Return to Alaska Coin Exchange homepage

Return to ACCent homepage

ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club

ACCent Header

Volume 16, Number 3

March 2003

March Membership Meeting
Wed., March 5th, 2003 Central Lutheran Church

7 PM open, 7:30 PM Meeting



    We are in the middle of it now. The state quarter program is almost half over. Coin collecting across the country has caught on like wildfire. Mint sets and proof sets containing state quarters go up in value as soon as the mint finishes releasing them. Related coins have also jumped in value such as other proof sets, early quarter type coins and foreign quarters.

American history is at the root of the state quarter program and it highlights an important aspect of numismatics. The history in the coins we collect. We hope everyone is keeping up with their proof and mint sets. While you are putting together your state quarter collection do not forget the 3 commemorative U.S. quarters: the easily obtained Bicentennial quarter celebrating the 200th birthday of the union, the not too rare 1932 Washington quarter celebrating Washington's 200th birthday and the expensive Isabella quarter celebrating the role of Spain's queen Isabella in the discovery of America as well as the role of American women in American industry. A good place to find these coins to fill out your collection is a local coin show such as the one put on by Don Thurber at the Northway Mall March 1st and 2nd.

We are well into our club's 15th year and plan on a coin to celebrate the event. Jim Hill has already submitted design ideas. We will be deciding on a coin design soon. If you have an idea for the 15th year club coin submit it to any of the 4 coin dealers in town or contact one of the board members.

We gave out 3 door prizes at the February membership meeting. Greg Samorajski then gave an informative and encouraging talk about "20th Century Type Sets". The 20th century is over now and a type set can be completed. Collecting type coins is a matter of getting the best coin you can of each design. All of the types from the 20th century can be purchased in high grade without selling the house. A lot of U.S. history happened in the 20th century and Capital Plastics makes a holder for the set. You could even build a set that can be registered with one of the slabbing companies......Your Editors.



    Loren Lucason had the idea of a club banner and Rick Bilak got a flag with the anchor on it. Ideas are cheap and it did not take much to get the flag. The real work was in putting it together into a banner we would be proud to display at any coin show or event. That real work was done by Marilyn Stubblefield. We now have a beautiful and impressive banner with "ANCHORAGE COIN CLUB" in gold lettering around our circular anchor logo sewed onto a sea of blue cotton fabric with gold fringes on the top and bottom.



Schedule of Events for the Month of March:

  1. Monthly Membership Meeting: March 5th (Wednesday) at 7:30 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. Club members and general public welcome. There will be presentation "Grading Paper Currency". 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. Northway Mall Coin Show: March 1st and 2nd.

  3. YN (Young Numismatists) Meeting: March 14th (Friday) at 7:30 PM at the Central Lutheran Church. There will be session on "Grading Paper Currency" for YNs. We welcome YNs, club members, and the general public.

  4. Anchorage Coin Club Board Meeting: March 19th (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM at the New Cauldron Restaurant located at the University Center. Club members welcomed.

Minutes of the February 19th Board Meeting

The meeting was called to order at 7:07 PM. The meeting was held at the New Cauldron Restaurant at the University Center.

Following a distribution of correspondence and a review of bills by the Board members in attendance, the Board went into a review of old business.

The officer board elections are scheduled for our club's membership meeting on March 5th. At the time of the Board meeting, the following people have submitted their names for the following seats:

President   Stanley Mead

Vice President   John Larson

Secretary   Larry Nakata

Treasurer   Greg Samorajski

First Board Seat   Bill Hamilton

2nd Board Seat   Justin Samorajski

The third Board seat will automatically be filled by outgoing President Richard Bilak in accordance with our club's by-laws.

The Board then discussed ways in which our club can save on expenses. At this time, our club uses the Central Lutheran Church for all of our meetings. Presently, our club has committed to three meetings (the membership meeting, the YN meeting, and the Board meeting) at the church at a cost of $25 per meeting. This is costing our club $75 per month. The Board made the decision to hold our future Board meetings at the New Cauldron restaurant at the University Center. This measure should save our club $25 month in expenses.

The Board also discussed use of the BP Energy Center for it's meetings. Larry Nakata provided information on use of the BP Energy Center for such future meetings. This information was provided through the BP Internet WEB page. When reviewed, it was found that the published hours for holding meetings at the BP Energy Center (on the days of our club meetings) would be between 8 am and 5 pm. In order to extend the meeting times beyond 5 PM (or on weekends) BP requires our club pay for any overtime and security costs to the BP Energy Center. During the board discussions that followed, it was determined that it would not be practical to use the BP Energy Center for membership meetings, YN meetings, or Board meetings...since these meetings are scheduled in the evenings.

However, there appears to be potential for use of the BP Energy Center for seminars. It was decided to follow-up on what such costs would be for hosting a coin seminar... for future planning. Larry Nakata will follow-up on this matter.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 PM



    This year, 2003, will see our club coming into it's 15th year.

In keeping with our coin club's tradition, a medallion is made every 5th year to commemorate the event. The 5th and 10th year medallions were designed by our club members.

Accordingly, we would like to announce a contest for our club members for best design for our club's 15th year medallion. Club members can submit designs for the obverse side of the medallion. The obverse should reflect an Alaskan theme with a reference to coin club's name, Anchorage Coin Club. The obverse design should also reference the club's 15th year anniversary, "1998-2003".

The club member submitting the winning design shall be given according recognition as the designer of the medallion and a free medallion set.

All designs are to be submitted by no later than our March 5th membership meeting. Submissions can be made to our club's coin dealers, Board members, mailed to our club's PO Box address, or can be submitted at our membership meetings in February and March.

If there are any questions, contact Larry Nakata (daytime: 269-5603 eves: 563-1729).

Good luck on the designs.......



February 14th found six YNs attending a meeting on "History of Paper Money" given by Larry Nakata. This topic included:

It was neat to find out that 60% of all US currency are $1 bills. Lots of interesting material was covered.

Our special THANKS! to Larry for this excellent lecture.

At the end of the evening, each YN reached into a grab bag to pull out a $2 bill. Most were the 1953 series notes, but there was also special 1928 series $2 bill. Michael Stubblefield drew the 1928 series note. A special THANKS! to Bill Hamilton for the $2 notes donated to the YN program.

In continuing with the theme of paper money, March 14th will find the YNs learning how to grade paper currency. We will also have some information on some programs with the American Numismatic Association (ANA).

Hope to see all the YNs at the next meeting.

Until then, take care.....Don and Marilyn.


by Mike Nourse (Life Member #1)


    The good news is that improving lightly cleaned or somewhat ugly coins is about as simple as anybody could ever ask for. All you have to do is take the offending coins out of their album, 2X2, or whatever holders they happen to be stored in, gather a group of 10 to 20 of them together, then simply carry them around in your pocket! It really is that simple. No need to bother fooling around with expensive toxic chemicals, no elbow grease required, and this improving method is absolutely free.

As with most things in this world, you can not get the good without a little bit of bad. There are two notable downsides to the 'carry them in your pocket' method of improving coins. The first is quite obvious - you will wear the details down a little bit. Your Very Fine Walking Liberty half dollar may very well end up being a nice Fine-15 by the time you get done. You should not lose more than half a grade, as such problems as ugly toning or light cleaning only affect the surface of the coin. Remember that it is our objective here to actually cause some wear. The ugly toning or evidence of cleaning do not magically disappear when you put the coins in your pocket. The defects are slowly worn away by having the coins rub against each other. That is why a group of 10 to 20 coins works best - so that they can wear each other down a little bit.

The other downside to improving coins in this way is that it is very, very slow. It usually takes at least three to six months to get good results, and that is for somebody like me who works 50 hours a week in a factory environment in which I am on my feet, constantly moving around, rather than sitting down at a desk job. When you are up and walking around, the coins will also be moving around in your pocket and rubbing against each other to cause the desired wear. If you are sitting still, the coins will also be still, and no progress will be made. If you work at a desk job or are attending school, it will likely take well over a year to achieve the desired results.

I have observed that the best results seem to be achieved on silver coins. They regain a natural look much faster than nickel coins (which seem to take forever). Copper coins never seem to regain their normal color in the protected areas of the field. I have not tried carrying around any gold coins yet, so I am not sure how well it will work in this department.

Profit minded individuals will be wondering if you can actually make money by carrying coins around in your pockets. The answer is, theoretically, yes. If you find an advertisement for a particular item that is listed as "Fine-12, cleaned" and priced as a Good-4, you may be able to wear it down to a nice problem free Very Good-8. You would end up with a decent VG for the price of a Good. It will take a while, but you may end up with a bargain.

At this time, your mind is probably churning with ideas of how you can speed this process up a bit. Maybe if I just rub two coins together really hard for a few minutes, it will wear away the same amount of metal as carrying them around for three months? What if I try some really fine sandpaper? Either of these two methods will remove the top layer of metal (our objective) but will impart a shiny, artificial look with many hairlines (not our objective). Any method of speeding up the wear process is almost certainly going to microscopically scratch the design elements. You may not be able to see the scratches, but they will be there and their cumulative effect will be an unpleasant appearance. There really is no substitute (that I am aware of) for carrying the coins around for a good long time. Think about it: they were originally created to function as pocket change, so there is no better way to bring them back to their natural state than to use them for their intended purpose.

One final side note about improving coins by carrying them around: you will always have some interesting items to show to people if the conversation ever turns to coin collecting. Think of the stir you will create when you dump a pocket full of flying eagle cents and Barber dimes into the tray at the airport security check! Just make sure that you don't spend any of your good coins by mistake!.....Mike Nourse.


by Richard Bilak (Member #176)

    Like mintmarks on coins, do you drool over that CC on your silver dollar? How about the D on that gold coin? Why are mintmarks put on coins? Well...I have for your consideration a short article of the origins of the mintmark.

So get comfortable and check it out.

Often the mints used to produce Roman coins were divided into several workshops that shared the duties of coin production. Studies of specific mints and specific rulers will show that the organization and number of these shops varied from time to time and place to place. Beginning in the mid third century AD, some coins bore marks indicating which shop or officina was responsible for its issue. The officina system was well developed long before the marks were first placed on coins. Students of earlier issues examine evidence of numbers of coins found in large hoards and the existence of die links to determine the mint structure for unmarked coins. After a few years of marking the workshops on coins, some issues also began to mark the mint city on the coins thereby inventing the mintmark as we usually use the term. It is interesting that the first use of open coding did not see fit to include the city information.

The first issue of openly marked officinae was from the Rome mint in 248 AD under Philip I. The reason for this addition (and the reason it was not adopted permanently at that time) is a matter of speculation. It is possible that some irregularities at the mint made it necessary to "crack down" on the workers and require the signing of the dies. This issue shows six workshops numbered with Greek numerals in the reverse fields. Shops A, B, E and S struck for Philip 1 while D struck for Otacilia and G for Philip II. Only one type was struck by each shop. So, for example, all letter E marked coins are the two horsemen type.

At very nearly the same time the same six workshops issued the special coins for the millennium celebration. Again each of the six workshops produced one type apiece and the same two were used for Philip II and Otacilia. The difference is that numbers here were Roman numerals placed in exergue. These "special" SAECVLARES AVGG coins are seen much more frequently than the Greek numeral series...but this may reflect the popularity of the animal types and link to the millennium celebration as much as their being more common.

Following these two small issues, the mint reverted to the old practice of not marking the shops for the final issues of the reign.

The same six shops produced six types for the remaining Philip issues but the coins were not marked.

Succeeding rulers occasionally issued some coins marked by workshop but the practice did not become regular for some time.

The Antioch mint of Trebonianus Callus used an interesting mixture of Roman numerals and dots on some coins. The practice of using letters arose again under Gallienus and became more frequent with each year that passed. By the time of Probus, most mints were using some sort of officina numbering on the coins.

Relatively few coins of this period showed the city abbreviation.

Other mints of the period used other ways of indicating the workshops.

Lugdunum placed a Roman numeral in exergue as had the Philip Saeculares issue. Ticinum and some others used a series P, S, T, Q, V, and VI (for Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartius, Quintus, and Sextus). The problem of more than one ordinal beginning with the same initial was handled by using the Roman numeral for 5th and 6th. The mintmark TXXT has two different meanings of T. The first is the officina Tertius; second is the city Ticinum. Most cities used XXI for 20:1 copper to silver ratio but here Ticinum used simply XX for 20 parts alloy. As inflation increased the demand for coins, the number of mints and shops had to be increased. Antioch under several emperors operated with nine officinae. These were numbered with the standard

Greek numerals 1 to 8 but the 9th officina used ED or 5+4 to avoid the unlucky numeral Q, first letter in the word Qanatos (death). Usually, Antioch was divided into more shops than other mints. There was no direction from central authority requiring all mints be managed along the same lines. Each mint used an organization and markings as they saw fit leaving collectors a jumble of information needing to be set in order.

By the time of Constantius II (c. 350 AD) Antioch was up to 15 (El) officinae and had left behind the fear of theta (perhaps due to Christianity??). The exergue of our ninth workshop example shows the city abbreviation ANT followed by Q. In the field is a large G, here indicating the issue and standard in this series of diminishing weight coins.

Reading mintmarks on Roman coins is not a simple matter. They changed the rules whenever it suited the needs giving no thought to the troubles of the coin collectors of later days. How do we know which letter serves which purpose? We must examine all of the coins possible and absorb their similarities and differences. Coin books are great references but there is no substitute for "experiencing" a few thousand coins.....Ricahrd Bilak.



The Anchorage Coin Club

Club Officers

Board of Directors


ANA Local Club Representative


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