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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 3, January 21, 2007, Article 22

JOHNSON PROPOSES SERIAL NUMBERS ON HIGH-VALUE COINS

Dick Johnson writes: "This is in reply to Scott Semans in regards
to his comments on the Spy Coins article in last week’s E-Sylum.
Two years ago I wrote a draft on "Future Coins." One of the 44
suggestions I made in that draft was to include serial numbers on
high value coins. (Several other suggestions I made were to eliminate
the cent and nickel denomination and start striking coin denominations
for circulation all the way up to $50. I also included several
security suggestions.)

"Item #22 was to embed a microchip in every coin of $5 value and above.
A serial number would be encrypted on that microchip (in addition to
four items of fixed data, two of toggle data, and three of variable
data). That microchip could only be read by special readers (which
banks, major retail outlets, and other authorities would posses, in
addition to mint and Treasury officials.) The general public would
be unaware of the data on that microchip.

"Okay, I see numismatists owning those special readers as well.
Imagine being able to read the "secret" microchip and learn such
things as the date, press and die number in which the coin was struck!
Or the total number of transactions in which it was involved for its
entire lifetime. And the identity of the last ten transactions (that
last would be Variable Data as it would add each new transaction
and eliminate the tenth -- in a perpetual rotation).

"For numismatists reading such data would be ironclad documentation
that a coin was "uncirculated" if the microchip revealed NO
transactions! Pure MS-80. Wait! Perhaps Sheldon’s old condition
scale could become obsolete, replaced by MSN – Microchip Service
Number – with a top end of 100. An MSN-100 would be a true NO
transaction, NO wear and NO nicks or dents coin with a perfect
surface.

"I am not suggesting the coin could analyze itself, but Grading
Services work would become a lot less subjective if the coin carried
these factors in its embedded microchip. (Grading services would have
to posses those special readers as well). It would reveal the amount
of wear to which the coin has been subjected, in addition to the
number of transactions and other data.

"The reason for a unique serial number assigned to every coin is
the SAME reason serial numbers appear on paper money - primarily
for security. Perhaps our paper money collecting brethren can add
other reasons for the serial number. It has a long history and
heritage.

"A byproduct of the information from embedded microchips in coins
would be to prove coins last longer in circulation than paper money.
U.S. Treasury officials have estimated coins circulate eight times
longer that bills of the same denomination before they need to be
replaced. Perhaps this embedded data would prove the coin ratio
could be much higher.

"Today coins are in competition with plastic cards and electronic
transfer of funds in addition to paper money and checks; this data
could also prove the necessity and usefulness of coins. into the
future. I prophesy coins will be around for a couple hundred years
more for small necessary transactions. However, they will be
different in several ways -- and they WILL include technological
advances.

"I am optimistic that American innovation and engineering can provide
these advances, only one of which is to solve the problems with the
manufacture and use of embedded microchips in coins.

"Your thoughts on Future Coins, anyone?"

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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