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Modern-Day Legislation: Why Coin Collectors Should Care About HR 5977

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Coin collecting is one of the world’s oldest known hobbies (and one of our favorites!). Once thought of as an activity for the wealthy, today, coin collecting is becoming increasingly popular with millions of hobbyists worldwide. In the US, interest in coin collecting was sparked by the availability of commemorative coins in the 1930s as well as the inception of coin clubs, which provided opportunities for collectors to meet and trade.

Due to the increasing popularity of coin collecting, Congress enacted the Hobby Protection Act in 1973. This act made it illegal to manufacture, sell, or import into the United States any imitation numismatic item that was not clearly and permanently marked “COPY” or did not have the year of manufacture. These restrictions made it much harder for people to sell fake coins. Nowadays, however, with the accessibility of Internet sales and auction sites like eBay, imitation coins have been flooding the market. It seems that the Hobby Protection Act is due for some modern-day revisions.

The Collectible Coin Protection Act of 2012 (HR 5977) was introduced on June 20, 2012, in the House of Representatives to strengthen the Hobby Protection Act and modify it to include “sale in commerce.” If enacted, this bill would make it a violation to knowingly assist or provide support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller of unmarked replicas. It would also extend the Hobby Protection Act to cover unauthorized use of registered trademarks belonging to collectible certification companies such as the Professional Coin Grading Society (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). This would essentially cover not only the imitation coins, but also the counterfeit grading service holders, which are both being manufactured at tremendous volumes and high quality around the world.

EBay has also shown its support for the coin collecting community and for the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) by revising its policy in February 2012 to ban the sale or auction of any replica coin, including US, foreign, and other historic coins. EBay is also showing its commitment by taking steps to meet coin industry standards and ensuring that it remains an effective online resource for the coin marketing and collecting community.

Passing HR 5977 will put the power back in the hands of the collector, dealer, and grading service, as they work with the Justice Department to bring stronger and more effective legal action against the counterfeiters and help obtain justice for those harmed. If you would like to show your support, contact your member of Congress and let him or her know that their support of this revenue-neutral bill is important to you and will greatly benefit the integrity and future of one of the world’s oldest and most beloved hobbies.

To find out the name and contact info of your representative, go to http://www.house.gov and enter your zip code.

Amy Richey – Bellevue Rare Coins

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