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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
|Volume 5, Number 5||
|May Membership Meeting|
|Wed., May 6, 1992||Central Lutheran Church||
7:30 PM Meeting
The April membership meeting was a lively and rousing affair bursting with good humor and good ideas. Several new (and potentially new) members showed up. Bill D'Atri, now the club president, asked them to stand and introduce themselves. After their introductions it was suggested the rest of us stand to do likewise.
Curiously, several made pointed comments that they collect SLABS. Can't imagine why this particular point was made so often.
Frank Higginbotham, who has gotten earlier mention in these pages as one who regularly sets up at the local gun shows, finally attended a meeting. His main interest is nickels with both Indians and dead presidents on them. Frank made a fashion statement by wearing an L.A. Raider tee-shirt which stated: "Real Men Wear Black". Harry Larionoff showed up with an 1854 Russian two-kopeck piece with an E.M. mintmark. Harry said he had a number of other old pieces from the empire. Dwayne Mesnard (silent "s") who is not quite a new member, being #6 in our club, was one who pointed out he collects slabs (nice ones too, I might add). Dwayne had a number of well selected PCGS certified Carson City Dollars and hinted some of his unslabbed stuff might make it into the auction. Also relatively new to the club were Mike Nourse and Ralph Kiehl. Welcome to all!!
Last month's door prize was a 1961 proof set in a Capitol Plastics holder. The winner was our prez (that's right, Bill D'Atri) who was pleased to say "I've got a warm and fuzzy feeling about sitting up here now!" He whipped out his glass and found out on the spot that the half dollar in the set was doubled. Quite the cherrypicker that Bill.
At the time of the meeting, Larry Nakata was expecting a contract from the Golden Lion for accommodations for our upcoming seminar. Same room, same price, same weekend, different year. See Larry's companion piece later in the newsletter.
Billy McGinnis, who, as I recall has quite the knack for winning these drawings (two at his first meeting!), won the membership prize which was a 1977-S proof Kennedy half dollar.
The coin show was a success. I got rid of a late proof set and some SLABS, and the coin club gained a few members. Thanks to all who showed up to "sell" our club, and offered their company and moral support. I'd list their names except I don't want to leave anybody out. Besides, they, and the others who set up know who they are.
LIBERTY QUARTER BOOK DONATED
A brand new book by Larry Briggs called Seated Liberty Quarters has been released. The question of whether to donate this book to the Lousaac library was presented to the general membership for consideration. The motion was made, seconded, and passed nearly unanimously. The lone "nay" vote was by Mike McKinnon who, I suspect, made it on principle, which of course, is his privilege. Your editor understands this sentiment. He finds most candidates for public office to have political philosophies opposed to his own. The vast majority of successful candidates are for more government, not less, so unlike the little old lady who declines to vote because she "doesn't want, to encourage 'em" your editor wants to discourage them by writing in:
"NONE OF THE ABOVE".
Just thought you'd be interested to know of this option in an election year.
Bill D'Atri, who intends to organize our programs during the next year, gave an informal "program" at the last meeting. The topic was "parliamentary procedure". Those who attended got the gist of the presentation, so this synopsis will be short and to the point, and is given mostly for the benefit of those who didn't make it last time:
•The spirit of "procedural rules" as discussed is to use the same manners as one would use in polite conversation: listen while one is speaking, break in when appropriate. We do this already, it's stated here to "set the tone". We will "break" rules of procedure anyway, mainly because we are a pretty well mannered bunch and the great majority of the time our business is not so urgent that we are walking over one another anyway. When the discussion does gets heated, some simple rules will be observed and enforced by the president:
RULES OF PROCEDURE
• Only one person "has the floor" at a time. This is the same as in polite conversation, but to be heard you do the following:
• Raise Your Hand. Wait to be recognized. When the president recognizes you, you "have the floor" and may begin speaking.
• To initiate action by the club, achieve recognition, and make a motion by stating "I move that (fill in the blank)." The president will repeat the motion and ask for a "second".
• Anyone who didn't initiate the motion may second it by stating "I second the motion" or simply: "Second". The president will acknowledge the second and ask for discussion.
• Raise Your Hand. Wait to be recognized (sound familiar?). State your piece, and listen when not speaking.
• In most cases we will discuss the motion until we we get tired of talking about it. Then the president will ask for a vote. The motion is passed or denied and the next motion may be considered.
I'm sure the parliamentarians among us will consider the above to be oversimplified and "sloppy". They are invited to make their own synopsis of parliamentary procedure for the benefit of the club. For the most part the above should suffice. Procedure is a means to maintain order and fairness in dealing with club business and not as a bludgeon by those well-schooled in procedure. Using procedure as a "club" is hardly fair to those of who don't know how to swing it and violates its spirit. In the rare instance where divergence of opinion is strong enough to necessitate more elaborate rules, we should "table the motion", roll up our sleeves, learn the procedure more thoroughly, and reconsider the motion next meeting armed with our new-found knowledge. Until then, let's leave procedure to the politicians.
Larry Nakata has kindly offered a memorandum on the seminar arrangements
This year's seminar is scheduled to be held on September 11th (Friday) through September 13th (Sunday). It is an ANA Certified seminar. This year's instructor, Ken Bressett, will be teaching three subjects:
and colonial coinage.
For those of you who attended last year's seminar taught by Bill Fivaz, I think we can all agree that it was enjoyable and educational.
The seminar will be full day seminars held in the Congo/Kenya Room at the Golden Lion Hotel, Located at 1000 East 36th Ave.
Danish and Coffee will be provided each morning prior to the start of the seminar. Lunch will be provided each day. The lunches on Friday and Saturday will feature croissants with meats and cheeses. The lunch on Sunday will feature a buffet brunch. Sodas will be provided in the afternoons.
Materials, such as books and literature for each of the courses, will be provided by ANA.
Certificates to be presented on Sunday at the conclusion of the Seminar. The cost of the seminar will be the same as last year:
$225 for Anchorage Coin Club members.
$250 for non-members which includes a one year membership in the Anchorage Coin Club.
We got a "heck" of a deal at these prices last year...... and this year is no exception.
We are limiting the attendance to a maximum of 30 people. For those of you who want to secure a seat, there is a $50 deposit which can be paid at the coin club meeting (or send it in by mail). The remainder of the monies can be paid over a period of months prior to the seminar in September.
The Anchorage Coin Club organizes these seminars to provide continuing education on coin collecting with instructors coming from the American Numismatic Association.
It seems a few unfortunate ACC members have not yet joined the American Numismatic Association. Unfortunate, because some, who don't know the benefits of membership, are missing out. The rest, I suppose, have been members before, or have an idea of what these benefits are but aren't current with their membership. Former members should regard this as a gentle prod. Read on. You may see something new.
This is a monthly periodical (about two bucks per issue) which is by itself enough reason to join ANA. Among other regular features, the magazine publishes articles of consistently high quality. I don't know their rejection rate (I suspect they decline to print a number of articles), but I have yet to read a "stinker" in this magazine: the writing holds your interest and the research is top notch and often exhaustive in extent. When I first picked up a Numismatist, I had already subscribed to Coin World, Numismatic News, etc. It was immediately obvious that this magazine was in a class by itself.
Not that Coin World, et. al. are of low quality - they're just more oriented to the mass collector's market and "news". The Numismatist is oriented toward scholarship, research, and education.
A short list of regular features would include:
First Strikeis a quarterly feature which is oriented toward new collectors. As such, much of the literature in this feature are of an introductory or "survey" nature. Young Numismatists having an interest in publishing should note that First Strike often features articles from YNs.
Consumer Alert is a monthly column written by Ken Bressett, who will also be our guest instructor at our annual seminar this fall. It recounts various direct mail and T.V. solicitations involving numismatic items. Some of these solicitations are patently fraudulent. Many barely tiptoe around illegality.
The Collector's Edge is also a monthly by Don Bonser which focuses on various numismatic topics having to do with "collector" issues such as literature, grading, and counterfeit appearances and detection.
Coins and Collectors is written by the famous Q. David Bowers who, next to Walter Breen, is probably the most prolific American Numismatist in history. It appears to be about whatever he wants to write about. Fine with me: I have yet to read anything by Dave Bowers that wasn't both informative and engaging.
To sum up, you can't beat anything tike the Numismatist for only two bucks. But there's more to ANA membership than just a terrific journal appearing in your mailbox each month.
ANA maintains a museum at its headquarters in Colorado Springs. This museum is one of the moat extensive permanent displays of U.S. coins rivaled only by the Mint Cabinet located at the Smithsonian Institute.
Other aspects of numismatics are treated here as well. The ANA "collection" is continually growing since collectors often donate portions of their collections to the museum.
Also maintained at headquarters, this is undoubtedly the most extensive collection of numismatic literature extant. Maybe the Library of Congress has the greater collection but I doubt it -much that is published is never registered at the Library of Congress. What is great about the ANA library is much of its literature is loaned through the mail! Try doing that at the Loussac.
Scholarships, Competitions, Etc.
The ANA is primarily an educational organization. As such it encourages numismatic scholarship and backs it up with money.
ANA runs conventions twice each year. Admission is waived for members and for a number of educational seminars and symposiums offered at these conventions.
ANA also supports member clubs (ACC has been a "life member" since 1990) in its numismatic endeavors such as our annual seminar. If not for ANA, Bill Fivaz would not have been here last fall. Anyone care to recall what you learned from Fivaz at the seminar?
Every once in a while ANA cleans out its closet and offers books at bargain prices. Our club realized some benefit from this practice last fall at our seminar when we received a number of excellent books for next-to-nothing. This is one reason we can keep the seminar fees so cheap.
The main reason to join is the exposure to new ideas and opportunities. Every other month or so a new angle to collecting is presented in the Numismatist which seems interesting enough to pursue. This monthly exposure to new ideas and modes of collecting makes the price of admission worth while even if you don't take advantage of the other benefits. Enough Already. Just Join.
This article is based on an article published in "Legacy" by Mark Van Winkle of Heritage Rare Coin Galleries. This quarterly publication is now defunct seemingly because of the crash in rare coin prices which occurred in 1990. It was filled with tempting descriptions of rare and high-grade coins (all for sale of course) and had marvelous coin photographs to boot. It was such a well-appointed journal that the cost of publication must surely have been subsidized by the company and not completely covered by subscriptions. Mr. Van Winkle had the pleasure of interviewing John J. Ford who seems like a helluva good guy to share a beer with.
An edited version of this six-hour interview showed up in Volume III Nos. 1 and 2 of Legacy.
John J. Ford is a terrific storyteller. I've read the Legacy article three times now. Each time it gets better. Where to begin? Lets start with Ford, Walter Breen and some of their dealings at a certain New York coin shop:
BREEN, WORMSER, & THE NEW NETHERLANDS COIN COMPANY
Breen and Ford both worked for the New Netherlands Coin Company during the 1950's. Ford had a successful business relationship with the owner, Charles Wormser.
According to Ford: "basically it was a 50-50 deal... we both took the same salary and he would get an increment baaed on his ownership of the company." Wormser's interest in coins was, in Ford's words, "...nominal. It was basically a way of making a living. He didn't love coins.... I remember on several occasions I would say we should buy certain things and he would say 'we have enough coins.'" In fact, when they met in 1950, Wormser, who had served as a full Commander in the Navy during the War, was thinking about returning to military service. Business wasn't that good, even though Ford could see perfectly well that he "seemed to have a lot of good coins". In the same way he had made a name for himself as a young "wunderkind", Ford took coins from Wormser "on memo" for the purpose of selling them to other dealers. Within a few months Ford was doing more business on outside sales than the shop was doing on walk-in business. This was when Wormser offered Ford the business deal mentioned above.
Van Winkle alluded to Wormser's "belligerent side" saying he had heard that from Walter Breen among others. Ford's reply:
Walter Likes to exaggerate. Walter is a self-styled pacifist and one of those "Love Children" who throws rose petals around. He's just not used to people coming on strong....Charles and I were completely different people, and we made an excellent team for that reason... I was the operations guy. I got coins in, I got coins out, I made the deals. Charles would go to lunch with the people and cultivate them and make them happy, and I would get in the back room and sell them something or buy something from them. He patted them an the head, and I sought out their wallets. It was a balanced thing... I went home and read coin books at night and Charles went to the opera.... But occasionally , we would come up with a situation that resulted in a clash of personalities, and he could get emotional, mainly because I was very difficult to deal with. I would tell him he didn't know what he was talking about, and he would take umbrage at that and yell back. We would both let off steam and then go back to what we were doing. I can't understand how anybody can be in business and never have an argument. It's like a marriage...
But it was not what Breen thought it was. Walter's idea is piece and quiet at any price.... Wormser got (Breen) a job at the ANS. But he had problems there because the guards there were rather crude Irishmen and they thought Breen was a little strange and laid him so.... he joined us (Netherlands) in the spring in 1952.
CONSERVATIVE AND DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGING
According to Van Winkle, "New Netherlands catalogs were known for detailed descriptions and conservative grading." Ford responds:
The philosophy of putting all this information in auction catalogs, (of an unconditional guarantee, and of describing every ... blemish and defect) was mine.
The theory was that if you tell them about the flaws they can't easily return the item. (We got ) the highest prices in the coin business because my Very Fine would be everybody else's Extremely Fine.... If 100 was perfect, we described the coin as 85 or 90, slightly lowballing it.... The idea was it cost too much to sell the same coin twice. Beside, you pack the auction room doing this. Somebody would look at a lot and say "Oh, my God, Ford is out in orbit. He calls this thing Very Fine? I can sell this as Extremely Fine." So he would come to buy it. Then two other guys would get the same idea and they would also come to buy it, and they ended up paying the Extremely fine price anyway. Commercial grading... is self-defeating...What you're doing is trying to kid somebody, and you can't kid anybody. The thing you want most in any business is the trust of the customer.
Most of us aren't wealthy enough to buy ultra-high-grade coins. Ford talks about the "madness" of chasing "condition rarities" of common coins:
I'm the only guy who's still alive and kicking who spent MS-67 Monroe Doctrine half dollars... If I was really in the coin business today and a guy came to me and said he wanted to buy a Monroe Doctrine half dollar for $30,000 in MS-67, I'd say, "What are you doing tomorrow afternoon? I want to have you fitted for a straight jacket." I can think of so much... in numismatics that's a better investment...
John J. Ford
A Monroe Doctrine half dollar is nothing. It's a common coin. (Those that care about "condition rarities") have been psyched. They've been lied to. Don't tell me what they majority wants. If you were in Vienna in March 1938, you would have seen hundreds of thousands of people hollering "SIG HEIL" Every one of those people was wrong...
If you're familiar with the famous book on popular delusions and the madness of crowds - the Tulip mania, the South Sea bubble - this has all happened before. And because we're in the vortex of it, you can't see it.
Note that this interview was published in early 1990 when the coin market was still strong. I can't help but think that Ford was giving Van Winkle (whose employer, Heritage, was doing very well in this strong coin market) the needle even if only a little bit.
Last month your editor sent a copy of the April newsletter to last year's seminar leader Bill Fivaz. Bill replied with a nice letter and suggested the name you see on the masthead. I like it. Objectors are requested withhold comment unless a good alternative name is offered. Incidentally, Bill has sent an 1878 round-breast Morgan Dollar for the next auction. The proceeds of its sale have been designated to go toward Bill's membership in our Club. Thanks for your support, Bill!
Being relatively new to coin collecting, I've heard the name "Norweb" and understand the Norweb collection was auctioned some years back. I suppose it was significant but don't know any particulars save what was revealed in the Ford interview. Below Ford recounts some of his dealings with Mrs. Norweb.
I met Ambassador and Mrs. Norweb in 7952 at our ANA sale... For some reason I hit it off very well with Mrs. Norweb. It wasn't hard to get along with Ambassador Norweb because he was a diplomat: he could get along with anybody. In 1953, that relationship developed when I saw Mrs. Norweb at the Central States Convention and again at the the ANA... I took her to Chicago to work with Horace Brand in his vaults going through Virgil Brand coins.
She paid me a percentage of what she spent and a daily stipend for being her consultant, and she spent a lot of money. We had a great time. I found Mrs. Norweb a grand dame, a great lady. She could handle anybody, including the German ambassador to Portugal during WWII, when Lisbon was one of the Germans' more sensitive posts, and yet she could be a very regular person. ... I have photographs of the two of us having lunch in the pool house on her estate with her cooking the omelettes and my cutting up the fruit. I told her "No one is going to believe that you cook your own omelettes." This was a woman worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Milky Way Story
F.C.C. Boyd owned two Brasher Doubloons... one he decided to sell. This was in the late fall of 1956. So I made a deal with Mrs. Norweb; she wanted to buy a Brasher Doubloon (for $14,500). So I told Boyd I'd give him $12,000 for his, and he said okay. Now this was the piece that was supposedly dug up in a sewer in Philadelphia in 1899 by workmen.
Mrs. Norweb asked all kinds of questions about everything. I mean, she had to know about all known specimens, where they were, who located them, how high is up, and everything else. So I told Walter Breen,
"Tomorrow morning I'm driving ... to pick up the Brasher Doubloon, and Mrs.. Norweb is coming at 4 o'clock. I want you to come in early tomorrow, like around 9:30, and I want you to write a synopsis, a briefing paper, on everything there is to know about Brasher Doubloons...." Walter had this insatiable desire for Milky Ways and Mars bars. I had to buy three boxes at a time, and I'd just leave them in Walter's office. He'd eat one whenever he felt like it.
So I'm driving ... to pick up the Brasher Doubloon and Walter is doing all this research, sitting in the back room with the classical music eating Milky Ways. I walked in about 20 after 3, huffing and puffing. ..It was a cold February day in 1957, and I'm supposed to meet my wife and some friends at 6 o'clock to see a movie.'Around the World in 80 days" which was then the movie to see. Reserved seats for a movie, 1957. This was my big day. The first coin I ever sold for more than 5,000 bucks... (In those days) you could buy six Ford convertibles for that kind of money .
Anyway, my office had a beautiful desk and a big chair behind the desk and a
big chair for the customer in front..... Walter sat in the chair, the leather chair facing me, and he discussed his briefing paper.... He said,
"There's the so-and-so specimen.
You know, this was all set up. It was just like a Gorbachev-Bush meeting, prearranged. So she said, 'Tell me all about this coin." So for a half hour, I tell her all about the Brasher Doubloon.. And she said, "John, your knowledge it so remarkable." She doesn't know I've just been briefed by the Great Breen —She says, "Do you have the coin?" And I take the coin out of my vest pocket and hand it to her. She looks at it and says, "This is most satisfactory,' and she drops it into her purse, and we just made 2,500 bucks. So she gets up and she starts to waddle out. And in the middle of her rear end is a MILKY WAY CRUSHED INTO THE MIDDLE OF THIS $12,000 MINK COAT.
I mean, crushed. She had been sitting on the thing for almost an hour, and with the heat of her body, the thing was diffused in the fur. She walked out past Wormser's desk, and he ran in front of her and opened the door and took her out to the elevator... When he Came walking back in, he said, "Holy Jesus, what the hell was that?" It actually looked like she had an accident of some kind... The thing was huge. So she went down the elevator and we never heard another word about it. I never knew; did she figure she got it in our office or did she think she got it in a taxi? It probably ruined the coat. It was baked in. And of course, the chair; it was smeared all over the seat. I spent the next day cleaning it off the seat with linseed oil and a putty knife. It was a mess.
(to be continued...)
The 1895 dollar is the bane of collectors who wish to assemble a complete Morgan dollar set by date and mintmark. Only 400-500 proofs are thought to exist and no undisputed business strikes have been found.
Silver dollars have never been a big hit with non-collecting Americans especially when given a choice between scrip and specie. During the years when Morgan Dollars were produced, the greater portion of them were held in reserve by the treasury. Only in the Western states did silver dollars circulate appreciably. The Philadelphia Mint struck only 12,880 silver dollars in 1895.
12,000 of these were struck for circulation but apparently were never released. The remaining 880 were proofs of which 400-500 probably still exist.
POSSIBLE BUSINESS STRIKES
A faint hope is still held out for the existence of a business strike 1895 Morgan dollar. According to Stuart Mosher:
"For the last hundred years or more it has been customary for collectors of U.S. coins to buy sets of uncirculated current coins directly from the Mint or Treasury Department. As 12,880 silver dollars were struck in 1895, it is unlikely that collectors were denied the opportunity to buy them, directly from the Mint along with other denominations of the same date.1
Mosher goes on to suggest that at least a few business strike examples of this date reside in collections. Thirty six years later, no such business strike has surfaced publicly despite the highly desirable seller's market that has existed for the proofs.2
Although a key date, and more expensive in the higher grades than the 1895, circulated 1893-S Morgans seem readily available. A perusal of ads in a recent Coin World revealed four such coins in grades ranging from "VF" to "VF-35 ANACS" the least costly of which was about $1100. The 1895 appears only occasionally (usually along with coins in the five-figure range) and would seem to be a much tougher coin.
In the 1890s and early 1900s there was little interest in "Bland Dollars" (then named after the Bland-Allison Act which provided the impetus for the coining of what was then the new silver dollar). Despite the low mintage of the 1895 "plain" its price remained low.
In C. H. Shinkle's pricing guide U.S. Coin Values and Lists the 1895 was listed at $4.20. This list was based on prices realized at auctions between 1907 and 1910. Raymond's Standard Catalog priced the coin at $6.00 in 1939. By 1945 the coin cost about $15 but within ten years the price increased fifteen-fold to $225. By the '60s, interest in silver dollars was raging.The 1895 dollar was valued at $5,000. By 1981, in the midst of the first of three bullish coin markets in the '80s, the coin had shot up to $50,000 for a Proof-65 piece. Since then its price has risen and fallen with the general coin market. A recent Coin Dealer Newsletter shows bid prices to range from $3,500 (in "VG" or "proof-8"condition) to $20,000 (in proof-65).
It seems opportune to recount a story I heard from a collector who "middled" the purchase of an 1895 and an 1893 proof Morgan Dollar at a coin show back in 1990 when prices were still fairly high. It seems "dealer Smith" had a need for the coins and knew "dealer Jones" had them. Problem was these two had a longstanding feud so even if "Smith" felt like approaching "Jones" about these coins Smith was probably in for a screwing (if not hoots of laughter).
Smith asked our collector to make the purchase for him saying, "Don't go over $45,000." as he handed him five bank-wrapped stacks of crisp $100 bank notes.
Heart beating, with cash-in-jacket- pocket, he approached Jones' table. It had a nice glass case with a couple dozen rarities on display. Our middleman indicated the desired proofs which were proffered without comment. After examining them he said:
(Apparently, Smith had a clue as to the likely asking price.)
"Forty-three." Whereupon the dealer wordlessly picked up each coin and placed them in a bag indicating his acceptance. Four stacks of cash were produced along with thirty individual notes. These, Jones put into a briefcase uncounted.
By the time our courier got back to Smith's table his pulse was back to normal. Smith said, "Well?" The reply: "Piece of cake!"
1 The Numismatist. July 1955
2 Anyone care to guess what a unique business strike example of the date might bring once authenticated?
|4||1858||Flying Eagle Cent||G|
|5||1871||Indian Head Cent||G|
|6||1872||Indian Head Cent||G|
|7||1873||Indian Head Cent||G|
|8||1874||Indian Head Cent||G|
|9||1875||Indian Head Cent||VG|
|10||1876||Indian Head Cent||G|
|11||1875-S||Twenty Cent Piece||AG|
|13||1988||Russia Commemorative 5 Rouble||Proof|
|14||Alaska Statehood & Captain Cook Medals||BU|
|15||1965||Canada Commemorative Dollar||BU|
|16||1964||Canada Commemorative Dollar||BU|
|19||1885-O||Morgan Dollar||MS-65 (PCGS)|
|22||1913||Barber Dime||MS-63 (NGC)|
|23||1943-S||Lincoln Cent||MS-65 (ANACS)|
|24||1916||Buffalo Nickel||MS-65 (PCGS)|
|25||1906||Indian Head Cent||MS-63RB (PCGS)|
|26||1970-S||Lincoln Cent (Small Date)||MS-63|
|31||Mixed||Roll (20) Silver Dollars||Circulated|
|32||1947||3 Coins (P/D/S) Booker T Washington 50 cents||BU|
|41||1982-D||Washington Commemorative Half Dollar||BU|
|42||1979-S||Susan B. Anthony Dollar||Proof|
|43||1980-S||Susan B. Anthony Dollar||Proof|
|44||1981-S||Susan B. Anthony Dollar||Proof|
|48||1943-D||Walking Liberty Half||AU|
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,