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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

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Volume 5, Number 10

October 1992

October Membership Meeting
Wed., October 7, 1992 Central Lutheran Church

7:30 PM Meeting


 

Annual Seminar A Success

Ken Bressett, renowned numismatist and editor of the "Red Book", gave a splendid three-day seminar September 11-13. Areas of concentration included colonial coinage, coin grading, and counterfeit detection.

COLONIAL COINAGE

The discussion of colonials started with a historical overview of economic life in the American colonies and their relationship with England which led to the necessity of barter, "country pay", the use of foreign silver, the limited use of wampum, and eventually the production of coins and tokens in defiance of English colonial law. The material was presented in the order found in the Red Book, and was greatly augmented with estimated populations, edge types, obverse-to-re verse orientations, possible cherrypicking opportunities, and the likelihood and detection of modern counterfeits. Attenders benefitted from Bressett's latest thinking and research regarding such topics as how "privy marks" are manifested on Massachusetts silver, how contemporary coining technology was incorporated in America, widely held misconceptions, and historical context surrounding each of the pre-federal items found in the Red Book.

Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling Obverse (1667-1674)

Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling
Obverse (1667-1674)

ANA grading presentations

The grading portion of the seminar included the viewing of two ANA video presentations. The first, covering technical grading, was produced in the early '80s and provided a we 11-structured review of the components of technical grading. The second, was a brand new program presented by J. P. Martin of the ANA Authentication Bureau. This program presented the latest thinking on the "market grading" of Mint State coins.

The new video revealed some new concepts about current grading practices and philosophies employed by the third-party services and provided some rationale behind the apparent inconsistencies found in slabs these days.

Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling Reverse (1667-1674)

Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling
Reverse (1667-1674)

Class members also had an opportunity to inspect a number of coin sets demonstrating examples of luster, trace wear, dipping, cleaning, whizzing, and other alterations. The class tested their grading skills using "blind" grading sets with separate "grading keys" which gave technical grades and descriptions of "problems" for the coins in these sets. Mr. Bressett was extremely helpful in helping illustrate grading concepts on a one-to-one basis as well as providing grading opinions on attenders' own coins.

COUNTERFEIT PRESENTATION

The presentation on counterfeiting included some fascinating historical perspectives on counterfeiting practices going back to Ancient Greece. Bressett's discussion of more recent counterfeiting and detection efforts assured the audience that knowledge of these methods is widespread and that the efforts of experienced dealers, the grading services, and ANA's own authentication service has managed to remove a great portion of counterfeits from the market. The class was cautioned, however, that the latest counterfeiting methods are becoming extremely sophisticated, but that the grading services are staying one step ahead of the counterfeiters and are sharing information on the new generation of counterfeits.

Class members were well impressed by the breadth of Mr. Bressett's expertise, his engaging manner, and his superior and well-paced presentation.

Seminar organizers Larry Nakata, and Paul Wheeler reported a small net profit to the club this year as well as last. In a gesture designed to show appreciation to those who paid to attend the seminar, Paul and Larry purchased a 1895 $10 Indian which was given away at a drawing at the conclusion of the seminar. The winner? Past two-term president Bruce Gamble. Maybe running coin clubs pays off after all.

 

Vice President Provides Raffle Prize

Scott Hornal is our club V.P. now serving his third term in that capacity. Scott also tirelessly coordinates club-sponsored coin shows such as the Sears Mall show coming up on the weekend of October 3rd and 4th.

Scott has done it again. He was so motivated by the fine job Ken Bressett did at our annual seminar, that he called Jack Beymer (pronounced BAY-mer) and bought a Fugio Cent in fine to very fine condition. This cent is said to be struck on a good planchet and to be free of problems. Estimated value is approximately $400. Scot proposed at the last E-Board meeting to provide this coin for our Christmas Raffle. The proposal was enthusiastically approved by unanimous assent.

Fugio Cent (1787 With Pointed Rays)

Fugio Cent (1787 With Pointed Rays)

The raffle will be run the same way as last year's. Rules as follows:

•Tickets available to club members only.

•Ticket price:$5 (five dollars}

•No more than one-hundred tickets will be sold.

•Winning ticket will be drawn at the Christmas meeting.

•Winner need not be present to win.

Scott will bring the Fugio Cent to the October meeting for inspection by prospective raffle winners and other interested parties (such as future collectors of colonials). If Beymer lives up to the billing given him by Ken Bressett, this will be one lovely piece of early copper. I personally anticipate buying a number of tickets. Hurry, the supply will not last for this raffle

 

Slang Not What It Used To Be

The following has been adapted from the Editorial in the Sept 29 issue of Numismatic News.

When speaking about coins, who among us knows what a "checker" is? How about "sinker"? Or "coach wheel"? In the 1956 American Thesaurus of Slang these all were listed under the heading "silver dollar".

Also listed were:

Ball, banger, bat, bean, berry, biscuit, and bone.

Can, cartwheel, check, chip, clam, clank, and danker.

Also: Drum, iron man, iron smacker, medal, plank, plate, platter, plug, plunk, and plunker.

Finally: Rock, rocker, seed, shiner, slug, smack, smacker, smackerino, and smackeroo.

Of all these slang expressions, the only one I've heard in the last two-odd years since I began collecting is "cartwheel".

CURRENT SLANG

Nowadays, most of us know what a "slab" is and what "sight-unseen" means. These had no particular numismatic meaning prior to 1985 and the formation of PCGS {itself a nearly ubiquitous acronym). Certainly "crackout" and "PQ" would have no meaning outside the context of slabs (incidentally, does anyone know when the term "cherry pi eking" came into use?).1

Slang is defined inThe Random House Dictionary as:

slang (slang) n. very informal vocabulary that is characteristically more metaphorical and ephemeral than ordinary language.

Well I didn't know what ephemeral meant so I looked it up too. It means "lasting for only a very short time". No kidding. Who ever heard of calling a silver dollar a "berry"?

SLANG AND JARGONS

When reading the Numismatic News article I wondered about the difference between slang and jargon. Most of us are in a trade, a profession, or a group that uses jargon.

I, for example, am an electrical engineer. This is in itself a fairly broad profession which can be divided into at least several smaller subprofessions, each of which has its own specialized language which identifies its users as being within the group. This points toward one purpose of jargon: identification of its users. I could walk into a convention where many types of engineers are gathered, overhear a conversation, and identify which engineering discipline the associates belong to. Or not, if I was unfamiliar with the jargon.

This is another purpose of jargon: that ia, to exclude. The engineers on which I was eavesdropping might notice me doing so. If they were talking in conventional, language, they might wish to use jargon to prevent me from understanding what they're saying.

The best reason for jargon (which seems to be a narrower and more persistent form of slang), however, is efficiency. People using a common jargon can converse precisely using economy of language, a sort of verbal shorthand, if you will. It is the usefulness of jargon which causes the it to be used frequently and which gives jargon its longevity. This is contrasted with the short-lived version of slang.

If I ask to look at your "Morgans", you know this is short for "Morgan Dollar" which in turn is jargon for: "those one-dollar silver coins minted as legal tender by the United States between 1878 and 1904, and again in 1921."

If you ask to see my "Indians", I will understand that you mean my "Indian Head Cents" and not my "Buffalo Nickels" or "Buffalos".

Take a look at the price list in Coin World. There is a section called "Winged Liberty Head dimes". When I first saw this I thought, "Huh?". Then I figured out they were referring to what I had seen previously as "Mercury dimes". I figure Coin World uses this as a formal designation for "those ten-cent coins minted as legal tender by the United States between 1916 and 1945"2.I was so impressed that I listed some of the Mercs in the next ACC auction list the same way. I got over it by the next issue.

YET MORE 1954 SLANG

Other choice selections from the American Thesaurus of Slang include:

Gold piece:

Bean, ridge, shine, sun beam, and yellow boy.

Paper Money:

Bank rags, bat hides, cabbage, folding money (I've heard of this one), government blotters, government lettuce, happy cabbage, leaves, lettuce (heard of this one too. In old movies, I think), mint leaves, mint moss, negotiable wood pulp (haven't heard this one before, but I like it), paper, rag money, rags, skins, soft, soft money, stamps, stationery, and toad.

I suspect "toad" will never become jargon for paper money in the way "shinplasters" is used to refer to the worthless "paper" issued to finance the colonial army during the American Revolution. I further suspect, though, that "slab" will endure and establish itself firmly in the numismatic vernacular. Anyone want to get a closer look at any of my sunbeams? How 'bout my chips? Or some bat hides? See you at the show.

 

2 The Red Book lists these coins as WINGED LIBERTY HEAD Of 'MERCURY' TYPE 1916-1945

 

Becker Publications Available At A Discount

Readers of Numismatic News are familiar with Tom Becker's writing. Becker occasionally writes a column for "NN" which is always humorous or ironic. A recent offering (April 14, page 46) recounts (or invents) a presentation given by one Mr. Goody to an to an unreceptive bunch of youngsters. These kids are bored to tears until Goody passes out rolls of cents which are "salted" with items from his collection, with the offer that the children could "keep the ten coins you find most interesting". This works famously. The kids find "silver pennies" and a "neat old coin with an Indian on it." Soon Mr. Goody is answering questions left and right and feeling more than a little proud of himself, until one youngster pipes up: "This one looks brand new, but it was minted in 1909"!3

Confessions of a coin dealer by Tom Becker

Another column starts after bourse hours in the lounge of a hotel where a coin show is being held. After several rounds the gathered dealers are debating who is the greatest coin buyer, Friz or Erv Czarkewitz. One of them, named Jumbo, has an inspiration. The dealers will put up $50,000 for each of the legendary buyers who will then attempt to outdo each other in buying coins with the money. The winner will be given a $1,000 dollar prize and, of course, bragging rights as King of the Coin Buyers.

Now Erv and Friz, like most great men in Numismatics, are modest men. Neither would even think of himself as being better than the other, much less vie for such a title. Each in turn tries to back away from the coin buying contest, but the dealers will have none of that. They badger Erv and Friz until they relent and agree to compete. Once the contestants are out of earshot Jumbo tells the other dealers the real intent of his scheme: The two top coin buyers in the biz are going to spend all day spending a hundred grand for the dealers and earn a lousy 1% commission for their trouble. For the rest of this story see page 16 of the May 26 issue of Numismatic News.4

Precious little of Becker's work has appeared lately in Numismatic News, perhaps because of his recent memoir, to wit:

CONFESSIONS OF A COIN DEALER

Confessions is an 8x10 book containing 12 humorous short stories and 12 full page illustrations. Robert Hall has read this book and highly endorses it. For my own part, having read a number of Becker's columns, I'd say it's a good bet to be well worth the price of admission, about which more below.

Also available are the following:

The Truth about Third Party Grading

The Truth about Rare Coin Auctions

The Truth about Rare Coin Investment

The Truth about Rare Coin Dealers

The Truth about Cleaning Coins

The Truth about Buying Rare Coins

Each is an eight-page publication giving the fruits of Tom Becker's experience as a lifelong collector and principal of the New Hampshire coin firm Becker and Kuehnert

By Becker's (or his publicist's) own reckoning: "... you won't find any books written on these subjects, at least one that gives you a book full of information for just $2!"

THE KICKER

Robert Hall has been informed by ANA that the club may purchase these publications for half price. Normally Becker and Kuehnert offers Confessions for $10, and The Truth series for $2 a piece. ACC's price is $5 and $1 respectively which is only marginally more costly than the price of reproduction. Interested parties should contact Robert Hall. Otherwise contact:

Becker and Kuehnert P.O. Box 7,15 Laconia, NH 03247 (603) 527-0285

I'm quite sure they'll be glad to hear from you and will send you a catalog as well.

 

3 Unlike Paul Harvey. I'm not going to tell 'the rest of the story '.

4 Actually, reprints will be made available for all who attend the next regular meeting.

Want List Deadline Approaches

In August want list forms were published for the purpose of anonymously polling club members about the kinds of material we would like to see in our club coin auctions. To date approximately ten members have filled out and forwarded these forms to the club officers.

We would like to publish a summary of the coins club members collectively covet for their collections said summary to be shortly (and sweetly) summed up for your study.** Since this summary will appear in the November ACCent. turn in your want list no later than the next ciub meeting on October 9, or mail it to the club P.O. Box printed on the reverse side of the form no later than the following Wednesday (October 16). Thanks to ail who have participated thus far in this survey.

5For this I bought a new thesaurus?

 

Impromptu Auction: One More Time

For the third month in a row, nobody brought auction material to E-Board, so bring your coins for sale to the general membership meeting. Last month there were a grand total of twelve lots, including a 1909-S VDB Cent in Fine. We can do better than this. The snow is falling as I finish up this newsletter. It's time to hang up the bicycles and fishing poles and start working on our collections. Turn over your don't wanters so you can get some material you really want.

 

Buffalo Nickel Presentation Slated For YN Meeting

Buffalo nickel obverse

Mike Greer wishes to inform all interested Young Numismatists that the next meeting will be held the second Friday in October (October 9) at 7:00 at the Central Lutheran Church. The program will be "Grading Buffalo Nickels".

Morgan silver dollar obverse

A "Cartwheel"

 


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