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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

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Volume 18, Number 8

August 2005

August Summer Picnic
Sat., August 13, 2005 Central Lutheran Church

12 noon to 4 pm


Ah, there is nothing like a bullet auction filled with choice coins from Bill Fivaz and Bud Biloon  to bring club members into a hot July summer meeting. More than twenty of us  gathered at the Central Lutheran Church. Mike Gentry was given a 100 Mark Reich Banknote dated 1920 for the door prize. Dana Larson was a given the 1000 Mark Reich Banknote dated 1910 for the membership prize.

After a reminder that the summer picnic will be on August 13th at Centennial Park we had a short discussion about events for the adults and kids and what to bring to eat. We are looking forward to seeing our good member Mike Orr. Mike has spent the last few years in Dutch Harbor out on the very edge of the continent. Mike will be in town for the week and plans to attend our club’s summer picnic event.

With the greenhouse gas generated by all of the Alaskan Oil they have been burning down south the weather should be just fine for a picnic.

A summary of the present status on the plan for a big show was given at our July meeting. The final decision will be made at the club’s Board meeting on July 20th. Events for the show were talked about such as seminars about to design the Alaska State Quarter. Our past club president (Stan Mead) who is on the Governor’s Commission for the design of the Alaska State Quarter stated that the first meeting of the Commission Board is planned for the first of August here in Anchorage. Appointees from around the state will be flown in for this first meeting.  Stan Mead was subsequently congratulated for being chosen as a member of the Alaska State Commemorative Coin Commission. This commission will pick designs from the proposals submitted by Alaskans. These proposals will be sent to Washington D.C. for the design of the Alaska State Quarter due out in 2008.

We also talked about other events desirable for the big show…such as a coin identification table.  

1794 Flowing Hair Half Dollar

Finally, we got to the bullet auction. The highlights included an ANACS 1943-D Mercury Dime graded MS-66 with full split bands and a very, very nice 1935-P Buffalo Nickel struck up as well as we’ve every seen. Thanks Bill.

Roy Brown will be contacting each of our members on potluck items to bring to the summer picnic. The club will provide the grill, hamburgers, hotdogs, buns, chips, dips, soda pop, paper plates, plastic forks, spoons, and knives for the event.

See you at the August 13th Summer picnic and remember that there will be no membership meeting or YN meeting on the first Wednesday of August. August 13th is our official meeting date at Centennial Park……Your Editors.


Schedule of Events for the Month of August

  1. Anchorage Coin Club Summer Picnic Event: August 13th (Saturday afternoon) at Centennial Park in Anchorage (see map location in this newsletter). Food should be ready by 12 noon. Fun events are planned for members, YNs, families, and friends. We want to remind all members and YNs that this event will be our official membership and YN meeting date and location. There will be NO membership or YN meeting planned for the first Wednesday of August.
  2. Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting:  August 17th (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the New Cauldron Restaurant at the University Center. Club members welcomed.  


LOCATION:  Centennial Park in Anchorage. See map on how to get there.

DATE AND TIME:   Saturday, August 13th from 12 noon to 4 pm. Food is expected to start serving at 12 noon with the fun events commencing around 1 pm.

WHO CAN ATTEND:   Club members, YNs, family, and friends.

DETAILS:    This will be potluck event with club members asked to provide some type of dessert, salad, or hors d'oeurves. The club will supply the hot dogs, hamburgers, soda pop, chips, dips, paper plates, forks, spoons, and knives for the event. Lots of coins and numismatic prizes are expected to given out that afternoon. Bring your coins to show off or sell. Have a good time!!!

Minutes of the June 20th Board Meeting

The Board meeting was called to order by club president Carl at 7:05 PM. Meeting held at the New Cauldron Restaurant at the University Center.

After review of correspondence, the first order of business was the Fall Coin Show. All Board members present gave their analysis of projected costs for their assigned area.  See last months minutes of Board meeting on recommendations by Board members. Costs were based on recommendations.


Bill Hamilton

Stan Mead and Loren Lucason

Larry Nakata

The sum total of all these costs came to $10,650 to conduct the October coin show.

The Board then considered potential sources of income to pay for the show:

Based upon the realities of the cost and knowing that the club’s bank account is not able to handle a $4450 difference in cost, the Board then decided to not conduct this year’s Fall Coin Show. We will need to look at other alternatives for coin shows for the final portion of this year….such as coin shows at shopping malls.

In discussions, the Board looked at the key cost of $4500 for the display cases. Since this cost is very substantial, we will need to look at buying display cases over a period of time in order to afford a coin show of this nature.

The Board then moved onto the matter of the club’s August summer picnic.  Carl, Greg Samorajski, and John Larson will be the committee setting up the fun events for the picnic. Loren Lucason will be in charge of getting the prizes for the event. Bill Hamilton will provide the grill to cook our food. Larry Nakata and Loren will pick up the food items for the event.

With all final responsibilities broken down amongst the Board members, there was no further business for discussion.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:45 PM.


U.S. Half Dollars
by Larry Nakata (Life Member #3)

        At our club’s July meeting, I gave a presentation on the U.S Half Dollar.  For those members that were not able to attend the July meeting, I wanted to follow-up with this article.

Let me begin by saying that the U.S Half Dollar has been, and probably will continue to be one of our key “mainstay” coins in our country’s coinage.


1807 Half Dollar Obverse

Prior to the establishment of the U.S. Mint in 1792, our U.S. citizens were using other countries coins (such as the Spanish/Mexico Mint coins) for everyday transactions. When a country is established as it’s own entity, you must sooner or later address the issue of your country’s own coinage. It is important as a matter of national identity.

Thus our U.S. Congress in 1792 established our nation’s coinage and the U.S. Mint as this important step. Among the coins authorized for mintage was the U.S. Half Dollar.

Mintage of the U.S. Half Dollar would begin in 1794 with the Flowing Hair Half Dollar. The U.S. Half Dollar continues to be minted today….some 211 years later with the present day Kennedy Half Dollar.

Throughout our country’s history, the half dollar has been the “mainstay coin” used. In the late 18th century and early 19th centuries, a half dollar was a lot of money to the average American citizen. You could buy a lot with a half dollar in those days. As a result, the half dollar was primarily used for major transactions and by banks (who had to keep a certain reserve of gold and silver in their vaults to back the paper currency issued by their bank- called State Bank Notes). Because the early half dollars were primarily stored in bank vaults (especially the capped bust half dollars) the condition of the surviving coins today tend to be in pretty good condition. You can purchase a coin in fine condition at a very reasonable price.

Later as inflation took it’s toll, the half dollar would see heavy circulation by the U.S. public….especially with the Barber Half Dollars (1892-1915). It’s tough to find high grade Barber halves today. They command a pretty good price.

In the 211 year history of the U.S. Half Dollar, there are 8 major designs of the coin. The “Red Book” is a pretty source of information on this matter. In my collection, I have 7 of the 8 major designs. I lack only the earliest half dollar, the Flowing Hair Half Dollar (1794-1795). If you look at the “Red Book” pricing on this series, you’ll see why.

1826 Capped Bust Half Dollar

Design-wise, the obverse side of the half dollar evolved from various images of Miss Liberty…to a famous dead American (Benjamin Franklin), to a famous dead President (John Kennedy). 

The reverse side featured an image of the American Eagle with the exception of the Bicentennial half dollar (which features Independence Hall in Philadelphia).

On the matter of the reverse side design, have you ever wondered why the Franklin Half Dollar has such a small image of the American Eagle? Turns out that Benjamin Franklin hated the American Eagle as the chosen national bird. In fact, Franklin had lobbied Congress to get the American Turkey as our country’s national bird. When the decision was made by the U.S Mint to design the Franklin Half Dollar, the dilemma caused was having the American Eagle featured on the reverse side design. This would be an insult to a famous American who took at public position on this matter. Yet…Congressional law at the time required that the reverse design shall feature the American Eagle. The compromise made was to have the Liberty Bell as the prominent design with the American Eagle as a very small image to satisfy the Congressional law requirement.

The Flowing Hair Half Dollar (1794-1795) was designed by Robert Scot. It is a very expensive coin in any grade.

The half dollar would be redesigned again by Robert Scot in 1796 with the Draped Bust Half Dollar (1796-1807). Essentially, he made the coin a nicer looking coin. This is a more reasonably priced coin in lower grades (G/VG).

In 1807, we see the third generation of half dollars, the Capped Bust Half Dollar (1807-1836) designed by John Reich. The Capped Bust Half is an interesting design that shows the bust of Miss Liberty with a cap on her head. The “cap” is symbolic of freedom…for in Roman times, freed slaves were given a “cap” to signify their freedom. In early American history, people could sell themselves as “indentured servants”…who worked for a master much like a serf to his lord, except that a contract would be signed by both parties for a finite period of time. The designer, John Reich, was such an “indentured servant” (as a German immigrant) who sold served under a U.S. Mint official. Having been freed from his contract of servitude, those influences came to play when designing the Capped Bust Half Dollar.

Earlier, I said that the half dollar was a lot of money to the U.S. citizen. You could buy a lot in those days with a half dollar. Lower denomination coins such as the silver quarter, dime, and half dime were used primarily by the public for everyday transactions. That is why, today, there are a lot of Capped Bust Half Dollars in pretty good condition to the collector.

The Capped Bust Half Dollar would also see a shift from a “lettered edge” to the “reeded edge” coin design that prevails today (in our half dollars). Reeding the edge was done to prevent people from shaving silver from the edge of the coin for bullion purposes.

The effects of Silver bullion prices did have an impact on the evolution of the U.S. Half Dollar.  The 1792 Coinage Bill by Congress called for a half dollar weighing 208 grains with 89.24% purity of silver. Considering 480 grains is equal to one ounce of weight, this made for a fairly large coin. In January, 1837 Congress passed a coinage bill that reduced the weight of the half dollar from 208 to 206 & ¼ grains but with a major change that the silver content purity would be increased to 90%. In other words, same amount of silver, but a lighter weight smaller coin. A design change (the 4th one) would subsequently follow in 1839 with the Liberty Seated Half Dollar (1839- 1891). At 52 years, the Liberty Seated Half Dollar is the longest lasting series of half dollar. This coin was designed by Christian Gobrecht.

1861 Liberty Seated Half Dollar

In February, 1853 Congress took another major step in that they reduced the weight of all silver coins (with the exception of the Silver Dollar) so that the coins were now less than face value in terms of the silver content within the coin. The reason was to stop the exportation of U.S. silver coinage to the “melting pots” when silver bullion prices went up. As a result, while the fineness (purity) was kept at 90% silver content, the weight of the coin was reduced from 206 & ¼ grains to 192 grains. Arrows around the date were placed to signify the this change as part of the design for mintage years 1853-1855. The earlier date coins would either be melted down or hoarded because of the higher silver content.

By 1873, largely as a concession to the U.S. silver mining interests, the U.S. Congress would relent and increase the weight of the half dollar from 192 to 192.9 grains. This weight and fineness (90% purity of silver) would continue until the end of real U.S. silver coinage (in 1964).

1907 Proof Barber Half Dollar

The Liberty Seated Half Dollar would give way to the Barber Half Dollar in 1892. This series, designed by Charles E. Barber, would last until 1915. This particular series of half dollar was heavily circulated in the U.S. public. As a result, it’s difficult to find high grade Barber halves (which command pretty good pricing today).

1942 Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Upon Theodore Roosevelt becoming our country’s president, his influence was felt in what amounted to a renaissance change in the design of our country’s coinage. The Barber Half would give way to the Walking Liberty Half Dollar in 1916. Designed by A. A. Weimar, this coin is considered to be the most beautiful U.S coin ever designed (1916-1947).

Eventually even the most beautiful coin designed would give way to the “Dead Presidents Society”, By 1947 we see the Lincoln Cent, the Jefferson Nickel, the Roosevelt Dime, and Washington Quarter in circulation. Sooner or later it would become the half dollar’s turn. By 1947, this became an issue of whether or not this denomination of coin should feature another dead president. The U.S Mint director would solve this issue by having the half dollar feature a famous “dead American”- Benjamin Franklin. Designer of this coin was John R. Sinnock.

The Franklin Half Dollar (1948-1963) was a departure from the other half dollars…not only in terms of the obverse design trend, but also or the reverse design (as earlier stated in this article). One might speculate as to why….

1950 Franklin Half Dollar

In any event, the death of President Kennedy would again bring up the issue of the “Dead Presidents Society”. This would result by Congressional directive in the Franklin Half Dollar giving way to the Kennedy Half Dollar (1964- Present).

1964 would also be the last year for the true silver half dollar. The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar would be the last half dollar (for general circulation) that would be 192.9 grains/90% silver content (fineness).

The American public would see silver clad coinage (1965-1970) in which the silver content was significantly reduced. By 1971, we would see the Kennedy Half Dollar evolving to the copper clad half dollar we see today.

Besides the half dollars that were used for general circulation, there are also Commemorative half dollars minted by the U.S. Mint. The first U.S. Commemorative was the 1892 Columbian Exposition Half Dollar. The first generation of U.S Commemorative coins were from 1892-1954. In my view, this first generation is very collectable.

The next generation of Commemoratives (the ones we see today) were minted from 1982- Present. Such Commemoratives are authorized for mintage by our U.S. Congress.

So…here we have it. The evolution of our U.S. Half Dollar…..a very collectable series of coins for the collector…..Larry Nakata.

The Anchorage Coin Club

Club Officers

Board of Directors


Club Archivist/ Photographer


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

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