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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

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Volume 5, Number 4

April 1992

April Membership Meeting
Wed., April 1, 1992 Central Lutheran Church

7:30 PM Meeting


 

MEMBERSHIP NEWS

COIN SHOW

At press time, a number of club members were preparing to set up the coin show held March 28 and 29. Many Thanks to all who showed up to represent our club (and numismatics in general) at the show. By the time you read this, I'm sure the club has at least a few new members who will become coin collectors if they aren't already.

ELECTION

I've said it before, but Benita Meyer is certainly our Most Valuable Player. For at least two years she has kept the books and the membership rolls, sent out Membership Renewals, and reconciled the proceeds at our coin auctions. She has agreed to serve again as Secretary/Treasurer. We all owe her a big pat on the back for her dedicated and invaluable effort. What would we do without her?

Bill D'Atri, who ran (was run?) unopposed, was elected (installed as?) President of our club. Three Hurrahs for Bill who, I'm sure, will ably serve during the next year. Backing up Bill is our Vice President, Scott Hornal, who is serving his third (!) term in that office. Thanks Again Scott!

Robert Gilmor Jr.

 

E-BOARD MEETING

There are advantages to living in Alaska. Everyone Outside thinks of Alaska as an exotic place. This is why we have so much success getting damn near anybody we want for our seminars (we treat 'em pretty good too). Ken Bressett has agreed to lead our upcoming seminar.

Anyone who wishes to help with these arrangements, help with other Club business, grade the auction material, kibitz, or otherwise harass the Board Members is welcome to attend the next E-Board meeting:

7:00 P.M.
Wednesday, April 15, 1992
Central Lutheran Church

 

RENEW RENEW RENEW

March was a big renewal month. Many of the ACC faithful found Reminders in their newsletters last month. SEND IN THOSE CHECKS. Membership dues are the lifeblood of our club - we depend on you (well, your money anyway). Besides, if you don't, you'll miss out on our nifty newsletter. The Editor wouldn't like that - he's just getting warmed up!

 

ANA NEWS

ANNIVERSARY NAME SELECTED

Robert A. Berns of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania is the lucky winner of ANA's contest for it's anniversary convention. His entry, "AmericANA Coin Show: A World's Fair of Money" was selected from a group of 230 entries. He wins air fare and hotel accommodations for two at ANA's 101st Anniversary Convention in Orlando, August 12-16, 1992. For more information on this and other ANA conventions contact ANA at the address published on page two.

NATIONAL COIN WEEK CONTEST

The theme of the 1992 National Coin Week is: "Discover New Worlds Through Coin Collecting". The observance of this annual event opens the 2nd century of the ANA. A major purpose of National Coin Week Is to promote the hobby and the association. To encourage participation toward this end ANA is sponsoring a contest. Competitors will earn points for speaking, writing, and setting up exhibits related to numismatics.

PRIZES

Prizes include the following:

Ten scholarships to the 1993 Summer Conference. Three will go to adults and will include tuition, room, and board. Seven will go to YNs and are "all-expenses-paid" (presumably adult winners will have to pay for travel).

ANA correspondence courses

ANA numismatic videos

Entries will be divided into four categories:

Regular Membership

Junior Membership (up to age 17)

Large clubs

Small clubs (less than 75 members)

For particulars contact the ANA Educational Services Department, 818 North Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs CO, 80903-3279 (719-632-2646).

 

 

Robert Gilmor Jr.:
Early American Collector

Except for the abstract on the Brasher Doubloon, This article is entirely based on Joel J. Orosz' excellent article Robert Gilmor Jr. and the cradle age of American Numismatics published in the May 1990 "Numismatist". Those wishing to fully investigate the exploit! of this pioneer of American collecting will find the Numismatist article fully referenced.

Robert Gilmor Jr. was a man used to getting what he wanted. He was born with the proverbial "silver spoon in his mouth", Gilmor Sr. having been a successful entrepreneur, and began acquiring collectibles at an early age. Upon his death, he left behind a staggering array of paintings, autographs, and coins. His cabinet included a variety of Greek and Roman coins, a Brasher doubloon and a nearly complete set, by date, of U.S. coins.

EARLY BECOMING PRACTICES

The U.S. set was notable not only for its completeness, but also for the means employed in its assembly. Orosz refers to Gilmor's relationship with Adam Eckfeldt (the chief coiner of the Mint) as "cozy". He cites a Gilmor letter which said:

"The Mint has aided me considerably, and has even provided my desiderata from the old dies, when I require it - Mr. Eckfeldt... has been of great service to me...".

According to Orosz, "Never before have we found contemporary proof that the Mint was striking fancy pieces for collectors."

What is interesting Is the casual tone Gilmor uses to recount his dealings with Eckfeldt as if it were hardly unusual for the Mint to make special pieces for a well-heeled collector such as himself.

Apparently, Gilmore feared no legal repercussions nor the appearance of impropriety, especially considering the letter was addressed to Joel Roberts Poinsett, a former Secretary of War. Orosz states:

"... Gilmor's "admissions"... were not a confession of wrongdoing. Clearly Gilmor felt that in recoining, neither the Mint nor the collector was doing anything wrong. The stigma of impropriety that later generations would apply to recoining did not exist in 1841" (the date of the letter).

Gilmor had a final recommendation for the Secretary. Here, Orosz suggests, Gilmor's interest in autographs was evident.

"P.S. Would it not also be worthwhile to make a collection of the old Continental money (paper I mean) - It has lessons historical, and so far interesting, besides having in many cases the autographs of many of our patriots..."

BRASHER DOUBLOON

The 1787 Brasher Doubloon is one the great rarities in American coinage. Only six are known to exist. Ephraim Brasher, who was highly esteemed as a gold and silversmith, coined the doubloon, probably as souvenirs or for circulation. The doubloon was first recognized by Adam Eckfeldt in 1838 when it was found among other gold coins which were sent to the mint for melting. Eckfeldt withdrew it and submitted to the then newly formed Mint Cabinet.

Gilmor was one of only a few collectors having custody of a Brasher doubloon. In fact, he may have been the first such collector. The earliest known documentation of private possession of this rarity is found in a letter (dated March 18, 1840) by one of Gilmor's contemporaries, William G. Stearns:

"There is also a gold coin of New York, of the value of about $10, but I know nothing of the place of its coinage, or Us history. Obverse, The arms of New York. Reverse, the arms of the United States. The only specimen within my knowledge, is in the possession of Mr. Gilmor of Baltimore. I have not seen the coin, and do not even know its date.'

It has been suggested that Gilmor obtained the doubloon in payment at Robert Gilmor & Sons, a shop operated by his family. Exactly how the piece was obtained is unknown, but Orosz offers another speculation which suggests the piece was redeemed for bullion at the Mint which was saved by Eckfeldt or William E. Dubois, another Mint employee, and subsequently sold or traded to Gilmor.

Later, when Numismatics became better established, and more money started chasing the same coins, the potential for profit, fraud, and collusion made such associations questionable and difficult.

Certainly recoining is not regarded kindly by the Treasury nor the Secret Service today.

EARLY COIN COLLECTING

Perhaps Gilmor can be forgiven for having missing pieces recoined, if only because, in its infancy, Numismatics was very much a solitary activity requiring a great amount of self-reliance and persistence. Early American issues were difficult, even then. Collecting federal coinage was virtually unknown to collectors much less the public at large. No dealers and no reference books existed - who would patronize dealers or buy coin books? Very few auctions dealt with coins for the same reason. No doubt a great portion of circulation as coins passed over the counter at Robert Gilmor & Sons. In fact, in his letter to Poinsett, Gilmor complained that:

"... strange as it may seem, I could more easily make a complete collection of Greek and Roman coins than American... with all my industry and perseverance, I am yet deficient in seven gold coins (an eagle of 1802 among them), 10 silver ones and three copper...'

Here is a situation where influence, connections, and "industry and perseverance" had much more value than a mere fortune.

For instance, collectors know today, from references, not to seek 'an eagle of 1802" that was never struck!

A GREAT COLLECTOR

Despite the numismatic vacuum of the day, Gilmor still managed to obtain a nearly complete collection. He must therefore be regarded as one of the great collectors of American coins. I suspect the coins missing from Gilmor's collection only surfaced decades later when the hobby was better known and the inheritors/custodians of accidental "hoards" liquidated what were finally known to be (and desired as) rarities. By then, however, Gilmor was dead and his collection was well dispersed.

Editor's Note: The "Numismatist" article from which this piece wag adapted is considerably richer and more detailed than space allows here. It was a fascinating read and is highly recommended for students of early American Numismatics.

Wanted: Newsletter Names

Readers may have noticed the "look" of the newsletter has changed. Partly, this is due to the fact that our typist has resigned, but mostly it's because your intrepid Editor doesn't know (and doesn't want to learn) WordPerfect on DOS machines. This newsletter was produced on a Macintosh using Word, the others were produced on those infernal DOS contraptions. I think the newsletter looks sharp and is easier on the eyes party because it uses a font that uses serifs (this is one group that knows serifs).

Your editor likes this because it empowers him. He no longer depends on the typist to fit the production and layout of the newsletter into her other duties and isn't inhibited with regard to proofing, redoing the layout, rewriting, and generally messing with this Newsletter. It is a little more work, mainly because he doesn't type well (though he is getting better) but the process of creation is much freer.

Our new Prez, Bill D'Atri (three cheers, please) has expressed an interest in writing for this publication but hasn't yet, because at his (relatively) new job he hasn't gotten a computer (yet). Not having direct control of the creation process was the reason typos, ugly (unserifed) fonts, inappropriate column break), etc. appeared in the last two newsletters despite your editor's full knowledge of them. It was just too difficult to ferret out these annoyances using a typist who was entirely too busy to address these failings. Now your editor can "mess" with the newsletter as long as his endurance allows.

Now, Dear Readers, I ask for assistance in "messing" once more with the newsletter. No, I'm not asking for submissions (although these are always welcome). Not this time anyway. What I'm asking for is A NAME.

What shall we call the newsletter?

"ANCHORAGE COIN CLUB NEWSLETTER" is adequate, but it lacks panache. Sorta dull, like: "Alaska State Legislature", "Performing Arts Center", or "Sullivan Arena" (naming buildings after former mayors strikes me as particularly inappropriate - as bad as putting dead presidents' mugs on coins).

WHO CARES ??

Well, I don't lie awake thinking about it, and I certainly don't expect widespread insomnia on your part, but if something occurs while you brush your teeth in the morning, quick, write it down, and contact me at 276-2636 (weekdays) or 243-1481 (evenings and weekends).

 

BRASHER's MOTIVE
(or: Why did he coin his famous doubloons?)

This article is sourced mostly from Q. David Bower's book entitled "The Garrett Collection". Bowers cites a number of sources which were unavailable at press time. Interested readers are invited to help dig up these sources in the hope more light is shed on the question.

The 1787 Brasher Doubloon is one the great rarities in American coinage. Only six examples are known. Five examples of the doubloon have the countermark "EB" within an oval on the eagle's wing. The remaining piece is unique in that the EB is placed on the eagle's breast. Although much is known about Ephraim Brasher (pronounced "BRAYzher", as in "brazier"), very little is known of the circumstances surrounding his famous gold doubloon. Bowers cites several theories.

One, propounded by Don Taxay, is the doubloons were produced as patterns submitted to the New York State Assembly while it considered legislation proposed to regulate the circulation and production of copper coins.

Why submit gold patterns to influence the legislation of copper coins? Taxay asserts the doubloon's size is identical to those of copper planchets and may have been presented to "effect a favorable verdict". A second theory suggests the doubloons were made as souvenirs. Walter Breen disagrees with both and believes the pieces were struck for circulation.

REALITIES OF COLONIAL COMMERCE

Prior to the establishment of the U.S. Mint around the turn of the 18th century, the "coin of the realm" was in fact coins of many realms. The weight, type, and purity of the metal in a coin determined its value. Many counterfeit gold coins were circulating in 1787 and it was considered unwise to accept a coin unless pronounced genuine. Clipping and sweating was also performed on gold coins at the time. Combined with the profusion of colonial, private, and foreign coins in circulation, the potential for fraud must have been a daily concern.

THE CIRCULATING COINAGE THEORY

Enter Brasher, who was highly esteemed as a gold and silversmith, and who made wares for such luminaries as George Washington and George Clinton. Brasher is thought to have assayed and tested a number of foreign gold coins. Coins passing his scrutiny are said to have been counterstamped (as his doubloons) with the letters EB within an oval. Because he was a well-known silversmith with a sterling1 reputation, B rasher's initials on a coin warranted its purity. Bowers mentions three specimens of foreign gold having this counter stamp. Breen states "many" specimens were counterstamped thus.

1787 Brasher Doubloon Obverse

1787 Brasher Doubloon Obverse

WHY NO COUNTERSTAMPED COUNTERFEITS?

It occurs to my larcenous side that counterfeiters could easily have developed an EB punch to lend authenticity to their work, ride Brasher's coattails so-to-speak. Bowers makes no mention of this possibility. Do examples of counterfeit gold with bogus countermarks exist? If no such bogus coins exist there are several explanations. One asks: what do you do with a counterfeit in your possession? PASS IT! You might also curse your bad luck (or the person you got it from) and take your lumps. You're probably unlikely to keep it for a collection, especially then before collecting coins was an "in" thing to do (actually it wasn't "out" either, just unheard of).

Eventually, as roost coins of the time, such counterfeits would have been melted (knowingly or not) along with "real" gold. So IF counterfeiters found it expeditious to forge Brasher's counter stamp, perhaps it's no surprise none have turned up.

A second explanation is that no one forged the counter stamp. Why not? I suspect because there was little advantage to be had in doing so. Ill bet Brasher was too busy with his craft to devote much time to assaying coins.

1787 Brasher Doubloon Reverse

1787 Brasher Doubloon Reverse

THE SOUVENIR THEORY

Now, if Brasher spent little time assaying coins, perhaps more weight is given to the souvenir theory. Put yourself in his shoes. You're a pillar of the community, highly esteemed by your peers and the public at large. Your craftsmanship is unquestioned. Are you going to spend a lot of time preparing dies to produce coins for circulation? Remember, these are essentially $10 coins having a weight similar to U.S. Eagles minted later. Ten dollars was a month's wages for a farm hand back then so such coins were unlikely to be seen by the public at large.2 Aren't you more likely to produce "souvenirs" (as gifts for your highly-placed clients and associates) than circulating coins? I don't know. Either way Brasher could receive acclaim and stroke his ego. How much would Brasher get for privately struck "business strikes" with ten dollars worth of gold? Ten dollars. No profit motive here, so prestige is perhaps a more credible motivation.

THE PATTERN THEORY & PETITIONS TO STRIKE COPPERS IN NEW YORK

According to Breen, copper coins circulating in New York were imported from Birmingham. He alleges the "profit" made by the minters for these coins was 97%. He doesn't elaborate but I suspect he calculated this figure based on the coppers' metal content (the "seigniorage" if you will)3. The New York legislature was inundated by petitions requesting authorization to mint copper coins, Brasher included.

Tax ay suggests the doubloons were struck for presentation to those considering Brasher's petition. In 1858 Montroville W. Dickeson wrote that he had seen four examples of the doubloon and "it is inferable that the coin was gotten up as a pattern piece". Breen declares this assertion to be "without evidence".

Unfortunately, too little is known to the author to sway the verdict definitively.

Please contact the editor with evidence or the sources cited at right.

Sources for "Brasher's Motive":

1) Breen, Walter H., "Brasher and Bailey: Pioneer New York Coiners, 1787-1792", 1958, Centennial Publication of the American Numismatic Society.

2) Brown, Vernon L., "The Brother Doubloon', 1964, The Numismatist.

3) Decatur, S., "Ephraim Brasher, Silversmith of New York", 1938, American Collector.

4) Wood, Howland, "the Coinage of the West Indies with an especial reference to the Cut and Counterstamped Pieces", 1914, American Journal of Numismatics.

5) Taxay, Don, The Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of United States Coins.

6) Raymond, Wayte, 1954, The Standard Catalogue of United States Coins.

 

2 How many $1,000 bills have YOU spent lately?

3 Here Breen uses a common rhetorical device: he combines o popular term "profit" with a hard figure presumably to demonstrate or at least imply the "profit" to be excessive. I suspect Breen didn't know {though he may have estimated it) what the OTHER expenses were in producing the Birmingham coppers. That being the case. what he is really stating is the "gross profit". This is the profit based on the products material cost alone (in this case the raw per pound cost of copper) before rent, wages. amortizing of plant, et cetera. If copper is $1/pound and the coins struck therefrom are "worth" $1.97 the gross profit is 97 cents. Did the coiner put 97 cents in his pocket for the pound of coppers? You know the answer.

ERRATUM
(Latin for "screwup")

Last month Carl Mujagic of Carl's Jewelers placed an ad in our newsletter. Your Editor, in a fit of ill-advised humor, inappropriately juxtaposed his ad with a comical slogan. It was pointed out at the following meeting that, in a nutshell, THIS WAS A STUPID THING TO DO.

PLEASE, if anyone out there took it seriously, and not as a sophomoric joke, I reiterate: IT WAS A JOKE. It was not intended to suggest Carl is unethical in any way whatsoever. Those of us who are fortunate to have made Carl's acquaintance know this already. Those of you who don't know Carl: ignore my stupidity. The flogging will be at sunset

 

OFFICIAL ALASKA HIGHWAY MEDALLION

The Anchorage Mint is very honored to have been selected to produce and distribute the "OFFICIAL ALASKA HIGHWAY 50th ANNIVERSARY MEDALLION".

The highway celebration is commemorated in beautifully designed gold and silver medallions that collectors will cherish for years to come. They are available in 1/4-oz. and one-oz. silver, also 1/2-oz. and one-oz. pure gold. The one-oz. medallions will be individually serial numbered and production will be limited only to medallions struck in 1992. These medallions will be available through The Anchorage Mint, Michael's Jewelers in the University Center and Downtown, and in shops throughout Alaska and Canada.

 

ANCHORAGE COIN CLUB
AUCTION LIST
APRIL 1992

Lot. Date Denomination Grade
1 1919-P Lincoln Cent G
2 1919-S Lincoln Cent G
3 1929-P Standing Liberty Quarter AG
4 1918-S Walking Liberty Half G
5 1942-P Walking Liberty Half G
6 1905-P Indian Head Cent G
7 1906-P Indian Head Cent G
8 1942-S Walking Liberty Half VG
9 1920-P Walking Liberty Half G
10 1864 Two-Cent Piece VF
11 1924 Standing Liberty Quarter G
12 1925 Standing Liberty Quarter G
13 1964-D Washington Quarter MS63
14 1987 Silver Eagle BU
15 Mixed Roll (50) Mercury Dimes Circ
16 Mixed Roll (20) 1960-63 Franklin Halves BU
17 1951 Franklin Half Impaired PF
18 1951-D Franklin Half AU
19 1964-D Kennedy Half MS60
20 1930 Buffalo 5 cents, Clipped Planchet EF
21 1983-P Jefferson Nickel AU
22 1958-D Washington Quarter RPM BU
23 1877 Trade Dollar VF
24 1987 Proof Set PF
25 1986 Statue of Liberty Half & Dollar PF
26 1986 Statue of Liberty Half & Dollar BU
27 1983 Olympic Dollar Set (P,D,S) BU
28 1987 Proof Set PF
29 None Russian Medals (3 pcs.) UNC
30 1878 Morgan Dollar F
31 1879-S Morgan Dollar VF
32 1879-S Morgan Dollar F
33 1880-S Morgan Dollar VF
34 1881-O Morgan Dollar VF
35 1882-S Morgan Dollar F
36 1882 Morgan Dollar VF
37 1883-S Morgan Dollar G
38 1883-O Morgan Dollar XF
39 1884-S Morgan Dollar G
40 1885 Morgan Dollar EF
41 1885-O Morgan Dollar EF
42 1886-0 Morgan Dollar F
43 1888-O Morgan Dollar VG
44 1889-O Morgan Dollar F
45 1890-S Morgan Dollar F
46 1890-O Morgan Dollar VG
47 1891-O Morgan Dollar VG
48 1896-S Morgan Dollar G
49 1896-0 Morgan Dollar F
50 1898 Morgan Dollar VF
51 1899-S Morgan Dollar VG
52 1900 Morgan Dollar VF
53 1901-S Morgan Dollar VG
54 1902 Morgan Dollar XF

 

 


The Anchorage Coin Club

Club Officers

Board of Directors

Editor

DUES

To save costs, members not responding to renewal notices within 3 months will be considered inactive.

The Anchorage Coin Club is a non-profit organization formed to provide information, education, and a meeting place for individuals having an interest in numismatics.

Correspondence Address: Anchorage Coin Club, P.O. Box 230169, Anchorage, Alaska 99523