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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
|Volume 7, Number 5||
|May Membership Meeting|
|Wed., May 4, 1994||Central Lutheran Church||
7:30 PM Meeting
An informal count1 at the April meeting totaled 32 on the beautiful spring evening of April 6. Excepting those times when food is in abundance, this amounts to some kind of record. Thanks to he (or she?) who brought doughnuts for the second (or third) time-in-a-row2. A hearty "Welcome Back" to Ancient3 collector Loren Lucason who appeared after a long absence due to his battle with illness which caused an overlong hospital stay. A hearty Welcome, too, to the handful of new members who attended for the first time.
LARRY NAKATA TO MAKE PRESENTATION ON COIN SECURITY
Insurance, safety deposit boxes, and other issues related to safeguarding coins will be discussed by Larry Nakata at the May meeting.
BEN GUILD SPREADS THE WORD
Kudos to Ben Guild who gave a three-hour presentation at Bowman Elementary School one afternoon last month. The title of his presentation was "Revolutionary and Civil War Coinage." Larry Nakata reports that the event occurred as a result of Robert Hall's extensive public contact and Ben's expertise and hard work. Robert was approached by the Resource Coordinator4 at Bowman who inquired about the topic. Robert put the parties together, the result being that Ben had the attention of some one hundred fifth grade students.
Along with a heavy dose of history, he passed around numerous examples of the coins of the time.
WOODEN NICKELS COST (NEARLY) A DIME NOWADAYS
The E-Board reports that it has approved the manufacture and purchase of 1,000 wooden nickels which will advertise our club. The nickels will bear the club logo on the obverse and the reverse will present our club address for the scrutiny of the holder. The cost will be $90.35 which works out to a dime apiece (more or less) and will be ready for distribution in time for the Sears Mall Show.
Jerry Brown, member #160, won the membership prize which was a 1971 Mint Set.
Marcia, the lady who is often seen sitting with Jim Walston, was embarrassed to win the door prize which was a 1972 MintSet.
ANA TRAINING SEMINARS ANNOUNCED
ANA regularly offers seminars on a variety of numismatic topics. I believe these are mostly held in Colorado Springs. Costs typically range from $375 to $425 which includes lodging and meals but not travel.
LARRY NAKATA MAKES ACC SEMINAR REPORT
The ANA announcement was a good lead-in to the real seminar bargain in town. This fall ACC will hold a three-day seminar on U.S. Commemoratives and U.S. Coin Grading for a cost of $225 (which includes meals). Larry has worked out a budget and estimates we will need 22 paying attenders at a cost of $225 for members. Non-members will be charged $250 which includes a one-year ACC membership. At the time of his presentation, Larry reported that seven members had put up a $50 reservation fee (make that eight members since Bill McGinnis stepped up with his fifty). Naturally, the reservation fee is credited toward the total tuition. We can do this due to our excellent relationship with ANA and the fact that the club passes though the actual cost of the seminar with no "mark-up." We also treat our seminar experts very well, so it generally is not difficult to convince various numismatic luminaries to make the trip North. The lure of Alaska probably has something to do with it as well.
COIN SHOW RULES FORMALIZED
It was resolved, mostly as a matter of executive policy that, each exhibitor at future club shows would be given a code of conduct and be required to sign a form acknowledging that they understand and will abide by them. I believe President Mike McKinnon was the driving force behind this effort, for which he should be roundly applauded. Larry Nakata informed me that such a code was presented to exhibitors for the Eagle River show, and that this show went off without a hitch. In fact it was smoother than usual since everybody pitched in with the setting up and breaking down of tables. Way to go, Mike.
MAIL-BID-ONLY AUCTION DIES INDIFFERENT DEATH
Mike Orr reported that since no one called himself or Ben Guild to express a willingness to insure the club against loss in conducting a mail-bid-only auction, no such auction will be sponsored by the club.
Loren Lucason jumped in, asking if bidding in a mail bid wasn't like "buying coins with eyes closed?" I couldn't have said it any better.
1 Requiring Editor to remove shoes and socks. Twice.
2 Said hero should step up and be counted for his (her?) generosity and consideration.
3 Referring not to Loren but to his coins.
4 is this what used to be called "Librarian"?
Mike McKinnon is organizing this month's show to be held on the 14th and 15th. At the time of this writing, all tables were booked, and a waiting list formed. It seems that demand has definitely outstripped supply for exhibiting at shows. Potential exhibitors are advised to get in touch with Mike McKinnon, Robert Hall, or Mike Nourse for upcoming shows and early commitments.
The mall is now operating on summer hours: 9AM-9PM on Saturdays and 11AM-7PM on Sundays.
Bill McGinnis, Mike Orr, and myself (Larry Nakata) will be the adults overseeing the coming YN (Young Numismatists) Program. Our thanks go out to Bill D'Atri for his efforts in overseeing the YN program up until now.
One of our first actions will be to reinstitute "The YN Corner" as a monthly article in the club newsletter to keep our overall membership informed about YN activities throughout the year.
Goals that we are trying to achieve are:
1. To increase the size of our YN membership this next year.
2. To help our YNs enhance their collections through various programs developed over the course of the year.
3. To broaden their horizons by showing the YNs the different kinds of coin and paper currency collecting available to them.
Our YNs meet at the Central Lutheran Church every second Friday of the month at 7:00 pm. We encourage parents and their children to attend these meetings.
A YN can be defined as a person 17 years or younger who collects coins and/or paper currency. Those interested in joining the YN club can either attend the monthly meetings, or correspond with any of us at the Anchorage Coin Club address listed in this newsletter.
At our April 8th YN meeting we had the YNs bring in their coin collections to show each other. It gave us adults a fair idea of what each YN was collecting. We noted their interests ranged across the board: American coinage, foreign coinage, paper currency, type sets, commemoratives, and 19th century coinage.
Mike Orr gave a presentation to the YNs about overall coinage in the US, Mexico, and Canada from colonial times to present.
Congratulations go out to Billy McGinnis for winning the YN contest at the Northway Mall Coin Show last month. Al that show, we gave each YN a $10 bill with instructions to negotiate the best coin deals with the various coin tables and they got to keep the coins. Billy won with his purchase of four coins: an 1868A (Prussian) three pfennig, an 1813 George ill (English) one stiver, a 1668 (French) jeton, and an 1816 (Brunswick) one pfennig. Not bad for $10.
Our next YN meeting will be held on May 13th. Our YNs have been asked to bring in their extra coins that they would like to sell at the Sears Malt Coin Show, which will be held on May 14th and 15th. The YNs will be given their own coin table with display cases. This will give them an opportunity to sell or trade their extra coins and upgrade their collections. We look forward to your support of our Anchorage Coin Club's YN Program.
The March Meeting was graced with one of the better video presentations I've seen since joining Ye Old Anchorage Coin Club. Dennis Loring, longtime member of Early American Coppers (EAC for short), gave a talk on grading old American copper at the Baltimore ANA convention last fall which was captured on video for the edification of ANA members and clubs. EAC is a group of one-thousand-odd copper fanatics which is undoubtedly THE copper collectors organization for pre-1860's copper (that is Large and Half Cents - and some colonials too). Copper, being a highly reactive (which means it tones and corrodes easily) and soft metal (which means it is easily damaged and worn), provides special challenges to the grader, especially when it is 130+ years old. Factors such as color, porosity, rim dents, nicks, scratches, verdigris (and other forms of corrosion), plane he t defects, affect the desirability of copper coins in ways that the ANA grading guide and the independent grading services don't address. EACers recognized this long ago and developed a different aesthetic for their beloved coppers from which the following grading principles were established. So, here it is: your editor's attempt to distill 50 minutes5 worth of Dennis Loring's wisdom into a few short pages.
Loring started by saying what GRADING IS NOT.
GRADING IS NOT PRICING. GRADING IS NOT WORTH. GRADING MEASURES THE QUANTITY OF DETERIORATION OF THE COIN SINCE IT WAS STRUCK.
EAC grading considers four factors:
The grading starts with a sharpness grade. Sharpness is a description of the amount of wear a coin displays. One can use the ANA Grading Guide to help determine the "sharpness grade". Note that since EAC grading is "technical" (my word) in that it considers the quantity of deterioration since the striking and not the quality of the strike (commonly also described as a "weak" or a "strong" strike) one should know something about the striking characteristics of the issue in order not to confuse lack of detail with wear.
Loring stated that sharpness is the predominant factor for sharpness grades equal to or less than VF-20. For coins having sharpness of VF-20 to EF-45 surfaces are most important. Color is a predominant factor in coins having sharpness equal to or greater than AU-50. Consider two coins with different sharpness grades (one having XF-40 sharpness the other having VF-20 sharpness) and with equal surfaces, defects, color, and eye appeal. The coin with less wear (higher sharpness grade) will have a NET GRADE with a greater difference from the sharpness grade (say NET VF-25) that that for the more worn coin (say NET F-12). In other words a lightly worn coin's grade can fall farther than a heavily worn coin.
The next grading factor is surfaces. Surface defects include rim dents, scratches, nicks, porous surfaces, corrosion, pitting, etc.
The most desirable color, of course, is red. Red is the color of a copper planchet and a "shiny new penny" Red most often turns into various shades of brown. Toning does not necessarily happen evenly to a coin which leads to descriptions of "R and B" or "RB" ("Red and Brown") on price lists and on slabs.
Light brown is generally preferred to dark or black. Other colors are also possible on a naturally toned copper coin.
Color is especially important to the net grade of Mint State copper. According to Loring the highest an otherwise perfect coin (with MS70 sharpness) which is brown can have a net grade no higher than MS63. Generally Mint State color requirements are as follows:
MS63 20-45% original color.
MS65 75% original color (may also have two small carbon spots).
MS67 must have nearly all the original color.
A commercially graded slabbed copper grading "MS69 Brown" would be net graded MS63 by EAC standards.
Eye appeal takes defects into account. The strength or weakness of strike would enter into the equation here. The principle is that defects are objective whereas their associated deductions are subjective. One can grade a coin and offer descriptions of its defects, but how much the net grade will be affected will depend on the grader (and whether the grader is also a buyer, a seller, or relatively disinterested). Sheldon, who wrote Penny Whimsy and originated the 70 point grading system we presently use, stated that ownership is worth five points. If Zachary owns a coin that Angus wants and which Bill (an experienced EAC grader) grades VG10, then it wouldn't be unusual to find that Angus calls it "VG8" and Zach calls it "F12".
THE CALCULUS OF DEDUCTIONS
Don't let that word "calculus" trouble you. It's got nothin' to do with nasty math classes. However it has everything to do with potentially nasty disputes over the net grade of old copper. Up 'til now we've been talking about the "what", the factors in grading copper. Now we become concerned with the "how much". How much does a rim ding affect an otherwise lovely full red XF-45 Large Cent? What if that cent is Brown or only 25% Red? Unfortunately Loring offered no hard and fast rules.
But he did offer a process by which the grader might arrive at a net grade. One might liken the process to estimating rather than calculating.
For example, how does one grade a defective coin having XF sharpness? This coin is pitted, has two rim dings, and one scratch. First you go to the bottom: you kinda guesstimate a net grade and say to yourself: "Well, it's better than a VG. it's slightly better than a Fine. So it's either F15 or VF20." When you're split between two grades Loring says "use the lower of the two grades you'd like it be." Presumably this applies without regard to which side of the counter you're standing6. You can see that when it comes to this system that not only is grading "both an art and a science" it's really "more an art than a science," And, unfortunately for those of us who lack experience, there really is no substitute foe having carefully scrutinized many coins.
Oh well, anyone who's seen a fair number of slabs realizes that hocus pocus creeps into them little plastic tombs fairly often too.
THE CARE AND FEEDING OF OLD COPPER
Speakin' of Slabs, more than hocus pocus creeps into those sonically sealed coffins, moisture does too, which is bad bad bad for copper. According to Skip Pelletier, our resident EACer7 Mylar Flips don't cut it, either - for the same reason, WATER (and the vapors therefrom). While the following is hardly definitive it should help slow down the deterioration of your highly reactive treasures. Three things will help:
The right holders
The right kind of brush
The right kind of preservative
In addition to these, of course, is:
The right kind of handling
The proper handling of coins should be known to all but the greenest of novices (and there ain't no shame in being inexperienced) but just in case the basics as I know them are "Hold coins only by the rim", and "Don't breathe on coins, no matter how excited you are". Others include such injunctions as "Keep the business end of staples away from your treasures", and "Use a velvet pad in case you drop your coins". Knowing is not the same as Practicing, however. If you're like me, most of the coins you handle are already packaged, so handling bare coins is not an everyday activity. I was painfully aware of this two meetings ago when Skip handed me an uncirculated8 Large Cent which had no visible contact marks. PCGS might have graded it "MS66 BRN or higher. I was immediately conscious of the oil on my fingers and the hard objects surrounding us which would meet his multi-hundred-dollar brown beauty in a distinctly unforgiving manner if I flubbed. Luckily, normal coordination prevailed and I was able to view the remarkably well preserved disk without incident. The moral of this story is "Practice, Man. Practice."
Use the two piece system consisting of square paper envelopes with soft cotton liners. This is a non-abrasive and mostly moisture-proof method for storing copper. The cotton liner breathes and keeps moisture away from the coin. To remove coins from these holders you pinch the holder open and slide the coin out stopping it's motion by fingertips on the rim. Reverse the process for storage, but don't forget to brush the coin first.
Use an approved goat's hair brush (a.k.a. a jewelers brush. It removes moisture and impurities in a (you guessed it!) non-abrasive manner. Dennis Loring stated that he even brushes proof coins, although some apparently do not.
Skip warns that one should certainly know what one is doing before brushing proofs, however, and that he is reluctant to brush proofs himself.
The answer to this can be answered in two words: BLUB RIBBON. Apply it to your copper and worry no more about the rigors of moisture, smoke, smog, and so on. Blue Ribbon should be liberally applied using a sable hair brush then held on edge to allow the excess to run off. Next the coin should be carefully blotted using a soft tissue taking care not to rub the coin. Finally brush using goats hair brush.
When the two sides of a coin have different net grades (ANA would call it a split grade) you should average them but give weight to the "important side" For most people on most coins this would be the portrait.
THE PRICING QUESTION
So now that you've determined a net grade for that chocolate brown copper beauty how can you determine what a fair price is? Do you use The Red Book, Trends, Graysheet, Bluesheet, or Numismatic News? You could, but as I understand it the numerical grades in those guides are based primarily on sharpness and are for coins "without problems". Net grading by the EAC system is not taken into account in these guides. To get down to the current skinny on net graded early copper you should consult CQR which is short for "Copper Quotes by Robinson". This publication comes out once or twice per year and is referred to often in the EAC journal Penny Wise. In this journal are listed net grades with three categories "Choice", "Average", and "SCUDZY". According to Loring any coins to which your initial reaction is "YUCK" probably qualifies as scudzy, although he admits that a precise definition is difficult. Scudzy is like pornography: the Supreme Court may have a hard time defining it, but you know it when you see it.
Dennis Loring offered a valuable tip to the serious student of Early Copper. He recommended recent catalogs issued by Superior Galleries which contain extensive photos of copper coins accompanied by sharpness and net grades by Del Bland.
Loring described Bland as being "at least tied for CC-1 (standing for "condition census one"?) among graders." He also stated that these catalogs could by used as virtual text books. He cautioned that there is no substitute for experience in looking at hundreds, even thousands of coins, and that photos are only a poor substitute for the real thing, especially with regard to color.
As with photos, this synopsis of EAC copper grading is only a poor substitute for actual study. Can't say it too often: "Buy the book before the coin". Serious copper students should join EAC and do a lot of reading before plunking down serious money.
5 Several decades, actually.
6 However, note the ownership principal cited earlier.
7 Skip is a real copper collector. Me, I just send in the EAC fee one a year
8 "Uncirculated" doesn't really convey its beauty. Try: 'KNOCK DOWN, DRAG OUT GORGEOUS
The following lots of coins will be auctioned oft at the Anchorage Coin Club's June 1st club meeting (starts at 7:00 pm) which will be held at the Central Lutheran Church at 1420 Cordova St. (comer of Cordova and 15th Avenue). People interested in Bidding on these lots may fill out the attached mail bid sheet if they cannot make the meeting.
1 One (1) circulated roll of 1964-P Washington Quarters (silver).
2 One (1) circulated roll of 1964-P Washington Quarters (silver).
3 One (1) circulated roll of 1964-D Washington Quarters (silver).
4 One (1) circulated roll of 1964-D Washington Quarters (silver).
5 One (1) circulated roll of 1964-D Washington Quarters (silver)
6 One (1) each 1925-P Peace Dollar PCGS MS62
7 One (1) each 1943-P Walker Half PCGS MS64
6 One (1) each 1966 25 Pesos Mexico AU condition
9 One (1) each 1874 25 Ore Denmark VF condition.
10 One (1) each 1905 1 cent Canada AU Minimum bid: $20
11 One (1) each I886 1 cent Canada XF
12 One (1) each 1882-H 1 cent Canada XF
13 One (1) each 1859 1 cent Canada AU Minimum Bid: $15.
14 One (1) each 1912 1 cent Canada AU.
15 One (1) each 1964 1000 yen coin Japan MS62. Minimum bid $25.
16 One (1) each 1867 One Penny / Great Britain VF.
17 One (1) each 1896 PGV Peseta Spain XF
13 One (1) each 1891-H 1 cent British North Borneo BU.
19 One (1) each 1920 1 cent Canada XF
20 One (1) each 1900 twenty cent Newfoundland / scratch on reverse side VF
21 One (1) each 1947 one rupee / India XF
22 One (1) each 1953 25 centavos / Cuba AU
23 One (1) each 1935 5 Escudos / Mozambique XF
24 One (1) each 19518 5 francs / Switzerland AU
25 One (1) each 1942 25 cents Netherlands / Occupation coin XF
26 One (1) each 1804-A 4 Groschen / Prussia G
27 Forty (40) each Kennedy half dollars (silver half dollars) / various dates from 1964-1969 in Whitman Holder Circulated condition. Minimum Bid $22
28 1837 Hard times token L-48 Variety VF Minimum Bid: $50
29 1973 Lincoln/Kennedy Penny with certificate BU condition.
30 One (1) each 1835 Bust Half dollar ANACS Slab XF40 Minimum Bid: $45.
31 One (1) each 1831 Bust Half dollar ANACS Slab XF45. Minimum Bid: $100
32 One (1) each 1946 Booker T Washington 50 cent commemorative ANACS slab MS64 Minimum bid $45.
33 One (1) each Civil War Centennial Commission Commemorative Medallion (1961-1965) BU Minimum Bid $20
34 Eight (8) each Revolutionary War Pewter Medallions / circulated condition. Minimum Bid $15.
35 One (1) each 1964-P Kennedy Half MS62 Minimum Bid: $2.50
36 Two (2) each 1837 Bank of Lower Canada one penny tokens VG Minimum Bid: $9.
37 One (1) each Liberty Mint 1 oz. Silver Round 8U. Minimum 8id: 15
38 One (1) each 1989 Official Alaskan Commemorative Medallion 1 oz. Silver Round BU Minimum Bid $5
39 Two (2) each 1966 Texas Medallions BU Minimum bid: $6
40 One (1) each 1849- 1949 California Gold Rush medallion BU. Minimum Bid: $3.
41 Ten (10) each various circulated Canadian coins consisting of one (1) 1860 Newfoundland twenty cent piece, nine (9) each Canada 25 cent pieces (various dates 1968-1981). Minimum Bid: $4
42 Five (5) each various Great Britain coins consisting of 1962 one shilling, 1970 l0 pence, 1965 6 pence, two (2) each 1971 two pence. Circulated. Minimum Bid: $1.50.
43 One (1) each 1933-1983 Dahlonega Mint Commemorative BU. Minimum Bid: $2.
44 One (1) each 1861-1961 Confederate States of America Half Dollar token BU Minimum Bid: $2.
45 One (1) each 1967 Alaska Yukon Medallion BU Minimum Bid: $3
46 Two (2) each Presidential Commemorative Medallions / Reagan / Bush / BU condition. Minimum Bid: $4
47 Four (4) each 1976 Washington Quarters/ Circ.
48 One (1) each Great Britain Prince of Wales Model Sovereign. Victoria Regina/ No Date VG. Minimum Bid: $5
49 Two (2) coins consisting of one (1) each gold plated 1906 Edward V shilling and one (1) each gold plated 1883 NC US V Nickel (Racketeer Nickel) Circ. condition Minimum Bid: $10
50 Three (3) each commemorative medals Paul Revere / Ben Franklin / Patrick Henry BU cond. Minimum Bid: $6
51 Six (6) each commemorative medals: Franklin Roosevelt / Churchill / Truman / Eisenhower / Patton / Kennedy BU cond. Minimum Bid $12.
52 Two (2) each commemorative medals- Teddy Roosevelt / Mt. Rushmore BU condition. Minimum Bid $4
53 Four(4) each commemorative medals Liberty Bell / US Constitution / American Flag / Statue of Liberty BU cond. Minimum Bid: $8.
54 Two (2) each Lincoln Medallions BU condition. Minimum Bid: $4
55 Three (3) each commemorative medals Edmund Halley / Samuel Clemens / Christopher Columbus BU condition. Minimum Bid $6
56 One (1) each commemorative medal Iwo Jima BU cond.. Minimum Bid $4
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,