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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

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Volume 15, Number 4

April 2002

April Membership Meeting
Wed., April 3rd, 2002 Central Lutheran Church

7:15 PM Meeting


 

FROM THE EDITORS

Once again it is time for the changing of the guard. We had elections of officers at our March meeting. For each of the offices there was one member nominated. Robert made the motion that the list of nominees be accepted as the elected officers and with no opposition elections were over. Our new officers are:

• President Rick Bilak

• Vice President John Larson

• Secretary Larry Nakata

• Treasurer Greg Samorajski

• Board Officers Corey Rennell, Loren Lucason, & Bill Hamilton

Rick Bilak then took the gavel as president of the coin club and we continued on with the meeting.

The door prize was a small set of circulated U.S. coins suitable for a kid. Carl Jr. won it. Jim Hill was given the membership prize: a 1979 Proof set. Robert Hall presented Stanley Mead with a certificate signed by the president of ANA declaring Stanley the club's ANA representative.

Results of our seminar survey are in and it looks like our members want to learn more about gold coins and coin grading as well as counterfeit detection, investment coinage, and foreign gold coins. Perhaps Loren and Larry could find us a gold coin expert who can teach us gold grading and how to detect counterfeits. Then show us some varieties, foreign gold, and investment quality gold coinage.

Loren reminded the club that National Coin Week is the last week of April and we should plan on some activities. A coin show was suggested as well as displays around town. It was pointed out that the library was in the process of writing guidelines for displays and that they will probably not have them figured out by April. The ANA theme for this year's National Coin Week is "faces of time".

With new and old business done Larry and Loren began a presentation of the 20 most desirable coins. Loren started with a list of things that make a coin desirous. Low mintage, historic types, rare metals, and extremely high grade coins are all among the most desired. Larry picked up the discussion with the focus of our presentation: U.S. key coins. He showed us key coins and the sets they fit into. Everything from a 1909-S VDB in a Lincoln cent collection to an 1893-S in a Morgan Dollar collection was on display. Everyone got a chance to examine these key coins up close. We then asked members about their most desired coin and sets. Carl wanted a 1964 Peace dollar and Rick wanted a 1933 St. Gaudens 20 dollar gold piece. The first coin was minted with none ever found and the second is in the Smithsonian. Clearly our members have great numismatic dreams.......Your Editors.

 

WE HAVE AN EAGLE AMONG US

 

Corey Rennell, that rambunctious membership meeting YN cutup infamous for bidding 50 cents, has impressively matured. He is now due some congratulations for becoming one of the select few Eagle Scouts. Corey may have melted chocolate over a light bulb at a $200/seat coin seminar and he may have bid 50 cents for a $200 coin a few times. But Corey has always meant well and, indeed, never caused anyone any problems. What he did was help us get the "show on the road" for many of our coin club activities. Now taking a more mature approach to getting things going, Corey has become a great asset to our coin club. WAY TO GO!!.....

 

MEMBERSHIP NEWS

Schedule of Events for the Month of April

  1. Monthly Membership Meeting: April 3rd (Wednesday) at 7:30 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Club members and general public welcome. The evening's event will be update to the membership on the present status of the coin show proposed for 2003 and a discussion on issues associated with putting on such a show. A bullet auction of no more than 15 coin lots will occur. Members wishing to submit coins for the bullet auction can bring them to the meeting.

  2. YN (Young Numismatist) Meeting: April 10th (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. There is a change in the YN meeting schedules. YN meetings will now be scheduled for the 2nd Wednesday of every month. YNs, club members, and general public welcomed. There will be a session on "The History of the US Mints".

  3. Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting: April 17th (Wednesday) 7:00 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Club members welcomed.

Minutes of the March 20th Board Meeting

The meeting was called to order at 7 PM by Vice President John Larson.

First order of business was to review coin club bills and correspondence. Upon completion of this task, the meeting then moved forward to old business.

Robert Hall gave the Board an update on the status of the ANA decision on sponsoring a coin show in Anchorage in 2003. In his report, Robert told the Board that the ANA has decided to have a show in Anchorage for 2003. No reasons were given regarding that decision.

Following this report from Robert, the Board then went into a discussion of our club revisiting the issue of sponsorship of a major coin show in 2003. Much of the meeting focused on reports made by the various committees last year on logistics necessary to put together such a show.....and costs.

It was decided that the evening's subject of our club's April 3rd membership meeting be an update report on the status of the 2003 coin show. The subject will also be an open forum discussion on issues the membership will need to consider before making a decision on club sponsorship of such a show. The Board feels this is an important subject that needs to be brought forth to our overall membership.

The meeting then went onto new business. The Board approved an expenditure of $125 for having a club table at the "Kids Day" celebration at the Egan Center on May 4th. This is expected to be a well attended event and an opportunity for our coin club to participate. Coin dealers are donating coins and other numismatic materials that will be given away to kids at this event. There will be a coin display at this event put together by Loren Lucason. Volunteers have come forth to man the club table at the Egan Center. Thanks go to Don and Marilyn Stubblefield for their help in putting this event together. This is a worthy event and your Board encourages our members and their kids to attend.

The meeting concluded at 8:30 PM.

 

THE YN CORNER

 

Thanks go to Don and Marilyn Stubblefield for volunteering their time in overseeing our coin club's YN Program. Under their guidance, the YNs met on March 8th with the subject being "U.S. Nickels". Bill Hamilton gave a great presentation to the YNs. The YNs were shown how the U.S. five cent piece evolved from a silver half dime to that of the nickel we see today. Some great stories were told that evening....especially the story of the "racketeer nickel".

I did have a chance to talk with Marilyn Stubblefield on some plans for the YN Program. First, the YN meeting dates will change from the second Friday of every month to the 2nd Wednesday of every month. The next YN meeting will accordingly be scheduled for Wednesday, April 10th, 7 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. The YN meeting subject will be on "The History of the US Mints". There is a lot of good and interesting history on the US Mint. We would like to see a good turnout of YNs and their parents for the April 10lh meeting.

Second, Don and Marilyn want to encourage our coin club members and their children to attend the Kids Day Celebration over at the Egan Center on May 4th. The coin club will have a table at that event with lots of give away coins and numismatic items for the kids. The intent of having a coin table there is to encourage kids and their parents to collect coins... .and to join our coin club.

Third, Don and Marilyn are looking for volunteers to give talks at the YN meetings on coin and numismatic subjects. If you have an area of expertise and knowledge, get with Don and Marilyn....or anyone of our Board members. Don and Marilyn want to set up a good schedule of subject matter for the YN meetings. Members are encouraged to donate their time and expertise to help in our club's YN Program.

Finally, yours truly is in the process of setting up the YN Donation Coin Auction for our membership meeting on May 1st. In last month's newsletter, I did ask that our members be generous and donate items for this auction. It is a donation auction in which club members provide the lots: coins and numismatic materials. Proceeds from this auction are used to benefit our club's YN program. Thus far, I am still looking for additional material for the auction. Otherwise, it may be necessary for me to delay the auction from May to June since there are insufficient lots at this time. Any members wishing to donate material can drop off the lots to any of our coin dealers who advertise in our club's newsletter...or contact me in the evenings at 563-1729. It is for a worthy cause......  Larry Nakata.

 

THE RACKETEER NICKEL
by Mark Van Winkle

When is a nickel worth five-dollars? Only when it's one of the famous gold-plated "Racketeer" nickels.

In 1881, Charles Barber, the U.S. Mint's chief engraver, was told to begin work on a design for a new five-cent coin. The coin was to be made of copper and nickel, and to have a design similar to the Indian head penny and the three-cent nickel. Yes, you heard right-the "three-cent nickel" was a three-cent piece made of nickel and copper.

After two years of study and experiments, more than five million of the new nickels entered circulation. But the public immediately noticed that the word "CENTS" was nowhere to be found on the new coins. People began to save these "mistake" nickels, believing correctly that the Mint would eventually have to add the word "CENTS" to the coin. Once that happened, the old coins would become collectors' items.

And this was just the beginning of the problems for the new coin. Because the coins had only the Roman numeral five, or capital "V," on the reverse side—some less-than-honest people gold-plated the coins and passed them off as five-dollar gold pieces. The hoax was especially common west of the Mississippi, where there had always been a chronic shortage of coins.

In one famous court case, a deaf-mute named Josh Tatum was accused of passing off many of these gold-plated or "Racketeer" nickels. But he was able to go free, since no one could ever successfully testify against him. As a deaf-mute, he never actually called the coins anything ... he merely gave them to clerks, and politely took whatever change they gave him.

Thousands of these "Racketeer" nickels survive today, most with the gold wash partly rubbed off. They're inexpensive reminders of what may be the costliest mistake ever made by the U.S. Mint.....

From the ANA Money Talks Series/ Transcript No. 1973/ April 26, 2000.

 

DO YOU HAVE A MEDIUM CENT IN YOUR COLLECTION?
by Mike Nourse (Life Member #1)

Say what? Well, what else do you call a cent that is 25 1/2 millimeters in diameter when small cents are 19 millimeters and large cents are 28 millimeters? Don't feel bad if you are not familiar with the medium cents as they were only produced in pattern form and never made it into regular production.

By the end of the decade of the 1840's a movement was afoot to find an alternative to the clumsy, heavy large cents, which happen to be larger and heavier than the current Sacagawea dollar. Because coinage at that time needed to have a metal value somewhat close to the face value to be acceptable to the general public, something more than just shrinking the cent had to be done to keep the metal value near one cent. The solution was an alloy of 90% copper and 10% silver called billon. The inclusion of this little bit of silver allowed the cent to be reduced to about 1/6* of the weight of the all copper large cent and still contain nearly one cent of metal. The mint went ahead and produced an assortment of small 18 millimeter patterns in 1850 and 1851, most of which are ring shaped.

The billon idea did not survive past 1851, and was permanently shelved as far as alloys being considered for the one cent piece are concerned. The smaller cent idea was put on hold during 1852 but experimentation resumed in 1853. By this time, the ring shaped cent idea had also been scrapped in favor of the traditional un-holed shape. So, for 1853, billon was out and German silver was in. German silver actually contains no silver at all; it is an alloy composed of varying amounts of nickel, copper, and. tin. Because nickel was worth more than copper at the time, it was possible to greatly reduce the size and weight of the cent and still retain nearly a full cent worth of metal. The few 1853 patterns were again approximately 18 millimeters in diameter, and this time they used a coronet quarter eagle die for the obverse and a wreath for the reverse. A very few of the 1853 patterns just have a reverse strike with a blank obverse.

Our travels through time have now brought us to the year 1854, where we now get to meet our heroes, the medium cents! By now, the idea of using billon as a coinage metal for the cent had been shelved. Thus, the only hope of making a smaller one cent piece with anything approaching a full cent's worth of metal was to use the German silver alloy mentioned above. However, mint director James Snowden was convinced by now that the best alternative was to simply reduce the size of the cent and continue making it out of plain copper even though this smaller cent would not contain a full cent's worth of copper. He cited the minor coinage of France as an example of underweight coinage being acceptable to the public in the case of low denomination coins.

In 1854, there was only one pattern made using the German silver alloy; all the rest were plain old copper or bronze, and featured interesting (though somewhat familiar) designs and a 25 1/2 millimeter (or one inch) diameter. The first of these patterns had the same Liberty head as was found in the large cents the 1850's, though obviously smaller, with just a date below and no stars surrounding the Liberty head. The reverse was very similar to the large cent of the day, only smaller, and the wreath was a bit scrawny in comparison.

The other 1854 pattern cent in copper had a flying eagle obverse combined with a wreath reverse. The obverse flying eagle is quite similar to that of the flying eagle cent we are all familiar with that was in regular production in 1857 and 1858. The only really noticeable difference is that the eagle on these patterns has a somewhat downward sloping neck, besides being quite a bit larger. Other than that, there are stars around the outside edge of the obverse rather than the name of our country, which appeared on the reverse. Many people who were collectors in the 1970's and early 1980's may remember that these pattern medium cents were popularized by a company called Foothill Coins (now Valley View) that advertised on the back page of Coin World at the time. They would show a picture of an 1854 medium cent pattern, describing it as our first flying eagle cent, and noting that it is quite a bit more rare, though less expensive, than the 1856 pattern flying eagle small cent which is sometimes collected alongside the 1857 and 1858 flying eagle cents.

The year 1855 was the second and final year of medium cent production. Only one design was used this year, with minute variations, and that was the flying eagle design with the wreath reverse. Like the 1854 pattern medium cents, the 1855's are reasonably available, and come on the market with some frequency. The three major designs of medium cents, the 1854 Liberty head, the 1854 flying eagle, and the 1855 flying eagle, each exist to the extent of about 100 to 200 pieces each. Remember that there are at least ten times as many 1856 flying eagle small cents in existence. Each of these three categories contains several different Judd (or Pollock) numbers due to slight variations in design or metal content.

The medium cent was doomed by a return to the idea of having approximately one cent's worth of metal in our one cent piece. The medium cents had less than 6/10ths of a cent of copper, which was too little. Nickel was expensive enough in those days that it was possible to have a small cent containing 12% nickel and 88% copper be worth nearly one cent as long as it was kind of thick. The rest, as they say, is history, and our small white cents of 1856 through 1864 were born.

A neat four coin display could be made showing the stages of transformation of the cent. A regular issue large cent from the early 1850's would begin the display, followed by an 1854 medium cent, which has a very similar design on a smaller, lighter planchet. Next would be an 1855 medium flying eagle cent to show the evolution of the design away from the Liberty head toward the flying eagle. The last piece in the four coin set would be a regular issue Indian Cent to show the final step down in size from the large cents to medium cents to small cents.

A medium cent would be an interesting addition to any copper collection. Either one of the two major designs, the Liberty head or the flying eagle, will illustrate the transition from large cents to small cents. Of course, like any patterns, these are quite expensive, starting at just over $1000, and going up from there as the condition improves. You will then have a very scarce coin that will capture the attention of other collectors at your next club meeting!....Mike Nourse.

 

THE YN CORNER

The Anchorage Coin Club will be sponsoring a booth for Kids Day at the Egan Center on Saturday, May 4th, 2002 from 10 am to 5 pm.

The booth will have a coin exhibit with coins and numismatic items to be given away. We are looking to sign up kids and their parents as new members of our coin club. The kids will be given the opportunity to look up and identify foreign and US coins in reference books.

If they can give a name to the errors in a set of coins they will win a collectible coin. They will also be able to view a variety of coins from ancient to modern commemorative coins.

So come on down and join us as we have some fun with the kids......Bill Hamilton.

 

 


The Anchorage Coin Club

Club Officers

Board of Directors

Editors

ANA Local Club Representative

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