I am extremely excited and fortunate today to be hosting an exclusive interview with Eitan Cohen, owner and operator of E Cohen Minting. As you know from my review of E Cohen Mint, I am a fan and satisfied customer of this specialty gold, silver, and copper mint. I recommend diversifying your gold, silver, and copper portfolio with coins from E Cohen Mint and have personally found Cohen's products the perfect way for me to diversify into smaller gold bullion coins. Today, we are very lucky to get the chance to learn all about Eitan Cohen and his extraordinary mint.
© E Cohen Minting
Gold Why: Welcome, Eitan. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today! As you know, I am a big fan of your mint.
E Cohen Minting: Thank you very much, Ian. It's very much a labor of love, and I appreciate it very much.
Gold Why: The gold market has been crazy lately. What is your take on the current market?
E Cohen Minting: Well, I would start by saying that first of all there are very good fundamental reasons why the price of gold and other commodities have been up dramatically over the past several years, with this year and last year especially so. The United States and many nations of the world are experiencing a very difficult economic downturn, a recession whose bottom we havn't seen yet. There are massive credit problems in the U.S. manifesting from the housing bubble we've all been hearing about. That, coupled with ever increasing political tensions throughout the world in Iraq, Israel, Africa, and Asia is the engine that is driving the commodities markets up. Since none of these issues look like they're going to be resolved in the short term, many people are hedging their finances in precious metals and they will continue to do so for years to come. What would cause the price of commodities to fall would be a general wave of positive news in many sectors at once such as in international politics, a significant long term rise in the stock market and the end of difficult economic conditions in the United States and abroad.
Gold Why: Totally agree with your logic. How does all of this volatility in the price of gold, silver, and copper affect your business, both production and sales?
E Cohen Minting: Price movements have a large impact on sales. When the price of gold rises there is a noticeable uptick in sales and likewise when the price dips there is a noticeable drop in demand, as would be expected. I think my customers follow the market very carefully, and respond to it fairly consistently. I can't predict the market, but I can predict my customer's responses to it. Gold has been very volatile recently, and that has forced me to keep my inventories of it to a bare minimum. I try my best to only have on hand the amount I will need to fulfill expected orders for a very short term, and I reorder supply on a weekly basis. In that way, If the price goes up or down, I won't be sitting on a month or two worth of inventory that might be worth much less by the time I sell it all compared to when I bought it. Silver is not as scary to stock, and neither is copper. I carry large stocks of both, my feeling is there is a large amount of upside still left in those two.
Gold Why: Very much agree on the large upside left in silver and copper. Do you have a theory why silver has lagged behind gold a bit and is still below its historic high of $50?
E Cohen Minting: The fundamentals for silver are extremely bullish, and I attribute the current low prices to the effect of both media inattention as well as lukewarm write-ups on those rare occasions when attention is paid. Silver is not as exciting a subject to write about as gold or oil, even though there is a great deal of interesting information out there about it. For the past several years there has been an ever increasing deficit between silver production and demand. In other words, there is not enough silver out there to satisfy the needs of everyone out there who needs it. There is huge demand from industry, silver ETF's, speculators, collectors, and the jewelry sector. Historically, gold and silver have had a 15:1 ratio, which puts silver at over $65 if gold is at $1000, which is no where near where it is today. I feel that over the course of the next few years silver is going to continue to rise, it is the only metal still not caught up with the inflation we have seen in all commodities. I am long on silver, I strongly recommend stockpiling it, and I foresee it reaching and surpassing its record $50 high seen back in the early 1980's within the next two to five years.
© E Cohen Minting
Gold Why: It's really an amazing feat what you have accomplished. How did you first decide you were interested in starting a mint? When did you first start minting coins?
E Cohen Minting: My mom fed my fascination with coin collecting since I was a little child. I was always the kind of kid who took things apart, put them back together, I was always very busy. At about 11 years old I made a pair of dies from metal cylinders using a screw driver and a hammer, and I made crude coins out of lead by hammering a lead blank between those two dies. Fast forward many years, and I had pretty much forgotten about the hobby, I had a child, a job, plenty of other things to worry about. Money was very tight, and I was looking for ways to supplement my income. I bought a tiny amount of gold and made a few crude bars that I sold online, and the response was great. I bought more gold, and over time kept changing my offerings. This entire business has been customer driven. I would make something, offer it for sale, if people liked it and bought it I would make more, if they didn't it was dropped. If it hadn't been for those very few first customers I would have never thought to go into this business. It was actually never a plan of mine to run a private minting company, but now that I am where I am, I wouldn't change a thing. Its very interesting, and I get to meet a lot of great people. Coin collectors are some of the worlds friendliest, nicest people, real down to earth folks that I always enjoy talking to. Sometimes people will call me on the phone and I'll sit there for 30, 40 minutes just talking about all sorts of stuff, and 9 times out of ten that person will become a loyal customer.
Gold Why: That is really great and rewarding. I must agree that I have had some really great conversations with people who visit Gold Why. It's always an absolute pleasure to hear from them. How long did it take you to "get it right"? Was it difficult to find the perfect mix of processes to make the best coins possible?
E Cohen Minting: Yes, it was. You know, I am a voracious reader, I read everything there is to read about making coins, metallurgy, jewelry making methods, gold and silver-smithing. I was surprised at how little relevant information there is out there for someone like me who was trying to make my own coins and bars. Maybe that's why there are so few small mints like mine in the country. There was a lot of trial and error, and a lot of equipment and techniques that I had to figure out that I needed. What seems simple and straightforward now was very complicated and intimidating at one point.
Gold Why: Could you go into some detail about the production of your various products? I learned about your gold minting techniques on your website. How does your silver and copper production compare?
E Cohen Minting: Production techniques between gold and silver are really quite the same. There are different values when it comes to press tonnage, silver being noticeably harder than gold even in the pure state. I generate a large amount of scrap in the form of "webbing", the metal left over in between the disks that are cut out of metal sheet, and those must be remelted and reused, so there are separate crucibles and molds for each to prevent contamination. The copper production results in a lot less waste since the bars are cubic and rectangular. Since that's the way the raw material comes, it's just a matter or cutting and dividing, and there is very little scrap left over. I buy the copper in incredibly large amounts, so instead of counting in ounces like I do with the gold and silver, its pounds when it comes to copper.
©iStockphoto.com – Graffizone
Gold Why: On the topic of copper, as you may know I'm a big fan of copper bullion. What's your current take on the copper market and what products do you offer for copper bugs?
E Cohen Minting: The copper market has just been tremendous. China is the name you think about when you hear copper prices have been bullish over the past several years. The increased demand overseas has sent prices soaring, and there is little indication that the price surge is going to stop. I read all the time how in towns across the U.S. and in cities around the world power lines are being stolen, homes are being broken into for the copper piping, in India vehicles are crashing into manholes because the bronze manhole covers disappear overnight. The same global economic factors that have been affecting other commodity prices are acting on copper as well. Furthermore, when economic conditions stabilize over time, I expect copper prices to continue to rise, owing to copper's wide use in industry and infrastructure development. It will be just as important during the inevitable future boom as they are now. I have bars ranging in size from one ounce all the way up to 5 kilos, with more sizes and weights in the works coming soon.
Gold Why: Really looking forward to the new copper bullion sizes and weights. There are very few places where investors can find quality copper bullion bars with E Cohen Mint being one of the best. I know your new copper bar sizes and weights will be a hit! Transitioning to my next question, your coins have some really neat designs! How did you come up with the designs?
E Cohen Minting: I've been getting a tremendous amount of inquiries from folks asking about how a business such as mine is run, how the designs are made, and other questions along these lines. I'm going to be expanding the about me page on my website in order to give people a more in depth look at the operation of the business. I begin by hand drawing the designs. I like to use attractive, different looking images that would appeal to a wide range of customers and also be politically neutral. My gold and silver coins sell to people all across the world and I think that's a testament to the attractiveness of the designs. A lot of people compliment me on that aspect. If you look at the competition in the one gram gold weight category, there really is nothing as nice looking out there. The only thing you find are plain looking bars with the name of the manufacturer and the weight stamped on the front. My company offers a much more attractive option for less money, it's a no-brainer.
Gold Why: Absolutely agree. Who is the typical E Cohen Mint customer?
E Cohen Minting: Over the years I've had a very wide range of customers. I get folks who spend less than ten dollars and I get the folks who spend thousands, and I make sure to treat everyone with the same amount of care. Some of my large customers have started out buying a few bucks worth little by little, and there was no way for me to know that this ten dollar sale would bring in a person who would turn out to be one of my largest and best customers. You just have to treat everyone like gold, and they will remember that. In terms of occupation, I've had clients in the jewelry business, in the law enforcement field, a lot of people in the armed forces may god bless them all, lawyers, doctors, truck drivers, mechanics, priests and pastors, all sorts of folks. I've talked to a lot of them over the years, and 99.99% of them are great people, people who like to collect coins, like to own gold and silver, and like to talk about collecting coins. It's really nice, I enjoy it.
© E Cohen Minting
Gold Why: That is great to hear. What are some of your most popular products?
E Cohen Minting: I sell a tremendous amount of copper, believe it or not. The gold and silver coins are always hot, but I definitely have been selling more and more copper as time goes by.
Gold Why: Makes a lot of sense, very exciting. What's the most fun part of running E Cohen Minting?
E Cohen Minting: Handling all that gold and silver! When I was a little kid playing with my coin collection, I was fascinated at the few silver coins that I had. I felt I had such a treasure in that album. I didn't own my first gold coin until I was thirteen, when my mom bought one for me on my birthday. Until I started this business, that remained the only gold coin I ever touched. Naturally, I still have it and everything else my mom ever gave me.
Gold Why: What's the most challenging part of running E Cohen Mint?
E Cohen Minting: It's really a very rewarding field. Sometimes there will be a difficult customer, and you really have to bend over backwards to please them, but generally it's a very rewarding job. You get to be in touch with lots of nice, friendly folks, and you get to do something that you really love doing.
Gold Why: What motivates you? How do you stay focused?
E Cohen Minting: I think about the future, about my plans for expanding this business, taking it further. I've always been a busy person, even as a child, so I've always been very motivated no matter what it was that I was doing. I care a lot about my customers, and I understand them being a coin collector myself. I know what interests them, because it's the same stuff that interests me. If I don't like it, if I don't find it fascinating, it doesn't make it to the website and I don't offer it for sale to anyone else.
© E Cohen Minting
Gold Why: I must say that your story overall is very motivating to everyone, myself included. Any special plans for 2008 and beyond?
E Cohen Minting: This year I am going to start offering United States Mint coins, such as Morgan and Peace silver dollars, the America Eagle one ounce silver coins, and other old collectible coins, halves, quarters, all the way down to cents and half cents. I am also going expand the copper section to include new weights in pounds, not just metric kilograms, and new metals, such as aluminum, nickel and brass. Then there is going to be the redesign of the gold and silver Cohen Mint brand coins in 2009.
Gold Why: Very exciting! I also noticed that your eBay store now offers some really unique investment sets. I think this is a really unique and interesting idea. Could you go into the theory behind your investment sets?
E Cohen Minting: This is something that I have offered in similar forms in the past. I have experience making jewelry, and I have a large stockpile of precious gems. Combining gems with gold and silver makes a lot of sense, and I am going to be making a special page on my website just for that.
Gold Why: Any closing thoughts for everyone at Gold Why?
E Cohen Minting: Precious metals are the smart buy right now. Prices have not reached anywhere near the top, so there is still a great deal of room to get in now and make a lot of money going forward. There are options out there for folks who want to get into the market and don't have a thousand dollars to spend on one gold coin. I offer one gram and One twentieth ounce coins at very reasonable prices so that everyone can get in on the metals market action. The coins feature beautiful designs, and are a great way to invest in something that we all hear about on the news.
Gold Why: I could not agree with this more! Eitan, I sincerely want to thank you for this opportunity. It has been an honor and a privilege to interview you. Your story is extremely fascinating and motivating to all of us and I wish you the absolute best. We will definitely have to do this again sometime!
E Cohen Minting: Thanks for having me, I enjoyed talking to you, Ian.
Gold Why: Everyone, as you may know from my review of E Cohen Minting, I am a satisfied customer of E Cohen Mint. I recommend E Cohen Mint as one of the most fascinating gold, silver, and copper bullion mints and stores out there. If you are interested in making a purchase, you can go directly to E Cohen Mint's website and order online (it's a simple process using Google Checkout). Additionally, E Cohen Mint offers an great eBay store with some really neat deals. You can see Eitan's eBay store above. Please find below E Cohen Mint's address and phone number:
E Cohen Minting
PO Box 102
Brooklyn NY 11229
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