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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
|Volume 5, Number 7||
|July Membership Meeting|
|Wed., July 1, 1992||Central Lutheran Church||
7:30 PM Meeting
Your Editor can't report on what went on early in the meeting because of a Softball game that evening (won 10-6). But he did get the rest of it.
The Second Annual Seminar: Do We Intend to Attend?
It seems only eight of twenty stated seminar attendees have backed up their stated intentions with cash. There was discussion regarding whether to have the seminar or not. Surely the other twelve intend to attend. Surely this is preferable to no seminar at all (?).
We have an unusual opportunity here. Even Mike Greer, who is fortunate to have his tuition waived and expenses covered for his upcoming trip to ANA's Summer Seminars, has to get on a plane, sleep on a strange bed, and go to classes over which he has no say in what is covered.
On the other hand we call the shots for our seminar. We get on no plane, we request the areas of concentration, we set the venue, we sleep in our own beds, we get lunch (three times), coffee and rolls in the mornings, and "free" sodas in the P.M. too, and we pay a lot less than the usual ANA seminars. We spend a lot on material (coins): we should spend more on education. Bottom Line: if you made your intentions clear, back them up with the bucks. For details, see Larry Nakata's notice later in the Newsletter.
MINT SET RAFFLE
Goes to Rod Meade, who wasn't present, Neal said he sold him some raffle tickets at the flea market several weeks back. He said, "buy these tickets instead of a com dog" Well, all you who know Rod at Anchorage Coins and Cards know where to find some mint Sets cheap.
Mike Nourse is in the same shoes as I was a year ago. He intends to set up at the coin show but has never done one before. He asked what to bring for sale at a coin show.
EVERYTHING was a general answer, others said "proof sets". D'Atri, opportunistic cherry picker (and master of subtlety) said,
"Bring a lot of inexpensive errors in HIGH GRADES" Thanks Bill.
For my own part, I'd like to see a bunch of cameo prooflike silver dollars going at fire sale prices (thanks, Jim).
Now that Mike, has had lots of pure-hearted, well-intentioned advice, I, your intrepid editor, by now a coin show veteran, will bestow the fruits of his experience plucked from the harvest of four (or five) coin shows:
What to SELL
Also: sports cards, stamps, scrip, bullion, bank notes, coin supplies, books, back issues of coin magazines. Basically bring anything your little ol' heart desires.
Selling Your Material
When they show interest I tell prospective buyers the merchandise is "cheaper by the dozen". Sometimes, I try to draw in the prospect by offering to "show him a closer look". Beyond that you're on own because I'm still trying to figure it out.
Selling the Club
Generally we try to promote the club to anyone who shows at least a smidgen of interest. We hand out club cards, back issues of newsletters (I do anyway), and try to make the club seem more fun than it really is, at least until we get the membership fee.
How to Price Your Material
First, be fair to yourself. Remember, a "price guide" is just that, A GUIDE. Marking an item ten, twenty-five, fifty per cent or more over Red Book is your prerogative - it's your coin, price it your way. If you can get a premium price for your junk 1923 Peace Dollar, or 1970 proof set because someone's dad, grandmother, old piano teacher, or third-cousin-twice-removed was born that year by all means, be ready to collect a portion of your table fee on your buyer's benevolent impulse. If he hadn't been so fortunate as to stumble upon your table he might have spent far more money on a trinket in a junk shop (euphemistically known in some quarters as a "gift shop").
We've all seen such merchandise before. Many end up years later on a table at a yard sale for two cents on the dollar and then in the trash when it doesn't sell.
So mark it up, it's far easier to cut the price than to raise it - unless of course you would rather display than sell. Save your "fair" pricing for informed buyers. For instance, cut your price when I come around for those cameo prooflike dollars.
I usually manage to forget to bring one or more of the following items, usually because I haven't committed such a checklist to writing until now (you didn't think I was doing this just to fill up this newsletter, did you?). I've been fortunate, up 'til now to beg or borrow certain items which escaped my attention until time of the show. If you bring this stuff then you can be a lender instead of a borrower. With no further elaboration then, the checklist:
Cloth for bottom of Display Case
Thermos for coffee (or other eye-openers)
Price Guides: the ones you sell with (Cain World) and the ones you buy with (Graysheet)
Change (small bills, and clad coins)
Real Money (for the inevitable old-time collector looking to sell. Also for each other. Coin Shows are among the best of times to get a good look at each other's material.)
Stock Boxes (well-organized, if possible)
Hand Cart (especially if your stock justifies such)
Price Labels (small sticky dots you write your price on)
Newspaper or good books
Magnifiers (never know when you'll need them)
More on Display Signs
I suspect the one of the most effective things you can have are well constructed, eye-catching signs. This would seem to be true especially for the casual buyer who would just as soon buy a hot dog as your BIT 1934 Lincoln Cent. Folks gotta have a reason to stop and look a little closer. Most of these will pass by your table in little under four seconds (with small children) or less (without the little darlings). Such brief encounters will not usually reveal the acumen with which you have assembled your wares so you must flaunt it if you got it (especially if you don't).
Examples which come to mind include:
I OWE, I OWE, THE COINS MUST GO
GORGEOUS SILVER DOLLARS (MOST OVER A HUNDRED YEARS OLD!) ON SALE TODAY ONLY
Predict your birth month only one dollar (Free Indian cent if I don't)
PREDICT YOUR WIFE'S WEIGHTONLY ONE DOLLAR (FREE BUFFALO NICKEL IP I DON'T)
Well, I took a stab at it anyway. I'm out of ideas - not really, it's just that the publishing deadline is fast approaching. Critiques of this article are invited. Maybe a revised version can be printed later for all our benefits.
Collectors trying to assemble a type set are acquainted with the "V Nickel". This is the five-cent piece that was minted in the U.S. around the turn of the last century. According to the Red Book there are two varieties. The "with-cents" variety (Var. 2) is by far the more common having been minted from 1883 to 19131; the "no cents" (variety 1) V-Nickel was minted only in 1883 followed closely by the "with-cents" version. The reason for the quick design change is the subject of this story.
The "Shield Nickel" was the circulating five-cent coin of the realm prior to the "V". It was the first five-cent piece to be introduced to United States commerce.
When the Shield Nickel was first introduced in 1866 you could make change using the Indian cent, the two-cent, and both (silver and nickel) three-cent pieces2, The Shield Nickel clearly showed a "5" with "CENTS" beneath. The variety 1 V-Nickel had only a prominent V surrounded by a wreath, the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
By one account a deaf mute, Josh Tatum, gold-plated a number of these new nickels and took them to cigar stores. He would point to a five-cent cigar and give one of his gold-plated creations3 in payment. Shrewd shopkeepers would accept the coin and thank Josh who would leave and enjoy his cigar. Most, however, would give $4.95 in change.
Breen4 states that the nickels were reeded on the edge and then gold plated although both reeded and unreeded "racketeer nickels" have been found. It was supposed that Tatum was the front man in the scam. Eventually he stood trial for his apparent duplicity and was acquitted: after all no one could credibly testify that a deaf mute could call the nickel anything much less a half eagle. The publicity of this trial introduced a new phrase into the American vernacular. Now, if someone is caught "pulling a fast one" he may try to excuse himself and say:
"I was just joshing"
1 Buffalo nickel collectors will be interested to know only five 1913 "V" nickels were struck none of which were placed in circulation.
2 What Fun! Anyone for a three-dollar coin today? NO, REALLY.
3 One article (The Numismatist 2/91 pg. 260) commented "these pieces became known as 'racketeer nickels' and that others were playing the plating game. It goes on to state these "Enterprising con artists .. . were difficult to prosecute since they were careful not to refer to them as five-dollar coins when spending them". It's interesting to note this article claimed Josh Tatum was blind, not deaf-mute.
4Waiter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins P253.
We want to remind all club members the ANA seminar is still on track for September 11th (Friday) through September 13th (Sunday).
At this time we need members to sign up for the seminar. Less than half of the available seats have been signed up thus far.
We have the Congo/Kenya Room of the Golden Lion Hotel reserved for those three days. These are full day sessions that will be taught by Ken Bressett, one of the authors of the coin grading bible, otherwise known as the "Official ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins."
Ken will be covering three subjects:
and Colonial Coinage.
The cost of the seminar has been held to the level as last year:
$225 for Anchorage Coin Club members.
$250 for non-members which includes a one year membership in the Anchorage Coin Club.
Lunches and refreshments will be provided by all three days.
Books and literature will be provided by ANA. Certificates will be presented on Sunday at the conclusion of the seminar.
You can't beat this deal!!!
To secure a seat, it only takes a $50 deposit which can be paid at the coin club meeting (or send it in by mail to the newsletter address5). The remainder of the monies can be spread over the next few months prior to the seminar in September. We are trying to make this affordable for all club members6.
For those of you who have committed to attending the seminar, we ask that you sign up.
For those of you thinking of attending ...... your support is needed.
5Bottom left corner of the front page
6Larry understates the case, folks. This seminar is more than affordable. Less than half the normal price - with no plane fares and six meals with afternoon refreshments to boot!!
A few months back I received a glossy four-page flyer in the mail containing beautiful (painted) pictures of S-mint Morgan dollars and a lot of very interesting stories telling all about these coins. The front page trumpeted an announcement in bold green type:
ORIGINAL U.S. GOV'T MINTED, UNCIRCULATED SILVER DOLLARS
- 1OO YEARS OLD -
ABOUT TO BE RELEASED TO UNITED STATES CITIZENS
In smaller print, off to one side it stated:
To Be Offered to U.S. Citizens Only-
By An Act Of Congress!
As Part Of A Special Series
OF ORIGINAL U.S. GOVT. MINTED
MORGAN SILVER DOLLARS
Over the years I've been one to get a lot of direct-mail solicitations, so I cut to the chase and went to the back page to check out the price. I noticed a price: $239. "Hmmm, not bad for a roll price, especially if they're well selected," I thought (and should have known better). I looked closer. $239 was the price for THREE UNCIRCULATED COMMON DATE MORGANS, one each of the 1880-S, the '81-S, and the '82-S Morgans . In the middle of the flyer the hype continued:
'Price guaranteed for this special release only.
Supply guaranteed only for as long as they last"
"Due to the limitation of supply, the constant pressure of demand, and the acute scarcity of the U.S. Govt. Uncirculated "S Marked" Morgan Silver Dollars7, we can guarantee this initial price of $239 per set for this special release only ...because they are so severely limited in number we can only guarantee to fill orders on a first come first served basis. In addition, we must set a limit of no more than 6 coins in each of the three dates for a total of 18 coins per customer, at $195 per set."
'This is a limited-time offer-all orders must be postmarked within 30 days of receipt of this offer!'
Well!! How did I get so lucky to get wind of such a great deal from those nice folks? I'll you what, though, I was bummed I could only order six sets. I was so bummed out I forgot to place my order. And now that my thirty days are up I'm quite sure that the supply has been exhausted long ago.
As for the rest of you, take heart, I've still got a few "S-mints" left for sale - in fact, I'll even beat their price. But Hurry, that acute scarcity, you know.
Another solicitation found in none other than the PARADE supplement of the Sunday , June 21 Daily News consisted of a full page stating:
Own Genuine U.S. Mint Silver Coinage
THE AMERICANA SILVER COIN COLLECTOR'S SERIES
"own these precious heirlooms from our past ... in your choice of 3 uniquely different collector's sets!"
"The President's Collection"
"The Vanishing Classics Collection"
"The Yesteryear Collection"
displayed one each of the Barber Half, Quarter, and Dime, a Liberty Nickel, and an Indian Cent. The ad stated that Barber was "responsible for the design of these rapidly disappearing9 Liberty head coins"
The Price? A mere $29.95 plus $3.95 postage and handing. Well most of us know you can buy a 1964 PROOF SET for around ten dollars. So I think I'll pass on "The President's Collection"
The pictures of "The Vanishing Classics Collection" looked like a bunch of harshly cleaned coins in Good condition as did "The Yesteryear Collection". No grade was given for these sets.
Consulting the Numismatic News Coin Market and for prices of coins in Good condition having the dates of the coins shown revealed the full, combined retail prices of these sets to be as follows:
The Vanishing Classics Collection:
$8.35 (including an MS60 steel cent and VG Half and Quarter).
"The Yesteryear Collection"
$12.25 ($9.00 if common Barber Half substituted for displayed 1894 Half).
Somehow I'm not real surprised.
At least they showed pictures of worn coins!
8Again, emphasis mine.
9You guessed it!
"Another day, another dollar" is a phrase which has become dated by the passage of time and the steady devaluation of American currency. My own first job, as for most of us I'm sure, paid the prevailing minimum wage which in Alaska in 1975 was $2.60/hour. In the late eighteenth century a typical day's wages for an agricultural worker was half-a-dollar (plus two or three meals). Skilled laborers got a dollar a day. Perhaps that's where the saying came from.
Clearly, however, in order to determine how generous (or miserly) a particular wage or salary is one must also determine the context of such a wage.
How much food will it buy? How many day's shelter will it support? How much meat and bread? How many pounds of coal, shirts, gallons of wine? What part of a dowry will it comprise. Nowadays we are also concerned with how many car payments, what kind of VCR , how many dental checkups, or what part of a Hawaiian vacation will ones daily wage pay for?
Nowadays, it would be closer to the truth to say:
"Another day, another Franklin"
In Rome (as in other domains throughout history) Emperors tried to increase their wealth by debasing the coins they issued by mixing metal of lesser value with the usual silver or gold. Often these fraudulent rulers would not accept their own coins demanding bullion instead. Rampant inflation and a reluctance to use coins in commerce occurred as a result of abusing the public faith- By the end of the 3rd century A.D., the Roman economy was in chaos. Diocletian, in an attempt to renew confidence in Roman coins, began issuing coins having real value and imposed wage and price controls in A.D. 301. In doing so he provided historians with a snapshot of earning power which gives us a glimpse of how Romans made ends meet 1700 years ago.
Following are listed the some of the wages and prices of various occupations, goods, and services in 4th century Rome:
Eggs, per dozen $40.
Beer, six pack $30.
Common10 wine (quart) $60.
Fine wine (quart, from Picenum, Tibur, and Falernum) $205.
Ham, per pound $110.
Pork, per pound $70
Beef, per pound $45
Mutton, per pound $45
Lettuce, five heads $16
Cabbage, five heads $16
Turnips, ten $16
Asparagus, 25 stalks $24
Salt, per bushel11 $720
Unskilled workman $100
Barber (per shave) $3
Gymnastic Teacher (per pupil/ per month) $200
Daycare Employee $200
Lawyer presenting case $2000
Lawyer finishing case $8000
Teacher (per pupil/ per month) $200 (plus food)
Arithmetic Teacher (per pupil/ per month) $300 (plus food)
Greek/Geometry Teacher (per pupil/ per month) $800 (plus food)
Storm coat, "1st quality" $2000
Boots, "1st quality" $45
Patrician's shoes $60
Undergarment, "1st quality" $800
Military mantle, "1st quality" $1600
Obviously, a "dollar" didn't go very far in 4th century Rome either.
11Bill D'Atri related to me that certain Roman soldiers were paid partly in salt and that the phrase "He's not worth his salt" was derived from this practice.
12No wonder they wore togas!
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,