Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An 1837 Song for Hard Times Token Collectors

While performing some research recently for a story on Hard Times tokens, I came across a song from September 1837 that I thought would be of interest to Hard Times token collectors. Don't worry about the melody, the song reads just fine as a poem.

With today's economy and credit crisis, the words to the song sound just as true today as they did in 1837.

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Tune - "Royal Charlie."

Hard times! - Hard times! - is now the cry,
The country's in confusion;

The Banks have stopped! - and still they try
To mystify delusion;

They give US trash,
And keep the cash
To send across the waters,

To pay for things
They bought from Kings,
To gull our sons and daughters! -

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

Shall Corporations rule the soil,
That Washington defended?

Must honest people sweat and toil,
And see their rights "suspended?"

Must we be slaves,
To pamper knaves
Shall Bankers be our masters?

Must all our pay,
From day to day,
Be nothing but shin-plasters?

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

Brave Jackson strove to keep us free,
He Lov'd his country dearly,

His "sound metallic currency"
Was not a "promise" merely:

If "Little Van's"
An honest man,
He'll imitate the Hero,

And send the whigs,
To dance their jigs,
At least - as low as Zero!

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

As Congress is about to meet,
Upon a great occasion,

May no unholy scheme defeat
The common expectation: -

If Martin will
Be honest still,
The scenes which now are tragic, -

Must disappear
Before a year,
For honesty is "magic!!" -

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

The "Empire State" may play her pranks,
And e'en the "Old Dominion,"

May white wash all her broken Banks
Regardless of opinion:

The Keystone State
Won't hesitate,
Tho' ills fall thick upon her,

To still maintain,
Without a stain,
Her high and "sacred honor."

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

We duly understand our rights,
The rights of Law, and Nature: -

We'll vote no more for paper kites,
To fill our Legislature: -

For just Reform
We'll brave the storm,
Bold as Columbia's Seamen,

We'll do or die -
For Liberty, -
And prove that we are Freemen!!

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

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The song can be found under Popular Melodies on page 2 of the September 5, 1837 Gettysburg, Pennsylvania newspaper The Republican Compiler. It is listed as originally "by the editor of The Mountaineer."

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Friday, June 26, 2009

The MidAmerica Coin Show: Do I bother to go?

I'm thinking about attending a coin show tomorrow. In the past, I've usually tried to make it to at least one coin show a year. I would look for a show where my business travels would place me close by. As luck would have it, this year I'm in Chicago the same weekend as the MidAmerica Coin Expo. So I'm thinking of going.

I went to this show once before on a Saturday. It was in June 2006. Back then the show was held in Rosemont, IL right near the entrance to O'hare airport. A very convenient location for someone flying.

I was in the area with time on my hands, so I paid my $10 to park and $5 to get in. - I was prepared. - I had a map of the bourse floor with each of the dealers I was interested in seeing marked on the map. I was excited about my prospects for the day and ready to do business if I saw something I liked.

Well, the MidAmerica show turned out to be a big disappointment that year. I had marked down about 10 dealers to visit, not one was still at the show and it was not yet noon on Saturday. Out of all the dealers I had marked on my map, all had packed up and left town. A couple had left brochures or inventory lists at their booths, but no coins - no people - no one to do business with or talk to about coins.

This wasn't Sunday, mind you, when I expect all the dealers to have skipped town, this was Saturday morning. The MidAmerica show that morning was a sea of empty tables. At least the tables I was interested in.

At first I thought the day was a total bust. But then I remembered that Jeff Garrett was the featured speaker at the Chicago Coin Club's meeting at the show that afternoon. His topic was on the Smithsonian's U.S. Gold coins. As a collector specializing in pre-1933 U.S. gold coins, the coin club's meeting would make up for the dearth of dealers on the bourse floor. I looked at the MidAmerica show schedule and saw that I had more than hour to spare before the meeting at 1pm. I was back to being excited about the day.

At 1pm, I showed up in time for the meeting . . . and nobody was there!

I checked my watch . . . it was the correct time.

I checked the room . . . it was the correct room.

So where was everybody?

I headed back onto the bourse floor and made a beeline straight for the Chicago Coin Club's booth. There I talked to one of the club's officers, and found out that Jeff Garrett had skipped town like the rest of the dealers I wanted to see. Oh, he gave his presentation on the Smithsonian's gold coins . . . just three hours earlier than scheduled so that he could catch his flight.

The Chicago Coin Club's members had all been notified of the change, but guests like me had to rely on the MidAmerica show schedule which had not been changed. Not only were all the schedules and notices that I encountered at the show wrong, but the show's website still had the wrong time listed.

So as luck would have it, tomorrow I have the chance to visit the MidAmerica Coin Expo again. This time it's at a new convention center in Schaumburg, IL. It's still near O'hare airport, only a little farther away from the entrance to the airport. It's maybe an extra 15 minutes driving time, but it's still pretty convenient. Admission is still $5, but this time parking is free.

Once again I have my map of the bourse floor with the dealers marked, but my expectations have been lowered. I will consider it a success if I see even one of those dealers.

Also, the Chicago Coin Club is once again holding a meeting at the convention. This time Ron Sirna will be talking about toned coins. I'd like to see his presentation, but as a precaution, a member of the Chicago Coin Club emailed me verifying that the meeting is still at 1pm, just as the MidAmerica show schedule states. This time I'm taking no chances.

I've heard it said that you should try to lower people's expectations so that when you exceed them, they will be delighted. Well the previous MidAmerica show definitely lowered my expectations, so maybe this time they will exceed them.

But the question is, "Do I bother to go?"

Friday, June 05, 2009

My second coin in a NGC Edgeview® holder

Today I received my second coin in a NGC Edgeview® holder. Since my first post about receiving a 1802 quarter eagle (below) in one of these holders was slightly negative, I thought I should follow up now that I've received a slightly larger coin in one of these holders, a 1857-C half eagle (left).

This time, my opinion is more positive. I like the holder with the half eagle. I think the larger coin does make a difference. I still don't like the holder with the smaller coins. Their edges are just too thin for me. But the half eagle has a thicker edge making it much more visible in one of these holders.

But, more importantly, the prongs that I thought were covering up too much of the obverse and reverse are not so obtrusive on the larger coin (click images to enlarge). Now I know that I would like my 1795 half dollar and 1797 dollar in one of these holders. Both of those coins have edge lettering that I have never seen.

According to an article written by numismatist and rare gold expert Doug Winter, I'm not the only anal retentive collector to bring up this topic. Click here to read Doug's interesting article and some comments by collectors.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

My first coin in a NGC Edgeview® holder

I remember the first time I saw a photo of NGC's Edgeview® holder, it was holding one of the new Presidential dollars. "What a great idea," I thought. Since I have a 1775 half dollar and a 1797 silver dollar, I really was excited about the new holder. Both of those coins have edge lettering and are in PCGS and NGC holders that hide their edges. It always seemed a shame that I probably would never see that edge lettering. Now, with a cross over to the new holder, I may actually get to see the edges of those coins.

But recently I received my first coin housed in a NGC Edgeview® holder. When I got my first look at it, my excitement began to wane a little. It's not that I don't think the holder would be great for my half dollar and silver dollar; I still think the holder would be great for them and I hope to cross those over in the future. But the coin I received in the Edgeview® holder is a small gold 1802 quarter eagle.

First, the coin seems too small to be in this type of a holder. The prongs that hold the coin suspended appear larger in relation to this coin versus an early silver or half dollar. The prongs are very noticable on any images of the obverse or reverse. It seems to me that the obverse and reverse areas that get hidden do not get compensated by being able to view the edge on this coin. Not only is the coin small, but it has a very thin reeded edge.
An argument for using the holder is that you can be sure that there is no hidden edge damage, but in the case of this small coin that argument goes out the window. The edge is so thin that any damage on this coin most likely would be visible on the obverse or reverse in an old style holder. In this new holder, the prongs are large in relation to the coin and they could actually hide damage that would otherwise be visible.

So, and this is strictly my opinion, I prefer that the NGC Edgeview® holder be used for larger diameter coins that have lettering or designs on their edge. Keep the plain or reeded edge coins, especially those coins smaller than the Presidential dollars, in the old style holders.

After all, once my coins make it to the bank vault, all I have are the images to look at. I would prefer not to have those four prongs staring back at me.