By Coinweek ….
This week, we visit Peruvian counterfeiters, tour the Karlsruhe Mint in Germany and find out whether those coin counting machines at your local bank or grocery store are accurate. And we check in on a lot of news coming out of India.
We also touch upon the Panama Papers, and reveal a possible connection to the world of Not-Intended-For-Circulation coinage.
All of that and more, in this week’s roundup!
1.) A Monopoly on Bad Memory
In February, Hasbro introduced a new version of the classic board game Monopoly at the New York Toy Fair. The 2016 “Ultimate Banking” edition does away with the practically archetypal Monopoly money and introduces an electronic “digital banking unit” (doohickey for short), bank cards and UPCs on the different property cards. Unfortunately, this limits the number of players to a maximum of four, so the Ultimate Banking edition also gets rid of the iconic game pieces and replaces them with four larger, multi-colored vehicles (a boat, a car, a helicopter and a plane).
It does, however, allow for variable property values, so there’s that.
Still, you won’t be able to teach your kids how to count money using Monopoly “scrip” if you purchase this version when it comes out later in the fall.
Gotta Be Somebody: 2008 was also a landmark year for the band Nickelback.
But that’s not why we’re bringing this up. It’s kind of newsy, sure, but we noticed that the internet–particularly the coin press on said internet*–seems to have a short memory. Monopoly already made the switch to a “cashless”, electronic currency way back in the proto-smartphone days of 2008 with its Here & Now World Electronic Board Game.
Which also came with a doohickey.
*Commenters seem to have better memories, though.
2.) A Boy and His Record Collection
India has a thing for world records: World’s Largest Flute. Most People on a Motorcycle. World’s Largest Squirrel.
And, according to subcontinent-based company Golden Book of World Records (GBWR), the title of “Youngest with Largest Collection of Unduplicated Coins and Currency Notes” belongs to 14-year-old Sanskar Jain Bedmutha of Manmad, Maharashtra, India.
His collection consists of 1,375 unduplicated coins and 411 paper notes from around the world. Sanskar also collects stamps, with at least 10,136 in his possession – though how many are duplicates the website doesn’t say.
PS – Sri Aurobindo Institute of Technology, Pharmacy & Management of Indore in Madhya Pradesh currently holds the record for Largest Coin Mosaic.
3.) Flipism is for the Birds
In the 1953 Donald Duck comic strip “Flip Decision” by Carl Barks, “Flipism” is defined as a “philosophy” whereby you make all your decisions by flipping a coin. Practitioners are called “Flippists”.
As a “philosophy”, it has adherents even today who defend its utility and ethics.
But forget all that. Fast Company recently published an article that makes a case for not relying on the flip of a coin to decide issues between two or more people. Game theorists have a surprising solution, one that is probably familiar to many coin collectors but with a fascinating twist…
4.) The Karlsruhe Mint
Having visited the Austrian Mint in late January, we could appreciate Dr. Ursula Kampmann’s visit to the Karhsruhe Mint in Germany all the more. She was visiting to see how the upcoming “Planet Earth” five-euro commemorative coin–the first to be made with a polymer ring in between an inner disc and an outer ring–was manufactured.
If you’re a real coin nerd like we are, it’s fascinating stuff.
World of the Weird
5.) Not-So-Happy Mutants
We’re actually glad we stumbled across this internet “rerun”, if you will. We’d never really had a full-on discussion about responsible currency scanning before, and this article made us think quite hard about the issue.
Mark Frauenfelder, founder and editor of BoingBoing.net, recently reposted a 2006 article from the blog’s archives. It features an angry voicemail from a reader who took particular offense at a previous article describing how to scan paper currency into Photoshop, which has security features that prohibit such things.
The reader, obviously, took the view that the first article was teaching people how to counterfeit. Frauenfelder’s point, however, was that there are several legitimate reasons for scanning and reproducing accurate images of banknotes – including anti-counterfeiting efforts.
Running a numismatic website as we do, we completely understand, though we’ve never put the issue to the test personally. But one day we may find it necessary or beneficial to the greater good to do so, and the legal and practical issues surrounding such a task are an interesting field of study.
6.) The One Rupee Gang
The Times of India published an article on April 4 concerning a small gang of three train robbers who used a one-rupee coin to make trains stop in their tracks. Two of the thieves had been arrested by the time of writing, and it is they who revealed the trio’s modus operandi.
Apparently, according to the Times article, the track switching system depends on the wheels of a train making a connection between two metal sections of track so that other trains know someone is already on that section and any other train would not be able to travel down that length. What the criminals would do is stick a coin between sections of track in order to establish the circuit, causing the train that was rightfully supposed to run on that track to stop in its place. One of the gang members was on board the train, and he would open the doors for his compatriots to get on and begin robbing the other passengers.
There is a moment of unintentional humor at the end of the article when it says that it “is still not known where the gang got the knowledge of railway signals from.”
Oh, we don’t know… could it have been from a news article, maybe?
7.) Lima Vice
Vice.com has a wonderful undercover report on the counterfeiting of United States currency in Peru. If you’ve ever heard about or read about the latest and greatest anti-counterfeiting methods employed by the world’s governments and wondered just how anyone could ever beat the system, then this video is for you. The techniques used to counter modern security features are surprisingly low-budget (if labor-intensive) and, well, clever.
7.) I Was a Teenage Counterfeiter
Closer to home, a group of teenagers in Plymouth, Indiana were arrested last week after police found counterfeit $100 bills in their car. Five of the individuals, aged 18 through 19, were arrested; the sixth was sent to a juvenile detention facility. Among the items discovered in the car were sheets of uncut counterfeit bills and a printer, presumably just like the one you have sitting on your desk.
Which leads one to wonder: was it a *mobile* counterfeiting operation?
Crime & Punishment
8.) NCIC Crime Bulletin
From the Numismatic Crime Information Center (NCIC):
Undercover police in Mission, Kansas have arrested a suspect identified as Jeremy Michael Kimmel for Felony Theft and using a computer to commit Fraud. Kimmel was arrested for selling counterfeit gold 20gm Perth and 1oz PAMP gold bars on Craigslist.
Investigators are looking for additional victims.
Anyone with information can contact the NCIC’s Doug Davis at (817) 723-7231 or [email protected]
The Numismatic Crime Information Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation. P.O. Box 14080 Arlington, Texas 76094.
9.) Two from the Blotter
Michael P. Sather, 46, of Effingham, Illinois, was convicted of writing a bad check for more than $3,000 to a Mason City, Iowa coin dealer and sentenced to up to five years in prison. He must also make restitution.
Kevin S. King, 54, of Waldoboro, Maine, was sentenced to a year and a day in Florida State Prison for the theft of 490 South African Krugerrands from an elderly coin collector in Jupiter, Florida.
The article doesn’t go into details about how Mr. King finagled the coins away from his victim, but as seen in the NCIC alert, many con artists looking to swipe valuable coins will pose as dealers or appraisers and persuade you to allow them to transport your collection to a another buyer or dealer or so on and so forth.
10.) Low, Even for a Bank
In a segment on the April 6 edition of NBC’s Today Show featured a report by Jeff Rossen about the accuracy of coin counting machines you might find at the store or the bank. Coinstar machines (owned and operated by Outerwall Inc., which also owns and operates the Redbox line of dvd rental kiosks) performed well, with 100% accuracy as tested by the team of journalists.
TD Bank and its Penny Arcade counting machines did not – with one test resulting in a loss of over $40 out of a $300 order!
What makes this even more outrageous is that Penny Arcade counting machines are marketed to children.
The video reports that TD Bank began making improvements to its quality assurance procedures the very next day, but still, whatever happened to teaching your kids to count money using Monopoly? by stacking the change in their piggy banks into coin wrappers?
11.) Niue & the Panama Papers
The Panama Papers is an intriguing story, but more so because of how it’s being covered.
Which is to say, not as much as it should be.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story – and we wouldn’t blame you – the Panama Papers are a massive leak of documents from the law offices of Mossack Fonseca, spanning the years between 1970 and 2015.
Why, you may ask, does it matter? Well, Mossack Fonseca & Co. specialized in establishing offshore tax havens for the wealthy. The leaked documents not only provide information on these accounts and shell companies, they name names.
A lot of names. From all over the world. The prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, resigned after public protest became too great to ignore.
He’s on the list.
So’s Jackie Chan.
And John Podesta.
Who’s he, you ask? Google him.
Shocking, no? Trouble is, you really don’t hear about Podesta or the doubtless numerous American fat cats caught up in the greed and hypocrisy. The American media is simply disinterested in exposing its friends’ shenanigans.
But anyway, the Daily Beast published an article talking about the role played by the infinitesimal Pacific island nation of Niue in Mossack Fonseca’s scheme.
You may have heard of them. They make coins.
12.) Some More Notes from Around the World
Upcoming Auctions & Events
13.) From CoinsWeekly:
- Heidelberger Münzhandlung Auctions 67 and 68 – May 12-13
- SINCONA AG Auctions 28-30 – May 18-20
- Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger Auctions 319 and 320 – May 2-4
14.) From the ANS:
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Join us for the Harry W. Fowler Memorial Lecture, where Dr. Aneurin Ellis-Evans will present his new research on the Athenian Empire and monetary circulation. The lecture will take place on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. at the ANS headquarters in New York City. Dr. Elis-Evans is a Junior Research Fellow in Classics at The Queen’s College in Oxford; his lecture is entitled “Imperialism and Regionalism in the Athenian Empire: an Attic Weight Coinage from North-West Turkey and its Afterlife (427–405 BC).” The lecture will be preceded by a reception at 5:30 pm.
Registration is required to [email protected] or (212) 571-4470 ext. 117.
15.) Free Scripophily Membership
CoinsWeekly informs us of yet another numismatic opportunity, this time from the International Bond and Share Society. Free one-year memberships are available to anyone who submits an article that is accepted for publication in the society’s journal, Scripophily.
Worthy Additions to Your Library
16.) Greek Colonies and Their Coins
And finally, CoinsWeekly comes through with some information on a new archaeological and historical publication concerning the ancient Greek world. Entitled Greek Colonisation: New Data, Current Approaches, it consists of several papers delivered at a meeting organized by both the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection. It was held on February 6, 2015, in conjunction with the exhibit “The Europe of Greece: Colonies and Coins from the Alpha Bank Collection”.
Polyxeni Adam-Veleni and Dimitra Tsangari (eds.), Greek Colonisation: New Data, Current Approaches. Athens, Alpha Bank 2015. Includes Greek summaries. 228 pages. Hardcover. 21×30 cm. ISBN: 978-618-5072-16-2. 20 euros.