Seattle Numismatic Society

SNS is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Washington.
Address: Seattle Numismatic Society c/o Scott Loos, PO Box 2210, North Bend, WA 98045, Ph. 425-831-8789.
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President's Message

President's Message by SNS president Rick Schulz.

June 2018 - Have you heard the one about the guy that spent years putting together a very nice collection of Mercury dimes? He only needed one more to finish his collection. You guessed it, the 16-D. It had taken him a long time, but finally he had the cash to finish his collection. So, off to his local coin dealer who told him that yes, he had a piece in his price range. The dealer disappeared into the back room of his shop and soon returned with a beautifully toned 1916-D dime in AU condition. The collector marveled at the dime and its quality strike but told the dealer that the rest of his collection was bright silver colored and was afraid that, though quite lovely, the toned piece would just stand out too much. He asked the dealer if he had an example that wasn't toned. The dealer though for a moment and replied that yes he did have one that should work. He then picked up the toned dime and returned to the back room where his chemistry set was waiting. After a quick rinse in his special solution the beautifully toned dime emerged as a blast white specimen. The dealer returned to the front of his shop a few minutes later and presented his customer with a "new" dime for his approval. Our collector, having some time to think it over, told the dealer that the 1916-D was such a special piece he felt it should stand out among the rest of the collection so he asked the dealer to show him the toned dime again!

Whether you are a dealer or a collector, I hope this never happens to you. Whether or not this scenario ever actually occurred it does bring up some interesting questions. If you were the collector and just realized that the dealer tried to trick you, what would you do? In all likelihood you'd turn on your heal and head for the door. But, what if the dealer apologized for his actions and offered you the coin for $500 less? It's the same coin that just minutes before you were so impressed by. The only difference is that the tarnish had been removed with no detectable damage to the surfaces of the coin. It will look splendid in your Whitman album and you're $500 ahead. Is it important to you that all the coins in your collection be 100% original?

The question now becomes, what is your goal as a collector? I think most would say they collect for the beautiful small pieces of art and the histories and stories surrounding each issue. Another large segment of the coin collecting community would say they are investors and some day expect to cash in on the holdings. The third group are those that are out for bragging rights. The ones that must have to have the finest of whatever they collect. For groups two and three it's clear they must have totally original 100% trouble free coins, but if you identify yourself as a member of group one does it really matter if a piece in your collection has been lightly cleaned?

Now certainly there are going to be spillovers from one group to another. There are times when you have to have the best possible coin you can afford, but you don't always have to reject a beautiful coin just because some third-party grader with a microscope detected a minute trace of metal loss from its surface.

I know this flies up into the face of what every collector learns from the first day they enter the hobby - never clean coins! But, think about this: there was a time when cleaning your collection was expected. You'd be surprised how many collectable coins from the mid 19th century were cleaned. And how about today's grading services? Many have conservation departments that, for a fee, will clean your coins "the proper way."

The hobby of coin collecting has a lot of rules: Buy the book, then the coin; Buy the coin not the holder; Never clean coins; etc. The truth is that you, as a collector, need to make your own rules. Collect what you want. Make your own limits. If you are in it just to fill holes, fill holes. If you love the artistic beauty, by the highest grade you can afford. If it is simply an investment, buy bullion or ultra rarities.

No matter what or how you collect make sure to follow the most important rule, have fun.

There, I've vented. The above opinions are my own and, in all likelihood, do not reflect those of SNS or its members. If you are seeking an apology for something I've said you won't get it. When you become president you can write whatever you want.

Now, on to the next meeting. Our program for the evening will be, "Washington State Tax Tokens: History and Collecting." Your speaker for the evening will be me (you lucky devils).

The theme for Table Topics is "tokens, any type, shape or usage." If you can't find a token or two to talk about you can always bring new acquisitions or Pacific Northwest related. Hope to see you all at the Queen Anne Manor, June 21, at 7:15 p.m. Happy collecting.

May 2018 - Is it just me or does it seem like this year is racing by? Coin shows I've been looking forward to for months have quickly come and gone. Events I've been planning are catching up to me and catching me off guard. I guess the old adage holds true: Time flies when you're having fun. When I'm not wearing my SNS president hat I don one of the other several hats that keep me busy.

One of my hats represents my position as coordinator and head volunteer wrangler for the PNNA's Hobby Hall display at the Washington State Fair. I encourage everyone to sign up for a shift at the Fair, not because I need the volunteers (well maybe a little), but because it is such a fun way to interact with kids of all ages and share your passion for our hobby. And, you get free passes to the Fair!

Enough of the hat swapping, lets get back to SNS concerns.

You might have noticed that instead of a monthly newsletter you've just been receiving my monthly message. We need a new newsletter editor. What we miss by not having a monthly newsletter is a reminder of when and where our next meeting will be. We don't get updates on news items that can affect our membership. And, for Pete's sake, we need to be reminded what our monthly Table Topic category will be! That is about all that's necessary though the editor has the freedom to add any item he or she feels is appropriate (internet articles, news stories, member submitted articles, etc). If you'd like to try your hand at editing our newsletter, let me know.

Oh, by the way, our Table Topic category for the May meeting will be Africa. Got an old dusty Krugerrand that has been sitting around since the 70's? Bring it to the meeting.

Here's another reminder for you. We changed our no-meeting months to November and December. We will continue to have monthly meetings through the summer.

That is about all I've got this time. I look forward to seeing all of you at our meeting, 7:15 p.m., Thursday, May 17, at the Queen Anne Manor.

April 2018 - Well, here it is already. April showers time, income tax time, NBA playoffs, first month of baseball, and May flowers just around the corner. The Seahawks have a new kicker and a new backup QB and the draft is coming up. Days are getting longer though you may not have known it because of the gloomy rainclouds that have descended upon our fair corner of the world. Moss and lawn are fighting for dominance and both need to be mowed. And the world of numismatics continues to roll along.

Have you got any plans for celebrating National Coin Week? The PNNA awards cash for the best (club) exhibits. If you are planning to set up a display take some pictures and write a brief narrative and send it to the PNNA. (Check out the PNNA website for more info.) Your effort could mean a hundred bucks for our treasury!

Speaking of the PNNA, I saw a lot of familiar faces at their Convention and show last month. All reports suggest it was a pretty darn good show. I hope you all got a chance to go. Don't you know. (sorry)

Our April meeting is coming up this week. After a one-month change of venue we will be back at the Queen Anne Manor this Thursday, April 19 at 7:15 p.m. I hope you all have a chance to join us. This month's Table Topics theme is the Seattle Worlds Fair since the 21st of this month marks 56 years since the Fair first opened in 1962. I know we have a lot of members old enough to have gone to the Fair. Join us and tell us your favorite Fair story.

It's signup time for the Washington State Fair. I'll have a schedule available for all who want to volunteer. If you can't make it to the meeting but still want to sign up for a shift at the Fair, email me at richardf53@yahoo.com or call me at 253-535-0690.

Do we want to do a Seattle Numismatic Society Day at the Fair again this year? Last year our effort was a bit disorganized. If we can cover a day we can use the opportunity to get the word out that we exist as a coin club. Last year we managed to get a couple new members who learned about us at the Fair. Let's do it again.

That is all the tidbits I have for this month. Here's hoping we all see each other at the upcoming April meeting. I'll be looking for you!

March 2018 - It is approaching spring again, a time when old men's fancy lightly turns to thoughts numismatic (My apology to Mr. Tennyson). Hopefully, some of the young men and women in our collecting community will also have thoughts numismatic. Now is the time of year that coin shows, local and national, really start to ramp up.

For our area, the biggest show of the year is just days away, the PNNA's 69th Annual Convention and Show. I know a number of our membership will be there working as volunteers or manning a table as a dealer or helper. Several will be there Thursday the 15th for setup. It is for this reason that we've decided to hold the upcoming SNS meeting at the Tukwila Community Center - the site of the show. Here's a chance for some of you to beat some of the awful Seattle traffic. Our meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. in what will be the hospitality room for the show. It is located on the opposite side of the center from where the show is held. I hope you all can make it.

Whether or not you make it to our meeting Thursday evening, do come to the show sometime Friday through Sunday, March 16-18. Our collecting community can only thrive if we participate. The PNNA brings things to the Northwest that we don't normally see. If you only go to a few local shows a year you probably notice you tend to see a lot of the same stuff. The PNNA draws dealers from outside our region, from as far away as the East Coast who often bring pieces new to our area. Even if you don't buy, you might just learn something.

Have you taken all your friends to a coin show yet? Are they still your friends? Good. If you have friends or family you'd like to introduce to collecting the PNNA show is a great place to start. Kids always have a good time with the treasure hunt. and Walt Ostromeki will be there to guide kids (of all ages) through the magical kingdom of coins. Older folks with different collecting interests are encouraged to seek our numismatic items that fit their hobby as cross collectables. A Civil War buff would certainly be interested in Civil War tokens. A collector of seafairing memorabilia could put together a fine collection of ships on coins, tokens, medals and currency. The possibilities are endless. And, who knows, some of your friends might just join you at the next coin club meeting.

I hope I'll see you, and your friends, at our meeting and at the PNNA show.

November 2017 - Seattle Numismatic Society is a club in crisis. I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but it is true. Seven or eight years ago when I started coming to SNS, the attending membership was robust, by local standards, with as many as 25 or more at meetings. We had an healthy mix of older collectors and dealers, youngish collectors and dealers and even a YN or two coming to our monthly meetings. Over the past couple years we've witnessed a steady decline in attendance to the point where in the past year we are lucky if we see eight or nine members at a meeting.

This trend has been a frequent topic of conversation at recent meetings. The consensus is that we are an aging club with very few new members joining. Also, we've lost a few members who have passed on. I believe all of this to be true, but not the whole picture. In the years I've been associated with SNS I do not remember any effort to get our name out there to the collecting public of Greater Seattle. We do have a web page, thanks to Eric Holcomb who keeps it updated, and Eric also makes sure our club info is current on the PNNA web page. Aside from that we have very little contact with the public. I believe it is time for us to become more proactive. All aspects of our club need to be evaluated:

  • Day and time of our meetings. Is there a better day? Should we start the meeting earlier?
  • Meeting location. Is it too hard to get to in the evening? Is it now too small? Should we consider a location outside of Seattle (Tukwila, Edmonds, Bellevue)?
  • Activities. Take advantage of opportunities to spread the word about SNS. Be better prepared for SNS day at the Puyallup Fair. Have club info handouts available for local shows and at area coin shops.
  • Coin Show. Should we put on a Seattle Numismatic Society Coin Show? It wouldn't have to be in the Seattle city limits.
  • Greater digital presence. Should we have a FaceBook, Twitter, etc, presence?

What do you think? I'd like to hear your thoughts on these topics and any other ideas you might have. I'd also like to ask everyone - Is there a specific reason or reasons why you are not making our monthly meetings (traffic, weather, darkness, time, conflicts)? Is there anything we can do to get you back? Please email any comments or questions to richardf53@yahoo.com or, better yet, come to a meeting and tell us what you think.

At the last meeting we agreed to start implementing some new ideas and policies that we hope will bring some members back to our monthly meetings and maybe interest new people into giving us a try. First, we know we have some members that do not like to drive after dark and/or in stormy rush hour traffic. To address this issue starting next year, summer, 2018, we've decided to change the months we take off, July and August to December and January. Also, we are going to make up some fliers and take them around to local coin clubs so at least they know we have meetings and can advise their customers that there is an organization called Seattle Numismatic Society. Finally, at least for the next six months or so, we will remain at Queen Anne Manor. We'll see how it goes.

Seattle Numismatic Society, formerly Seattle Coin Club, has been around for more than eighty years. It will not fail on my watch.