Return to Alaska Coin Exchange homepage

Return to ACCent homepage

ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

ACCent Header

Volume 5, Number 6

June 1992

June Membership Meeting
Wed., June 3, 1992 Central Lutheran Church

7:30 PM Meeting




The membership prize for the May meeting was a Civil War token donated by Bill Fivaz who is famous for his exploits as a cherrypicker and author. Appropriately, Paul Wheeler, who is an avid cherrypicker himself, won the prize. Bill also lent us his slide set of graded Walking Liberty Half Dollars which provided the visuals of a presentation given by Robert Hall.


Neal Lydick announced that 42 of 97 total raffle tickets have been sold. The prize is 25 years of U.S. mint sets (none duplicated). When Neal offered the tickets for sale the response (or lack thereof) prompted him to say, "Don't everybody break a leg getting up here." Step up and get a ticket. The number is strictly limited, so every ticket holder has a reasonable chance to win.


It was affirmed that associate members, who happen to be at the meeting, are eligible to win the membership prize. "They're probably as unlucky as the rest of us", said President D'Atri.


ANA is having its annual conversion in Orlando, Florida this summer. Roger Wollam, who is an officer and editor for the Tampa Bay Coin Club, has offered assistance to anyone in our club who wishes to attend. Roger may be contacted at:

P.O. Box 273555
Tampa, Florida, 33688-3555

It was moved that ACC donate $25 to ANA in support of the convention. This is an annual effort in which we show our appreciation to ANA in a tangible way. ANA supports our annual seminars with instructors, grading sets, and literature, all of which we get at substantial discounts.

For instance, we got the Stack's illustrated history of U.S. type coins for only $7 each (normally upwards of $20). In this way we keep ANA mindful of us way up here in Alaska and keep the good will going. The motion was discussed and passed unanimously, mainly because Mike McKinnon wasn't there that night.

In addition to good will, ACC will receive the convention catalog, and mention in same as a "benefactor".


Neal Lydick won the door prize which was a Series 1957 $1 Silver Certificate.


The Young Numismatist's meeting was held May 8 at the Anchorage Mint (YN meetings are held the second Friday in each month). Michael Robuck, proprietor of Michael's Jewelers operates a private mint which is located in the basement of the building containing his downtown shop (located on 4tn Avenue just west of McDonald's).

Your editor was curious about how those nicely struck medallions with Alaskan motifs were made so he showed up for the tour. It was plain that Michael and his "chief coiner" are proud of their coining efforts (and rightly so). They carefully attend to each step of the process Dies Tor a typical one-ounce silver round are polished once for every one-hundred coins (!). Since they produce about forty coins per hour, this means they polish the dies three or four times in a full day.

The fields are polished using a fine grit compound. The devices (which are usually frosted for a nice cameo effect) are sand blasted when metal flow begins to shine up normally frosted areas. This latter process consists .of carefully masking the fields with two overlapping layers of tape and trimming to uncover the devices to be "blasted".



Bill D'Atri tendered this memo at the last E-Board meeting:








The Stone Mountain Commemorative Half Dollar

This article is reprinted verbatim from the May 1926 "Numismatist"

The Baltimore Post sees the Stone Mountain commemorative from a different angle than most of the Northern newspapers which have expressed themselves on this coin. In a recent issue the Post said editorially:

What strikes us as the strangest coin the world has ever seen now lies gleaming on our desk before us: A half-dollar minted at Washington.

Its reverse holds the American eagle, the word "Liberty" and a remarkable dedication: "To the Valor of the Soldiers of the South."

The obverse bears the legends "In God We Trust" and "Stone Mountain 1925", plus the portraits of two soldiers on horseback - Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee !

Every American, Yank and Rebel alike, should be proud to be a citizen of a country that could produce a coin like that. Every boy and girl in the land should own one, for it tells why America is great.

Just think! Sixty-odd years ago the guns of civil war were rocking the nation as Lee and Jackson led their Southern hosts to battle against the Northern legions of McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, Meade, and Grant. Yet today, in what was then the Northern capital, they are striking coins "to the valor of the soldiers of the South!"

Why? Because America is America. Anywhere else under the sun victory would have spoils for the victors and firing squads for the vanquished. We do it differently. Northerners are among the very first to admit Lee was one of the greatest of Americans. They readily recall his prayer, "God spare us from civil war," and that he said no greater calamity could befall our country than that it should be cut in two. They tell of haw the immortal Lincoln offered him the post of commander-in-chief of the Union forces and how his conscience led him to refuse and take a lesser command in the South. They know that Lee lived up to his belief that "duty is the sublimest word in our language" and that he never wavered from it long as his life was his.

In defeat Lee was greater, if possible, than he had ever been in victory. He told the ragged, hungry, tottering remnant of his followers to go back to their homes proud of their record, but to remember that "it is now the duty of every citizen to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony." He himself set the example, for, from it he and Grant clasped hands at Appomattox, the Union held no more loyal citizen than Lee.

A foe without hate as Benjamin Hill of Georgia described him. Lee's was the spirit that makes us a great people. Ready to fight in defense of what we believe to be right, we stand equally ready to accept what appears to be for the greatest good of the greatest number, without bitterness and without grudge.

A gentleman, a great soldier, a great citizen, a great American was Lee and the new coin honors us who honor him.



I found this short blurb in the June 1955 Numismatist while researching the Morgan Dollar article in the May issue. Just thought this story would help demonstrate how collecting might serve as an aid to domestic harmony (Well, let's say domestic safety).

A Butte, Montana man, whose wife fired three shots at him in a cafe the other day, is grateful to one of the silver dollars he was carrying in his pocket. Two of the shots went wild, but the third was deflected by the silver dollar. His wife said she is a good shot and could have killed him, if she had wanted to, but that she had merely "wanted to get him out of the place," according to news stories. I'll bet the shot left a helluva a bruise, though!!


John J. Ford:
Numismatic Raconteur
(Part Two)

This article continues last month's adaptation of an interview published in Volume HI Nos. 1 and 2 of "Legacy" by Mark Van Winkle of Heritage Rare Coin Galleries. Legacy was issued by Heritage which specializes in rare and high-grade coins.

Ford talks about some of the great rarities in his personal collection:

I own a number of pieces that I value highly for their historical importance. I own an original Confederate half dollar. I awn the unique set of Nova Constellatio coins of 1783.

I own an original Continental dollar or two in silver, the silver pieces being the only dollars, in my opinion. I own a gold Immune Columbia pattern. I have a monetary assay ingot that I think is a fabulous piece. It is dated 1854 and was made by Wells Fargo Bankers, and is so marked. In addition to that, there is the Internal Revenue tax stamp indicating it was re-assayed subsequent to June 30, 1864, when they put a tax on ingots to help pay for the Civil War.

When asked if he owns any federal coinage Ford replied:

No. The last federal coins I owned were probably the sets of Lincoln cents and Indian cents I assembled from circulation in the I930's when they still circulated. I sold those sets prior to the war or right after the war. Regular United States coinage never appealed to me. They were a commercial vehicle as far as I was concerned.

His disdain For federal coinage is unsurprising when you consider Ford's original reputation as a "wonder kid" was made in New York in the late 1930's when he memorized the Adams-Woodin book on patterns and used the knowledge to his advantage as a teenage coin trader.

It was during these "wunderkind" years that Ford met F.C.C. Boyd. Below he describes the circumstances of their first coin deal:

I noticed a classified ad in the New York Times coin section. It was a tiny ad that read:

(I knew) the assistant cashier of the (local bank), which was a high-sounding title for a teller who had been around awhile. My total capital was about 40 bucks and now I wanted to play with a big-league coin. So I sent a telegram (which said) "Send coin far examination to my bank. " I gave him the name of the bank ... and the name of the teller. The guy sent the coin. He put a price on it of $500, which happened to be the same price that B. Max Mehl had in his "Star Rare Coin Premium" book. The guy who worked in the bank let me take the coin ... to schlep around New York.... I took it To Wayte Raymond and he wasn't interested. He didn't have a customer, but he told me (of F.C.C. Boyd).... So I found out where F.C.C. Boyd was, called him, and got an appointment. I went down to Varick Street, where he had a big office, and walked in. Remember, I'm 17 years old and Boyd was born in 1886. He was a tough little guy. When he talked steam would come out of his ears. He was very aggressive. He said,

"Young man, let me see the coin. "

So I took the coin out. He said,

"Haw much is this coin?"


And he said,

"Do you take me for a fool? I will give you $550; take it or leave it."

Well, the owner... was already sending me telegrams asking,

"Where is the coin?" And the bank wanted to know what was going on. So I sold the Conway $2 1/2 for $550...

I had to pay the bank $5 for handling the coin (and) the teller $30 for his trouble, so I made $25 or $30. That was the beginning of my relationship with Fred Boyd which was concurrent with my relationship with Wayte Raymond.... (Boyd) used to come into the New Netherlands offices and he would ask Walter (Breen) to look something up for hint and he would hand Walter a $50 bill.

Walter thought that Wayte Raymond was neat and that Fred Boyd was the greatest. And they were.


Another famous collector, Louis Eliasberg, had dealings with John J. Ford. Ford recounts a "run-in" they had when New Netherlands was hired to sell Eliasberg's duplicate coins:

Right now I am mellow and calm and a senior citizen. Earlier, I was young and lean and mean. In 1957 we were preparing to sell off his (Eliasberg's) duplicates. I was cataloging coins or proofreading the manuscript for the sale. In comes Louis Eliasberg. Charles Wormser says,

"Show what we have been doing to Mr. Eliasberg".

So I showed him the papers, and he looked at them and said,

"This coin was Uncirculated and you graded it Extremely Fine." "Yes, sir"

Then he picked another coin and said,

"I bought this coin as "Extremely Fine from Abe Kosoff and you've graded it Very Fine"

I said, "Yes, sir."

Then he said we had mentioned nicks, handling marks, abrasions, and other things that he thought were redundant.

Charles Wormser was standing right behind him. When he brought Mr. Eliasberg in and the conversation started, Charles was beaming. And as Eliasberg was reading me all this stuff, Charles' beaming countenance degenerated into one of concern. After I listened to this stuff for about flue or ten minutes, Charles' countenance worsened.

Then I said, "Mr. Eliasberg, you gave us the coins to sell. Let us sell the coins and you run to your bank." Charles looked like he had been hit with a sledgehammer.

And Eliasberg, who I suspected was a very tough guy, just said, "Very well, young man, sell the coins," and walked out.

Charles thought he was going to take the consignment back or buy the building and throw us out in the street. But we had the sale, which was enormously successful, and Eliasberg later wrote us a letter that was so flattering that we obtained his permission to publish it, which we did in The Numismatist a couple of months after the auction,


Except for the 1907 extra high-relief proof and the 1933, which is regarded as contraband by the U.S. Treasury, the 1927-D is the key date in the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series. Ford tells a story in which he searches for a '27-D for a customer wishing to complete his set:

On the first day of the 1966 Chicago ANA convention, I walked into the bourse, and there was this firm with a couple of people behind the counter. I looked into their case and they had a 1927-D $20. 1 picked up the coin and studied it very carefully and noticed certain characteristics on the reverse. I went around the bourse and asked everybody if they had a 1927 Philadelphia coin. I must have looked at 20 of them. Finally, I found one with the identical reverse of the 1927-D, which made me very suspicious of the 1927-D In the Congress Hotel, where the convention was, there was a pharmacy in the lobby. I went down and bought a small bottle of acetone. So I went back to the guys who had the '27-D and with the bottle of acetone between my knees underneath the table I asked again to look at the coin. I took the stopper out of the bottle and moistened my finger with the acetone, and kept rubbing it on the D. Finally I had a little tiny D on my right index finger. So I laid the coin on the counter with my left hand, put the stopper into the bottle with my left hand, put it on the floor, and said to the guy behind the table,

"I have a problem." he said, '

What is it? What is it? We're very busy."

I said, "My problem is with your '27-D $20 here.

Here on my finger is the D that was on it. What do I do?"

The other guy said instantly: "Quick, get an envelope and save the D!"

So they took a two-by-two coin envelope and slid the D in it. I excused myself and left. I never heard any more about the incident.


John H. Murrell, described by Ford as "A very wealthy guy" was introduced to Ford by John Rowe. In 1959 Rowe set up a deal to sell some Mexican gold ingots to Murrell. These ingots were recovered from a Spanish wreck during the 18th century, and Murrell had expressed an interest in them. It was arranged to meet Murrell in the top-floor "Presidential Suite" of the Muelbach Hotel during the '59 Central States Convention:

When we got off elevator on the top floor there was a long corridor. No rooms, but at the end there was a big double door...We went up to the door and knocked, and Murrell answered. Murrell was rather- short, stocky. He was wearing zebra-striped pajamas, craziest thing you ever saw, and he smelled like a perfume factory. He had this suite with something like four bedrooms, two kitchens, three living rooms; it was huge. It took up the whole floor of the hotel... he wanted to see the coins and ingots.

There was this long coffee table in front of the couch, and I laid out all these gold coins, bars, ingots, and other stuff. Meanwhile M has a bottle of bourbon and has found a water glass in the bathroom and he's pouring bourbon into it. It's now about 3 o'clock in the morning, and he's getting a little woozy. I wasn't getting woozy. I was 34 years old and Rowe was 22. All we could see is dollar signs floating in the air. So he said, "I think this is all pretty good, John, I'll take it."

Now the price was around $64,000 to $67,000, and he's going to take it. It was the biggest deal I ever had. It better than the Brasher Doubloon deal by far. So then he said (to Rowe), "John, go in the other bedroom there and get my checkbook out of my suit" Well, he must have been drunk when he came in because the pants were on the floor, the jacket was on the bed, the socks were on the ceiling. The whole place was a disaster...Rowe came back and said, "There's no checkbook" So I said, "M, there's no checkbook" "Look in the drawers, look anyplace," he said, as he poured another shot of bourbon. So Rowe ran around looking.

"I can't find the checkbook," he said. I said, "Rowe, this is important. Go down to the desk and ask the guy behind it in the lobby for a blank check. M said, "Good idea, good idea.".... Meanwhile I'm trying to move the bourbon away from M and give him coffee, trying to keep him awake. Rowe came back and said, "The guy doesn't have a blank check".... So I said to Rowe, "Go through every drawer in here a get me a Western Union blank. We'll make a check on the back of a Western Union blank."

You know, that damn Presidential Suite didn't have one pad of Western Union blanks, not one? So then I said, "This is a hotel. All hotels have Gideon Bibles. Get me a Gideon Bible and we'll rip out the page in front and we'll use that.

Did you know Gideon Bibles have no blank pages in the front? They start right out with the first chapter of Genesis, and there are no end papers. So what are we going to write on?... Meanwhile, M's eyeballs are coming down; his head is dropping on his chest. I said to Rowe, "Get me some kind of paper; I don't care what kind of paper." So Rowe ran in the bathroom and tore off two or three pieces of toilet paper. I don 't know how I did it, but I sat there with a fountain pen, and I used the edge of the Gideon Bible to draw a check. I printed the whole damn check out, 67 thousand dollars (or whatever), and M signed it. He then fell over and on the couch and fell sound asleep.... It was then 5 o'clock in the morning, and we were both hungry and tired. So we ate breakfast... we fooled around until the bourse opened at 8:30 or 9.-00.

I walked into the bourse... to where my partner Charles Wormser was setting up. He said,

"Did you sell the stuff?"

"Do you want the good news or the bad news?"...

Well, what's the good news?"... "I sold the stuff."... "That's great. What's the bad news?" I said, "I'll show you" and I reached into my watch pocket and pulled out the toilet paper. It was folded down to about one inch square; I opened it up and showed him this thing with 88 folds in it, and he asked, "What's that?"...

"That's how I got paid."....

"Are you crazy? What are we going to do with this?"

I said," Well its better than nothing."....

(Monday morning Wormser) called the bank in Dallas and said, "... I have a check here.... It's a rather peculiar check. It's not a regular check. It's on a funny kind of paper" The guy said,

"Yes? How much is the check for?"... "Sixty seven thousand dollars."

The cashier said, "Well, what do you want to know?

Who signed the check?"

'John H. Murrell."

The man in the bank replied,

"It can be on anything, a concrete block. We'll take care of it."

Next we got a phone call from Murrell, and he asked,

"You got my check?"

"Yes. "

"Don't send it to the bank."


"I'm sending Frankie up."

"Who's Frankie?"

Click, he hangs up.

So two or three days later I'm sitting in the office having my morning coffee and cigar, looking at the mail, and some bum walks in. This guy is short and has on scroungy, ratty clothes, looked like he needed a bath. He was carrying a big paper bag. The receptionist goes out, and guy says,

"I want to see Mr. Ford", the girl asked,

"May I ask your name?"

"I want to see Mr. Ford"

"What's the nature of your business?"

"I want to see Mr. Ford"

Wormser is downstairs having coffee or something. So I have to walk out. I was always worried about these kind of deals. So I put my .38 on and closed the door behind me, which means I'm locked out there with this creep. The guy asked,

"Are you Mr. Ford?"


"I'm Frankie. You got something for me. I got something for you."

"What am I supposed to have for you?"

"Mr. Murrell's check."

So I had to go back and get the check. You know what was in the paper bag? $50 bills, the whole paper bag. Murrell was into horses and Frankie took care of all his bets at the track. So. naturally, there was a lot of cash involved. Frankie was a trainer or a stable man or something, but he looked like he was born at the race track.


Van Winkle cited Ford's opposition to slabbing and certification. He tries to get Ford to modify his rhetoric by asserting: "...considering how many people have been taken advantage of by coin dealers over the past 20 years, aren't investors and collectors better off with third-party grading than without..." Ford replies:

(Overgrading coins) hasn't been going on for 20 years, that has been going for over 220 years. Ever since the first coin was sold to anybody, somebody has lied about it. The only difference is that we play musical chairs now.

We lie about different things at different times. Yes, there is no doubt that third-party grading has been of some benefit to people who have no interest in learning anything about coins, and who are motivated strictly by profit or aspirations of profit.... So if someone grades the coin for them, they are not going to be taken advantage of condition-wise. However, they are being taken advantage of. Let's say... you have given the consumer protection (in grading).

You have opened up a can of worms in several other areas. Now you have misrepresentation as to rarity. You have misrepresentation as to value. You have misrepresentation as to investment potential. You have misrepresentation as to importance. All this misrepresentation particularly in reference to value, and the importance of high grades is an extraordinary perversion. Grading has been fine-tuned and the whole motivation is profit.

Van Winkle disputed Ford by stating: " is not the third-party services that are misrepresenting value." To which Ford replied:

They are providing a vehicle. There are a lot of people who want gun control. Guns do not shoot anybody. People shoot people, but they use guns. The third-party grading system and the great emphasis on the fine-tuned categories of mint state are the vehicle by which people are being taken advantage of.

Van Winkle asked if Ford thought "rare coins are suitable for investment":

Any artifact, any antiquarian item, any historical piece, any work of art is suitable for investment. But it must be from one person who collects or acquires or displays to another person who collects, acquires, or displays. When I first started coin collecting, the population of collectors in the United States was far less than half of what it is now. The gross national product was a fraction of what it is now,... Today's situation - more people with more money - has made whatever you invested in 15 to 30 years ago a good investment, because there are more consumers. The consumer in numismatics is the collector. And an investor, by my definition, is one who buys a coin and holds it to sell to a collector. He has to sell it to a consumer. If you are going to invest (in cattle), the bottom line is that you are going to sell the cattle to a slaughterhouse... and someone is going to eat them.... But if you are just raising cattle to go out and look at them and count them, it has to end...

Currently (Early 1990), in coins, what appears to be a bottom line has been the selling from one investor to another. It is all going to come to an end when the last investor buys his last coin... If you want to make an investment today in coins, buy a series where there will be more collectors in ten years than there are now (such as ) a series where the collectors are knowledgeable, avid, aggressive, and are fairly well educated.

Pick a series like obsolete bank notes...Foreign currency (but you have to be careful.) Colonial coins; Colonial-continental paper; classical U.S. coins, in all metals, VF-AU; U.S. tokens and medals; U.S. paper, if you keep away from the hyped stuff: all the things that will attract collectors have a great future for the simple reason of the price range.

In many cases, prices are much more modest than on the so-called investment coins. You have fewer people chasing coins at a lower price range, so it is a better deal.

Van Winkle asked Ford about how coin collections are best dispersed: "Do you think it is wise for individuals to leave their collections to museums, or are the coins more accessible to the collection public if they are sold back into the marketplace?"

Museums are like communism, in theory they are great. They tastefully arrange their material, show it to its best advantage, and educate the public. Most museums do this, and some of them do it very Well... The only problem is that museums are bureaucracies. Many museum people are riot aggressive, not competitive; they are not motivated; they just want to exist....

Wayte Raymond once said (speaking of museum staff,) "Most museums attract people who want to get in out of the rain.".... I have involved for a long time in the recovery of stolen property, and I have had experience with a lot of institutions that have had some very fine numismatic items that were stolen or mysteriously disappeared.

The directors and curators want nothing to do with anybody who says something is missing. They just want to ignore it. They don't even acknowledge anything is missing.... mainly because they don't know what they own in many cases, or if they do know, they don't want any publicity because it might mean their jobs.... I could name six institutions that have been cleaned out in the last 15 years and they don't admit anything is missing

So the bottom line is, as much as I like the concept of a museum, in the United States the best custodial care of coins, the best research, the best writing, the best contributions to science and to the hobby generally originate with individual collectors.


Abe Kosoff was a well-known coin dealer for decades. Kosoff died recently, and was eulogized in The Numismatist. It was clear from this eulogy that Kosoff was widely liked and respected. Van Winkle concluded the interview by asking Ford of his impression of Abe Kosoff. His comment speaks loads about the essence of the coin business:

Abe Kosoff didn't know as much about coins as he knew about people. He was probably the most astute handler of people I ever met. He was charming, charismatic, and as one individual referred to him, "the smoothest guy I ever met." I once said to him, "You should know more about coins and less about people," and he gave me a piece of advice I never forgot. He said, "Remember, John, it is the people who own the coins."


One of our own, Anchorage Coin Club YN, Mike Greer has been selected to receive a scholarship to this Summer's Numismatic Seminar in Colorado Springs.

Mike has been active in the ACC and was instrumental in starting our YN group. YN Scholarship recipients must be ANA members, 18 years of age of younger, and demonstrate an active interest in the numismatic hobby.

Robert Hall, who wrote this notice, urged the editor to commission Mike to write a full report after the seminar this summer. Your editor liked the idea and arm-twisting commenced. Bottom line: Mike agreed to give a presentation. Thanks, Mike. We're all looking forward to it.

June 1992

Lot Date Denomination Grade
1 1883-0 Morgan Dollar MS 63
2 1884-O Morgan Dollar MS 62
3 1887 Morgan Dollar MS 63
4 1888-O Morgan Dollar MS 63
5 1818 Large Cent AG
6 1819 Large Cent AG
7 1820 Large Cent AG
8 1861 Confederate Half (restrike) BU
9 1909-3 VDB Lincoln Cent VF
10 1910-S Lincoln Cent BU
11 1922-P Lincoln Cent G
12 1943-PDS Lincoln Cent MS 63
13 1962 Lincoln Cent PF65
14 1972 (Doubled Die Obverse) Lincoln 1cent MS63/63
15 1954 Canada 5-Cent AU
16 1958-D Lincoln Cent MS62
17 1964-D Kennedy Half EF
18 1968-D Kennedy Half MS 62
19 1938 Washington 25cents G
20 Silver 1/4 oz. blank
21 1947-S '47-S , '47-S (RPM) 10 cents BU, AU
22 1958-D Washington 25 cents AU
23 1964-D Washington 25 cents MS 63
24 1974 Washington 2S cents MS 64
25 1988-D Washington 25 cents BU
26 1987 Silver Eagle BU
27 1943 Walk. Lib. Half AU
28 1942 Walk. Lib. Half AU
38 1954 Lincoln Cent MS 64
30 1853/3 Large Cent VF
31 1938-D Lincoln Cent, RPD MS 63
32 1924 Standing Liberty 25 cents VG
33 1925 Standing Liberty 25 cents G




The Anchorage Coin Club

Club Officers

Board of Directors



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