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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
|Volume 15, Number 6||
|June Membership Meeting|
|Wed., June 5th, 2002||Central Lutheran Church||
7:15 PM Meeting
Our May Day membership meeting was quite enlightening. President of the club, Rick Bilak, brought several ancient coins for the bullet auction including some nice Roman bronzes and a very nice Alexander the Great tetradrachm. At the same meeting the young numismatist, Corey Rennell, gave an in-depth talk on the history of changes in ancient coin denominations. Loren Lucason passed around examples of these ancient denominations for the members to see. Everything from tiny electrum Greek stater fractions to large bronze Roman sestertii were viewed and discussed. Corey showed a genuine interest in, not only the bits of metal, but the varied history that led up to their invention.
Rick started the meeting after Vice president John Larson arrived by giving Mike Gentry the U.S. Mint 1995 Civil War Battlefield Commemorative half dollar and one dollar set for the door prize. Then we gave Corey Rennell a set of 3 planchets (dime, quarter, and Susan B. Anthony dollar) for the membership prize.
Larry Nakata announced that the speaker for the September seminar was chosen and that the subject would be gold coins. Bill Hamilton announced that everything was arranged for us to put a coin display in the 1st National Bank of Anchorage on 4th Avenue and that we will have a table at the Kid's Day expo at the Egan Center. Loren Lucason put the coins in a showcase at the bank and they were on display through National Coin Week. The bank was very happy to have coins on display in their lobby.
Kid's Day was a great public-relations success. Thousands and thousands of kids attended with their parents. Most of the parents did not know we existed and were happy to hear about us. None of the kids knew anything about the Anchorage Coin Club. We gave out a lot of membership applications as well as quarter boards, coin literature, brochures, business cards, and numismatic advice. The most popular items (of course) were the free coins from Roy and Bill. We put the coins in little baggies and stapled them to our membership applications. The Samorajskis were the best at manning the table and passing out information. We even signed up a few people at the crowded, busy event.
The YN Numismatic Donation Auction will take up a large part of our June meeting. We have 42 lots so far. The young Numismatist program is an important part of our club so bring any coins you have to donate as well as a little extra cash to buy some of the lots.
In preparation for putting on a large coin expo here in Anchorage we have been working to get the membership to understand all the aspects of such an endeavor. We have discussed the benefits to dealers e.g. an Alaskan adventure and a chance to make contacts with buyers and sellers; the benefits to collectors e.g. a concentrated source of coins and an opportunity to get to know more dealers. Timing of the event was also talked about; summer or fall and conflicts with other big shows.
Now we need to look into funding this project. We have a gaming license so some have suggested that we get into pull-tabs. We have some of the members' opinions on this matter in this newsletter and will put more in next month. Get your point of view out there by giving a comment to one of the club officers.
With all this sunshine outside it is easy to see that we need to be thinking about the summer picnic. This year it was decided to have the picnic at Centennial Park on Sunday, the 14th of July. We will have great events to keep the kids busy. If you have a favorite side dish or desert bring it along to share with the rest of us.....Your Editors.
Schedule of Events for the Months of June
Monthly Membership Meeting: June 5th (Wednesday) at 7:30 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. General public welcomed. The June 5th membership meeting will see the YN Donation Coin Auction. Members wishing to donate coins and numismatic lots can still do so by bringing them to the June 5th meeting. Proceeds from the Donation Auction will go to the YN (Young Numismatists) Program.
YN (Young Numismatist) Meeting: May 12th (Wednesday) at 7:30 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. YN meetings are now be scheduled for the 2nd Wednesday of every month. YNs, club members, and general public welcomed. There will be a session by Stanley Meade on "Toned Coins".
Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting: June19th (Wednesday) 7:00 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Club members welcomed.
Minutes of the May 15th Board Meeting
The meeting was called to order at 7:18 PM.
First order of business was a review of all correspondence. The Board approved a patron donation of $50 to the ANA in support of the August "World's Fair of Money" Convention.
The Board then reviewed old business. Larry Nakata gave a briefing on status of the YN Donation Numismatic Auction scheduled for our club meeting on June 5th. At this time there are 42 auction lots that have been posted on this month's newsletter. More donations are encouraged and can be brought in on the day of the auction.
Larry then gave an update briefing on the club's Sept. 13-15 Seminar. Seminar to be held at the Westcoast International/ McKinley West Room. Costs were reviewed. Larry's briefing indicated that he is looking at a per person cost of $250 for the seminar....taking into account an attendance of 25 people. Larry went over the costs with the Board (see article by Larry on the Seminar). The Board approved the agenda and costs for the seminar. Roy Brown will be contacting the seminar instructor to make according arrangements. Larry will be contacting members on a phased payment schedule leading up to the coin seminar in September. Larry then stated that we need to have 10 more people to sign up for this seminar to reach our goal.
Loren Lucason gave a briefing on the Kid's Day event at the Egan Center. The Kid's Day event was attended by thousands of kids and their parents. It was very successful. The ANA coin quarter books were the big hit with the kids. Lots of numismatic material was given out that day. As a result of the success of the event, it was decided by the Board to continue support of the Kid's Day event come next year.
On the subject of new business, discussion of plans occurred for the club's summer picnic. It was decided to have the picnic on Sunday, July 14th starting at noon. As in years past, the club will supply the hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, dips, and soda pop. Members are asked to bring desserts, vegetable dishes, salads, and any other side dishes of their liking. The event will be held at Centennial Park...the same location where we have held our picnics for the past two years. We will have games with coin prizes.
One of our club members, Kelly Byrnes, designed some new club member cards and business cards. The Board reviewed the designs, liked the designs, and approved printing of the new membership cards and business cards.
On the matter of our club's raffle prizes, John Larson recommended that the club stay with a rate of $5 per raffle ticket and add a special rate of 5 tickets for $20. John's recommendation met with the approval of the Board. Meantime, John pointed out that we have three nice silver dollars that constitute our club's present raffle prize.
As there was no further business to be discussed, the meeting adjourned at 8:25 PM.
The YNs met on May 18th at 7:30 PM, We started the evening with a discussion about the different types of collections. Greg Samorajski showed some of his slabbed coins and other parts of the collection. Greg talked about the different varieties of several coins. For example, the story behind the 1909 Lincoln wheat penny with and without the initials of the designer and why this occurred. Also, YNs Justin and Brandon Samorajski showed a type collection and a state quarter collection.
There were four door prizes. Krystal Stubblefield won a Bicentennial commemorative medal, Brandon Samorajski and Michael Stubblefield won an uncirculated New York quarter and Justin Samorajski won a group of foreign coins.
During the evening discussion by Greg Samorajski, the issue of toning on coins was brought up. Toning seemed like an area of interest for the YNs, so next month we have asked Stanley Meade to come and talk to the YNs about toned coins.
The next YN meeting will be on June 12th (the second Wednesday of June) at 7:30 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Come early and join us for pizza and soda......Don and Marilyn Stubblefield.
At this time, we have approximately 15 club members who have signed up for our The Anchorage Coin Club's seminar scheduled for September 13th (Friday) thru September 15th (Sunday) at the Westcoast International Inn. We need to have about 10 more people sign up for this seminar to ensure its success. In our club's newsletters for February, March, April, and May there has been posted a form that club members can fill out and mail to our club's post office box.
Loren Lucason and I will be organizing the seminar event. We have had a meeting with the catering manager at the Westcoast International Inn where the seminar will be held.
The seminar will be held in the McKinley West Conference Room/ Westcoast International Inn over a three day period from September 13th (Wednesday) through September 15th (Sunday). We will have coffee/tea/orange juice service every morning....with each day's session starting at 9 AM. So.. .expect that you can show up anytime after 8 AM.
We will have a buffet lunch served every day. The buffet lunch will feature two entrees. Sodas will be provided in the afternoon.
Mary Sauvain, Numismatist will be our instructor. Some background information on Mary is that she is presently with the Minneapolis Gold, Silver, & Numismatic Services, Inc. and works in Colorado Springs. Mary has extensive background on the subject of Gold coinage and was very highly recommended by a number of esteem people in the ANA. Club member Roy Brown is presently making arrangements with Mary on her trip to Anchorage, Alaska. Since the desire of our membership poll indicated an interest in Gold coinage, we have asked Mary to put together a seminar on the following subjects:
• Grading of Gold Coins,
• Counterfeit Detection of Gold Coins,
• Investment in Gold Coins,
• Foreign Gold Coinage,
• US Gold Coinage, and time permitting....
• Ancient, Byzantine, and Medieval Gold Coinage.
Course material will also be provided with the seminar. We ask that any attendees bring their ANA Grading Guides to each session.
The last time our club held such a seminar was back in 1999. So it has been three years and we want to make sure this is a successful event. It's success will dictate how often our club will hold future seminars. So....Loren and I are asking that those members who are "sitting on the sidelines" sign up for this event. We need to have an commitment of 25 people.........Larry Nakata.
In several months, our club will be going out with a mail vote to each of our adult members on a referendum vote as to whether or not our club should expand it's gaming license to include pull-tabs. At this time, our club has a State of Alaska gaming license for raffle prizes only....the proceeds going to our YN (Young Numismatists) Program.
This is an important referendum vote. Accordingly, the Anchorage Coin Club's board has asked members to comment over the next several months on their views. We will be posting those comments on our club's newsletter....both pro and con....so that you can make an informed decision on this matter. This was announced at our last club meeting. Accordingly, here is the first group of comments:
From Member Loren Lucason: "People with excess cash now and then put out a little of it and, maybe, win a chunk of money. There are those who periodically need a thrill to keep in good spirits. Pull-tabs can provide that thrill in a small way with no physical danger and minor financial danger. Our nonprofit club's gaming license allows us to set up a rippies operation. There is a lot of accounting involved but a fraction of the money put into pull-tabs would go to a worthy cause. Coins are considered a great long-term investment and the Anchorage Coin Club is the best source around for numismatic information. But rippies sounds like we are ripping somebody off and pull-tabs evokes the image of pulling the pin on a grenade. Perhaps we are a worthy cause but we do not want to sell our soul to finance a big coin show in Alaska."
Greetings from Life Member Carl: I've been asked to give my opinion on the Pros and Cons of our club's gaming license to Pull-Tabs. Simply put, I am definitely in favor of Pull-Tabs or other gaming funding to support our Club. To me it is a "no brainer." All money is good money, as long as it is legal and accounted for correctly by the Club. To me the Club is honest and does a very good job showing where all funds have been spent. The Anchorage Coin Club is a legitimate and community-oriented nonprofit organization dedicated to the scientific study, research, education, and preservation of Numismatics. So it doesn't really matter where money given to the club conies from because it will be used for honest and legitimate purposes, including education, coin shows, etc.
Why should other questionable organizations have access to gaming money rather than an honest legitimate nonprofit group like our own Club? The government created and designed the gaming system to help raise funds for community nonprofit organizations like ours. These funds are regulated and created legally, and we can spend them legally. If people choose to play bingo or Pull-Tabs, they have that right. At least some of their dollars will go to support the community and organizations like our Club."
From John Larson: "The Anchorage Coin Club has recently been considering the possibility of acquiring a pull-tab license. With that license, the ACC could enter into an agreement with a qualified business establishment that would then sell pull-tabs under our license and share the proceeds with the club. This has considerable potential for generating much-needed revenue for the Club's gradually diminishing funding balance, possibly ranging upwards into thousands of dollars of gain yearly. The club certainly has need of a source of funding, because it cannot now afford to sponsor a large coin show, and is largely unable to promote coin collecting on anything more than a limited basis.
However, there are several club members who have reservations about lending the authority of our Club to what they see as condoning and promoting a form of gambling. I agree to some extent with their analysis of the proposal: we would be profiting by means of a gambling enterprise.
On the other hand, many regard the pull-tab industry as being one of the more benign forms of gambling. The odds of winning are supposed to be posted on the gaming board, just as they are on your McDonald's Monopoly coupons. You can take your chances knowing what your odds of success are.
In gambling, however, it is not the rational decision-maker who winds up paying most of the bill. It is instead the slightly to genuinely intoxicated, and the gambling addicted. And I think this is the basis of some club member objections. At least a portion of the funds we gain would come from people who were impaired and/or could not really afford it. If you can accept these conditions, or see them as inevitable in any case, then you should not have a problem with a pull-tab license agreement.
My grandfather was one of the gambling addicted: a card-player who used to gamble away most of the family paycheck each payday. My Dad remembered being a 10-year old sent into the bar on payday (women were not allowed) to get his father to hand over at least some of the paycheck before it was all lost. This continued into the Depression, when my grandfather was one of the few lucky enough to have a decent job; yet his wife and 5 kids lived as though he were jobless. My grandmother saw to it that all the kids graduated from high school (three were class salutatorians, but only two of them ever saw as much as a year of college, no thanks to my grandfather). My Dad's life-long resentment over this situation rubbed off on me to some degree, and so you can see why I might be reluctant to get involved personally with the operation of a gambling license.
In spite of this, I think I fall somewhere in between the pull-tab supporters and the gambling opponents. We probably will have to do something to raise money before too long, or see our Club decline. I would not vote against the Club's looking in to the possibility a pull-tab license provided that was shown conclusively to be our only viable option for fundraising. (The other options at this time appear to amount to more or less continuous fund drives that would require a sizable investment of time and effort on the part of the members. The difficulty of these efforts might lose members even as they gain funds; and that would not amount to a true enhancement of Club viability.) I would decline on the basis of what I have told you in the previous paragraph, however, to serve on any pull-tab committee, or be the primary caretaker of pull-tab-derived funds.
I also believe certain conditions would have to prevail in order to make the pull-tab option work:
Anybody out there who has ever collected Indian cents, which is probably just about every one of you, is aware that there is one major key coin in the set: the 1877. The 1877 date also serves as a dividing line between the generally scarce early issues and the common later coins. All of the cents produced in 1878 and later are readily available, though some of them may prove to be somewhat elusive in Extra Fine or better condition. Conversely, the 1876 and earlier coins are noticeably scarcer and substantially more expensive.
The same general trend is evident among the Proof Indian cents, with 1877 being the pivot date which divides the scarcer early Indians from the more common later ones. There is, however, a very dramatic difference between the price action of circulated Indian cents versus the Proofs. Let's look at the circulated coins first. We can focus on the popular mid level grades of Fine and Very Fine, as these are attractive coins with much of their original detail still visible. A quick look at a price guide shows that most of the later dates are really very inexpensive in these grades. But, go back before 1877 and you will find that prices have increased by an incredible 20 to 100 times! Quite a few of these early dates cost between $50 and $200 in Fine condition.
Now do the same thing with the Proofs, using attractive mid level grades of Proof-63 Red and Brown (RB) and Proof-64 RB. What happens? Well, prices for the early dates are roughly double what they are for the later dates, a far cry from the 20 to 100 times difference that we saw on the circulated coins.
Nobody expects that just because the circulated early dates cost 20 to 100 times as much as the later dates that the Proofs must show the same pricing pattern. However, at only double the price of the later coins, the early Proofs seem like real bargains! What do the earlier Proofs have to offer that makes them so great? Low mintages for one thing. The largest Proof mintage you will find in the pre-1877 era is a mere 1150 pieces for the Proof 1876 cent. We have all heard that mintage is not necessarily a great determinant of rarity, but it does put a lid on the number of possible survivors. It is absolutely certain that there are no more than 1150 Proof 1876 cents in collectors' hands today. This compares with the later dates, which typically have mintages between 1000 and 3500 pieces (which is still very low!).
Remember that original mintage is just the starting point. Now, over 125 years later, only a fraction of those coins produced back then are still in collectible Proof condition. What is that fraction? Nobody knows for sure, but my work shows that it is approximately one third. Where did the other two thirds of the original mintage go to? Well, they have managed to get themselves in all kinds of trouble over the years. Way back then, Proof coins were sold by the mint for only a tiny premium price over face value, so it was not that big of a deal if a collector had to spend some of his or her Proof cents in times of financial need, or even if they just lost interest in collecting. Yes, that AG 1868 Indian cent in your Whitman folder may have actually started its existence as a Proof coin!
Beyond being spent, some of the early Proofs have been sneezed on (eventually causing corrosion), touched with dirty fingers (also causing corrosion), buried in a box for safe keeping (allowing wicked corrosion), or simply crammed into a mounting of some kind for use as a piece of jewelry. Floods and fires continue to decrease the available supply of Proof Indian cents even today. Then there is cleaning. It used to be acceptable to clean coins, even abrasively, and as recently as just a few decades ago. Coins that suffered this fate show extensive parallel hairlines and are no longer collectable as Proofs, and may have lost so much of their original surfaces to no longer even be identifiable as Proofs. Any multitude of other things may have happened to these old cents. The result is that the original mintages of 500 to 1150 pieces per year from 1865 through 1876 translates to roughly 200 to 400 pieces of each date in decent Proof condition remaining today.
So, these are scarce coins by any measure. But are they necessarily bargains? Let's look at the prices. In Proof-63 RB, retail prices should range between about $225 and $400 for the twelve early dates we are looking at. Going up to the next level, Proof-64 RB, will show that retail prices increase into a range of roughly $350 to $600. Certainly these are not inexpensive coins in an absolute sense, but they sure seem cheap when looked at in terms of their low original mintages and low numbers of survivors. In my opinion, these scarce gems are true bargains, one and all.
Why are the prices so reasonable for coins with about 200 to 400 known specimens? It would seem that demand for these pieces is very limited. Obviously there are less than about 200 collectors worldwide looking to build Indian cent sets in Proof condition. Old Proof coins in general are currently out of favor, and have been thus for quite a while. Proof Indian cents also suffer from a (true) perception that they are hard to keep, as they have a severe tendency to change color and become darker over time. That is why I generally recommend that collectors who are intent on building a set of Proof Indian cents focus their energy on Red and Brown coins rather than taking their chances with full Red specimens.
Of course, the prices scare some people away from Proof Indian cents. While many collectors can afford to acquire one specimen as a type coin, the individual doing this would most likely be purchasing one of the more common (and less expensive) later dates from the 1880's or later, so these folks do not put any pricing pressure on the early dates. A full 52 piece set in Proof will likely cost about $10,000 to $15,000, which counts out a great number of average collectors. However, I think that one of the largest reasons that so few people collect Proof Indians (and all early Proofs) is a lack of coverage. While one can easily find a great deal of pricing information about Mint State Indians and other series in multiple MS grades, Proof coins are generally given just a brief listing in one grade only, if they are even priced at all. It is simply a case of 'out of sight, out of mind' at work. The idea of buying an early Proof coin tends to not even cross most collectors' minds. If they were aware of how reasonably priced these coins are, the small available supply of early Proof coins could dry up very quickly... .Mike Nourse.
Thanks go to Roy Brown, Frank Jasper, Greg Samorajski, his son Justin Samorajski, Charles Wohlforth, Larry Nakata, Carl, Mike Orr, John Wilson, and Bill D'Atri for donation of these coin lots.
ANA Local Club Representative
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,