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Coins are about more than.......
By Doug Winter

Jaded Professional Numismatist that I am, I sometimes need to be reminded what coin collecting is all about. I recently attended the first official meeting of the newly-formed 20th Century Gold Club and it left me feeling really good about the state of the hobby. It reminded me that coins are about more than upgrades, slabbing disputes, Registry Set battles and message board bickering: they are, more than anything else, about fraternity

The 20th Century Gold Club was founded by two prominent collectors of gold coins minted between 1907 and 1933. The club is by-invitation and it includes a number of the most serious collectors of American gold. The group is unique in that it not only includes these collectors but it incorporates prominent professionals who are Associate Members. The list of these dealers and researchers is extremely impressive and I was flattered to be included in a group that featured David Hall, Mark Salzburg, David Akers, John Albanese, Jim Halperin, Kevin Lipton, Todd Imhof, Mike Moran and Roger Burdette.

The meeting was held in Dallas and it was refreshing in that it wasn’t held in conjunction with a show. This meant that I was much more relaxed than I typically am at a show (if you’ve ever spent time with me at a coin show you know that I can be pretty intense and that I rarely have time for non-business chatter). It also helped that the meeting was held at a world-class five star hotel, was catered with incredible food (thanks to Heritage for the chow and the logistics) and that the weather in Dallas was perfect.

I thought one of the most interesting things about the meeting was the lack of agenda. All of the dealers were on their best behavior and no one was secretly passing out business cards looking for new clients. It was great to be able to chat with David Hall and not be worried about my latest round of PCGS grades.

There were a few presentations and I thought they were excellent. David Hall gave a very interesting talk about survival rates of U.S. gold coins. As all collectors know, there are serious problems with the PCGS population report due to resubmissions. One thing that David is attempting to do to get a more accurate idea of rarity is to create a panel of experts (including myself) to reach a consensus on rarity for all American coins.

One interesting point that David discussed in detail was how hard it is to determine the total number known for common 20th century issues. As an example, the 1924 is the most common 20th century double eagle. David asked a group of six experts how many were known and the answers ranged from a low of 1,000,000 to a high of over 3,000,000.

David Hall’s early findings were summarized and passed out to the members. A few of the preliminary numbers were controversial to say the least. I heard some gasps and murmurs when collectors reached the Saints and I remember that one date that seemed to be a real touchstone for controversy was the 1927-S.

The feature presentation on the second day was by author Mike Moran on the history of Augustus St. Gaudens. Mike recently wrote the book “Striking Change—The Great Artistic Collaboration of Theodore Roosevelt and Augustus St. Gaudens” and I strongly recommend purchasing this book as it is excellent (go to www. whitmanbooks.com to order a copy). I hadn’t met Mike before this weekend and he impressed me greatly; both as a person and as a researcher.

It is expected that meetings of the 20th Century Gold Club are going to be held semi-annually and one of the upcoming events planned by the club is a special behind-the-scenes tour of highlights of the Smithsonian’s coin collection.

As I mentioned above, for me the highlight of this weekend was to have the chance to meet some very interesting new people and to sit and talk coins with no agenda. I look forward to upcoming meetings of this group and urge any interested collectors of 20th century gold to contact me for more information about joining the club; I will pass your information on the appropriate contact.



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