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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

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Volume 17, Number 7

July 2004

July Membership Meeting
Wed., July 7th, 2004 Central Lutheran Church

6:30 PM YNs, 7:15 Meeting


 

FROM YOUR EDITORS

    This month's newsletter for July is coming out a bit early so that we can again remind all of our club members of the Alaska Summer Coin Expo scheduled for June 25th, 26th, and 27* at the 5th Avenue Downtown Mall. By the time you receive this newsletter, the show will only be a couple of weekends away. See the article in this month's newsletter on the coin show.

With regard to our June 2nd club meeting, it was a classic numismatic summer: long days and short meetings. Well, it would have been a short meeting if Loren had not gone on and on about the Alaska Summer Coin Expo. Once we got the floor away from Loren.... Larry gave us an informative presentation on one of the mainstays of American numismatics: "Collecting U.S. Cents".

Cents were made in America before there was a U.S. mint. Larry had an extensive collection of cents and passed them around for us to look through. There were high grade examples of classic Lincoln rarities such as the '09-S VDB and the '55 double die. He told us about the Fugio cents issued in 1787... the first coins authorized by the United States of America. Then he told us about the cent issued in 1861 authorized by the Confederate States of America.

The membership prize was a very good problem free 1844 U.S. Large cent. It was won by Loren Lucason. The door prize, a 1976 gold embossed Kennedy bicentennial half dollar, was won by Howard Wright. There were not many coins in the bullet auction but Greg did pick up a slabbed MS65 Ike Dollar (known as the "Blue Ike").

Our club's Summer picnic will be on Saturday, August 14th over at the Centennial Pavilion Park off of Muldoon Road in Anchorage. Our club has traditionally held our summer picnics at that location....and this year is no exception. Like in years past, the club will supply the meats (hotdogs, hamburgers, hotlinks, chicken), buns, chips, dips, utensils, and soda pops. Those attending the picnic are asked to bring potluck items such as hors d'oeuvres, salads, and desserts. Roy Brown will be contacting members in July on potluck items that can be brought to the August 14th Summer picnic. There will also be a number of game events planned for the picnic.

See you at the coin show at Northway Mall in a couple of weeks.......Your Editors.

MEMBERSHIP NEWS

Schedule of Events for the Month of July:

  1. YN (Young Numismatists) Meeting: There will be no YN meeting in July. However, YNs are encouraged to come to the Anchorage Coin Club's regular membership meeting on July 7th.

  2. Monthly Membership Meeting: July 7th (Wednesday) at 7:15 PM at the Central Lutheran Church (downstairs meeting area). The Central Lutheran Church is located at 1420 Cordova St. on the corner of Cordova and 15th Avenue. Larry Nakata will be giving a presentation on the "U.S. Paper Currency". Members, YNs, and general public welcomed.

  3. Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting: July 21st (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the "Sunrise Grill & Pancake House" (# 272-1150) located at 3230 Old Seward Highway (where the Old Seward Highway begins next to the Moose's Tooth Pizzeria). Club members welcomed.

THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE, AND WHEN
OF THE ALASKA SUMMER COIN EXPO

    We, the Anchorage Coin Club, are the only active numismatic nonprofit organization in Alaska. As such it is up to us to keep the local population informed of the rapidly changing hobby of coin collecting. There are many new coin collectors brought in by the state quarter program. They want to know the next state quarter due out. And some may want to know the value of grandma's old coins. They may be apprehensive about seeking out a coin shop or attending a meeting of coin club members. So they wait for the next quarter to show up, then get surprised by a new nickel in circulation. They also leave grandma's old coins in the drawer.

A three day weekend coin expo would show the public that there are public sources of coin information, coin dealers are friendly, and that coin club meetings are open to people other than just club members. We could introduce our club, describe ongoing programs and projects, and give people a chance to join. A coin show, being the main event at the expo, would allow the public a chance to become familiar with local sources of numismatic material and give collectors more access to coins for purchase. We could also offer coin identification and grading services. We do not now sponsor a coin show because of the work involved. This would give us a chance to focus all our efforts on one show a year.

Anchorage is the center of the Alaska population and our club is based here thus this is the only place in the state to stage this event. In the center of downtown Anchorage is the 5th

Avenue Mall. The mall has a spacious lower floor that has become available to us. There is plenty of natural light streaming in from skylights overhead. The floor is accessed through escalators, and an elevator. There is also a loading dock out back. The bank in the mall is open on Saturday and the post office is open both Saturday and Sunday. There is a food court on the top floor as well as several nice restaurants nearby. The Alaska Mint, one block away on 4th avenue, may even issue an Alaska token good for a cup of coffee that we can give out at the expo. And just 2 blocks away is the Saturday market.

The last weekend in June has few other coin shows so we have a better chance of having numismatists up from the states; whether just for the expo or for an Alaskan vacation. Summer is by far the best time to be in Alaska; everything has greened up and there is plenty of daylight for the show. It's easier for Alaskans to travel across the state to attend our expo and easier for us to transport coins across the city without water condensation problems. This weekend would perk up an otherwise slow time for coin collectors.

We are the best people to sponsor this numismatic event, the 5th Avenue Mall is an ideal place for a show, and June is a wonderful time to be in Alaska.

See you at the show on June 25th, 26th, and 27th.

 

THE YN CORNER

    There will be no YN meeting planned for July.

Plans are still moving ahead to complete the design of the 2005 calendar by August of this year.

Expect a call from one of the adults, Marilyn Stubblefield, on arranging a field trip for the YNs to visit the calendar company that will be working with the YNs.

Meantime, there are membership meetings still planned for the summer. And, of course, there is our annual Anchorage Coin Club summertime picnic, which is scheduled for Saturday, August 15th over at Centennial Park off of Muldoon Road in Anchorage. There will be lots of food, fun, and numismatic games for the YNs at the summer picnic.

We want to encourage the YNs to continue coming to these meetings through the summertime. The main coin club membership meeting will be on July 7th, 7:15 pm at Central Lutheran Church.

And most important.....DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE COIN SHOW AT THE 5TH AVENUE MALL, JUNE 25TH THRU JUNE 27TH..........Don and Marilyn Stubblefield.

 

BUILD A SET OF SEATED LIBERTY HALF DOLLARS
by Mike Nourse (Life Member #1)

    When the average collector thinks about building a set of coins, they generally think in terms of building a set of Indian or Lincoln cents, Buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, Walking Liberty or Franklin halves, Morgan dollars, or one of several suspects. Just ask around at the next club meeting what people are working on, and you are likely to hear that many people are working on these and other popular sets. Next, inquire about how many Seated Liberty halves folks have in their collection, and the typical answer will be either zero or just a few pieces which reside in a type set.

Be honest, have you ever really considered building a set of Seated Liberty half dollars? Probably not - it is a large set with a number of very expensive coins needed for completion. That is why I do not recommend that the average collector attempt building a complete set, as it is a task that exceeds most of our budgets. What I do recommend is that people think about building a date set, also known as a one-a-year set. Building a date set allows you to avoid such horrors as the 1878-S, which will run $10,000 and up for any undamaged specimen.

Seated Liberty halves were introduced part of the way into the year 1839, which is also the last year of production for the reeded edge Capped Bust halves. The seated halves were produced on a very regular basis, with emissions from at least one mint each year through the end of the series in 1891. Four minting facilities provided these halves: Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Carson City. You can't avoid having Philadelphia coins in the one a year set, but try to make sure that the three branch mints are represented by at least one coin each. That's not hard to do, since ail the mints - even CC -produced affordable coins in at least some

What condition should this set be built in? That depends, of course, on your budget. In general, Seated Liberty coins are pleasing in appearance, and affordable, in Fine condition. A well matched set is a superb sight to behold, so one should try to stay within a one grade range when building the set, such as sticking with grades of Very Good and Fine, or Fine and Very Fine. It would not detract from the set to have one high grade coin included in the set, say a sharp AU-55 or so, to show non collectors what an unworn Seated Liberty half looks like.

1871-S Seated Liberty Half Dollar Good-4

1871-S Seated Liberty Half Dollar Good-4

It is usually the case that the most difficult coins in a set are to be found among the early dates. That's not the story here! There are a dozen dates at the end of this series that will set you back some real money once you are lucky enough to find a specimen. These coins, minted from 1879 through 1890, were produced only at the Philadelphia mint, so there is no way to avoid them. They will likely run $250 to $350 each when you finally are able to find them, and the 1886 and 1887 dates will be even a bit higher. Even though the one a year set is easier than the complete set, it is still by no means a simple set that you can just throw together. What fun would that be? The upside is that you will be purchasing a dozen legitimately scarce coins with mintages ranging from a low of 4,400 pieces to a high of only 12,000 pieces. A convincing argument could be made that these coins are actually bargains considering how few are out there.

Now, here is the key to making a really great date set of seated halves, a set that will stand out as being better than other date sets even if it is in lower condition. From 1879 through the end of the series in 1891, half dollars were only produced at the Philadelphia mint. Almost all other years, from the beginning in 1839 through 1878, production was accomplished at two or three mints. It is your job to figure out which mint made the most desirable coin each year. What this means is that you may find a particular year with coins made at two separate mints that are priced about the same even though one of the coins has only half the mintage of the other. Go for that lower mintage issue! In other years you may find one issue has a mintage only one tenth the size of the other, but is only twice the price. It will take a lot longer to find that lower mintage coin and it will cost twice as much, but I assure you that it is worth getting that much scarcer coin in the long run. Selecting the right coins greatly increases the value and interest of your set, not to mention the frustration factor as you discover just how scarce some of these halves really are. It will surprise you when you discover that you can't locate some of these coins even though they are considered common and are priced at only $100 in Fine condition.

1867-S Seated Liberty Half Dollar EF-40

1867-S Seated Liberty Half Dollar EF-40

Let's look at a couple of examples. Right at the beginning of the series in 1839, you will see that only Philadelphia struck Seated Liberty half dollars that year, and that they created two distinct varieties: with drapery and without drapery. There were 100,000 coins produced without drapery and 1,872,400 with drapery. Despite the huge difference in mintage, the no drapery coin is only a bit over double the price of the more common with drapery model. You get the added advantage of getting a one-year type coin with the no drapery issue. Your choice should be obvious here.

Another example might be the centennial year of 1876. Half dollars were produced at three mints that year, Philadelphia (8.4 million), San Francisco (4.5 million), and Carson City (1.9 million). The Carson City model is only priced about 25% higher than the other two, but when you factor in the lower mintage and the usual premium accorded to all Carson City coinage, it seems to be the obvious coin to select for your 1876 example. Some years, there will not be an obvious standout, but for most years there should be one mint that proves to be more desirable than the others.

Here is a 53 piece, 19th century set of large coins that can actually be completed without the need for an unlimited bankroll. Granted, it won't exactly be cheap, but it is affordable for most collectors. When you are done, you will have a set that very few other people have, and not many have even considered!.....Mike Nourse.

 


The Anchorage Coin Club

Club Officers

Board of Directors

Editors

Club Archivist / Photographer

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