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U.S coin collecting and U.S. LAW

Started by Alan Glasser, September 18, 2013, 01:23:32 AM

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Alan Glasser

Well, Today I was deeply complemented by the grandson of my neighbor and his parents when they asked me if I would serve as his (grandson) High School Mentor, required as part of a "Senior Project" as part of graduation. He is an avid coin collector and I am afraid I am responsible for that too...we gave him a $1 Walking Liberty 1 ounce Mint coin each year since he was born. Anyway, his topic will be numismatically related. We are going to discuss the impact of historical events in U.S. history on coin designs. However, he is also hoping to pursue LAW studies when he graduates and I thought he should include his love of the law in his project. I am trying to think of some famous instances of U.S. legal decisions that have impacted (are impacting) the hobby I haven't had much time to think about this but I came up with these possible threads:

the 1933 $20 gold pieces, restrictions and lifting of same on private gold ownership, counterfeiting (my 1795 dollar, certified by one of the lesser known agencies but still respected) is now in the possession of the U.S. government (I don't know what branch would handle that) because it turned out to be a Chinese counterfeit...a damned good one... and I would appreciate any input you guys might offer on other government involvement issues there might be in numismatics. We are covering coin metallic changes, size reductions, design changes separately. In other has the U.S. government law impacted numismatics in the U.S.? All thoughts are very much welcomed.

Best wishes to all.   Alan


US constitution, article I, section 8, clause 5:

(The Congress shall have Power)
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

The US senate says this means: These clauses permit Congress to coin money and to issue paper currency.  By extension, under its ability to enact laws "necessary and proper" to carry out these powers (as stated at the end of Article 1, Section 8), Congress created the Federal Reserve System to regulate the nation's monetary supply.

Conservatives say it means: although the Coinage Clause empowers Congress to coin money from precious metals, it is not clear whether the federal government could also issue paper money... and ... Given the Framers' general hostility to paper money, it is likely that the Framers' intended to prohibit the federal government from issuing bills of credit, just as they expressly barred the states from doing so. (source: Heritage foundation, guide to the constitution)

In other words, they believe the US government cannot issue banknotes and government bonds and Congress cannot delegate its power to the Fed. Extreme conservatives even clamour for full value gold and silver coins only.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Alan Glasser

Hello, Peter. (I was always taught that there should be a comma between "hello" and the name of the person being addressed....has that rule "gone south"?? I never see it in use anymore...must be a throwback to my education in the caves...)

Well, your post is a great start to the research paper. As the mentor, I can make suggestions on how to better the written product and I didn't even think about quoting the law as stated in your first few lines! I always knew your brain was massive and mine somewhat "limited",  ???...but you have proved your immense skill and knowledge once again. Thanks.



Yes, when I start thunking real deeply, the heavy head tilts to the left (must be the political lobes) until it comes to rest on the shoulder. ;) I thinks I told you about my knowledge of piano playing before. ::) BTW, that comma is typically American, I think. Other anglos/languages will put something at the end of the line:

Hello Al,
Cher M. Glasserre,
Sehr geehrter Herr Musik-Professor!

Quoting the law is always a good idea, as it gives instant insight into what are reasonable explanations and what are not. I can think of more politically neutral law subjects also. In specialised numismatic books on US coins, you will probably find some appropriately complicated regulation on the value of USD against the Mexican peso, the Quebec/Ontario dollar and the British crown (as in 5 shillings, USD was not tariffed against GBP in the early days.) More the stuff of economists, perhaps, but so is figuring out why a wholly metallic currency is impossible today.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Alan Glasser

Ah HA!!! That explains it. Your "political side of your head" is heavier, thus justifying the huge size of the brain contained therein!!! Me...I HATE politics and all things political...thus my tiny, shriveled brain. I feel better now!!  Alan  :P 


Hmmm interesting topic and needs a little thought. For me I always remain unbiased because I dribble out of both sides of my mouth at the same time.

Alan Glasser

Hello akona 20!!! I can't think you EVER posted anything here that wasn't witness to your high intelligence. Me...on the other hand...well...what can I say...I'm a pianist!!!

Alan :o

Ukrainii Pyat

I think is interesting that the old gold certificates paper money issued in USA were illegal to own until 1964 - now they can be spend for value stated on them - but not the old gold value it represented in 1930.
Донецк Украина Donets'k Ukraine