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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
|Volume 14, Number 9||
|September Membership Meeting|
|Wed., September 5, 2001||Central Lutheran Church||
7:30 PM Meeting
We could not have asked for better weather for our annual summer picnic; the warm sunshine and faint breeze made for a wonderful time in the park. There were over 30mernbers and friends at the picnic. More than half of them participated in the scavenger hunt for local flora with coins from Carl, Bill, and Roy given out as prizes.
There was more food than we could eat. Cakes, cookies, pies and sweet breads as well as chips and salads. Bill Hamilton's son, Robert, did a great job of running the grill and provided us with expertly barbequed hot links, hotdogs, hamburgers, and Larry's delicious teriyaki beef.
It was a good time to get together and talk about everything under the sun. But, of course, there was a test at the end. Greg prepared answers and questions for a jeopardy type game. Loren provided a quick-answer question that narrowed the jeopardy hopefuls down to just three contestants. And Larry presided over the game. All of the information came from the Redbook and everyone had one. It was a tough game and the lead went back and forth between John and Jonathan.
In the end, after the last question was answered the dust cleared and the scores added up, Jonathan Samorajski came out the leader winning the gold; a one tenth ounce gold eagle. John Larsen won the silver prize and Justin won the bronze; a souvenir Hawaiian medal. All three were given a one ounce silver medallion from the Alaska Mint for competing in the game.
1839 Reeded Edge Bust Half Dollar
We normally have the picnic in July but this year we would have been rained out. Thanks to Larry and Maribel's honeymoon in July we moved the picnic to August and not only avoided the rain we had their honeymoon adventures on the Mexican Riviera to share with them at our warm, dry summer picnic.
To justify the claim-on our newsletter that this is the award winning newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club our newsletter has won either first or second place for the past five years for best newsletter of a local coin club as chosen by ANA. This year we took second place. Thanks go to Mike Nourse, Larry, Loren, Roy, and all the members who have contributed to this informative publication of the Anchorage Coin Club.
We are getting into the fall season and with that comes the much awaited coin shows. The first scheduled show is at the Northway Mall October 20th and 21st.
We lost one of our true friends this summer. Mark Nagy passed away several weeks ago due to complications resulting from his bypass surgery. Mark had no petty differences with anyone; he was a friend to everyone in me Anchorage Coin Club. Mark knew how to get along with people and had an eye for quality numismatics. His departure leaves us with a void in the club. Mark was in the process of giving us the numismatic education we needed in our monthly membership meetings and he was also our ANA liaison. We now have one less friend in this world. Goodbye Mark.
Schedule of Events for the Month of September:
1. Monthly Membership Meeting: September 5th (Wednesday) at 7:30 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Club members and general public welcome. President Bill Hamilton will have a VHS presentation on "GOLD". A bullet auction of no more than 15 coin lots will occur. Members wishing to submit coins for the bullet auction can bring them to the meeting.
2. YN (Young Numismatists) Meeting: Sept. 14th (Friday) at 7:00 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. YNs, club members, and general public welcomed. This month's session will be on the subject of "Grading Coins and Paper Currency, Part I". YNs are encouraged to come lo this month's session.
3. Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting: September 19th (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Club members welcomed.
Minutes of July 18th Board Meeting:
With the arrival of John Larsen the Board meeting began at 7:05 PM. Bill Hamilton, Loren Lucason, and John started discussing the summer picnic. Greg Samorajski, his son Jonathan, and Roy Brown then joined the discussion. A list was made of suggestions of food for members to bring to the picnic. In addition to salads and desserts some suggestions were beans, deviled eggs, and a plate of veggies with dip. Bill thought that some people could bring a big bag of chips. Jonathan Samorajski likes Cheetos. Roy Brown will be calling members to find out what they are bringing.
We reviewed the list of club supplied stuff adding barbeque sauce, charcoal lighter and large trash bags. Bill pointed out that the tables would probably need to be washed off and offered to bring soap and water.
1881 Seated Half Obverse
We then went onto the entertainment and games for the picnic. A magician was suggested but the only trick Loren knew was pulling a gold Roman coin out of his pocket. More entertaining will be the scavenger hunt Loren and John are organizing for the kids. Much like last year, the kids will pick out a coin for each of the required foliage they bring back. This time there will examples of the plants they are looking for.
Larry Nakata will be conducting a Jeopardy type competition based on information from the Red Book. The winners will receive a bronze, silver, or gold coin as a prize. Greg Samorajski volunteered to make up the question cards for the game.
Under new business was Bill's idea of setting up a card table in a mall to educate the general public about coins and to give out club membership applications. Loren was interested in pursuing this as something the YNs or any member with free time could do. Loren thought that a "standard" type flag with the club's logo embroidered on it would be needed to draw attention to the table. An embroidered flag is not cheap. Bill said to talk to Gary at the Army Navy store on 4th Avenue. He does banners and flags at that location.
The idea is to have a highly mobile setup consisting of a folding card table, a cloth standard on a pole, a box of give-away literature, and maybe a coin book or two. These would fit in a car and not be a great loss in case of theft.
Malls, these days, are dominated by kids. The YNs could man the table for short periods at a time. They would be indoors in a protected environment and would be the best at relating to other kids. We could set up in different malls each week to reach a greater number of people. There would be no set work times or days with the table either manned or not. We could keep the setup kit in a central location.
Bill has a card table. Larry has lots of free literature, and Loren is looking into the standard.
With no further business the meeting was adjourned at 8:20 PM.
Minutes of the August 15th Board Meeting
The meeting was called to order at 7:15 PM.
Following a review of bills to be paid, Larry Nakata gave an update on the 2003 Coin Expo progress. At this time, Carl is looking at the dealer interest level for this show. We are awaiting a report from Robert Hall and Roy Brown regarding their efforts at the ANA Atlanta Convention. That report will be given at our club's Sept. 5th meeting. Robert has indicated some important news that will be of interest to our membership. Since Robert and Roy were out of town at the time of the Board meeting, the decision was made to put the process on hold and wait until their report before moving towards closure of a business plan for the 2003 Coin Expo. Once a business plan is developed the next step would be to get approval from the club's membership to proceed. Robert has asked that we wail until his report on this matter.
Larry Nakata then went on to state that the Anchorage Coin Club won 2nd place for our newsletter, ACCent. While pleased with winning awards for the last 5 years....a three-peat for 1st place would have been nice according to Larry, We'll just have to try harder.
With the passing of club member, Mark Nagy, the Board discussed a replacement for club representative/liaison to the ANA. The decision was made to get suggestions for a new representative at our September 5th membership meeting.
The August 11th Summer picnic was then discussed. There was a turnout of about 35 people to the event. Everyone agreed it was a nice sunny day for the picnic, which went very well. A fine time was had by all who attended.
The winner of our club's raffle prize, an 1859-O Seated Liberty Half Dollar in XF-45 condition, was Steven Taylor who resides in Shaw AFB, South Carolina. Steven bought this ticket from Bill Hamilton. John Larson will be making arrangements to send the coin to Steven Taylor, Congratulations on winning our club's raffle prize.
The final order of business was a discussion of our club's finances. Greg Samorajski gave a report on this matter. There is a concern that our club programs and overhead costs are exceeding the amount of moneys received by yearly membership dues. Greg Samorajski will put together a projected budget for further discussion on this matter at our next Board meeting.
As there was no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:15 PM.
For this article, I was asked to describe my experience at the ANA Summer Seminar. But the fact is, I can't. It was too amazing. About a year and a half ago the coin club sponsored me to take part in this one week numismatic extravaganza located in Colorado Springs. This summer I was able to attend, and had the numismatic experience of my life. Going into the Seminar, I had no idea what I was getting into or the amazing time I was going to have.
I arrived in Colorado the night the Seminar opened, and was greeted by two tall lanky young men who during our rushed bus ride to the seminar site I learned were interns at the American Numismatic Associations national office. It was kind of confusing for me to meet youths like myself that had such a strong passion for numismatics, before that moment I was under the assumption that I was close to being alone. Yet if I thought that two other passionate YN's was a big deal, I was in for a big surprise.
The first thing that happened after registration and check in was our family group meeting. I walked in just as it began to find a midsize lobby packed with dozens of youths of all ages. At first I thought nothing of it, as this was a college, and there were youths here all of the time, yet as introductions began, my perspective soon changed. Each of these 40+ youths were all, every one, young numismatists from all over the country. East coast, west coast, rocky mountain, mid-west, from every comer of the United States, all with a passion for numismatics. I was both awestruck and amazed all at once, and kept pinching myself to make sure this all was real. "Youths", I said to myself, "from all around the U.S., all interested in coins, just like me". It was a dream come true far from what I had envisioned; a week spent in boring classes with scruffy men and stock market talk, not seeing any coins and spending more time asleep than awake. But this week, I would find, was nothing close to the drab lecture I had imagined. It was truly an experience to remember.
For the next six days I formed unforgettable bonds with each of the YNs there as well as many of the chaperones and seminar students. They were all amazing individuals with diverse stones and interesting backgrounds, and I loved learning all about their fields of numismatics. It seems in any conference I go to, I always say that the people are the best part. However, the Summer Seminar was so amazing.
I was told going into the Summer Seminar that I needed to choose my class wisely as once I arrived I would only attend one and that would be it, and if the topic was not of interest to me, than I would be sitting in a classroom for the majority of the day, everyday, fairly bored. With this statement, I was rather worried, that if I picked the wrong class that this experience would be miserable. Nevertheless, my assumptions were proved wrong yet again.
Alexander III Tetradrachm
On my first day of classes, I sat down in a small classroom scattered with books, a few coin trays and materials to take part in my first day at the Ancient Coins Class. Going into the class, I knew that I was interested in Ancient Coins, but never had the chance to really get into it. But as the class began, I knew that I was in for a ride that would taint my coin interests for life. The class was taught by ANA Curator Robert Hoge and Chris, the Byzantine Coin extraordinaire,...and in just 7 days I was taking a whirlwind tour of ancients skimming a semi-comprehensive history of Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, and Byzantine coins, seeing slides, holding rare and common pieces, researching types, rulers, and lithographs, and best of all attributing three unattributed coins. Of course, some parts like the research project and the final exam (of which we were the only class to have one) were a small challenge, but everything just helped to perfect skills and a passion for ancients I never knew that I had. The class was eye opening, and by the end of the week I had already begun purchasing pieces for my own collection.
The highlight of the week probably for everyone was the YN Auction, an auction solely hosted, planned, advertised, consigned, and run by the YN-'s where all the profits go to next year's ANA Summer Seminar scholarships for YN's. It was a blast putting together, even though a lot of late nights were had trying to coordinate everything, and the outcome was tremendous. Everyone had a blast participating, especially the adults who outbid themselves, bid against themselves with two bidding numbers, re-donated lots, and gave away their winnings to YN's.
In the midst of all this, we enjoyed tours, feasts, entertainment, and met all sorts of people like the girl on the face of the Sacagawea Dollar, the President of the ANA, and the writer of "US Coins and their Values". Finally to put the icing on the cake, at the end of all the excitement, I had a chance to browse through the largest coin show I had ever attended with more than 100 tables and booths...and get some great deals on ancients.
As one can easily see, the Summer Seminar was the numismatic experience of my lifetime, and I owe a great deal of gratitude to the Anchorage Coin Club, the Board, the Alaska Mint, and all the members that contribute to the club annually for granting me the opportunity to attend. Thank you so much, and I encourage anyone and everyone, especially YN's, to attend next year's ANA Summer Seminar and see what it can do for you!.....Corey Rennell.
Along, long time ago, in a place far, far away (Philadelphia, actually), our nation's silver coinage was being redesigned, away from the old capped bust design to a new design showing Miss Liberty sitting on a rock hanging on to a shield and a pole with a hat on it. It was the second half of the decade of the 1830's, and there was a lot of trial and error to get the design refined to what the mint considered to be just right.
1839 Seated Liberty Half Dollar No Drapery
The mint's engravers tried tweaking various design elements on the seated liberty design of the various denominations that it was being used on. In some of the denominations you will find such varieties as small, medium, and large letters; small, medium, and large stars; small, medium, and large dates; small, medium... Well, you get the idea. Suffice it to say that early seated coinage is fertile ground for variety collectors.
One fairly major change that occurred in these early days was an overhaul of the main seated liberty figure itself resulting in a whole new type coin. Coins made prior to these changes are referred to as the 'no drapery' type, while those made alter the changes are known as the 'with drapery' type because an obvious fold of drapery was added under Miss Liberty's elbow. The only other significant difference between the two types is that the rock that Liberty is sitting on is quite a bit larger on the no drapery coins than it is on the later issues. As an interesting note, the half dollar is the only seated liberty coin that survived the transition from the no drapery type to the with drapery type with so few modifications. All other denominations using the seated liberty design also saw the shield tilted to a more upright position with a thicker ribbon draped across it, while Miss Liberty received a heavier dress and a bigger head!
Herein presents a reasonably priced one year type coin that does not command a lot of attention from the numismatic press. In the half dollar denomination, the transition from the capped bust design to seated liberty took place in 1839, with the switch from no drapery to with drapery also occurring mat year, leading to three distinct type coins for this denomination in 1839.
Mintage of seated liberty halves in 1839 is fairly routine at 1,972,400 pieces, which is split between the no drapery and with drapery types. That mintage is a fairly even split between the two types although it seems that there is a slight imbalance leaning toward more with drapery coins. Now, we are all familiar with the fact that the first year of a new denomination tends to be heavily saved. You can buy an Uncirculated 1909 VDB Lincoln cent for about $10 while most common dates in the 1910's and 1920's with much higher original mintages cost more than this. Similarly, the 1883 no cents Liberty nickel can be had in Uncirculated condition for around $25 to $30, compared with double that amount or more for any other date in the series.
So, were the 1839 half dollars heavily saved too, as the first year of a new design? Well, no, they weren't. To find out why not, you have to look at collector habits at the lime. I had not yet started collecting coins when the 1830's rolled around, and I doubt that any of you readers were coin collectors 165 years ago either, but I have read a bit about the early days of numismatics in the united States. We know that the hot sector in coin collecting today is modern coinage from roughly the 1950's to date in slabs with numbers like 69 and 70 on the insert.
1839 Sealed Half With Drapery
Back in 1839, however, slabs had not been developed quite yet, and few collectors of the day were very interested in the modern US coinage minted in the last 47 years, from 1793 to date. (Actually, most US coins, even the earliest ones, sold for little above face value in Circulated condition well into the late 1800's, but that's another article...). Collectors in 1839 were much more concerned with filling their felt lined wooden coin cabinets with colonial and ancient coins, as well as medals and tokens depicting George Washington (no kidding!).
One more piece of evidence that proves the new seated halves were not saved is the condition of the survivors. Halves of 1839 are vastly more common in well circulated condition and quite rare in Uncirculated, with only about two dozen or so specimens currently in existence. Anybody at the time who wanted to save one of the new halves would have undoubtedly gone to the bank to get a nice new specimen. Obviously, few people bothered to do this.
Since few of the 1839 no drapery halves were set aside at the time, their survival is basically a matter of chance. If we assume a fairly typical survival rate of one to two percent, and assume a mintage of 900,000 (exact figure unknown), that would give us somewhere in the range of 9,000 to 18,000 pieces available to collectors today.
Demand comes largely from collectors working on either type sets or date and mintmark sets. Few individuals are ambitious enough (or rich enough) to attempt the date and mintmark set, so I suspect that type collectors account for most of the demand. Many type collectors are content to just have two seated liberty half dollars, a no motto piece (1839 to 1866) and one with motto (1866 to 1891), but there are plenty of folks around that want all six types of seated halves including the 1839 no drapery, the 1853 arrows and rays, and the with arrows varieties of 1854 to 1855 and 1873 to 1874... as well as the with and without motto types.
Luckily, the healthy original mintage has supplied us with enough coins that they have a reasonable price in circulated condition. According to Trends, the 1839 no drapery halves start at $40 in Good and $55 in Very Good and run up to $650 in Extra Fine. The numbers become quite scary after that: $1400 in AU and $4000 up for Uncirculated pieces. I think the best value is to be had with a nice Fine at $125 or Very Fine for $275, Not bad at all for a one year type coin that nobody paid any attention to at the time of issue!...
Nobody can say exactly why one series of coins is popular (such as the Capped Bust halves) while another series is not nearly so heavily collected and/or written about (Capped Bust quarters for instance). I believe that the reason for the popularity of these halves is twofold: they are abundant (affordable) and the varieties are big and easy to see. Put away your stereo microscopes and high magnification loupes! The vast majority of these varieties can be identified with no magnification at all.
I have mentioned before that the standard reference book for varieties of half dollars minted from 1794 through 1836 is Early Half Dollar Die Varieties by Al C. Overton. It shows a whopping 450 plus varieties for the capped bust half series alone, which runs from 1807 through 1836- Let's look at some examples of these varieties to see what is out there.
1817/13 Capped Bust Half
Right near the beginning, in 1809, some experimentation was going on with the edge of the coin. The whole capped bust series has a lettered edge stating "fifty cents or half a dollar", but in 1809 the mint engravers decided to try putting a series of IIIIIIII's between the words on one variety, and XXXXX's between the words on another. The edge lettering, along with the Ps and X's is kind of small because these are not particularly thick coins, but it is all reasonably easy to see without any magnification. You should be able to acquire one coin with the normal lettered edge, one with the I's and one with the X's for under $200 for the group of three in Fine condition. In what other US series can you get a group of coins with edge varieties for that kind of price? These are almost 200 years old now!
Overdates? We got 'em! And these are nice, clear overdates, unlike the recently popularized 1914/3 buffalo nickel which must be viewed under a powerful microscope, with a purple light shining on it, on the third Thursday of the month during which Mars is in the constellation Capricorn, if you are to have any chance at all of seeing the overdate. No, you can see these overdates any day of the week with no magnification needed. Some examples are the 1811/0, the 1814/3, the 1820/19, the 1827/6, all of which are valued under $100 each in Fine condition.
And, if you like overdates. there are some other overstampings that may interest you. One that is particularly fascinating (and easily visible) is the 1813 coin with the 50c punched over UNI at the bottom of the reverse. There are also overletters to go with the overdates. One example was produced the following year, 1814, when the word STATES on the reverse was originally spelled STATAS, necessitating punching an E over that errant second A. The original A is still quite visible under the new E. Again, these are available for $100 or less in Fine condition.
There are other variations to look at in the date. Some nice examples occurred in both 1827 and 1828, in which one variety has a square base on the numeral two in the date, while the other variety has a much fancier curled base on the two. These are easy to tell apart even without having the two varieties sitting side by side to compare. You can get one coin with a square base 2 and one with a curled base 2 of either date for under $100 for the pair in Fine.
We also find different size number punches being used to put the date on the dies. Two good examples are the 1812 coins with either a large or a small 8 in the date and the 1830 with either a large or small 0 at the end of the date. These varieties are best owned as pairs because the difference in the size of the numbers is only obvious when the large and small varieties are side by side. Fear not, even if you have only one, you will have no trouble at all looking at a picture in a book to determine whether you have the large or small number. This compares favorably with a coin such as the 1970 Lincoln cent, which can be a bummer to determine if they have the large or small date. In this case, the 1812's will run about $150 for the pair in Fine, while the 1830 duo will cost only a bit more than half that figure in the same condition.
Another example of size variation can be found on the reverse of the 1834 half dollars. The entire legend 'United States of America' around the edge comes in both small letters and large letters varieties. Again, the difference is very noticeable when you have one of each next to each other, but they are available in Fine for under $100 for the pair.
These are just a few of the clearly visible, no magnification necessary varieties that are available at an affordable price range that have made collecting capped bust half dollars by variety -so-popular. Granted, most of the 450 plus varieties out there are identified by relatively small variations in the placement of the stars and numbers on the obverse, or the lettering on the reverse, but they are still fun to collect and compare. They also make fantastic displays to show people the variations that inevitably occurred back when each die was produced individually by hand!.....
In the process of flipping through your Red Book, or while looking at a price guide such as Trends in Coin World or Coin Market in Numismatic News, you may have noticed three 1823 half dollars with interesting names. This trio of coins are known as the 'broken 3', the 'patched 3', and the 'ugly 3'.
What do the dates on these coins look like, and how were they created? For answers to these questions, I went to Al Overton's Early Half Dollar Die Varieties and the more recent Edgar E. Saunders' Bust Half Fever, two excellent references on die varieties of Capped Bust halves.
Let's start with the broken 3 variety. On this coin, the top and bottom loops of the number three in the date are barely connected together at all. Because the three is also tipping over toward the right, one would almost expect the top half of the three to roll right off the bottom half! The theory presented by Mr. Saunders in his book as to how this was created is that the number three punch used on this die was not yet complete, therefore not ready to be used on a die.
1823 Bust Half Broken 3 Variety
This leads us from the broken three to the patched three, which really is a patch on the broken three. In a (failed?) attempt to improve the look of the broken three, a small bar shaped punch was stamped into the junction of the upper and lower loops of the three. Unfortunately, this particular punch did not in any way resemble the sideways v shape on the back of the three. Additionally, the repair was punched in at an awkward angle, sloping down to the left, providing a repair that is far from artistic. Again, as with the broken three, the number 3 is tilted harshly to the right compared to the other three numbers in the date.
Finally, the ugly three, which is unrelated to the other two varieties. In this case, a normal three has various bulges along its right side, giving it an unusual (ugly in somebody's opinion!) appearance. This time, the culprit is not the hand of a mint engraver. Instead, it was the hand of the coinage press in use at the Philadelphia mint at that time. This particular die was suffering from an acute case of overuse, and was now starting to crack. One crack developed that ran from the denticles on [he edge, up near the right side of the number three, and on up into Miss Liberty's lower curls. Some tiny chips broke off the die in the narrow gap between the back of the three and the die crack nearby, making the right side of the three quite irregular.
I know all of you have a copy of the Overton book on early half dollars, but to save you from having to look it up, I will let you know that there are totally thirteen die varieties for the year 1823. The broken three variety is listed as O-101 (Overton- 301). After striking some unknown number of coins, somebody at the mint decided to remove the obverse die from service, soften it, try to patch the three in the date, re-harden the die, and place it back in service with the same reverse die. Since it is still the same set of dies that were used for striking the O-101 coins with only that small modification to the three, the first group of patched three halves are designated as O-101a. The obverse die with the patched three outlived the reverse die, thusly creating O-102 when it was paired with a new reverse die before going into retirement itself, As described earlier, the ugly 3 is really just a late stage in the life of a die, after it had cracked slightly and lost a few chips on the right side of the three. This die pairing is known as O-110 before the damage developed, when it had a normal three, and is known as O-101a after the obverse die had deteriorated to the point where we have an ugly three.
What is the best feature of these three half dollars? Simple - they are inexpensive enough that almost anybody can afford them. Let's see what a four piece set including a normal 3, a broken 3, a patched 3, and an ugly 3 would cost. If you are on a strict budget, coins in Good condition are acceptable because the dates on capped bust halves are quite bold, so they generally do not wear down to mere shadows until a grade of About Good is achieved. According to Trends, the four pieces in Good will cost about $150 total. I believe that the best value comes in the form of a set of four Fine condition for $250 or Very Fine for $350. The price much more than doubles when the grade is increased to Extra Fine, and doubles yet again when you hit Almost Uncirculated. Nice Fine or Very Fine coins will allow you to see much of the design details along with clear views of our hero, the number 3......
EDITORS NOTE: As our final article for this month, here is an interesting tidbit from club member Jim Hill on grading of lower grade coins:
• G-4; full rim.
• AG-3; 66-99% of G-4 detail (Very Fair).
• Fair-2; 33-65% detail (Filler).
• Poor-1; 1-32% detail (Basil).
• Bad-0; 0% detail (Cull).
FINAL EDITORS NOTE:
• VB Minus 1; damages other coins on contact (Very Bad).
Hamilton Days: 277-6110
V. President- John Larson Eves: 276-3292
Treasurer- Greg Samorajski Eves: 561-8343
Secretary- Larry Nakata Days: 269-5603
Club Archivist / Photographer - Robin Sisler
Board of Directors
Roy Brown- Days:
Loren Lucason- Eves: 272-3700
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,