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Commems Collection: 1937 Roanoke - Guarding Against Unscrupulous Dealers

 
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 Posted 01/07/2017  10:07 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I previously wrote about the Roanoke commemorative half dollar here Coin Post and here Ephemera Post. Both were early in my CCF "career" and so both were fairly brief posts.

Tonight, I thought I'd revisit the Roanoke with a story about the efforts of the coin's sponsor on behalf of collectors.

Read More: Commems Collection

Railing Against "Unscrupulous Dealers"

The Roanoke half dollar was authorized on June 24, 1936 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the legislation calling for the coin. Per Public Law 74-790, the coin was issued to commemorate "the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh's colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, known in history as the Lost Colony, and the birth of Virginia Dare, the first child of English parentage to be born on the American continent." The coin was sponsored by the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association (RCMA) and was to feature a "1937" date regardless of whether the coins were struck in 1936 or 1937.

The coin's legislation specified that a single mint facility was to be used for the striking of the coin - no P-D-S sets for the Roanoke! - and that each order placed by the coin's sponsor needed to be for at least 25,000 coins. No maximum mintage was specified in the law, but production was limited by the calendar as no coins could be struck after July 1, 1937.

By the time the coin was authorized, the peak of the commemorative coin "craze" had passed and market prices for the various issues were beginning to soften. A contributing factor to the decline was the unfair manipulation of the sales and distribution of multiple issues by dealers, sponsors or combinations of both. A few that come to mind are Horace Grant's handling of the Rhode Island coins, C. Frank Dunn's "management" of the multi-year Boone program and the seemingly never-ending series of Oregon Trail Memorial coins that tried hard to exploit the desire of collectors to form complete sets.

In contrast, from the day its coin first went on sale, the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association wanted to make sure that the sale and distribution of its half dollar was carried out in a manner that was unquestionably fair to collectors.

It set the original selling price for the coin at $1.50, a reasonable price point considering that most commemorative coins of the mid-1930s sold for between $1.00 and $2.00 per coin. It also limited the number of coins per order to 10 (more on this later).

One had to look no further than their ads to understand their intent. A January 1937 ad in The Numismatist stated "No collusion tactics to boost the price will be permitted and all bona-fide coin collectors will be given a square deal in the distribution of the Virginia Dare-Sir Walter Raleigh commemorative coins."

In April, 1937, D. Bradford Fearing, a North Carolina state senator and chairman of the RCMA, stated "Speculation in the field of memorial coins by a few unscrupulous dealers constitutes a problem to organization fostering historical commemorations." This pronouncement was prompted by reports that Fearing had received of dealers selling their coin for prices higher than what was being charged by the Association and their attempts to justify the higher cost by claiming they were sold out at the source. Fearing quickly denounced the claims and stated that it was "ridiculous to pay a dealer between two and three dollars" for the coin when approximately 8,000 of them were still available from the Association for just $1.50 plus $0.15 to cover postage, insurance and handling. He went on to note that while the Association was limiting orders to 10 coins, it reserved the right to reject orders that "were a ringer for a dealer."

In my review of dealer ads of 1937, I found that examples of the Roanoke half dollar, variably referred to as being dated "1936" or "1937," were generally offered for between $2.00 and $2.60 each. A markup over the $1.50 issue price for sure, but far less than the markups that some dealers had charged for certain issues just a year before when the commemorative market was hot. It was nice to see the coin's sponsor being vocal in its support of collectors and working to prevent dealers from preying upon them with artificially-inflated prices.

In the months that followed, the Association sold enough of their coins to merit asking the Mint to strike an additional batch of 25,000; the second group was delivered in June. Sales slowed, however, as the anniversary year went on and only about 4,000 additional coins were sold. Eventually, 21,000 of the coins were returned to the Mint to be melted - the final net mintage (not including assays) for the coin was 29,000.

The net mintage has allowed the Roanoke to be readily available in today's market for reasonable prices across the grading spectrum. Even higher-end coins such as those grading MS-66 can be purchased for approximately $250 in today's soft market.

If you decide to purchase one, there's a very good chance that its first owner was a collector rather than a dealer; you can thank D. B. Fearing and the RCMA for that!

Here are two of the Roanoke half dollars I have in my collection. (A tip of my feathered hat to nickelsearcher for making his XF-45 available to me some time back - it was too high of a grade for his lowball set! )











Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 01/07/2017  11:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ArrowsAndRays to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A handsome design. Thanks for all the background info, commems!
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 Posted 01/08/2017  01:25 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add bandsdean to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Love the XF-45 one. Great tone.
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 Posted 01/08/2017  08:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Zurie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting read, thanks. And great looking coins!
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 Posted 01/08/2017  09:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Outstanding read commems ... on par with your exceptional well researched and presented stories on the history behind these tremendous coins.

Many thanks for sharing your wisdom.

It was nice to visit ... albeit electronically ... my prior XF45 friend. It has certainly found an appropriate home in your world-class collection.

David
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 Posted 01/08/2017  10:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Debrajc to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wonderful read again commens!
Thank you for all your in depth contributions.

Both of your examples are stunning.
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 Posted 01/08/2017  4:50 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great scholarship as always.
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 Posted 01/08/2017  6:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Reflecting again on this tremendous post ... some additional commentary from me as a dedicated collector who has been fortunate enough to acquire PCGS certified sets in both MS and circulated state.


Quote:
By the time the coin was authorized, the peak of the commemorative coin "craze" had passed


I've shared with the CCF my insights on the 'craze' era relative to obtaining these treasured coins in honestly circulated state ... a very difficult challenge indeed.


Quote:
In contrast, from the day its coin first went on sale, the Roanoke Colony Memorial Association wanted to make sure that the sale and distribution of its half dollar was carried out in a manner that was unquestionably fair to collectors.


This was indeed an amazing ethical decision ... considering the abuses of the prior 5 years ... and future years ... in the distribution of the classic silver commemorative coinage ... as well summarized in commems post.

I suppose my PCGS MS66/CAC Roanoke Island was initially sold to a collector before it found it's way to me.


Quote:
A tip of my feathered hat to nickelsearcher for making his XF-45 available to me some time back - it was too high of a grade for his lowball set!


I enjoy your feathered cap on the coins commems ...and I'm certain that in your prior posts you made mention that Sir Walter Raleigh actually did not spell his last name that way ... he used Ralegh instead.

Just for fun ... with no intention other than sharing a rare example ... consider this honestly circulated Roanoke Half:

1937 Roanoke Island Half Dollar - PCGS G06



Tremendous post commems ... always enjoy your wisdom.

David
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.finewoodcrafter.com
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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 Posted 01/09/2017  4:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add one_fine_dime to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@commems -

Your posts on the 1937 Roanoke half dollar have prompted me to research Sir Walter Raleigh (one interesting dude to say the least), and to browse eBay listings for this issue. Your XF specimen is incredible! I'm not sure if that would be considered a circulation cameo per se, but I find it stunning. Are those your own photographs? I noticed the MS specimen is photographed against a dark background, while the XF is against a light background.

This has got to be one of the most striking designs of the entire classic commemorative series...possibly more so than the very popular Oregon issue. I can see why you've chosen it for your CCF avatar.

Thank you for your informative post, and inspiring a greater appreciation of this particular coin!
My avatar is from the reverse of the US 1987 Constitution Silver Dollar and features 13 diverse people intended to represent the wide cultural and social spectrum of the United States.
>>> E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) - the de facto motto of the United States <<<
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 Posted 01/09/2017  6:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CelticKnot to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the informative article, commems! As always, a great, enjoyable read.


Quote:
A January 1937 ad in The Numismatist stated "No collusion tactics to boost the price will be permitted and all bona-fide coin collectors will be given a square deal in the distribution of the Virginia Dare-Sir Walter Raleigh commemorative coins."

Though recently they've gotten better at it, it seems the modern U.S. Mint could take a page or two out of that playbook.
Edited by CelticKnot
01/09/2017 6:05 pm
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 Posted 01/09/2017  7:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
commems -

I revisited this post with full intent to offer my sincere apology for perhaps redirecting the discussion by sharing a photo of my current circulated Roanoke Island example ... PCGS G06.

Pleased to see that my ill-advised contribution did not detract from your tremendous knowledge sharing.

On the bright side ... this post will serve as forum bump where perhaps a few others can begin the joy of collecting such an outstanding series of USA coins.

Best - David
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.finewoodcrafter.com
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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 Posted 01/09/2017  8:23 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@nickelsearcher: No worries! I always welcome your meaningful additions! Spread the knowledge!

@onefinedime: All images are my own. Over the years, I have experimented with different backgrounds - these two coins were imaged over a year apart (maybe even two years apart).

@CelticKnot: Yes, I would be in favor of the Mint tweaking its current release approach to avoid the noon time frenzy that accompanies some releases. A week-long pre-release reservation period would be one possibility - it would give all collectors who wanted a particular issue a reasonable time frame over which they could place their order.

@All: Thanks for the supportive feedback! It's what encourages me to keep posting!




Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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