Coin Prices: Part II

In a recent article, I mentioned a set of coins offered by PCS Stamps and Coins, and showed how much of a markup these people were getting.

Since their ads keep popping up on my mobile phone, I thought I’d add just one more example of how putting lipstick on a pig can bamboozle the ill-informed.

Today’s offering: A complete date set of the Peace Dollar, in protective plastic capsules and a handsome cabinet. Price: $848.00

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Complete 10-coin set, with cabinet

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United States Peace Dollar

No question, the set is very pretty. But:

Per the advertisement, these coins are offered in “gently circulated condition.” This is essentially a meaningless statement for collectors; let’s look at the average dealer asking price for a similar set as presented by the Professional Coin Grading Service:

grading

Note that these are average dealer asking prices for PCGS-graded coins; buyers of this set have no guarantee that these coins have been graded by anyone.

The price for a set of coins in 40-grade (Extra Fine) is $442, and the odds that you’ll get a set of coins in this condition are vanishingly small. So you’re paying at least twice the price of these items for the bonus of a cheap cabinet from China and a few plastic capsules.

If you’re thinking this is a good investment, it’s not. You could assemble the same set for much, much less by visiting different coin stores online or in person, armed with the PCGS grading and pricing information.

Be careful out there, and don’t be taken in by the bells and whistles of slick advertising promotions.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Carpenter’s Sandwiches, 1932

West Sunset Boulevard & Vine Street, Los Angeles, California.

(Click image for full-size version. Just look at those prices…)
Carpenter's Drive In

A wonderful memory of early Los Angeles – before my time, certainly, but along the same lines as some other unusual LA restaurants that I do remember.

Hoot-Hoot-Ice-Cream

I’ve mentioned Hoot Hoot I Scream before; another great collection of ephemera from Los Angeles can be found at Shelter From the Storm, including the coffee pot restaurant seen below.

Coffee Pot Restaurant

Most of these unusual eateries are gone, replaced by restaurants whose gimmick is found inside rather than outside. As for me, I miss places like this. I still grin when I drive along the freeway on a road trip and see a huge Sapp Bros. water tank decked out to look like a coffee pot.

Sapp

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Coin collecting – nobody makes money but the dealers.

I learned this lesson the hard way as a kid, as I sank endless amounts of allowance and paychecks and tips into a coin collection and various and sundry offerings from the Franklin Mint, touted as “brilliant investments” and “guaranteed to be coveted”. Yes, some of the things I gathered were very pretty, but 50 years later when it came time to divest myself of the items for this reason and that, I found out that most of the stuff was worth: melt value. That’s just the sad reality of the collecting world.

The same holds true for stamps: the mint sheets of things like the Mercury mission

301748

Face value: $4.00. Dealer price today: $18.40. Hardly a brilliant investment over time, and that’s for a mint sheet. Certainly not what my father envisioned as he gathered sheets like this which I ended up inheriting. Individual cancelled stamps collected from envelopes will fetch you… well, kindling, really. With the exception of a few very rare beauties, stamp collecting is a hobby for amateurs (in the original sense, meaning “those who love”) rather than investors.

Not that dealers out there are not still trying to flummox the unwise and the uninformed. Look at this beautiful collection of Liberty Seated coins from PCS stamps and coins, offered for only two payments of $295.00:

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Yes, it’s very attractive. Here’s the potential breakdown of value, taken from the PCGS website – you can be sure that the coins you get will be the commonest (hence cheapest) varieties out there, and all in “Very Good” condition, or between grade 8 and 10.

1877 CC Liberty Seated Half Dollar – grade 8 – $59.00
1876 CC Liberty Seated Quarter – Grade 8 – $60.00
1876 CC Liberty Seated Dime – Grade 8 – $29.00

Total $148.00

That pretty little case probably costs about 30.00 or less from a dealer in China – so for a premium of $400.00 you can have someone put together a set of coins that you could own for 1/3 the price. Even 50 years down the road, don’t expect your investment to appreciate anywhere near that much.

Old US coinage can be beautiful, and top specimens command insane prices from the wealthy bidders who buy them at auction – but if you want to make money from collecting coins… become a dealer.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

End the Madness

Reuters recently reported that an Egyptian Judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent after a match at the Olympics in Rio.

It’s all the more sad because there were so many supporters on El Shehaby who encouraged him not to participate, because it would “shame Islam;” this is the pinnacle of resistance, resentment, and revenge, the zenith (or nadir, looked at another way) of stupidity. The Olympics is about building bridges, not about being a pettish douche. And this goes for anyone who does such things – El Shahaby is only the teacher in the moment.

In 1969, Bobby Darin wrote:

Now no doubt some folks enjoy doin’ battle
Like presidents and ministers and kings
But let us build them shelves where they can fight among themselves
and leave the people be who like to sing! (Simple Song of Freedom)

I invite all who would perpetuate this psychopathic, internecine conflict of the ages to toddle off into the desert somewhere, far, far away, and blow each other up until there is no one left – a sort of Middle East Hunger Games, if you will – and leave decent people, Arab and Jew alike, to dwell together in the land in harmony as  they have at many points in history. Knock down the borders. Don’t call the land Israel. Don’t call it Falastina. Call it “Rainë,” the Quenya word for Peace.

I don’t care who your God is. I don’t care if it’s יְהֹוָה or الله. I’m neither Jewish nor Muslim, but I can tell you this – whoever God may be, he’s probably mighty pissed with both sides of this millennia-long conflict. Stop it. If you don’t, this will be the inevitable result:

This is my opinion, and my opinion only. If you think otherwise, I volunteer you as tribute.

TICKET

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Foistware (or: Unwanted Software While Installing)

I wrote a few years ago about stealth installs, but the practice continues; I thought I’d give another example of what to watch out for.

Today I updated a couple of modules of Free Studio from DVD Video Soft; notice I link to them because they provide a really useful suite of products that work well, for free. I get that they don’t do this as a labor of love – they need to monetize this somehow, and I suspect the foistware issue continues because it helps the bottom line. So be it – but the consumer should be aware of the rules of the game, because what you get is often not what you want or need.

During the install, you get this dialog box. It tells you exactly what you’re going to do to your computer, so nothing is really hidden there.

Foistware 2

If you just go ahead and click the “next” button, you’ll be installing bytefence, Chromium (an open-source version of Chrome that doesn’t really work that well in the Windows environment), and YahooEverywhere, which will be difficult to remove if you don’t know what you’re doing.  It’s not until you click the “Click here to customize the installation” link that you see exactly what’s going to happen, and get to uncheck the boxes.

Far too many people, when installing software, just go NextNextNextNext, without reading what the boxes say. After all, who really reads the EULAs or is telling the truth when they click the “I have read and agree” button? We’d spend half our lives plowing through byzantine legalese if we did, and I’m still not convinced any of these agreements would hold up in court.

Foistware

“Set Yahoo as my default search, homepage and new tab on all my compatible browsers.” Uh, no.

From where I sit this is just not an ethical business model, because it takes advantage of consumer unawareness. In my previous article I mentioned Oracle, who for the longest time tried to cram the “Ask” toolbar and search engine down people’s throats when they installed or updated Java. I don’t know if they are still doing that or not, but I always thought it was supremely douchey because Ask is a supremely intrusive and essentially worthless software package.

Just be careful. When you install software, read each menu and see what’s being installed/offered. Deselect things you don’t want, and you’ll avoid a host of problems down the road. Unless you want your browser to look like this:

toolbarhell

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills (Historical Kindness)

Beautifully crafted article demonstrating compassion and ingenuity in difficult times.

Kindness Blog

In times gone by, amidst widespread poverty, the Flour Mills realized that some women were using sacks to make clothes for their children. In response, the Flour Mills started using flowered fabric…

With the introduction of this new cloth into the home, thrifty women everywhere began to reuse the cloth for a variety of home uses – dish towels, diapers, and more. The bags began to become very popular for clothing items.

Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour MillsAs the recycling trend looked like it was going to stay, the manufacturers began to print their cloth bags – or feedsacks – in an ever wider variety of patterns and colors.

Some of the patterns they started using are shown below

Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Over time, the popularity of the feedsack as clothing fabric increased beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, fueled by both ingenuity and scarcity.

By the time WWII dominated the lives of Americans, and cloth for fabric was in…

View original post 261 more words

The Android Phone Virus Scam

I’ve written about this gambit before, but today I encountered an especially egregious example of one.

While perusing an article found at reddit, one of the pages I visited popped up with this:

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My phone started buzzing like crazy, the progress bar went all the way to the right, and i was told that I had a myriad of viruses. All I had to do was download “Psafe” to get my phone clean again.

As I tried to back out of this steaming pile of moose droppings, I was presented with the following sequence of screens, with concomitant “Urgent!” vibrations – in other words, there was no way out:

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If these popups are to be believed, my poor Android had become virus central, and I might as well just throw it away and buy a new one.

But by now you should know that this is all nonsense, designed to trick the unwary and the gullible into downloading Psafe, a supposed protection application from the Play Store. How a legitimate application, if that’s what it is, can resort to such scummy promotion techniques is beyond me – unless it’s the typical drivel put out by affiliate marketers. Be that as it may, tactics like this are enough to sour me on a piece of software forever – and tell others to stay away from it as well.

Another example.

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I really work hard to keep the content of this blog family-friendly. This kind of stuff makes me want to send vulgar open letters to the people who do this, but I’ll have to content myself with putting it out there so other people might also be warned.

If you get junk like this on your Android, it’s not infected. Restart your phone you can’t get out of the loop, and if it’s really bad, reinstall your browser.

And never, ever, use Psafe for anything – a company that stoops to these methods of despicably dishonest advertising does not deserve your business.

The Old Wolf has spoken.