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December, 2006
Year 13, Issue 12

Award Winning Newsletter

Meeting 7:30pm, Wednesday, December 6
Talk and trading 7:00-7:30pm
VFW, 1601 Weld Road, Elgin, IL

Not a member? Come and join us anyway!
Give your spouse a break and bring your children to the club.

December Program

This month's program will be the annual dinner. This year the membership voted for a cost per member of $10. There is no charge for yn's.


May Minutes

ECC Meeting 585
Opened:   7:30     Closed:   9:00
Members:   20     YNs:   0
Guests:   1         
Beginning balance:   $97.00     Income:   $84.00
Expenses:   $95.00     Current balance:   86.00

Doug called the meeting to order at 7:30. The Secretaries and Treasurers reports were accepted as published. Old and new business was discussed and show and tells were given. We then went into the month's program, which was the member's auction. After the program, raffle tickets were sold and winners selected. The meeting adjourned about 9:00 pm.

Secretary's Report

The members present accepted the secretary's report as published in the November newsletter.

Treasurer's Report

Balance:   $97.00
The members present accepted the treasurer's report as published in the November newsletter.

Old Business

Fantasy coin contest:

  1. Rick W. 40,160
  2. Steve H. 27,250
  3. Bob L. 26,700
  4. Marty K. 26,000
  5. Jim D. 25,800
  6. Jim C. 25,000

Coin show results, income 1,246, expenses 573.66, profit 672.34. All club expenses for the year are paid.

New Business

Club elections in December. We need nominations for Vice-president and Treasurer. We need to give a cash alternative for top prizes of the coin show raffle. The ANA needs volunteers for the annual convention in Milwaukee during August 2007.


We had our customary raffle and membership drawings. The winners were:

The meeting closed around 9:00 P.M.

Submitted by Jim D.

Board Meeting

On November 8, Don and Jim met to discuss club business and select prizes for the December meeting.

Show and Tell

Jim D. showed a 53rd. edition red book as part of s small lot bought at a recent library book sale.

Rick W. brought in a 20th. Anniversary silver eagle set with reverse proof coins. The regular proof coin has a W mintmark and the reverse proof has a P mintmark.


Coin show final thoughts. I would like to thank the following people who mad this years coin show a success. First, all the volunteers who helped run the show, Chuck C. for helping set the tables, Shea F. for manning the front table, Lucky for bringing the donuts, Steve H. for running the yn auction and Don C. for organizing the event. Thanks also to everyone who sold raffle tickets and donated to the yn auction. Finally, thanks to all the dealers in attendance, we couldn't have the show without them.

The myth of first strikes. For the last few months, some third party grading services began labeling some silver and gold bullion coins as being first strikes. This raises the question, what is a first strike coin? Is it the first impression from a set of dies? The first 100 strikes? The first 1,000? When does a die stop making first strikes? Some grading services believe any coin made in the first few days or weeks is considered a first strike. The mint may use dozens of dies in a given day and continue to make fresh dies during the production run. Does this mean the last coin struck from a set of dies before being replaced on the first day of production is considered a first strike while a coin struck from a fresh pair of dies struck on the last day of minting is not? Each coin must be graded on its own merits. The date a coin is struck should not come into consideration. Unless someone can provide solid proof a coin is truly a first strike from a set of dies any premium over the cost of a regular coin is pure hype and a rip-off.

Part two of Mike M.'s life in Germany. I hope you are enjoying this series of articles showing life in Germany. Part two is included here and the conclusion will run next month. Thanks again to Mike for his generous contribution to this newsletter. If any other member wishes to submit an article for inclusion in this newsletter, please see me at the meeting or e-mail me at the address in this newsletter.

Collection of the Month

Collecting Jefferson nickels from circulation

For the last few years, I have been going through my change drawer at work looking for interesting coins in circulation. Aside from the occasional silver coin I have also been keeping Jefferson nickels dated 1954 and earlier. I chose 1954 as my cut off date because that was the last year of S mintmark coins until 1968. Over the course of those few years I found and saved about 4 or 5 rolls worth of nickels all at face value. Last December I received a set of Jefferson nickel folders by the Harris Company dated 1938-1961, 1962-1995 and 1996-date. Each folder has room for 65 coins and a space to show the coins common reverse. Not counting any varieties there are 156 coins in a circulation set of Jefferson nickels from 1938-2006. So with my previously saved nickels and folders in hand I set out to fill as many holes as possible. It wasn't long before I had book 1 mostly full. My next step was to fill as much of the other two books as possible. The first thing I did was make a list of the dates I needed and start checking my change again. It was easy to find decent circulated examples of all dated from 1960 on. I also went to banks and currency exchanger and obtained rolls of nickels to search through. After a few months I had narrowed my search to 8 coins, all obtained for face value. During the summer, while at a coin show I purchased a 1939-S and a 1942-D for a total of $2.70. This brings my total cost for 150 coins to $10.10; the folders cost about $9.75 for a grand total expense so far of $19.85. I estimate the remaining six coins, 1938-S, 1939-D, 1943-D, 1948-S, 1950-D and 1951-S will cost me about $25.00. While looking through rolls of nickels I have come up with a relative rarity scale.

Sure, you may be able to go on eBay and find similar sets for about the same price, but what is the fun in that. So, unleash the hidden collector inside you, you may have a good time putting together your own set.

[This is Mike's second installment in a series of articles telling how living is different in Germany.]

First part of A Different Life

A Different Life - Part 2

Copyright 2006 by Mike Metras

This second look into life in Germany brings you some minor and not so minor differences between Germany and America today in areas as diverse as church and state, work, birthday parties and bath houses, Mardi Gras and language, coffee time and wedding rings, as well as restaurants, bars, and ice cream shops.

Church and state

In America we pride ourselves on the separation of church and state. It is defined separate in the Constitution. To my wide-eyed surprise when I registered in the village hall, I was asked my religion. "Why?" I asked. "Because the state collects church taxes from your income automatically." "What?" Yes, that is the way it is. In the '30s the state used this mechanism to tell who were Jews and who were not. Today they let one say he has no religion so that they cannot keep track of a person's religion. But then, when one is not on the civil books as a Catholic, the Catholic Church does not consider him a Catholic and they will not marry or bury him-interesting twist on reality here. Pay or you cannot be a believer....


When you apply for a job in Germany you have to do some things very differently from how you do them in America. First you have to include a very good quality picture of yourself. You have to tell your age, religion, and whether you are married and, if you are, how many children you have or do not have. You also have to include diplomas from schools you have attended. And you have to include work testimonials, letters from previous employers telling how you worked for them. If you do not have all these things on your original application, you'll never get an interview invitation let alone be considered for the job. Not the same place as America.

We work forever to get a four-week vacation in America. And when we change jobs often we have to start all over. Here one begins a job with a six-week vacation from the start. Nice plus.

Birthday parties

If you are expecting to have someone put on a birthday party for you or to get a surprise party here, you will wait a long time. No one gives a birthday party for you here. You give a birthday party for yourself. You set it up, invite all who attend, and pay for everything, even the accommodations, if you invite someone from another place and they have to stay over night. You also are expected to bring goodies to work like I did back in the States.

Bath houses

It may be different in other parts of the U. S., but where I lived in Illinois we had no bathhouses that I can recall. Oh, there are were public pools, but not bath houses like the ones here where you can bask in hot mineral water, where you can enjoy large pool areas where you can walk, swim, or just sit in the warm water, where you have a wide variety of pressure fountains that spray water from pipes onto you or from openings in the wall under the water against you, where you can sit with air bubbles coming up under your butt or stand with them bubbling under your feet, or lay with them under your back. And some baths add a waterfall coming down from on high to massage your back. To top this off, many baths also have steam rooms and saunas to boil the bad juices out of you. And when you have taken all you can of the heat, a cold shower or pool closes your pores instantly to say nothing for what happens to your heart.

Before we leave the baths, I must mention a very different aspect, one that which reflects the very different attitude toward the body from the tight Anglo-Saxon attitude of the America. Many baths allow patrons to enjoy their bathing nude, if not always at least on certain days of the week. It is not some immoral thing we had drummed into us by the church. Rather it is totally amoral. It is just a lot more comfortable and liberating to swim or go into a sauna with nothing on than to swim with clothes, even just bathing trunks. So if you aren't comfortable with nudism, make sure it is the correct day of the week for you before you go to the bath. But do go. It is wonderfully relaxing.

Mardi Gras

We have all heard of Mardi Gras and the big parties in New Orleans and Rio but seldom have experienced much like it in the Middle West where I come from. Mardi Gras is the last big bash before Lent-the party before the fasting-Fat Tuesday. New Orleans has nothing on Germany. Here it is called Fastnacht, the night before the fast, Ash Wednesday. But the whole thing starts long before Lent. Various activities build up to it through several weeks of the winter-a way to get one's mind off the cold and snow maybe. People run around in court jester costumes of a myriad of kinds and do generally foolish things at fests here and there for weeks before. And there are huge bond fires to drive away the winter, probably a celebration left over from pre-Christian times. It all builds up to the Monday before Ash Wednesday, not Tuesday as with Mardi Gras. On this Monday, Rosenmontag, the parties and parades are the biggest, wildest, and longest of all. We watched a parade in Cologne that lasted more than five hours. And there were parades like it all over the country. It was a wild day.


Many Germans speak some English while very few Americans speak any German. In Germany one can almost always find someone around who can help an English speaking person who is having problems with German. The same would not happen for a German in the US.

In the U.S. we have a lot of immigrants from many lands. In Germany there are a lot of Turks and Italians. Both groups are in their new homes for the same reason, to make a better living than they can make in their native lands. In the U.S. we complain that the Spanish and other immigrants should learn English and then do nothing to help them. Here in Germany, the Germans also complain that immigrants should learn German. But they are doing something about it. A law says that all who want to be permanent residents must learn German. And they have a system of schools where every immigrant can take up to 600 hours of German at only one Euro an hour. It didn't teach me everything and I am in no way fluent yet. But I know a lot more than I would have known without it. Thanks.

The German and English languages share a lot and much is different between them. Some of those differences have been very frustrating. At times both German and English speakers think they have correctly translated something and yet confusion reigns. My favorite of these literal translations is something that caused my wife-to-be and I no little aggravation until we finally realized what we were saying to each other. One day she told me the car door was not shut. I said, "I know it, I am shutting it." She responded, "You don't know it, it is still open." And again, she asked, "Do you know Moscow?" "Yes, I know a lot about Moscow." "When were you there?" "Never." "Then you don't know it." It all comes down to the German word kennen, which the dictionary translates to "to know." But its "to know" meaning is only in the Biblical sense of "to know," that is, "to take part in" or "to visit" or "to have intercourse with." It has nothing to do with the additional general English meaning of "to understand," "to know about," or "to know of." For two weeks we both used the word "know" with different meanings and couldn't figure out why we were not communicating, why we were getting ourselves into wild misunderstandings.

Another example is the German tendency to use excessively and without reference the pronoun "it." They often truncate this and similar often-heard, clumsy translations: "It is cold, the living room." The problem lies with their frustrating tendency to leave off that second part in this sentence so that it comes out simply, "It is cold." If the speaker were only talking about the living room that's ok. But more often than not s/he has also been talking about the bathroom, the car, and the weather since talking about the living room. So I have to ask something like "What is cold? The car and the weather sure are warm enough." This is usually answered with something akin to, "The living room. What else am I talking about?" This happens in German too. I often hear an es ("it") with its associated noun some misty possibility of three or four different words used in the last five minutes. I don't know how they keep track of it.

Coffee break

We have heard of English Tea Time in the US and we have our own coffee breaks, but we have not heard of German coffee break too often. Every afternoon around three to four, the household takes time off for a sit-around-the-table coffee and cake. This, along with mid-morning coffee, makes for a lot of coffee and sweets. At some homes, I have felt like we sit more around the table for breaks and meals (three usually) than we spend doing other things during the day.

Wedding ring

Are you married? You wear your wedding ring on your right hand in Germany. I suppose we'll have to switch ours back to the left hand when we return to the U. S. I hope my left finger is the same size as my right.

Restaurants, bars, and ice cream shops

The German ice cream shop it a social gathering place here. During the warmer season people sit in front of the ice cream shop and wile away the afternoons and evenings talking as they eat ice cream or drink coffee, tea, or beer. Women sit with their babies in strollers while their toddlers play in nearby plastic climbing and sliding things and older children kick a soccer ball around the square. In our little town, the ice cream shops stay open till midnight most of the time. And they are open during the afternoon rest time when most other shops are closed.

Bars seldom open till late in the afternoon. But they, like the ice cream shops, are centers of public life, much more so than in the U.S. in most smaller towns. Also like the ice cream shops, in the warm months most everyone sits on tables in front of the bar in the public square. One is allowed to drink on the street in public.

Restaurants are open for lunch and evening meals and closed between them. Food caters to the German taste for potatoes and meat. If you are looking for something with a bit less oil, it is sometime a task to find it though there are Italian and Turkish restaurants that serve their foods also. One of the first German words I learned here was kartofln, potatoes. Everyone eats potatoes in so many forms...kartofln, kartofln, kartofln.

Very unlike Americans, the Germans often bring their dogs into the restaurant with them. And I have even seen a few with their cat on a leash sitting with them for lunch or dinner.

Final part of A Different Life

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