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ACCent: The Monthly Newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club
|Volume 16, Number 5||
|May Membership Meeting|
|Wed., May 7th, 2003||Central Lutheran Church||
7 PM open, 7:30 PM Meeting
Nickel is the numismatic wonder-metal. It resists wear and corrosion. It is not uncommon but is hard to refine. It has some weight to it so if you had a nickel coin in your hand you would feel as if you had money. Countries around the world mint nickel coins and many are easily obtained. There are beautiful nickel coins as big as a triple crown and as small as a Panama pill. There are also some extreme rarities. When an American thinks of nickel coins they think of the five cent piece minted and circulated since 1866. There are four main types: Shield, Liberty, Buffalo, and Jefferson. The Shield started the series. The mythological rare 1913 nickel was a Liberty. The Buffalo was such a popular design that a commemorative silver coin was released. The Jefferson nickel began circulation in 1938, went through the second world war with some silver content, and is currently the circulating nickel type. It is not slated to be abandoned.. Just, perhaps, to go through some artwork changes. Nickel is a very had metal making nickel coins hard to strike. Thus, there are many nickels with interesting die cracks.
Frank Jasper has a Shield nickel with an extensive group of die cracks in the obverse lettering. There are other errors around such as the comical 3 legged buffalo nickel. It was caused by a mint worker polishing the die down too much. It is said that the authenticating mark of an arc coming down from under the buffalo is a die maker's joke of the animal taking a "pee". Then there is the laughable mint error design of the centsless 1883 V nickel. It did not have the word "cents" on it. It was coated with gold by a man named Josh and passed off as a five dollar gold piece. I am not Joshing you about this. These nickel facts and a nickel grading competition were the heart of our April membership meeting. The grading competition had a Shield nickel for a prize. It ended in a tie and the winner was decided by a flip of the coin-the prize coin.
The door prize, a 1972 Proof Set, was won by Howard Wright and the membership prize, a 1964 Philadelphia Mint set, was won by Bob Freese.
We also discussed the 15th year commemorative coin. Design proposals are starting to come in and the coin is slated to be minted in September.
Coin displays are in the Loussac Library and the First National Bank on 4th Avenue.
Kids Day at the Egan Center was well attended by kids though we could have used more help manning the club table. A couple of things about Kids Day: first the music was bad but more important...kids like stuff. Not papers to read but stuff they could take home and add to their other stuff. We would do good giving out club coins. Copper, aluminum, plastic...it doesn't matter as long as they could say they got it at Kids Day from the Anchorage Coin Club. Something else about giving out coin literature to the public: everything should have a club label on it. Like an address label but with the club's name, meeting time, and place, website, and the club logo. It would be best in gold lettering on a blue background. An observation.....
The April meeting was a combination of the YN meeting first then the membership meeting. This worked great; some kids stuck around for the later meeting and adults who were giving presentations to the kids were already there for the membership meeting. This may be the way all future monthly meetings are done.
At our next meeting we will be drawing the winning ticket for the slabbed MS-60 $10 Liberty Gold piece graciously donated to the club by Carl of Carl's Jewelry fame. This is the first raffle where $20 buys five $5 tickets. Your last chance to buy tickets will be at the May meeting.
See you there......Your Editors.
Schedule of Events for the Month of May:
There will be a YN Donation Coin Auction to be held at our June 4th club meeting at the Central Lutheran Church 7 PM. This is one of the two main auctions held by our coin club.
As in years past, members of our club are asked to donate coins and numismatic items for this auction. Proceeds from this auction are used to benefit our club's YN Program.
I ask that our club members be generous and donate accordingly to this auction.
Any members wishing to donate items can drop off the lots to any of our coin dealers who advertise in our club's newsletter...or contact me (Larry Nakata) in the evenings at 563-1729.
Among the donated items received thus far are:
We can use more donations.
It is a worthy cause.......Larry Nakata.
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.
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.
If there are any questions, contact Larry Nakata (daytime: 269-5603 eves: 563-1729).
Good luck on the designs.......
The April YN meeting was held at a new time and day of the week. The meeting on Wednesday, April 16th was an hour before the regular Anchorage Coin Club meeting. The presentation for the YNs was made by Stanley Mead on "Hobo Nickels". Lots of interesting information and superb handouts. There were five YNs in attendance. Our special thanks go to Stan for such a fine presentation. The subject matter really held the attention of those in attendance.
Don now has the key to the church on his key chain so that we won't be locked out of the church again. We will be able to start the meeting on time, inside the church!
The presentation for May will be on "Foreign Currency". The YN meeting will start at 6:00 PM on May 7th.
Hope to see all the YNs there.....Don and Marilyn.
A couple of years back, Anchorage Coin Club members John Larson and Loren Lucason put on display the world's most valuable dime: a well-worn specimen dated 1875, representing Uncle Scrooge's (the world's richest duck - or richest anything, for that matter) Lucky Number One Dime. It was the first money Scrooge ever earned as a shoeshine boy in the city of Glasgow, back in ancestral Scotland in 1877. He kept it for luck, and many believed it was the lucky key to his vast fortunes. The nasty and crafty witch duck, Magica de Spell, for one, coveted and connived for the Lucky Number One Dime in many a Scrooge adventure. The origins of Scrooge's Dime were revealed in Uncle Scrooge Disney Comics (distributed by Marvel) issue #285, April 1994.
At the April, 2003 meeting, the same two enlightened Club members revealed another great rarity: The 1916 Barber Quarter (?!). Because many of our readers may be unaware of the circumstances leading to the rarity of this coin, I will relate the facts of the matter as laid out in the story "Uncle Scrooge and the Sunken City", published in Uncle Scrooge issue #50, by Gladstone Comics, September, 1997 (reprinted from Uncle Scrooge #5, Dell Comics, March, 1954, "The Secret of Atlantis").
The story gets started when the kids (Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie) look through the change Donald brings home and find a rare Balonian nickel ("Balonia isn't a country anymore!" -"Gee, it must be rare!") worth $5.00. Donald brags to scrooge, and the find sets the money-making machinery in Scrooge's mind awhirl. He sets out to own the world's rarest coin - one he is about to create by buying up every 1916 quarter ever minted and disposing of all but one, dropping them from the bomb bay of his private jet over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He's on top of the world as the owner of the world's rarest coin - until it is destroyed in an unfortunate but broadening encounter with a passing steamroller.... The poor quarter is mashed flat, to the size of a pie plate. So mashed, in fact, that the date now appears on the reverse of the coin!
"Ten Skyrillion dollars, Kaput!!" wails Scrooge, as he keels over in a faint.
The only thing for Scrooge to do is to put on the special diving suits designed and produced on commission by Scrooge's hired team of "the world's best scientists" (the expert consultant group, a la 1954!) and, along with Donald, dive to 2000 feet in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean looking for a replacement quarter. There they discover the vast underwater city of Atlantis, which is not quite as abandoned as it looks. They are taken captive by the resident Atlantians (once-humans who evolved into green-scaled, water-breathing fish-men as Atlantis slowly sank beneath the waves). The locals have taken quite a liking to the shiny silver round things that have drifted down from above, and are somewhat reluctant to part with them - or their prisoners.
After incarceration, trials and tribulations, Scrooge, Donald and the kids (by now Huey and Dewey have dived to the scene and been caught by the Atlantians as well) manage to escape to the surface, thanks largely to the ingenuity of the young Huey, and Dewey, along with Louie, who has been manning (ducking?) the boat up on the surface. Along the way Scrooge manages to hang on to one specimen of the elusive 1916 Barber quarter - which is now once again the rarest coin on (the surface of) the planet!
Next we see Scrooge taking his priceless quarter to the local coin dealer to exchange it for ten skyrillion dollars. "Listen," says the dealer, "there's only one joe in the world with enough money to buy that coin". "Who's he?" says Scrooge. "An eccentric old Jillionaire named Scrooge McDuck!" comes the reply. - So much for the great money-making scheme!
The writer of this story was Carl Barks, also known as "the Duck man" and "the good comic book artist". He died about two years ago at the age of 100. Apparently, associating with adventuresome Ducks promotes longevity!
Perhaps good old Carl got his dates mixed. Maybe the Barber Quarter that Scrooge set his sights on was actually the 1901-S. Just look it up in the Red Book guide to U.S. coins. A 1901-S quarter in MS-60+ condition is now worth at least a Skyrillion dollars!....John Larson.
At our coin club's April 9th membership meeting, Loren Lucason and I gave a joint presentation on the subject of nickels. The presentation was good enough that I am writing this follow-up article on the subject. It is a summary of the presentation.
Nickel in coinage goes back to about 170 BC. I was not able to research the exact origin of the nickel alloyed coin. My speculation is that nickel was probably chosen for coinage at that time because of its hardness and durability as a metallic coin. When alloyed with other metals it gave the appearance of looking like a silver coin. Research showed that in India and China this metal....called white copper "packfong"....was also used to counterfeit silver coins of that era. It was probably experimental, at best, since nickel was not widely used in world coinage until 1850 when Switzerland began using it in their country's coinage.
Other countries followed suit with the United States coming out with their first nickel alloyed coin in 1856...The Flying Eagle Cent. At this point, I will concentrate on how the US nickel alloyed coinage evolved.
By 1853 the price of copper planchets used for the production of the US Large Cent reached a point where the planchet's value was higher than the value of the coin. Reducing the size of the US Large Cent to a smaller copper cent was not deemed the proper solution to the problem. My suspicion is that the making of a smaller coin from a larger sized coin using the same metallic content would have been considered a debasement of the coinage.
Something had to be done. It was then that the US Mint considered use of nickel in it's coinage as a solution. Books on the US Mint shows that the Philadelphia Mint encouraged The Bethlehem Iron Company (later to be known as Bethlehem Steel Corporation) to purchase a nickel mine in Pennsylvania...so that purchases of nickel metal could be done through a local US company.
So in 1856 we see the Flying Eagle Cent designed by the U.S. Mint's James Longacre introduced into our nation's coinage. This coin marked the beginning of use of nickel in our nation's coins.
The problem with US coinage becomes more aggravated with the US Civil War. Silver coinage was being hoarded....resulting in a shortage of coins. By 1865 we see the nickel three cent piece replacing the silver three cent piece.
By 1866 we see the Shield Nickel replacing the silver half dime....and thus begins the story of "the good old nickel".......it's composition being 75% copper and 25% nickel. Since this small amount of nickel gave the coin a bright silver appearance, the term "nickel" was used by the American public.
The nickel three cent piece would eventually give way to the five cent nickel by 1889. Reason for the demise of the 3 cent nickel was that by the 1870s the US banks and public had little use for such a 3 cent denomination coin....and so it fades away.
The Shield Nickel now became the predominant coin used in US coinage.
In 1883 the design of the US nickel changes when we see the Shield Nickel give way to the Liberty Head Nickel....designed by Charles Barber. In that initial year the first Liberty Head Nickels came out without the word "CENTS" on the coin. This resulted in a situation where unscrupulous people gold plated the new Liberty Head Nickels and passed them off as $5 gold pieces. Such coins were dubbed "racketeer nickels". Later in 1883 the US Mint would add the word "CENTS" onto the reverse side of the nickel to resolve this problem.
By the early 1900s there is a renaissance occurring in a redesign of US coinage....largely through encouragement by President Theodore Roosevelt. As a result, in 1913 the Liberty Head Nickel gives was to the Buffalo Nickel designed by James Fraser.
As a side note on "the good old nickel"....the US Mint ceased production of the Liberty Head Nickel in 1912 with the intent of having the Buffalo Nickel takes it's place the following year. For some reason a small number of 1913 Liberty Head Nickels (five of them) were to surface in later years. Technically these coins should not have been minted and were thus illegal coins... subject to confiscation by the Federal Government. There is a suspicion that someone within the US Mint struck these coins for the purpose of gaining profit. Today the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel is one of the "fabled coins" in US coinage....a specimen of which resides at the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Museum in Colorado Springs.
Back to the Buffalo Nickel. The Buffalo Nickel series was minted from 1913 to 1938. It's considered to be one of the most beautiful US coins ever designed since it featured American subjects on it's design. On the obverse there is the image of an American Indian....while the reverse shows an image of the American buffalo.....hence the term "Buffalo Nickel".
In 1938 even the Buffalo Nickel would give way to another new design....the Jefferson Nickel. By the 1930s there was a move afoot to change the design of US coinage to feature famous Americans....such as US presidents as part of the design. While this move did not happen overnight it did result in a transition from the Buffalo Nickel to the Jefferson Nickel in 1938.
The Jefferson Nickel still prevails today as the current design. The Jefferson Nickel design certainly has survived as the longest series design for a US nickel. Other than the period of time from 1942-1945...when nickel was in short supply during World War II (at this time the composition of the Jefferson Nickel saw the nickel metal essentially replaced with silver).....the "good old nickel" still remains with it's 75% copper, 25% nickel composition.
Not bad for a coin whose history spans 137 years......Larry Nakata.
Club Archivist / Photographer
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,