May, 1999

1st Place Outstanding Local Publication
American Numismatic Association 1995, 1996, and 1997

Meeting 7:30pm, Wednesday, May 5,1 1999
Talk and trading 7:00-7:30pm
VFW, 1601 Weld Road, Elgin, IL
Not a member? Come and join us anyway!

These members were at the April 1999 meeting--Will you be there this month?

May Meeting
May Prizes
April Minutes
Board Meeting
Club Picture
June Auction
A visit to the Denver Mint
Index to other ECC Newsletter articles

May Meeting

May is White Elephant month. Please bring along something you no longer want but that you think two or more of your colleagues would like to bid against to buy. All proceeds go to the club.

Look at the number of nice things in the raffle. We are trying to include a few additional items for your pleasure. Good luck. We think you will like them. A few surprises beyond those listed are included in the batch.

And finally, bring along something for show and tell. There is no formal program other than the White Elephant. So let's fill it a bit with our show and tells.

May Prizes

April Minutes

ECC Meeting 496
April 7, 1999
Opened:around 8:00
Closed:around 8:50

President Doug Nelson called the meeting to order around 8:00. It was a late start because everyone seemed to be having a talking good time and that is what the coin club is all about so Don let the talking continue and held off the official stuff.

Secretary's Report

The minutes were accepted as published.

Treasurer's Report

Don reported the numbers in the box at the top of the minutes. don noted that the Coin Club already has 3 gold set prizes for the Show.

The Treasurer's Report was accepted.

Old Business

Doug passed around an email response regarding the much debated October show date.

New Business

The letters for the show tables have not gone out yet. As of this meeting there were 9 tables already accounted for with a possible 3 more sold. There should be no problems with the remaining tables for the show. Jim D. is in charge of tickets and the YN Auction so if you have any donations or ideas for the YN Auction please contact him.

Mike M. is getting ready for our 500th meeting in August. Does anyone have any old Elgin Coin Club memorabilia, stories, wooden nickels, tokens, etc. that they would be willing to share, please see Mike.

Mike M. nominated Mike Webster for membership. The club accepted him. Everybody please welcome Mike to the club. He heard about us through the Fox Valley Coin Club and his interests are Lincoln cents and coins in general.

Show & Tell and Other Hobbies

Rich quizzed us on an set of nesting weights he brought in similar to the one pictured in the St. Eligus article provided in the February newsletter.

Dave J. brought in his collection of books and catalogs including a first issue 1942 Blue Book.

Jim D. Brought in his collection of signed baseball cards including Mickey Mantle, Willie Mayes and Hank Aaron.

Mike M. took everyone's picture for the newsletter to show how one can take the picture and put it in the paper [Ed. note: see below for more.]

April Prize Winners
Membership: Mark F.
YN: Alex F.
Raffle winners: Marty, Joe, Mike W., Jennifer and Rich.
Door: Doug, Clayton and Dave J.

The meeting adjourned around 8:45 pm after the listed prizes were given away.

Submitted by Jennifer Schulze

Board Meeting

Don, Jim D., Doug, and I got together March 21 at Don's for the board meeting.

Don said he would be sending out the show letters to dealers in the next few days.

Beyond that we decided on the raffle and door prizes and talked general coins--the general things coin collectors do when they get together and start talking coins. There just wasn't a lot of club business so we had fun talking coins!

Club Picture

As you have already seen on the front of this issue of the Newsletter, you have all made it into print. So that is another of my hobbies.

Look at the picture closely. If you remember well, you will recall that Al, Rich, and Don were standing far to the right. With my computer software, I was able first to cut Don and Rich and move them much closer and then I brought Al in close to the others. That allowed me to show all of you larger. Otherwise you would have been more spread out and smaller. I also had to change the brightness so it came out well in the final print.

If you have the Internet available, do not forget to look for yourselves in Newsletter there once I get it online. It will be at www.worksandwords.con/coins/ecc/ecc9905.htm (Give me a couple days though. I don't always get it out there too soon after the printed letter is published.)

June Auction

June is member auction month. For those unfamiliar, as a member, you get a chance to sell your coins to fellow members with no fees to buyer or seller. We can do that because we have the White Elephant sale the month before to raise funds for the club.

To help you sell your coins, we publish the coins you want to sell in the Newsletter before the show. You do not have to list your coins. But it helps if others know what you have to sell. That way they can plan ahead and have money ready. And as a buyer, you have a chance to look closely at your want lists and see if something you are looking for is available.

To publish that list, I need you to fill out that form at the back of this Newsletter and turn it in to me at the next meeting.

[Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from the first issue of the Elgin Coin Club Newsletter, January 1994. It is long enough ago that many of you may not have seen it. If you have seen it, I hope you enjoy it a second time. It is time to recycle some of the better things that I have done for you in the past. Besides, I am lazy this month and it is a lot easier to do this than to create something new. Let's just say we are resurrecting some of the old goodies as we work up to the big 500th meeting in August.

A Visit to the Denver Mint

Copyright by Mike Metras

On Tuesday afternoon at the ANA summer seminar in July, 1993, my first, classes were off for a tour the Denver mint. Busses took us up to Denver. At the mint supervisory personnel took groups of 5 to 7 around the floor among the machines where we saw every operation in detail.

The tour opened my eyes to how errors occur. Speed is the biggest culprit. Speed is of essence when making a totally incomprehensible 5 to 7 billion coins a year, millions a day. Our guide, a press room supervisor, said he tells his friends he makes "a million and a half dollars a day, but I have to leave it at work." He's been there for 30 years.

The coins are punched from sheets, heated in an annealing furnace, have their edges rolled up, and then are struck on the press into whatever they are supposed to be.

The raw blanks, freshly punched out of the rolled metal sheets, are crude with uneven surfaces and a lot of scratches. They looked like punchouts from electrical boxes without the bulging clip that is always on the electrical variety.

Once punched, the blanks go into a big furnace where they are heated and softened and then cooled and cleaned. The process presents little to look at, other than a 25-foot drum slowly turning and giving off heat. At the far end of the drum, a pool of water receives the blanks. This is annealing.

The blanks move down a conveyor to machines that roll up their edges to give them their familiar rim. The blanks are fed down a tube into an area between a thick plate (a big flat cylinder) and an exterior wall. The plate is rotating and the wall stationary. The blanks roll along between the wall and the plate through an increasingly smaller area that squeezes up their rim.

Conveyors of little buckets carry the blanks off to be struck into coins. The most impressive coining press is a new German type with a single die that stamps out 700 to 750 coins a minute. It works so quickly that it looks like it is just vibrating. It's hard to realize that these machines can again and again so quickly develop the 150 to 200 thousand pounds of pressure required to strike a coin, drop it, and strike another. Other presses have two or four dies allowing them to make up to 800 coins a minute, four at a time. 200 punches a minute is still impressive.

Operators regularly check the coins with a magnifier at the beginning of the shift and every ten minutes or so during general operations. At 700 coins a minute a one would think a lot of errors could happen in that ten minutes between checks.

We were allowed to stick our hands into several pots of coins just coming off the presses.

Most of the new coins looked beautifully uncirculated. But some had shinny flat scratch marks that I had often thought probably were from the mint. Our guide said they were from fingers that eject the coins after they are struck. Other marks clearly are from the original blanks when the striking does not use enough pressure to flow the metal into all crevices of the die.

Was there noise? No more than you'd expect in a building of punch presses and stamping machines. You bet it was noisy! We wore ear plugs and all workers had big ear muffs. We came in during the break between shifts when it was fairly quiet and didn't need the plugs. Once the machines started, we did.

A special machine separates out error coins. It has a couple shaking grids, medal plates with coin- sized holes. Good coins poured on the top grid sift through holes the size of the coin being sorted while oversized and large odd-sized ones stay on the top to be checked and shunted back to be remelted. The lower grid is just a bit smaller than the standard coin so the standard coins stays put while the undersized pieces fall through where they, too, are sent back to the melting pot. Only coins in the middle continue on to be counted.

In a corner of the basement they were making the WWII commemorative silver dollar. Big presses were slowly double striking uncirculated coins. They inspected each coin individually and counted rejects closely (two guards helped!). I was surprised to see them double striking uncirculated coins, something supposedly reserved only for proof coins. Well, that is why we took the this tour, to learn about the real processes.

The last stop was the counting room where machines count and weigh the coins before they are begged. Most are sewed into bags though some are put into bins. I saw pennies being counted into a 3x3x2-foot steel box.

Finally it was us getting the lookover. Security took us through a metal detector so sensitive that we had to remove our belts, keys, and shoes. Some went through again, and again, and again. ...and a couple told me they were missed all together. Good old government efficiency.

In the sales room after the tour, I met Barbara McTurk, the outgoing mint director, a Bush appointee, the then departed president. I overheard her tell another person, "This is my parting gift to the people of the ANA." What a gift, to walk the mint floor. The group that afternoon and a group from the minting seminar the day before were the first visitors allowed to walk the floor in 17 years. Everyone else stays inside glassed-in catwalks high above the machines. That Friday, July 23, was Barbara's last day as mint director. Thanks, Barbara. What a day! What a visit!

Since then others from the ANA summer seminar have toured the floor. But it has not been an automatic tour each year.

Final impressions: It's a big factory producing millions of the little metal disks we choose to accept as a medium of exchange. It was a noisy, busy, dirty, efficient, and matter-of-fact factory. People were doing their everyday job, just like the rest of us. It's just the nature of their product that gives the place a bit of a mystique.

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