Availability of Commemoratives

A website visitor and blog reader contacted me recently with the following question:

Dear Beth Deisher, I am a reader of your memory bank columns in Coin World. Perhaps you can solve a situation that puzzles me.

I am a collector of early commemoratives. Why, when there is a limited mintage of some issues such as the Isabella Quarter, so many sellers seem to offer a number of these coins?
I’ve asked this question at coin shows and have never received a satisfactory answer. Thank you.


Here is my response to J.B.:

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Grading revolution in 1986 changes hobby

Grading revolution in 1986 changes hobby with slabs, grade guarantee
PCGS founding has profound effect on coin collecting.

This article From the Memory Bank series was first published in the August 22, 2016 issue of Coin World available here.

Coin Grading in 1the 1980s

The Professional Coin Grading Service was founded in 1986 and changed the market. PCGS-certified and -graded coins, with an insert identifying a coin and its grade, were placed in sonically sealed holders that would gain the nickname “slabs.” Before that, ANACS issued photo certificates with coins. Images courtesy of PCGS and ANACS.

One milestone being celebrated this year stands above all others in terms of profound change to the U.S. coin market: launch of the Professional Coin Grading Service on Feb. 3, 1986.

Inconsistency in grading and whether to use words or numbers to describe the surface condition or “grade” of a coin dominated the headlines and opinion columns of Coin World and other publications in the first four years of the 1980s. During 1985 the decibels seemed to grow louder almost weekly, with most of the ire directed at ANACS.

ANACS — the then acknowled­ged leading third-party grading service by volume of coins graded — was operated as a separate division of the nonprofit American Numismatic Association, the largest coin collector organization.

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Women in numismatics unite

Women in numismatics unite in 1991 to WIN: From the Memory Bank

Hobby organization marks 25 years in 2016
This article From the Memory Bank series was first published in Coin World available here.
Cash In Your Coins Women in Numismatics Founders

Two of the three founders of Women In Numismatics are Sondra Beymer, left, and Mary Sauvain. WIN celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The club’s logo was designed by Elizabeth Jones, former chief sculptor-engraver for the U.S. Mint.
Coin World file photos.

Numismatic collectibles, both as a hobby and a business, has been and remains a predominately male domain, about 90 percent male and 10 percent female.

But that statistic does not begin to tell this story.

As the last decade of the 20th century dawned, it was evident that women were increasingly visible both in participation and leadership within the numismatic community in the United States.

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Coin World Editor Testifies

Coin World Editor Testifies in Congress in 1988: From The Memory Bank

Hobby Leader Promoted Coin Redesign in Testimony
This article From the Memory Bank series was first published in Coin World available here.
Coin World Editor testifies

Coin World editor Beth Deisher testifies before Congress in 1988 regarding proposed coinage redesigns. Coin World file photo.

Only the United States Congress has the constitutional authority to order the U.S. Mint to create and strike a new U.S. coin, whether it is circulating or commemorative.

Thus advocates for new commemorative coins as well as for new designs on the nation’s circulating coinage plunged into the political arena during the 1980s with the belief they could prevail through the power of persuasion.

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Paper Money Changes Great

Paper money changes great, but let’s now turn to our coins: From The Memory Bank

Let’s apply the lessons recently learned to renewed calls for coinage change
This article From the Memory Bank series was first published in Coin World available here.
Paper Money Changes
Donna Pope speaks before congress - Paper Money Changes Great

Then-Director of the United States Mint Donna Pope testifies before Congress in 1988 at a hearing about U.S. coinage designs.
Coin World file photo.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s April 20 announcement that for the first time in more than a century the face of a U.S. paper money denomination will feature the portrait of a woman — Harriet Tubman — marks a historic turning point in the way top government officials, especially within the Treasury Department, view the role of the subject matter portrayed on our money. In fact, the introductory statement at the Treasury Department’s website detailing the upcoming design changes for the $20, $10, and $5 Federal Reserve notes is revolutionary:

“America’s currency is a state­ment about who we are as a nation. Our modern money honors our history and celebrates our values.”

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Change U.S. Coin Designs

An ally in push to change U.S. coin designs: From the Memory Bank

Diane Wolf joins cause through Commission of Fine Arts
This article From the Memory Bank series was first published in the March 28, 2016 issue of Coin World available here.
Change U.S. Coin Designs
Diane Wolf, ally to change U.S. Coin Designs

Diane Wolf used her position on the federal Commission of Fine Arts as an advocate to change U.S. coin designs on circulating coins.
Coin World file photo.

As the numismatic community began to explore ways to attract more collectors and participants to the rare coin marketplace in the mid-1980s, a surprising ally and advocate emerged.

Diane Wolf was unknown to the numismatic community before President Reagan appointed her to the federal Commission of Fine Arts in 1985. The appointment was a reward for her work on Reagan’s re-election campaign staff and for her consulting role in a number of successful Republican congressional elections.

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