay a markup like that for noting more than a fancy sticker
I agree! There are way too many people who rely on grading companys to decide a coin’s condition. Not to mention,IF you are a large dealer certain grading companys(I wont mention any names but think about this) Give brown nose treatment to the LARGE dealers that submit lots of business! SO, IF you compare many coins that are graded the same grade,you will find NOT ALL SAME GRADED coins are created equal! IT is said “Grade the coin,not the HOLDER!) I guess no one believes that to be true anymore.
You left out one other reason why the Chicago numbers don’t add up: the crack-out game.
If NGC graded a coin a 69 the dealer would crack the slab and submit it to PCGS. If PCGS graded it a 69 they could even crack it and try PCGS another time or two before the show ended until they got a 70.
There are not enough 69s to explain the discrepancy in the numbers.
Nor was there enough time. The first slabbed coins were delivered Friday, and by noon Saturday, PCGS was gone. Non -70’s were rare.
The numbers DIDNT add up because dealers flew the coins in from other locations!
Saul and Tim, I agree with you; I’m from your “generation”, but we aren’t this hobby’s future. We don’t get to decide what the next generation is going to think about slab labels. If thousands of people are overpaying on HSN or other TV shlock merchants, who’s to say the inner circle of the coin hobby (us) are right and they are wrong?
Link to July 25 A.N.A. press release: http://admin.listpilot.net/mpower/showHtml.do?ac=money&id=9anv9g2_54051944
I don’t know what point you think that Press Release proves, but it doesn’t. The line that caused all the problems was OUTSIDE THE CONVENTION HALL, waaaay before the lines referred to in that release. There were THREE LINES – one unofficial line outside, the first line inside the convention center but outside the bourse floor, and the third and final one inside the bourse floor. I know. I worked security for both the second and third. There was no official status for the outside line. It was the “Wild West” out there.
My point is there never should have been any lines for the Kennedy coins allowed outside the bourse, period. The fact is the A.N.A. announced and promoted that policy and therefore many of A.N.A. members ultimately couldn’t get a coin at the convention thanks to the greedy dealers.
That was judged (correctly) to be the preferable answer compared to 500 people, with their camping supplies in tow, clogging the aisles at the show’s bourse. Everyone agreed keeping the line on the show floor as short as possible was a good thing, including me.
What the paid line waiters did not understand was why they even had to have show credentials. On the first day, almost none did. Dealers handed out dealer credentials and $150 a pop Early Bird badges like candy, whether the name on the badge matched the ID’s or not. To the line waiters, many of whom do this regularly for concert and sports ticket scalper operations, this was a normal day’s work.
Sort of a “grey market” service industry?
Exactly!! Several of them (we did have hours to shoot the breeze – them in line and me working security on that line) admitted to me that this is how they make their living – they wait on line for short availability stuff. There were agencies involved with this recruitment.
Just for the benefit of those who may not know, ANA shows are NOT just a bigger show bourse. I took over 500 photographs at Rosemont and when I looked at them, I realized only 3 were from the bourse activity itself. The bourse is waaaaay less than half of an ANA show. There are annual club meetings, educational seminars, auction lot previewing (incidentally ALSO managed by non-coin people like temps), auction sessions, luncheons, dinners, BREAKFASTS, World Mint presentations, the Coin Show live podcast. My point is – you can keep yourself totally busy to exhaustion and realize come Saturday you’ve never even sat down at a single dealer’s table! I didn’t make a single dealer purchase for my collection until Saturday afternoon, after my Money Talk and before the Chicago Coin Club meeting.
My point? Just that for me especially, I don’t find dealers all that important to my collecting endeavors. I buy the vast majority of my coins at estate auctions. I seldom go a weekend without an auction with fresh coins within 20 miles of me. Is that atypical? Maybe, but it’s real for the way I live. I can pretty much take or leave coin dealers. I’m usually at auctions bidding against them.
I don’t know WHY, buy I do know factually that nearly EVERYONE was reliant on wireless networks, not just the Mint, but everyone else, too, including Whitman, Wizard, and everyone else with a significant POS system. The Canadian Mint’s system frequently bogged down too. NGC and PCGS didn’t even TRY live transactions for grading fees, opting instead to write paper and run invoices when they got back. The point of sale infrastructure was very spotty. You could walk around with an iPhone and watch literally hundreds of portable MiFi boxes from Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and Virgin America paper and disappear from you network screen as you walked the floor.
Kurt: If they were reliant on Wireless it was by choice. I am pretty sure Every major convention center offers Ethernet Direct access. It is expensive, but for ANYONE who is planning on selling 1500 coins for $1250 a pop, you can afford to take .50c per transaction ($250 a day) to guarantee that you have high speed internet access to process orders, and have more than on register working… don’t you think?
I do, but I was on the show floor during setup on Monday, the day before opening, and the announcements over the PA about non-working hard wired connections were frequent and annoying.
All this talk of technology… Tangentially, I’m waiting for dealers to start accepting Bitcoin at shows. Think of the publicity for the first one to do it. Perhaps the ANA could even make a bold move and accept Bitcoin for various convention (and membership?) fees?
This in a field where many believe Federal Reserve Notes are false money. Bitcoin doesn’t physically exist at all! Good luck with Bitcoin in a hard money ideological hobby. A spoke with several people who believed the physical pieces seen in photos ARE Bitcoin. They’re not. Those are mere props / fantasy pieces.
You have a point…
Here’s the bottom lime and all you need to know:
Who had 100% control, without any partnering by anyone else, of the circumstances of SUPPLY of the gold Kennedy’s? The United States Mint, PERIOD!
Who exercised near total control of the effective circumstances of DEMAND for the 500 slots mandated by said Mint? The 3 to 5 mega-dealers who gamed the system, PERIOD!
Whose name is missing from the above? The ANA, who at even summer conventions is in reality only about 15-20 people plus volunteers from around the local area and a small handful of national ones. The ANA’s total payroll has fewer than 40 people, serving over 33,000 members. Many of those 30-some stay back in Colorado to keep the place going.
I know this may strike some as odd, but even the Board of Governors really only interact with one another only about 5-8 times a YEAR!
“Just so you know, CoinWeek Scott, and the other one too, I guess, the Mint had VERY LITTLE pre-done inventory for this release.”
This is 100% false.
The Mint produced 40,000 coins before any sales started, and that is why i got mine 2 days after the show ended in my mail that I ordered online the first day. The admittedly did not bring enough to sell in-person, but for online sales, the plan was to make the initial 40K and see how they sell and then make 6K a week as long as the demand is there. That is why online and phone buyers are not waiting a long time to get their coins as most did with the BHOF. But even with those I got most of mine about a week or two after I ordered online.
Louis: I believe you are 100% correct. That sounds like the number our sources at the Mint told us in researching the article. I didn’t mention it in this thread because I did not have my notes in front of me.
One of the major problems we have with threads like these, message boards, many of the blog posts and most of the media coverage, is so much of what we read and see and hear, is people who passionately feel a certain way making declarative statements about “facts” that are really nothing more than assumptions, opinions, or beliefs.
You are entitled to say anything you want, but one’s personal experiences or preferences doesn’t mean it is a fact. Telling people that this or that is “All they need to know” is presumptuous and arrogant, and saying something that fits a particular narrative that you support does not make it either correct or accurate.
We need a lot more talking to each other in a civil manner and more importantly, listening, to figure out what the real truth is, even if it is not the one we want to hear, It has to do with respect, honestly and the willingness to fight for what we believe in but never to the point where we ignore the facts and the truth. Of course, that is just my opinion, and what we try to do at CoinWeek.
I could not agree more on the importance of civility and while I am not here to bash Mr. Bellman I do often find his approach unsettling. Name calling and acting is if one has a monopoly on the facts is not very helpful. People who can muster the facts in support of a good argument that a lot of intelligent people find persuasive and even agree with (like the writers of CoinWeek!) don’t need to resort to bullying.
As for the 40K figure, it was announced by the Mint in a statement issued to the press about a week before sales began. I have the e-mail and the smoking gun printout! And given the way sales since the show have dropped and with 6,000 being made a week since the beginning of the ANA, it appears they have almost exactly the right amount to satisfy current demand, which is why even people who ordered after the first week are getting their coins. And they did not want to have to melt coins later, as happened with the 2009 UHR, which was overproduced. This is a big improvement over the past esp. the situation with most orders for the baseball coins.
And I know the Mint is concerned about all the bad publicity from the way the coins were sold in-person and is reviewing how to do things better next time.
Louis, I don’t know what you do or did for a living, but I am paid by the people of my state to examine huge volumes of data, make snap judgments YESTERDAY on what is fact and what is bull…., oh okay, “spin” and deliver my best advice to the Chairman I serve as to how he should act vis a vis public policy decisions. I am not paid to be a diplomat. I am paid to be, frankly, a pain in the backside to people trying to get one over on my employer. I don’t have time for making nicey nice. I deal in snap judgments, and I am paid well for them.
If you find that “unsettling” in this venue, for that I apologize. I live my whole life in a world where “I’m right and you’re full of crap” facing down people who believe the precise opposite.
What I do know, Scott, is that everyone who saw these events from a time and place nearby to when and where I saw them agrees with my assessment, okay? People who I don’t know, didn’t see, and I can’t even verify that they even were THERE AT ALL, seem to have the ANA in their metaphorical gunsights far too often, like it’s some kind of national thing all the “cool kids” do to seem aloof and apart. Well I say “directly to hell with the ANA bashers”. They deserve the ethically degraded hobby they create.
Kurt, get real man, the whole world doesn’t agree with you. I can send you my parking ticket stubs if you need absolute proof that I was there. Also, I’m a Life Member of the A.N.A. so I’ve paid plenty for my right to complain about the way the A.N.A. handled this whole situation. I’m not an A.N.A. basher, it’s the greedy dealers that deserve the bashing.
Then at the core, we DO agree. I also put the blame on the greedy dealers (and the USM). When I read this thread top to bottom, it seems to me our essential disagreement is over whether the ANA had to let this happen pretty much as it did. I say it did, and you see it otherwise. Fine, that’s a fairly hair-splitting point. I wore the purple ribbon marked STAFF.
FWIW, I CAN’T show you parking receipts. My car never left the Lancaster, PA Amtrak Station lot. I did the entire trip: train, plane, CTA, shuttle bus, walk, walk,walk, CTA, walk more, train, train, train on public transportation.
Yet and still, the telephone PLUS Philly allocated PLUS Denver PLUS Washington PLUS Chicago was over 61,000 out of 40,000 made. Not in short supply?!?, Please. Do the math. We have had the problem of shorting the mail channel. The BHOF proved that. So the Mint went the other way.
What is undeniably true is that the Mint has no idea whatsoever how many to produce and to make available where. In this era of big data, the Mint seems particularly out of touch.
For what it’s worth my BASEBALL HOF order from MARCH arrived while I was at the ANA show.
This is the US government we’re talking about. They’re clueless AND full of themselves. Their mail fulfillment center is in the Indianapolis area., not Washington, not Philly, not Denver, not West Point, where all the coins were made.
Thay had to decide months ago how many to ship where. And these are HUGE shipments. The 1000 not sold at Rosemont was itself a huge honking palette or skid. These things don’t move without highly secure carriers. The 1000 that left Rosemont was $1.24 million at retail , and that was ALL reallocated to the mail channel. If you think that the sales for 61,000 + might have encouraged the Mint to cut off in-person sales, we agree on that point. I truly believe 61k caught them by surprise.
I guess one’s opinion depends on their view of the BHOF / Baltimore event. If you liked that one, you probably hated Rosemont. If you believe that Baltimore was a nightmare, as do most people I speak with, then what the Mint tried to do at Rosemont was worth a shot. It didn’t work out well. What it proved to me was this – the big wholesale dealers have an entitlement mentality and they’re going to get theirs and they don’t care who they have to step on to accomplish it. I don’t like them, I don’t need them, and in my opinion, numismatics is better off without them.
I will bash the ANA for one thing – not being serious enough or vicious enough in enforcing their ethical code. There are members that BADLY need expulsion. We’ve talked about this, Scott. I am DEADLY SERIOUS about ethics. It’s a fetish with me. You know that. It is my entire life’s work.
Well, reading this long exchange it is clear that Kurt agrees with his debaters that the Mint shared the largest share of the blame and the ANA the least, but earlier in the thread wasn’t Kurt suggesting that it was all the dealers, not the Mint? It seems to me at least that his view evolved over the course of the thread. Isn’t that the point of discussing things with others? To learn from them? Rather than to gratify one’s ego?
And as for the Mint, or for that matter the gov’t., the same gov’t you guys love to bash also got bid laden, and my father worked for the same government for half a century and helped change the world for the better in the process, and I did the same to a lesser extent for 20 yrs. We have met the gov’t., and it is us! The Mint, like other agencies, if full of good, hard-working people, and Mr. Bellman given his day job surely knows that. You think state government is superior to federal? Think again.
When it comes to dealing with the Mint’s personnel, I must admit I am the victim of low expectations, which are usually met. It is clear that all US Mint personnel are afraid for their jobs at all times, with the exception of maybe Peterson (and maybe not an exception). They cannot engage in even the most casual conversation without paranoia and are always looking over their shoulder to see who’s seeing who they’re talking to. The one “real human being” I encountered while dealing with the Mint on this deal was their Director of Educational Programs (searching in vain for his card). He could act like a non-bureaucrat and speak like a Homo sapiens. The rest? Not s’much. They all had the “200-yard stare” that reveals a bureaucratic drone counting the weeks until retirement under their breath. They didn’t decide anything more at Rosemont than you or I did, nor are they skilled to. I don’t see very much of that in the Capitol in Harrisburg, Louis. I’m sure it’s there in agency field offices all over the state, but no one I deal with is in a union. BIG difference right there.
My views have not morphed, LouIs, don’t flatter yourself.
Public enemy #1 is the big dealers. No change. The Mint tried to create a fair system for the maximum number of in-person purchasers given the very stupid (informed by a desire to not repeat Baltimore’s impact on the shipped channel) quantity their higher-ups decided to offer at Rosemont. ANA saw the full parade of horribles too late to prevent a mess. The word on buses and ringers reached ANA only on Monday early evening. I personally underestimated the greed of the dealers, telling ANA staff, “Nah, they wouldn’t bring in homeless people to the show.” Well, I was wrong. There is no low the wholesalers will not stoop to in order to acquire coins. They will bastardize anything and everything in their personal greed.
Look, I know some need the big firms. You think I can’t read the ads on this site? Some need to take a more conciliatory tone in view of revenue, I get it. I was born on a Friday, but it wasn’t LAST Friday. The need to assuage advertisers is some people’s problem – not mine. I calls ’em as I sees ’em, free enterprise be damned.
The TPG firms are also up to their eyeballs in guilt, particularly PCGS, who bastardized the show labels, which is the lead of this story, after all. If people want to seek special slabs, that’s their right, and as long as they want them, who am I to say they’re wrong? But PCGS is not selling what the public thinks they’re getting, and that is fraudulent. They’re selling a lesser product than are NGC and even ANACS. Figure on THAT!
So with that, I close. ANA tried to save the unsalvageable. The hero tried but got bloodied, and yes, I do believe state government is superior to federal – I believe it with all my heart. I get to see both operate, and it’s not even a close call.
Have we broken some kind of record with the thread?
Literally heard this outside the Stephens Center from a female “manager” for one of the dealers’ operations:
“May Day! May Day! This is a Code Red! They are checking ID’s to be sure the names match the convention badges! We are totally screwed! We need a Plan B! May Day! May Day!”
Yeah, blame the ANA. PFFFFT!
Kurt says: “What it proved to me was this – the big wholesale dealers have an entitlement mentality and they’re going to get theirs and they don’t care who they have to step on to accomplish it. I don’t like them, I don’t need them, and in my opinion, numismatics is better off without them.”
But there would not be much of a coin market “without the big wholesale dealers” and it would be a lot harder to sell your coins to your local dealer or anywhere without them. Given that we can’t change human nature, how about we focus on some changes to show release policies as I suggest in my new guest column in the Sept. 8 issue of Coin World? There is surely more than one way to skin this cat.
Folks, Kurt is correct about the bulk of this issue. The ANA spent a lot of time prior to the show trying its best to carry off this issue, which we felt was going to be a problem, in a safe way. We involved the Rosemont PD and Fire Marshall and tried in vane to get more help from the Mint and others. You all should be very proud at how the ANA staff and President took over assuring the best they could do to protect visitors and members alike. I am very proud of them all. And, anyone can argue all they want but the “Fairy Tale” custom labels invented by PCGS is clearly the driving force for the dilemma. Rest assured, if the ANA does not retain more control be it through PD or whatever of the release next year there will not be a new release next year. Please, thank the ANA staff for doing what they could to attempt to provide something special for show goers. The ANA is working more and more at keeping the hobby fun for its members and could use a “thank you” to staff from time to time as they really do an outstanding job, especially when they are quick thinkers that save the day at our shows. Most sincerely, Mike Ellis
I also agree with Kurt that there are many out there who should be expelled from membership. My opinion, not that of the ANA.
You may have noticed that my views do not provide an excuse or a mulligan for ethical lapses in pursuit of “free enterprise” or “it’s just business”, or even “human nature”. I come from a LONG line of small mom and pop entrepreneurs, and my 92-year-old father, who is still alive, hasn’t had an actual “paycheck” since 1955. My history is ALL small entrepreneurship, right up until the internet and digital revolution killed my industry, traditional analog photography services. Numismatics is my passion, but ethics and ethical behavior are my fetish. What I observe on coin bourses often nauseates me. What I hear in dealers’ comments in their business borders on civilly actionable, day in and day out. I don’t expect much from most dealers and boy, do they deliver! If you can’t feed your family without ripping people off, get a job.
Entrepreneurship is no excuse to screw people. If I have to work on my collection solely from local auctions, I’m totally okay with that. When dealers act right and treat people right, I’ll respect them. Why do you think there even ARE TPG firms? Because for decades, the grade of a coin depended on whether the dealer was buying or selling. This industry is NOT a paragon of all that much virtue.
Dealers are not angels, for sure, but I don’t agree with lumping them all together as if there are none who are honest. And as far as I know, no industry is a paragon of virtue, as that is not the point. But in every industry there are also businesses at all ends of the ethical spectrum.
I recently sold a Canadian coin set I decided I did not need to keep. I got offers from 2 different Canadian dealers that varied by 50%. Was the one who offered $150 instead of $225 ripping me off? I doubt it, he just does not have as much need for the product and is a smaller dealer.
Oh so true, Louis. There are some real gems out there. I can name Charmy Harker, Angel Dee, J.H. Cline, Rick Tomaska, Legend (if ultra high end is your cup o’ tea), CNG, and I’m just spit balling here. If I worked at it with a show program in front of me, I could get to a few dozen real fast. And at the other end of the size spectrum, you often get the guys who volunteer to host a Treasure Trivia question in spite of the fact it can be a distraction. There are lots of good ones, and you’re also right a seller has to carefully match what they have to whom to speak to about it, and that’s NOT a quick skill to acquire, so it can be tough. But there are a disturbing number of real crooks in our midst too, and I am watching some of them at show after show. Somebody needs to call these creeps out, and if nobody else will, I will.
I agree with this way of phrasing it.
I had the impression previously you did not think there were any honest dealers, but that is not the case, as you explained.
But seriously…… Kurt you should be writing articles about all this stuff, sort of like a numismatic ombudsman.
… And be sure to tip the waitstaff.
If I weren’t 100% utterly convinced that our rather significant philosophical differences would poison such an effort, not only would I take your suggestion, I’d do it here. But I am convinced that such a relationship is doomed, given your attitude toward entrepreneurship’s supposed virtues, not to mention advertiser objections.
Just so YOU know, Scott, my ridiculously doctrinaire view on ethics comes pretty directly from my mother’s Amish / Mennonite upbringing. My people are very entrepreneurial, but convinced that cheating or even misinforming or misleading people is a direct path to Hell.
Also part of my ethical fetish is always using my full name almost EVERYWHERE on the internet, and NEVER a “handle” or pseudonym. Perhaps non-CoinWeek Scott and Louis can learn something from Mssrs. Teichman, Morgan, Johnson, Stroud and Ellis, et al. Nah! Anonymity is too much fun, right? Seems to me that a lot of people who bitch and moan like to play peekaboo behind pseudonyms.
Even on money.org I use an obviously identifiable handle of VKurtB accompanied by my actual photo as my avatar. I don’t respect people who hide their identities.
It must be wonderful to be so full of yourself. You should do us all a favor and run for political office. This country needs more leaders who think everybody who is anybody agrees with them and anybody who doesn’t agree with them is clueless.
Here’s the best part – the Representative I tried to beat HIRED ME 12 years later, after several other jobs including running my county’s election administration office. He said it was because I was so honest.
I just went back and read this whole freakin’ thread, and I was drawn to our host’s line about putting a man on the moon. Man, I love statements that start “we can put a man on the moon, but…”
Here’s my personal favorite one. We could put a man on the moon, over and over again, 45 years ago. We could even rescue 3 men who probably should have died between the earth and moon, making 2 days of air somehow last 4 days. But our brand spanking new wonderfully historic inclusive federal government cannot now even put one man in low-earth orbit without buying a ticket on the Russians’ piece of garbage 50 year old technology used car rockets. Kinda stirs your patriotic pride, doesn’t it?
Once you understand how ridiculously low our federal government standards have been allowed to become, you begin to approach wisdom.
And THAT, all my dear sirs, is what explains my PERSONAL admiration for President Kennedy. He knew public excellence, promoted public excellence, and practiced public excellence. And if history is to be believed, he even had excellent private taste in mistresses. Hee hee.
When people look back on these years, they will be the trash years and all of the collector set markups will be worthless. Sit back and looked at what happened to baseball cards or comic books. Yes I said it, I compared metal to silly little items we grew up with. That is what they are doing to this. Driving dollars where dollars don’t exist. Falsely inflate for the better of their own pocket. I for one don’t and will not pay those kinds of markups. I’ll collect the raw coin and be happy to have it. You can lose 50%+ on plastic.
Tony, You are spot-on with the baseball cards and comic book analogy. People are paying a huge premium for a first day designation that many/most? coin collectors consider to be worthless. If I were to pay that kind of premium I would want to be sure that it’s universally recognized as something of value.
Not wanting to wade in here too deep, but Kurt’s comment about the “Russians’ piece of garbage 50 year old technology used car rockets.” has little bearing on reality.
Give the Russians credit for maintaining their ability to build and send manned flights to the International Space Station.
Also note there is some good old American technology aboard those Russian rockets. At my second job out of college, I worked at a firm which makes transducers (pressure sensors) for the Russian rockets. Just thought I would point that out.
Regarding the silliness surrounding the 2014 Gold Kennedy commemorative coins, what I see are people paying a huge premium just for a label, rather than for the coin.
Good news this article raises the issue there are more of these ANA labels out there, than the number of coins sold at the convention. We can only hope that as word of this gets out, it will bring into question the credibility of those ‘1,500-plus’ coins – resulting in the speculators receiving a well-deserved haircut.
Coinweek staff – nice article. Learned a few things. I liked the breakout of NGC vs PCGS graded and the comment from Don Willis.
The discussion was useless though. Dominated by a certain individual.
Thanks for your comments, and yes, the numbers do illustrate an interesting story. As to the comments section, if you ignore the rants, there is still a bit of meat on the bone there as well, but I totally understand your point.
Good Night Gentlemen. Thanks for the discussion.
Kinda got lost in the comments by a multitude of exchanges between some guy Scott, the other Kurt, and then Louis started chiming in. Anyways, I think regardless of how much was paid to hobos and to military wives, yeah how patriotic while they get a mere fraction of the profit dealers will make,the fact some of these dealers paid proxies is unjust. It’s unjust to the rest of the collecting community, namely average joes. These dealers were gaming the system, and althought it wasn’t illegal, it was plain wrong. They aren’t in the hobby to do anything but line their pockets. That’s the issue I have. Surely there was some way the big wigs in the ANA could have proposed a better system of buying these Mint products. But I never heard any such pronouncement, but I’ve heard some just ideas by collectors in other forums. It’s a sad day for the hobby when the dealers win big time and their unfortunate customers and the rest of the hobby loses out.
The ANA is to blame if they now refuse to censure PCGS and certain dealers for their actions. If the ANA takes the “legal yet possibly unethical” stance and does nothing then they have forfeited their stature as the caretaker of the hobby. The question is how much power do the crooks have to control the ANA and the hobby related media? Personally, I don’t buy from any of the dealers involved anyway and will no longer purchase PCGS slabbed coins until this is resolved.
I really doubt ANA feels they have the role of “caretaker”. That might be stretching the concept a bit. My research also shows they almost never sanction anyone on their own initiative. Someone needs to actively file an ethics complaint if I’m reading the by laws correctly.
Afterthought. If you want to buy the label, it looks like ANACS is the rarity.
So, you say Kevin Lipton and Silvertowne are the unethical parties responsible for this. Since ANA membership is predicated on high ethical standards, these dealers should be banned for life in my opinion.
Another afterthought. Remember the Elvis stamps? These will be worth their weight in gold in a few years.
I agree this distribution model created perverse incentives for business people who deal in bulk quantities to do unethical things. Everyone has the description of the problem nailed. The remaining question is what to do about it, and less importantly NOW, what might have been done about it. Louis’ column in CW is a good read, but it keeps going at this issue with “lottery” type suggestions. I don’t know the details of Illinois law, but if they try that in Pennsylvania, (ANA 2012 and now 2018), the state authorities are going to have an issue with that. And no, my committee, which in a bygone era might have had jurisdiction for relevant law changes, no longer does. We created a Gaming Oversight Committee when we legalized slots. Existing casinos pay gihugeous licensing fees to get the right to do games of chance, which are otherwise HIGHLY illegal, and I am fairly certain federal law prevents a federal agency from getting into what amounts to games of chance.
Yes, I have witnessed a junior equivalent of the idea at the 2010 ANA in Boston with souvenir cards of a ridiculously low quantity of issue done around the BEP booth by a private engraver. Two things – Massachusetts, literally another state heard from, and I have never seen the method repeated anywhere. Lotteries are still far more restricted under law than many people realize.
Then you have the ANA’s lack of standing to gripe much. They are NOT A PARTY to these decisions. They provide exhibit space under rules and contracts written long before anyone had any idea about gold Kennedy’s. They were happy to have an off-floor staging area for the queue, to non-CoinWeek Scott’s displeasure, because cripes, if dealers were griping about the on-floor distraction the way it was handled, and they were, can you just imagine?!?!
Anyone who thinks there is an easy solution to the competing interests in play here needs to recalibrate their thoughts. ANA does not possess godlike powers to impose fairness on the Mint, dealers, or amateur flippers. What they have is a “c’mon guys, really?” bully pulpit to encourage people to consider ethics and fairness, as if such appeals reach some the players with an entitlement mentality. Maybe the best argument is, “do you not see how your actions will damage the coin industry’s public reputation?” If that works, great. If not, well, ANA does NOT sanction people or entities sua sponte. A plaintiff is required to file a complaint to the Board of Governors. Volunteers?
“worth their weight in gold”
Cleverest line of the whole thread.