Shreveport Coin Club

The Numismatic Center of the Ark-La-Tex

Shreveport Coin Club P O Box 492 Shreveport, LA 71101 318-272-2190

Organization News

  • 15 Aug 2017 12:16 PM | Leonard Gresens (Administrator)

    Coin Collecting and Louisiana Law

    by Hal Odom Jr., J.D.

    President, Shreveport Coin Club

              Part 1. Sales tax on numismatic items

              The biggest current issue with numismatists in Louisiana is whether the sales of coins, currency and precious metals are subject to the sales and use tax. This has been an on-again, off-again thing. For several years, numismatic sales were exempt. However, chronic fiscal problems have led the legislature to scrub a lot of exemptions, and sales of rare coin and precious metals were often made the poster child of a tax system that appeared to favor the wealthy.

              At the time of this writing, August 2017, Louisiana law excludes from the definition of “tangible personal property” the following: “gold, silver, or numismatic coins, or platinum, gold, or silver bullion[,]” but only for purposes of three specific state-imposed sales and use taxes. Sales of numismatic items, therefore, are currently subject to city, parish and other local sales and use taxes. Obviously, tax rates vary from place to place.

              Thanks to extraordinary commitment by the Louisiana Professional Coin Dealers Association, the 2017 legislature restored exactly three sales tax exemptions, and numismatic sales were one of the restored items. Starting October 1, 2017, “tangible personal property” does not include “Platinum, gold, or silver bullion, that is valued solely upon its precious metal content, whether in coin or ingot form[,]” “Numismatic coins that have a sales price of no more than one thousand dollars[,]” or “Numismatic coins sold at a national, statewide, or multi-parish numismatic trade show.” The legal citation is La. R.S. 47:301 (16)(b)(ii)(aa), (bb) and (cc). The amendments, specifically set to take effect October 1, 2017, remove numismatic items from the definition of “tangible personal property” and thus exempt them from both state and local sales and use tax.

              The 2017 amendment is obviously beneficial to collectors, as it saves them around 10% on numismatic purchases, but also to dealers, as it will help keep numismatic and bullion trade inside the state and place them on equal footing with other large states that do not tax numismatic sales. In addition, most coin shows in Louisiana are sponsored by nonprofit coin clubs, groups that can have difficulty recruiting quality dealers from out-of-state owing to Louisiana’s byzantine tax laws.

              The law is always changing, so check with parish tax offices, but this writer hopes the exemption will remain in force for the foreseeable future.

              Part 2. Coin shops as secondhand dealers

              Next to the taxation issue, another topic of great interest to Louisiana coin dealers is the registry of numismatic purchases. A major part of the coin business is buying coins and bullion from customers who walk in the door, and many of these are persons with whom the dealer has never previously traded. Most dealers simply buy the items, so they are not subject to the special rules for pawnbrokers.

              A related law, the “Second-Hand Dealer” Act, requires secondhand dealers to keep a register of all items purchased, with information about the seller (including a “photograph of a person selling or delivering merchandise or articles to the dealer” if the material has a fair market value of $100 or more), description of the items sold, date and place of each transaction, and a signed statement from the seller that he is in fact the owner of the items sold. The dealer must file this or make it electronically available to law enforcement when requested.

              Technically, the sale or purchase of “manufactured registered bullion bars, coins, or other numismatic items” is exempt from this particular provision. The legal citation is La. R.S. 37:1864.1 C(1). However, most dealers will make a Xerox copy of the seller’s photo ID and maintain the registry information because of the potential liability for receiving stolen property. The law does not strictly require that the register of secondhand sales be kept confidential, but it authorizes disclosure only to “a law enforcement agency,” so it is unlikely that the seller’s privacy will be compromised.

              There is no exemption, however, from a separate provision of the Second-Hand Dealer Act, one that prohibits the dealer from selling, disposing of, or changing or destroying the identity of the items purchased for 30 days after the sale. The legal citation is La. R.S. 37:1867. This is an inconvenience to dealers, many of whom operate on a slim margin, but it was probably considered a reasonable period in which law enforcement could investigate reports of burglary or theft. But, in short, dealers cannot sell the stuff they buy until 31 days later.

              Part 3. Coin dealers as itinerant vendors

              A final issue of special interest to coin dealers, in northwest Louisiana, is the treatment of coin show dealers as “itinerant vendors.” This is defined not only as door-to-door salesmen, but any person “who engages in a temporary business in this state exhibiting merchandise to the public for the purpose of selling or offering to sell such merchandise when such vendor does not have a permanent address in this state[.]” The law requires itinerant vendors to appoint a Louisiana agent and to post a $5,000 bond. However, this bond is not required of “stamp shows, coin shows, trade shows, festivals, fairs, or gun shows[.]” The legal citation is La. R.S. 37:1923 A. Coin show dealers are off the hook for hiring the agent and posting the performance bond.

              However, another form of registration has reared its ugly head. A tragic event occurred in 2010 in which a registered sex offender, working as a cab driver in a different parish, lured a 12-year-old boy by text messages to accept a cab ride ostensibly to meet a young female admirer. Unfortunately, the cab driver drove the boy into the woods, molested and murdered him. The legislature responded, in 2016, by making it illegal for any registered sex offender to be employed as a “door-to-door solicitor, peddler, or itinerant vendor selling any type of goods or service including magazines or periodicals or subscriptions to magazines or periodicals.” (Note the failure to mention cab drivers!) The legal citation is La. R.S. 15:553 D.

              Bossier Parish has interpreted this statute as authorizing it to require trade show vendors to fill out an application for background check and pay a fee of $20, all to certify that they are not registered sex offenders back home. The Ark-La-Tex Coin, Stamp & Card Exposition, which is held each year in Bossier City, has been subjected to this new system.

              To this writer’s knowledge, Bossier is the only parish in the state that has enacted such a provision with respect to trade shows. In this writer’s view, Bossier’s action greatly exceeds the authority bestowed by R.S. 15:553 D. Fortunately, the parish has softened its position and not required each individual coin dealer to complete the application and pay the fee. For 2017, only the sponsor (Shreveport Coin Club) was required to do this. However, given the arbitrariness of the rule, Bossier could revise it at any time to require the long, intrusive application and the fee from each individual dealer. This writer hopes Bossier Parish will leave “bad enough alone” and not treat all our coin dealers like suspected sex offenders.

              Part 4. Miscellaneous

              As a postscript, this writer has found two quirky provisions of general interest. Telemarketers (called “telephonic sellers”) who phone people in Louisiana are subject to regulation by the Louisiana Department of Justice. Numismatic telemarketers are subject to such regulation, but are exempt if the selling price of their wares is not more than 25% of the seller’s buying price, and if the seller has a retail location in the state and phone sales are not the seller’s primary business. The phrasing is fairly convoluted, but it is nice to know that consumers can report shady phone scams to the Attorney General. The legal citation is La. R.S. 45:822 B(14). Coin telemarketing seems not to be a major enterprise in the state.

              Finally, Louisiana’s Criminal Code includes a section on forgery. This applies to, among other things, “Money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, and trademarks[.]” The offense is a felony, carrying up to 10 years, without or without hard labor, a fine of $5,000, or both. The legal citation is La. R.S. 14:72. Traditionally, counterfeiting is handled by federal authorities. However, with the advent of really excellent laser printers, an occasional lone wolf may try to print a small amount of currency. In that event, police and sheriffs can investigate and arrest.

    Hal Odom Jr.

    Shreveport, La.

    10 August 2017


  • 1 Jun 2017 7:33 AM | Leonard Gresens (Administrator)

    A HISTORY OF TOKEN USE IN LOUISIANA

    by Leonard Gresens

    The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines a token as "a piece of stamped metal used as a substitute for currency." The Dictionary of Numismatic Terms published by the American Numismatic Association says a token is "usually a piece of durable material appropriately marked and unofficially issued for monetary, advertising, services, or other purposes."

    Tokens were known by numerous nicknames. Coal miners called them "flickers." In saloons and bars, particularly those in the Midwest, they were known as "chits." "Klacker" was popular in Alabama, while "scrip," "checks," and "due bills" saw widespread use. The most prevalent name in Louisiana seemed to be "brozine." The origin of this term is not known, but it is possibly an altered form of "bronze" which was the composition of many tokens. Another terms popular in Louisiana was "doo-ga-loo" with other names seeing localized use. One such term used in the New Orleans area for 2½¢ issues was "quarti" or "quartee," which may have come from the fact that it represented one-tenth of a quarter.

    Many different and diverse sources issued tokens, including Lumber Company's, Sugar and Cotton Plantation Commissaries, Bakery's, Dairy's, Grocery and General Stores, Restaurants, Seafood packing Houses, Saloon's, Bar's, Billiard, and Pool Hall's. Tokens were also used by transportation companies on their buses lines. Plus old Amusement Arcades as well as Modern Arcade, Military Bases and strawberry pickers. Tax tokens were even used to collect taxes and Masons issued Masonic pennies.

    The scope of my presentation is to describe tokens used in Louisiana, mostly Shreveport and Bossier, that were exchangeable for merchandise, goods and services plus tokens used to signify an amount of work done, given as a receipt for some type of pre-payment or otherwise having monetary value.

    Tokens were usually made of brass, bronze or aluminum. However cardboard and fiber were also used. Paper coupon books saw some use in Louisiana. The method of use was limited only by the imagination of the issuer, but most fell into one of the following categories: (1) to extend credit to employees, (2) to provide a discount, (3) to make change in unusual amounts (drink token), (4) to ensure purchases at a particular business, (5) to designate an amount of work done, (6) to show proof-of-purchase, (7) to attract new customers, (8) to serve as a medium of exchange after a pre-payment, and (9) to control access to certain areas.

    Before, we go further, let me tell you how I came to collecting tokens.

    History was never my strong suit.  School work wasn’t something I really wanted to do also.  Let’s face it, I never had a favorite subject, well maybe art, until I figured out I had to do the work to get a grade.  Then it wasn’t really fun anymore.  So how did this “I don’t want to study” person ever get interested in history?  Much less how did I get interested in such an obscure subject as exonumia? 

    As a child, I became interested in coin collecting.  I started off with the blue Whitman folders, collecting, pennies, nickels and dimes.  Quarters were too valuable, and ended up being spent.  The collection grew as I continued to add new coins and other things to the collection.  One item that was a part of my collection was a Shreveport Transit Co. Student Fare token.  I remember using these tokens when I rode the trolley to school every morning when we live on Madison Avenue.  We would catch the trolley at Madison and Laurel Street and ride to downtown Shreveport, where we transferred to the Line Avenue trolley at the J. C. Penney store front.  That token had been in my collection probably before I started collecting coins.  Wondering how much it might be worth, I did some research.  That’s where it all began.

    Tokens and medals always had that mystic to me.  What were they used or made for?  Why were they used?  And of course were they still worth anything?  One of my first purchases I recall was the bronze medals of the United States Mints, Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco.  I proudly displayed those on my dresser at home for years.  The main interest was they were buildings.  I still to this day find medals and medallions with buildings on them interesting.  I was so proud of these treasures that I displayed them one year at the Shreveport Coin Club’s coin show as an Exhibitor.  I had a special badge and walked around the show proudly with the special recognition of “Exhibitor”.  I was even awarded a small trophy proclaiming my “Exhibitor” status forever marked in history.  That little trophy still sits among my other awards.

    Then came along higher education,… college.  I quickly realized I didn’t have the money to buy expensive coins and medals.  So, the hobby was put on the back burner.  The collect I acquired was forgotten about in the bottom drawer of my dresser.  Every now and then I would run across a silver dime, quarter or Kennedy half dollar in some change and it would be retired to my bottom drawer.  Until things got really tight. 

    In need of spending money, hobby money seems to defeat the purpose of, well let’s just put it honestly, party money.  Friends were going out and having a good time and sometimes I would sit there thinking, “I have an asset that I can sell and join the action”.  So I did. I answered an ad I found in the newspaper, “Collector will buy your coins, top dollar paid”.  A number of items were removed from the dark confines of the dresser drawer and sold.  Only the best was taken and the so called junk remained.  But I had the stark reminder of my other good times of collecting these precious items.  And I promised myself, I’ll rebuild this one day when time are not so hard.

    A few items that remained with me, the Shreveport Transit Co. token, still in my collection today, and the U.S. Mint medals.  And the interest was still there.  I would pick up a copy of Coin World or Numismatic News and read over what was taking place in my beloved hobby.  In one edition the new Mints sets from the U.S. Mints were being advertised.  I quickly began to put together the extra cash to purchase a few sets, both Mint and Proof, from the Mint.  I continued to acquire these items year after year when I suddenly realized, the bottom drawer was too full.  Other means of storage was required and then, there it was, I had fulfilled the promise of rebuilding my collection. 

    I’m back in the game.  Back to my old ways.  I’m stopping by the bank picking up a few rolls and checking dates.  Watching my change to see what’s there.  At work, I’d check the change in the cash register for needed coins.  And that’s when I ran across this small, spiral bound booklet by a gentleman from Bossier City named Eddie M. Hill. 

    I don’t remember where I found my first copy of A Tentative Listing of Exonumia of Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana but as I began to look through the listings, there it was, my Shreveport Transit Co. Student Fare token.  Not only it, but several other transportation tokens from Shreveport.  And other tokens from other establishments I never knew existed.  The wooden nickels I purchased from the Shreveport Coin Club’s coin show were listed.  The Holiday in Dixie doubloons I had had for years, listed.  But where were these other new treasures?  How does one acquire the other tokens and medals listed in this great little book?  The search was on.

    I quickly learned there were tokens for all kinds of establishments, industries not only in Shreveport, but all over Louisiana.  And what I would come to learn later was there were tokens issued all over the world.

  • 11 Mar 2015 5:37 AM | Leonard Gresens (Administrator)

    1881 PCGS MS-66 Morgan Dollar with Original Mint Luster

     An 1881 Morgan Dollar with Original Mint Luster. Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries,


    Definition

    Mint Luster on a coin's surface is the sheen or reflective qualities that are produced during the minting process. When a coin is struck, metal flows from the center of the coin towards the outer edge. This process produces microscopic striations (very tiny parallel grooves) that reflect light back to the viewer in a unique crossing pattern. As the coin is tilted under a light, this crossing pattern will spin around the coin.

    This is known as the cartwheel effect

    Mint Luster is extremely delicate and can be damaged or destroyed by friction from other coins or objects that rub across the surface of the coin. It cannot be repaired or replaced after it is destroyed. Any attempt at restoring mint luster is considered "Coin Doctoring" or altering the surface of a coin with the intention to deceive a buyer.

    Official A.N.A. Definition

    Luster, or mint bloom or frost, is one of the most important aspects of grading in the Mint State category. All other things being equal, a coin with rich, deep mint luster is a better candidate for a higher grade than is one with a dull or lifeless luster. One rule does not fit all; luster can vary from type to type, and examination of a wide selection of coins in the marketplace is the best way to gain expertise in this vital feature.

    Affect from Coin Cleaning

    Many people think that a clean and shiny coin is worth more than a dull and toned coin. Unfortunately, most coin collectors and numismatists prefer original surfaces over those that have been cleaned. Harsh and abrasive cleaning techniques that use acids and abrasives remove the mint luster that has been imparted on the surface of the coin during the minting process.

    Coins that have been improperly cleaned will exhibit a muted or subdued luster. Uncirculated coins that still have their original surfaces will exhibit a flashy and bright mint luster that will dance across the coin as it is rotated and tilted.

    Grading Uncirculated Coins

    Original mint luster is one of the key components when determining the grade of an uncirculated coin. A coin that has original and flashy mint luster will have a better eye appeal than one that has had its luster muted or damaged.

    Coins that grade About Uncirculated or below will usually have areas on the coin where the mint luster is broken or missing. This is one of the key factors that a coin is not a mint State coin. If a coin has details that indicate it has been in circulation, and yet it exhibits some sort of flashy mint luster, this is evidence that the coin has been doctored in an attempt to make it look uncirculated. This is a form of alteration and it is considered deceptive by coin collectors.

    Examples of Mint Luster

    If you are still having problems recognizing what original mint luster is, visit your local coin dealer or a coin show. While you are there ask a dealer to see some uncirculated Morgan silver dollars.

    It will be easier to recognize on coins that are not toned. Ask him or her to show you what original mint luster looks like on one of these big silver coins. You will be able to see the distinct difference immediately.

    Reproduced with permission from The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins, 6th edition, © 2005 Whitman Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved

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