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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

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Volume 18, Number 9

September 2005

September Membership Meeting
Wed., Sept. 7th, 2005 Central Lutheran Church

7:15 PM Meeting


FROM YOUR CLUB PRESIDENT CARL

To all Anchorage Coin Club members:

I would like to thank all of the members that came out to the annual summer coin club picnic. It seemed to be a fun and successful event. I’d like to give a special thank you to Greg Samorajski for a fun scavenger coin hunt and also to John Larson and Loren Lucason for organizing and coming up with very interesting and educational questions for our coin trivia game.

And thanks to all the YNs that participated.

It’s participation in events like this that makes our coin club a successful and fun organization.

I urge all members of the coin club to help support all coin club events and especially in encouraging new memberships (YN and adult) and participation of existing members.

Thanks again. Sincerely, Carl.

FROM THE EDITORS

A fine time was enjoyed by all at our coin club picnic on Saturday, August 13th. We had a very good turnout of people for this event. There was lots and lots of good food that enjoyed by all….hamburgers, hot dogs, hotlinks, barbecued chicken, Larry and Maribel’s special teriyaki beef, lots of salads, and lots of desserts.

We hope that everyone was notified about the mix-up in reservations at Centennial Park. Seems the City Parks people booked two groups for the use of the pavilion and park….our coin club and the IBEW. With a couple days to go before the event, thanks go to Roy and Ann Brown for contacting our members about the change of location for our coin club picnic (which actually was held at the Centennial Park Campground area).

The new location proved to be a great one with nice shaded areas with a cool breeze.

As stated by our club president (Carl), we had some nice numismatic game events to pass the afternoon. Lots of prizes were given away that afternoon to those participating in these events. No one went away without some sort of coin, paper currency, or numismatic item.

The raffle prize, a set of U.S. Yellow Seal Notes (also called the U.S. North African campaign currency), was won by Larry’s wife, Maribel. Congratulations to Maribel on winning the raffle prize. 

For those of you wondering about the history of these Yellow Seal notes, the U.S. Government issued these yellow seal notes to U.S. soldiers fighting in World War II (starting with the North African campaign) as pay currency. These were special issue currency notes that could only be used by our World War II GIs. By issuing such currency, any notes captured by the World War II German Army could not be used against the United States government. These notes would later be replaced with MPCs (Military Payment Certificates). But that is another story.

Our next club raffle prize, a slabbed $2 & ½ dollar Indian Gold piece will be available for ticket sales at our next club meeting on September 7th.

Larry Nakata will giving a presentation on “Alaskan Tokens”: that evening. Should be a pretty good presentation.

See you there……Your Editors.

MEMBERSHIP NEWS

Schedule of Events for the Month of September

  1. YN (Young Numismatists) Meeting:  We are combining the September 7th YN Meeting with the regular membership meeting that is scheduled for 7:15 PM that evening. See you YNs there.
  2. Monthly Membership Meeting:  September 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. Club member Larry Nakata will be giving a presentation on “Alaskan Tokens”. Members, YNs, and general public welcomed.
  3. Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting:  September 21st  (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the New Cauldron Restaurant at the University Center. Club members welcomed.  

Minutes of the August 17th Board Meeting

The Board meeting was called to order by club president Carl at 7:10 PM. Meeting held at the New Cauldron Restaurant at the University Center.

After review of correspondence, the Board talked about the success of the Summer picnic. The new location at the Centennial Park campground was found to be an excellent location to hold future summer picnics. In talking with the campground supervisor, Larry Nakata found out that it should be possible to rent that same location next year.

As there was no other old business to discuss, the Board then moved into New Business. Discussed was what alternatives should our coin club seek for coin shows. In the minutes of last month’s meeting, it was found that hosting a Fall Coin  Show was not economically feasible. It was agreed that we will need to continue to go with a series of smaller shows at the shopping malls for now. It was also decided that we should look at buying coin show cases over a period of time. It was pointed out that our club already has coin tables, but need bourse cases for those tables.

The Board then discussed presentations for the September and October club meetings. Larry Nakata will do a presentation on September 7th on the subject of “Alaskan Tokens”. Loren Lucason will give a presentation at our club’s October 5th meeting on the subject of “Coins of the Bible”. For the month of September, the YN meeting will be combined with the club’s regular membership meeting.

Stan Mead will be putting together an update in our future newsletters on the progress of the Alaskan State Quarter design. Stan is an appointed member to the State Commission that is working on this project.

As there was no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:45 PM.

A VISIT TO THE ALASKA RAPTOR CENTER
by Mike Nourse (Life Member #1)

        As numismatists, we are used to looking at eagles on our coins. I did not make a count of any kind, but I would estimate that about half of United States coins have an eagle on their reverses. These eagles range from the amusingly pitiful eagle on the Franklin half to the great flying eagles found on Gobrecht dollars and $20 Saint Gaudens gold coins. An eagle even made a brief visit to the obverse of a coin when small cents were introduced in the 1850’s.

Why do we look so closely at the eagles on our coins? Simple – grading! On most coins which feature an eagle, the details remaining on said eagle are used at least in part to determine a final grade for the coin. For some coin series which lack useful design elements on the obverse, such as the Washington quarter, the amount of feather detail remaining on the eagle on the reverse is the primary determinant of grade in circulated condition.

So, as much time as we all spend looking at metallic eagles to determine how many feathers are still visible and how much wing detail remains, I decided to go to the Alaska Raptor Center to get a look at some real bald eagles up close.

Sitka has American bald eagles all over the place, in abundance. Right now I am a bit further south in Petersburg, and there are even more eagles here. However, in the wild, I don’t want to get any closer than about 30 feet away to avoid stressing or scaring the bird, or worse yet having it stress or scare me. To get really close it is necessary to see these birds in captivity where they are in cages and used to the presence of humans nearby.

So, what was learned about eagles at the Alaska Raptor Center? Well, besides getting some good close up pictures of several individual eagles, a visitor to the center may attend several short presentations given by employees and volunteers. As one would expect, none of the presentations or displays had any information about the use of bald eagles on United States coinage.

The good news in the bald eagle world is that they are no longer considered an endangered species; they are now merely threatened. The estimated North American population is now up to  100,000 individuals with over half of them calling Alaska home even though they do not receive permanent fund checks in October. However, even though the birds are no longer on the endangered list, don’t even think about killing one of them! To do so will result in a $100,000 fine and five years of making license plates in the local jail.

As all of us in Alaska know, these are huge birds. Their weight is generally in the low teens of pounds which is awfully heavy for a bird, considering that their bones are hollow. Their wings can span nine feet for a young adult though their wingspan actually decreases as they mature. When the birds are young they have longer wing feathers to help them learn the fine art of flying, which are similar to the training wheels on a kid’s bicycle. As the youngsters age, these long feathers are replaced by shorter ones which reduce the wingspan by about a foot giving the bird more maneuverability to better catch their unfortunate quarry. Their height is typically three to three and a half feet tall with the females being larger than the males.

Eagles are well known for having exceptional eyesight, hence the saying ‘eagle eyed’ for people who have sharp vision. The density of cones (light receptors used for color vision during daylight) in the back of eagle’s eyes is vastly higher than that found in humans. Assuming for the moment that an eagle can read, it would be able to read a newspaper headline from across a football stadium. Such vision gives the eagle the ability to spot small unfortunate rodents and other tasty morsels either from a safe perch at the top of a tree or while circling far above the ground. In contrast, the quantity of rods (black and white light receptors used in darkness) in their eyes is only marginally more than human eyes, hence their night vision is little if any better than ours, which generally rules out a midnight snack except in summer.

The fairly large eyes of an eagle take up quite a bit of space inside their skulls, leaving limited room for musculature to move their eyes form side to side. While their eyes do have some side to side mobility, this shortcoming is made up for by the ability to turn their heads more than half way around, with a 210 degree range of motion in either direction. This compares to about 90 degrees for humans and a whopping 270 degrees for owls. Both eagles and owls have fourteen vertebrae in their necks compared to a measly seven in humans, but the owl’s vertebrae are spaced a bit further apart giving them that enviable range of motion.

Bald eagles live about 25 to 30 years in the wild on average and quite a bit longer in captivity. It takes them five years to develop the well known white head and tail feathers that make them so easy to identify. Before that time, they are pretty much brown all over and somewhat resemble golden eagles, only twice the size. They generally mate for life though they will find a replacement for a deceased spouse.

Now it is time for us all to give thanks to the second Continental Congress for selecting the bald eagle as our national emblem in 1782 over the vociferous objections of Benjamin Franklin who much preferred the turkey. Eagles are scavenger birds of prey, and Dr. Franklin and others thought that this would portray a rather negative image of the United States on the worldwide scene. As it turns out, bald eagles are only found in North America, so only Canadians and Mexicans were aware of their poor table manners.

Just think how different American numismatics would be if Franklin had been successful. You have to admit that it would sound strange to divide the bust dollar series into the small turkey and heraldic turkey sub types. Now, I wonder what the Gobrecht dollar and Saint Gaudens $20 gold piece would look like with flying turkeys on the reverse???….Mike Nourse.

THE ALASKA RURAL REHABILITATION CORPORATION (ARRC) ALASKAN BINGLES/ MATANUSKA, ALASKA
by Roy Brown (Life Member #4)

CHIEF EDITOR’S NOTE:  Since Larry Nakata will be giving a presentation on “Alaskan Tokens”,  I came across this article that was written by club member Roy Brown back in August, 1999. Thought this might be a good lead-in towards Larry’s presentation on September 7th.

        In 1934, during “The Great Depression”, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” - FRA - Federal Relief Administration’s plan, decided to move 200 farm families “roughly 1000 people” from the “Mid-West Dust Bowl”, Minnesota, Wisconsin, & Michigan to form a colony in the Matanuska Valley, which is located 50 miles north of Anchorage.

The gold strikes had petered out. The polar bears were in command. And who cared if the Eskimos shot up a few walruses - or a few wolves. A few ex-sourdoughs however, remembered that when the brutal Yukon winters passed and spring approached, there were rich farmlands in abundance. There was land that hungered for the plow.

When the settlers sailed from Seattle, on the army transport “St. Mihiel”, they had hopefully left behind the memories of drought, dust storms, foreclosures, & financial ruin. Bands played, crowds waved as they sailed north. Little did they realize that their fellow passengers were the workers who were going to build the shelters expected to be waiting for them when they arrived, & little did the workers realize that all the materials to build the shelters were in the hold of the ship, but no tools were included.

Despite this, the majority stuck with the experiment. Forty acre lots were assigned by the luck of the draw. There were 8,000 acres for homesteading and 18,000 acres for grazing land.

The majority of the farmers were from Scandinavian stock, as they figured they could stand the rigorous weather the best. Each farmer was allotted 40 acres, which cost $ 3,500.00 at 3% interest. Although the amortization period was 30 years, no payments were to be made on principle or interest until the 5th year, to give the settlers time to become self-sufficient.


Upon arrival at the project, they were temporarily housed either in railroad cars at Matanuska or the tent city at Palmer. After they completed the drawing of their lots of land, they were moved to one of the ten tent camps, located close to each section of land.

Subsistence allotments were made, varying from forty five dollars for a family of two, to eighty five dollars for a family of  five per month, and could be drawn on at the ARRC store in Palmer. There was plenty of work to be done checking, storing & transporting freight, assistance on civic projects involving building, road clearing, construction, and maintenance…for which they were paid fifty cents per hour.

All the wages and allotments were totaled and subtracted in a book at the ARRC store, but after several months of this, there were a lot of complaints about the prices and accounting. A federal investigator was sent up to check it out, and saw how exorbitant the prices were, and that some of them were being charged for items they did not receive… because nobody received receipts. He then replaced the commissary manager, started to work on some form of circulating exchange, and came up with the idea of tokens to be issued and only used at the commissary store.

The idea was implemented and some one came up with the idea of calling them Bingles “a nickname for poker chips”. The tokens were to have the initials of the name of community on them. They issued  - one cent - five cent - ten cent - twenty five cent - fifty cent - one dollar - five dollar - ten dollar pieces. The cent thru dollar tokens were the same size as our regular circulating coins, ”except the one cent which is octagonal”, and made of aluminum. The five & ten dollar pieces were made of brass.

The tokens were only to be used at the ARRC store for food, clothing, and other merchandise much like  “modern day food stamps”. However, after a while all the local Bars, Taverns, and other businesses (even some “over the tracks”) caught on to what was happening… and started to accept them. After all, they could use them at the store too.  So after six months these bingles were discontinued.

Full sets of ARRC tokens are pretty scarce today. The U.S. government demonetized them for redemption…. with all redeemed tokens destroyed. There were 250 surviving uncirculated sets. Commemorative 50th anniversary ARRC coins wre minted in 1985.  These were designed like the original, except the reverse showing a “50th Anniversary” designation. Today a nice set of “Bingles” sell for $500… with the 50th year set selling for $30…..Roy Brown.


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

Email is coinclub@pobox.alaska.net