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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

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Volume 12, Number 8

August 1999

August Membership Meeting
Wed., August 4, 1999 Central Lutheran Church

7:30 PM Meeting



It had the looks of a blustery day at Kincaid Park when we lit the barbecue. After the briquettes caught we tried the kites but there was not enough wind. The coals got hot and people showed up with salads, desserts, and other foods. Roy and Larry went to work barbecuing. In addition to burgers and hot dogs Larry put on some delicious teriyaki chicken and beef, and Roy put on some spicy slices of Louisiana Hot Links.

Meanwhile the rest of us compared the coins we brought to show. There were some very nice ancient Greek bronzes with wonderful patina, and an XF billon crusader denier, as well as several US type coins. Ann Brown organized food on the tables and we began eating sandwiches, salads, chips and drinking sodas. More friends showed up and while they were building barbecue sandwiches others of us started eating on the apple pie, the banana pudding, and some dangerous brownies made with chunks of chocolate and English toffee.

Cards were passed out for members to vote on a new motto to be printed on the newsletter. Everyone was also given a last chance to buy raffle tickets for the five dollar gold piece. As eating slowed down, packets were given to each of the kids for the scavenger hunt. The packets contained five coupons for the five coin sizes from cent to half dollar. On one side the denomination was printed. The other side told them what item (spruce cone, moose nugget, etc.) they had to find to get their choice of that coin size. We had pages of each denomination. The kids could bring the items in one at a time and in any order. First come first serve. When they had the five items and picked out their coins they were given a jar and sent out to find a live bug. When they returned with their bug in good health they could pick a coin from the page of dollars. The kids each got a set of coins of their choice. It was hard to keep track of who got what but whoever got the 1893-O Morgan dollar must know by now that they have a rare coin. We looked at coins for a while and set the bugs free... then drew for the raffle coin. The problem-free, very fine 1847 five dollar gold piece was won by Ann Bilak, wife of Richard and mother of YNs Nick and Sarah. She is the same woman of "many cents" who won the raffle for the complete set of Lincolns at last December's Christmas potluck dinner; a vey lucky woman.

As we started setting up for the bullet auction the wind kicked up and a bunch of us kids ran off to fly kites. The bullet auction turned into the buying, selling, and trading among individual friends.

1837 Capped Bust Half Dollar Obverse

1837 Capped Bust Half Dollar Obverse

Some of the new quarters circulated. The wind came in gusts and the two string stunt kites were tricky to fly but we got in some good air time. Fortunately the kites stood up well to the high speed crashes. There was plenty of food left over and we shared some of it with the family that took over the pavilion when we were done flying.



Schedule of Events for the Month of August:

1. Monthly Membership Meeting: August 4th (Wednesday) at 7:30 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Club members and general public welcome. John Larson will be giving a presentation on "Foreign Paper Money". A bullet auction of no more than 10 coin lots will occur Members wishing to submit coins for the bullet auction can bring them to the meeting.

2. YN (Young Numismatists) Meeting: No meeting is planned for the month of August. YNs are encouraged to come to the August 4th membership meeting.

3. Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting: August 18th (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Club members welcomed.

July Board Meeting:

There was no Board meeting held in July. The next Board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 18th.


by Larry Nakata (Member #41)

We trust that our YNs (Young Numismatists) are enjoying their Summer thusfar. A number of YNs did attend the coin club's July 11th Summer picnic. Thanks go to our club president, Loren Lucason, for organizing the picnic. Loren also organized all those great events (such as the scavenger hunt) in which lots of coins were given away as prizes to YNs who attended the picnic. Of course lots of food and a good time was had by all.

Although there will not be a YN meeting scheduled for the month of August, we want to remind YNs that our coin club will hold it's membership meeting on Wednesday, August 4th over at the Central Lutheran Church (7 PM open / 7:30 PM start). One of our members, John Larson, will be giving a presentation on "Foreign Paper Money". Take some time from your summer vacation and come on over to this meeting. Given away is a nice door prize and a membership prize at each meeting. We also hold a coin auction tor all to enjoy.

1837 Capped Bust Half- Reverse

1837 Capped Bust Half Reverse

All of our YNs are also reminded that there will be a coin seminar planned for Sept. 10th, 11th, and 12th over at the Westcoast International Inn. "Coin Grading" and "Counterfeit Detection" will be subjects covered at this seminar. YNs CAN ATTEND THIS COIN SEMINAR FOR FREE!! Lunch and refreshments will also be provided at the seminar for all who attend. We realize that Sept. 10th is a school day for YNs... so it is likely that YNs may not be able to attend the first day. However... Saturday (Sept. 11th) and Sunday (Sept. 12th) are good days for YNs to come and learn about grading coins and how to spot a counterfeit. So come on over.... it's free!!

Interested YNs are asked to contact me (Larry Nakata- phone number is listed in this newsletter as one of the club officers) or drop a note to the club's address (also listed in this newsletter). I need to know how many YNs will be attending (and on what days) so that we can make arrangements for the number of lunches to be served for the seminar.

Hope to see a number of you at the August 4th meeting......

        Larry Nakata.


by Mike Nourse (Life Member #1)

Actually, I think there are quite a few short, undervalued series! But this month we are going to focus on two of the five type coins in the half dollar denomination that were minted for only two years or less. In this case our subjects are the reeded edge capped bust halves, the types with 50 cents on the reverse from 1836-1837 and half dol on the reverse minted from 1838-1839.

As many of you may remember there were some big changes going on in coinage manufacturing techniques in the mid 1830's. The great innovation of the day was the mint's first steam powered coinage press, and the 1836 reeded edge halves were the very first coins made on the steam press. A steam press allowed the mint to make coins more uniform and therefore harder to counterfeit. Obviously there is quite a bit of US Mint history in these coins. Once can almost visualize a group of mint technicians along with Chief Engraver Christian Gobrecht and Mint Director Robert Patterson standing around their new toy watching it churn out its very first coins, the 1836 reeded edge halves, on November 8, 1836.

OK, it is obvious that these two coinage types were short lived at two years each. So why do I think they are undervalued? For starters, there were just not a great deal of these coins minted in the first place. About 3 1/2 million examples of the 50 cents variety were produced along with 5 million of the half dol variety. This compares to the 82 million examples of lettered edge capped bust half dollars which cost only slightly less. Another factor is that these coins are all 160 years old or older. Many have been lost or destroyed over the years (as is the case with virtually all coins minted for circulation). Undoubtedly many were melted 15 years after they were produced when the weight of the half dollars was reduced by 6 3/4 percent.

So how does one go about collecting capped bust reeded edge half dollars? A complete date and mintmark set is pretty much out of the question due to the extreme rarity and frightful expense of the 1838-O of which only 11 specimens are known today. If you happen to have unlimited funds, you may want to consider this option which consists of six coins total. However, most of us definitely need to scrap this idea due to a budget that does not allow us to drop $40 thousand on a single coin!

1836 Reeded Edge Half

1838 Reeded Edge Half

A much more reasonable idea, which also makes an impressive set and includes a genuinely rare coin, is to form a one a year set. This four piece set will consist of the 1836 and 1837 of the 50 cent type and a 1838 or 1839-O of the half dol type. I highly recommend that you purchase a 1839-O half rather than the Philadelphia version. It is a much scarcer com for only about four times the price. As for the genuinely rare coin, most of you know already that I am referring to the 1836 reeded edge half. With a mintage of only 1200, you can bet there just are not that many remaining in the world. For the four piece set containing the 1839-O, one should expect an outlay in the neighborhood of $1750 for coins in attractive Very Fine condition. This is the set that I recommend.

Most people simply seek to acquire two of these coins, one of the 50 cent reverse type and one of the half dol type. Unfortunately most type collectors will opt to pick up the most common (and thereby least expensive) date. As regular readers of my articles know, I do not recommend this policy. It is usually possible to get a much scarcer coin for only a bit more money.

Looking first at the 50 cent reverse type, I really like the 1836 issue. It certainly does not come cheap, but it has a mintage three thousand times smaller than the 1837 for only fifteen to twenty times the value. You will likely have to search for a while to find one of these coins due to their scarcity but it is worth the work. I consider this to be one of the most undervalued of US coins considering its scarcity and its unique history as the first regular issue coin to be struck on the steam press. As stated above, these 1836 halves will set you back a large chunk of change but about $1200 should get you a decent VF example. If there is no way to purchase one of these, an 1837 will run about $80 in the same condition.

As for the half dol reverse type, you have probably already guessed that my favorite issue is the 1839-O, being the scarcest issue of the type save the impossible 1838-O. The 1839-O is only one of four years of half dollar production (along with 1838, 1916, and 1917) to feature an obverse mintmark in the first 175 years of mint production. This little jewel will reduce your savings account by roughly $300 in Very Fine. Not bad for a coin that is 70 years older than the 1909-S VDB cent with less than half the mintage! If a 1839-O is out of the question, my next choice is the 1839 Philadelphia issue which is somewhat scarcer than the 1838 Philadelphia for about the same price of $75 or so for a Very Fine.

So, if possible, shoot for the four piece one a year set. Otherwise the two piece type set, hopefully consisting of the 1836 and 1839-O coins, will do fine........

        Mike Nourse.


by Loren Lucason (Member #97)

Phrygians of the Black Sea area, who flourished between 1500 and 300 BC, wore a close fitting cap with a brim. It kept their heads warm and shielded their eyes from the sea. The Romans adopted the cap with a law that they could only be worn by free men; i.e., no slaves. When a slave was given freedom his head was shaved in a ceremony and he was presented with a Liberty cap. Liberty caps can also be found on U.S. half cents. Large cents, half dimes, dimes, quarters, dollars, quarter eagles, half eagles, and eagles.......

            Loren Lucason.



CHIEF EDITOR'S NOTE: In keeping with our efforts on having this month's articles consistent with the theme of half dollars, we browsed the Internet and found the following articles from the ANA's "Money Talks" series.

From ANA's Web Page ( ), the Money Talk series:


Bob Van Ryzin / Transcript No. 1607

It was one small step... A delivery of slightly more than 5,000 silver half dollars. But it was one giant leap for the new mint, and the new nation.

On this day (Dec. I") in 1794, the U.S. Mint's dream of providing our nation with spendable sliver coins finally became a reality.

Although Americans were already using copper pennies and half-cents from the new mint, coins of silver and gold had to be delayed. The Coinage Act of 1792 provided for gold, silver, and copper coins, ranging from a half-cent through a gold $10 coin. The problem was, the law set the bond on people handling precious metals too high. Both the assayer and the coiner were ordered to deposit $10,000 before the Mint could begin accepting deposits of gold and silver. Neither could afford it.

1794 Half Dollar

Fortunately, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson appealed to President George Washington... Washington appealed to Congress... and the bonds were lowered.

Coin production could now begin. Dies were prepared. A delicate portrait of Liberty by Mint engraver Robert Scot graced the new silver coins. And a rather scrawny, yet stately eagle was placed on the reverse side.

Despite the encouraging beginning, production of silver coins remained low. And the Mint didn't even start making gold coins until the following year. Problems with the equipment and supplies and yellow fever epidemics in Philadelphia during the late 18th and early 19th centuries all took their toll. It would be several more years before the new mint could supply enough coins to meet the needs of commerce and the public. Yet that first delivery of half dollars, 205 years ago, was a big step forward.



Gerald Tebben / Transcript No. 1512

You've all hear of Confederate paper money... But have you heard of, or seen, any Confederate coins?

1861-O Seated Liberty Half Dollar Obverse

1861-O Half Dollar Obverse

Even before the outbreak of the Civil War, the Confederacy seized the three southern U.S. mints at New Orleans, Charlotte - North Carolina, and Dahlonega - Georgia. At New Orleans, the entire mint staff defected to the South -although one refiner actually worked through the war as a Northern spy.

The Confederacy made only a handful of gold coins at the Charlotte and Dahlonega mints - but at New Orleans Southern forces produced more than two million half dollars and 12,000 $20 gold pieces for the South.

1861-O Seated Liberty Half Dollar Reverse

1861-O Half Dollar Reverse

1861 was the only year the South was able to strike coins at the New Orleans Mint. The next year the mint was all but destroyed when the North re-captured the city. The coins were struck from regular U.S. dies.... each with the words, "United States of America", on it. That didn't stop the coins from being accepted in Confederate commerce.

Today nice examples of 1861-O half dollars can be purchased for as little as $15. Twenty-dollar gold pieces, popularly known as "double eagles", are more expensive, running $1,000 or more apiece.

The South never made a serious attempt to produce coins in its own name.... though four half-dollars were made at New Orleans with a special "Confederate States of America" reverse die, and given to Confederate VIPs. A New York coin dealer named J. W. Scott later got hold of that Confederate die and used it to make "re-strike" pieces, easily distinguished from genuine Confederate half dollars. Scott's re-strikes are widely collected today.


The Anchorage Coin Club

Meetings:       Membership meeting - First Wednesday of the month, 7:30 PM
                        E-Board meeting - Third Wednesday of the month, 7:00 PM
                        Meetings held at the Central Lutheran Church, at the corner of 15th and Cordova


Club Officers

President-                    Loren Lucason    Eves: 272-3700
V. President-                John Larson       Eves: 276-3292
Treasurer-                      Robert Hall        Eves: 561-8343
Secretary-                   Larry Nakata        Days: 269-5603
                                                                    Eves: 563-1729

Editors -                     Loren Lucason
                                    Larry Nakata
                                    Robin Sisler
                                    Mike Nourse
                                    Jim Susky
Club Archivist / Photographer - Robin Sisler

Board of Directors

Roy Brown-                      Days: 563-6708

Don Thurber-                  Eves: 338-7488

Mike Orr-                         Eves: 522-3679


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