Posts Tagged ‘september 11 2001’

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The 9-11 Quarter A Tribute

Copy of LowerManhattanFromNj

In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, patriotic collectors and a grading service joined forces to donate more than $40,000 to victims families.

By Mark Rush   Published in Numismatist

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001 at 9:30 AM on the Professional Coin Grading Service web site’s (www.pcgs.com) U.S. Coin message board, DcamMike1 posted: [i]

“Turn on any news!” Moments later pmh1nic posted “It’s looking like a terrorist attack. I heard a report that both planes had been hijacked but no word on from where.”

These first posts about the terrorist attacks were followed by others throughout the day. Swiftly posters’ feelings turned toward sympathy for the victims of the attack. Mitchell Spivack (Mitch), whose PCGS board nickname is “wondercoin,” posted a message with the heading, “Auction: 2001 NY State Quarter PCGS-MS67 Proceeds to Fire Fighters”

“It is a tragic day in the history of New York and our great country. … I have a really high end 2001(p) New York State Quarter grading PCGS-MS67. The coin goes to the high bidder at midnight tonight Eastern Time. The winning bid money will be mailed directly to the New York City Fire Fighters who are risking their lives to save the victims trapped in the debris. … Bidding starts at $1.00.” This post lead to an endeavor that resulted in 100 NY State quarters being graded, numbered, and encapsulated by PCGS with a special insert. More importantly, it also resulted in over $40,000 donated to the UFFA Widows and Childrens Fund. This article tells the story of these “9-11 quarters.”

Mitch’s auction ran for 7 1/2 hours. By midnight Steve Heller, whose nickname is “RegistryCoin,” made the winning bid of $125. Twenty minutes afterward, Steve posted

“Put the coin up again, Mitch. I donate it to the forum for another go.”

This time Mitch put up the coin in an auction that was scheduled to last until Friday.

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On Wednesday, September 12, Mitch posted:

PCGS has just agreed to reholder this coin as the ‘911’ coin … PCGS also suggested they number this coin #1 and that I consider a series of 50 coins dedicated to the New York City Fire Fighters. …In the meantime, the winner of this auction closing Friday will receive this coin specially numbered ‘1’ with reference to ‘911’”

Immediately Mitch received a donation of 14 MS66 NY state quarters from an anonymous coin dealer who wanted the coins to be used as #2 - #15. The 9-11 coin project was off and running. Leading the endeavor were Mitch, Steve, who kept track of the coins’ owners, and cosmicdebris (Bill Hemenway), who kept track of the donations.[i]

Coin #1 received 27 bids in the three days it was up for auction. By Friday evening, Steve once again prevailed in a two-person bid off. For the same coin that he had three days ago donated to be auctioned a second time, Steve’s winning bid this time was $2,001. But on Tuesday, another collector, identified as “The Lake Tahoe

Interestingly, none of these three people have ever met another in person. All the communication has been done via the Internet and telephone.

Collection,” contacted Mitch and offered to buy the #1 coin for $2,250. Because this raised more money for the donation, Steve agreed. So the coin that initially sold for $125 wound up in The Lake Tahoe Collection for $2,250.

Seeing how well the auction for coin #1 was proceeding, Rick Montgomery, the then-President of PCGS, suggested to Mitch that the number of 9-11 quarters be increased from 50 to 100. Within a week, PCGS donated 50 MS65 quarters needed for coins #51 to #100 and helped locate some MS66 quarters.[i] Mitch found others searching through a bag he purchased. A few were purchased.

After coin #1 was sold, next up were coins #9 and #11, which were auctioned as a lot. RegistryCoin opened the bidding at $1,250. Within a few hours the bid was up to $1,400. The bidding crept higher until Bcsican won the coins on Sunday with a bid of $1,700.

Some PCGS board members posted concerns that they would be unable to buy any of these special coins because of the prices the coins commanded. By noon on Saturday, Mitch, conferring with Mr. Montgomery, decided to price coins #78 though #92 at $175 per coin, to be sold to whomever wanted to buy one.[ii] Within 20 minutes, Flying56eagle purchased coin #91. And within 4 hours all 15 coins had been purchased, many for more than the posted $175 price. The immediate sell out established a pattern: Low numbered and special numbered coins were auctioned while higher numbered coins were offered for a fixed price.[iii]

The first encapsulated 9-11 quarters were given to Mitch on Tuesday, September 18. Mitch sent a scan of the coin to cosmicdebris who posted the scan of coin #1 in its special 9-11 PCGS holder. Buyers of the 9-11 coins knew that PCGS would encapsulate the coins using a special PCGS insert. Remarkably, by the time the scan was available and posted, well over half of the 9-11 coins had been sold even though the donors had no idea what the insert would look like. The insert features a U.S. flag background with four lines of text: The first line has on it PCGS and the grade, for example “PCGS MS 66.” The second line identifies the coin as “NY Firefighters 9-11” and the third line states “PCGS Limited Edition”. The fourth line has the coin number, for example “#10/100”.[iv] The concept of the U.S. flag was developed by Miles Standish, the then-Vice-President of PCGS, who suggested using this insert for the 9-11 coins.

Not all the 9-11 coins were purchased by the members who received them. Flying56eagle (Ron Gue) and merz2 (Donald Merz) arranged for donations so that some of the coins could be given to other board members. They received enough donations so that three 9-11 quarters were donated: one to a PCGS board member who was unemployed at the time and two to young numismatists who were active participants on the PCGS board.[v] Also two of the quarters were given to board members who lost a family member in the terror attacks. Gerry, who lost a son, received coin #44 and Clevegreg, who lost a brother, received coin #59.

The PCGS board has hundreds of participants, covering a wide spectrum of beliefs. So, some of the posts and threads about the 9-11 quarters were negative. However, the negative posts were few and were vastly outweighed by the positive posts. Most board members adopted Mitch’s philosophy, eloquently expressed in a post he made on September 25:


The grades on the 100 coins vary. Coin #1 is graded MS67, coins #2 through #50 are MS66, and coins #51 through #100 are MS65.

Based on auction results, at the time the price of a PCGS encapsulated MS67 NY State quarter ranged between $130 to $150.

Coins #74 through #65 were $200; coins #64 through #60 were $250; coins #58 though #51 were $325; coins #49 through #45 were $350; coins #44 through #40 were $375; coins #39 through #35 were $400; coins #34 through #30 were $425; coins #29 through #26 were $450; and, coins #25 through #20 were $475.

A few months after the 9-11 coins were created, PCGS issued a limited series of New York state quarters graded and encapsulated in a holder with the American flag background. These were given to collectors who joined the PCGS Collector’s Club and have nothing to do with the 9-11 coin project. These coins, too, had four lines of text. The major difference is in the second line of text, which identifies the coins as “PCGS Collector’s Club” rather than “NY Firefighters 9-11” as on the 9-11 coins.

Don’s (Merz2) low-key assessment of his and Flying56eagle’s efforts typifies the generosity of spirit that existed throughout this endeavor: “What he and I did was done by many Americans, in their own way, all across our great nation.”

THIS IS NOT ABOUT GETTING A COIN IN SOMEONE'S COLLECTION.-THIS IS ABOUT RAISING AS MUCH MONEY FOR THE WIDOWS AND CHILDREN OF SLAIN FIREFIGHTERS AS WE CAN.

The auctions and sales continued until October 18, when Steve posted a simple message:

Closed. Thank you very much for your positive participation.

On October 22, Mitch posted a message from the UFFA Widows and Childrens Fund:

Subj: Thank-you on behalf of the Fire Fighters

Date: 10/22/2001 11:18:12 AM Pacific Daylight Time

On behalf of the Executive Board and members of the New York State Professional Fire Fighter's Association, Inc. I thank everyone who purchased a coin whose proceeds will go to the Uniformed Fire Fighters Association Widows and Children's Fund.

Sincerely,
Charles J. Morello

President

Collectively the members of the PCGS board contributed $42, 897.07 to the UFFA Widows and Childrens Fund. Steve Heller’s summary of his part in this venture is to the point: “I haven’t ever done anything else so ‘appropriate.’ All the forum members made it possible and all should have an everlasting pride.” Mitchell Spivack says, “Everyone helped out with this great deed and everyone who contributed will remember this forever. But what we gave was a small gesture compared to what the firefighters sacrificed.”

 

[1] Posters on the board use nicknames, such as DcamMike1. To keep with the spirit of the board, for the most part I identify participants using their nicknames.

[1] Interestingly, none of these three people have ever met another in person. All the communication has been done via the Internet and telephone.

[1] . The grades on the 100 coins vary. Coin #1 is graded MS67, coins #2 through #50 are MS66, and coins #51 through #100 are MS65.

[1] Based on auction results, at the time the price of a PCGS encapsulated MS67 NY State quarter ranged between $130 to $150.

[1] Coins #74 through #65 were $200; coins #64 through #60 were $250; coins #58 though #51 were $325; coins #49 through #45 were $350; coins #44 through #40 were $375; coins #39 through #35 were $400; coins #34 through #30 were $425; coins #29 through #26 were $450; and, coins #25 through #20 were $475.

[1] A few months after the 9-11 coins were created, PCGS issued a limited series of New York state quarters graded and encapsulated in a holder with the American flag background. These were given to collectors who joined the PCGS Collector’s Club and have nothing to do with the 9-11 coin project. These coins, too, had four lines of text. The major difference is in the second line of text, which identifies the coins as “PCGS Collector’s Club” rather than “NY Firefighters 9-11” as on the 9-11 coins.

[1] Don’s (Merz2) low-key assessment of his and Flying56eagle’s efforts typifies the generosity of spirit that existed throughout this endeavor: “What he and I did was done by many Americans, in their own way, all across our great nation.”

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WTC Coin Population

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The coins that were recovered out of the COMEX vaults in the sub-basement of World Trade Center were certified by PCGS and a chain of custody was followed from the time the coins left the vaults at World Trade Center until they arrived at PCGS for authentication. PCGS has never publicly released or have any population reports generated for these historical coins and it is our understanding that they have absolutely no interest in ever doing so anytime in the near future. Collectors are left to wonder, why would a reputable coin grading service such as PCGS take all of the extra measures to ensure that the coins never leave the sight of security officials so that they could properly authenticate the coins if they never had any intentions of keeping accurate records of how many coins were actually recovered?

We believe that PCGS, the number one coin grading service, owes it to the American Numismatist as well as the victims of September 11, 2001 the courtesy of a population report so that we can at least have some kind of reference as to what the prices for some of these historical pieces should be according to their rarity. These coins are so unique and mean so much to so many collectors worldwide that not only is it time for some kind of accountability, it is time to properly give these coins the respectful place and recognition that they deserve and have now earned in numismatic history. These PCGS certified coins will forever serve as reminders of the events of September 11, 2001 so that we may never forget our Brothers and Sisters that were lost on that fateful day.

Whether collectors refer to them as “Historic Coins” or “Blood Coins” it is now of no consequence as they have now earned their rightful place in world history. The coins are what they are, important pieces of world history no matter who profited from their sale or whether or not PCGS thought it were right! It is true that quite a few dealers and or collectors made or are making money through the sale of these coins but how else can they be passed down from generation to generation? As gifts? Come on people, let’s be real.

If an individual collector and PCGS authorized dealer Mitchell Spivac known as www.wondercoin.com on eBay can account for 100 New York State Quarters that raised over $40,000 dollars for the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) Widows’ and Children’s Fund. How come PCGS and or the “Originators” of these the World trade Center Recovered coins cannot account for every coin certified given the fact that an official statement given by PCGS on November 14, 2002 says;

“This was one of the toughest and touchiest decisions we ever made. In the months following Sept 11, we were approached on numerous occasions to do coin-related projects. We rejected all the projects except one PCGS project from one source. After considerable thought, we decided to do the one PCGS project because we knew the people handling the deal very well, they assured us that everything would be handled in the best possible way, and they assured us a hefty donation would be made to the victims. It is our understanding that there are 4 direct retailers of these coins, that the two largest have committed to donating between 6% and 12% of the gross sales price to the fireman/victims funds, and that the largest retailer has raised close to $400,000 for the funds. It was certainly not our intention to participate in anything that is disrespectful to our country or the victims of our National tragedy. I hope this is explains what we did and why we did it. Like I said, it was a touchy decision.”

If more than $400,000 thousand dollars for the Fireman’s/Victims September 11 fund was raised through the sale of these coins? Why not keep records of how many coins were actually certified? If for nothing else, they should do it out of respect for the victims of September 11, 2001.

The collector base for these historical pieces has grown considerably since their early release back in 2001-2002 and we further believe that it leaves the individual collector of this hobby at a great disadvantage not knowing the true population of each individual coin. We sure hope that PCGS wakes up soon and releases accurate population numbers for each WTC coin authenticated. We believe that it is the right thing to do considering that their reputation and integrity is currently on the line. Why hide the population numbers for the World Trade Center Recovered coins? It is also our opinion that PCGS should be honored that they were given the chance to be the only authorized grading service to authenticate and sonically seal these historic coins no matter what anyone else thinks.   

With that in mind the population numbers that are found on this website are to the best of our research. If anyone visiting this website has any pertinent information on the subject, please let us know so that we can update our information.

The total population number we do know comes from the

Ground Zero Sets that are numbered series

The different Sets are put together like this. 

Coin Set Coins in Set Type
1 of 34
Total 34
1 Gem BU Mexico Gold Pesos
1 of 150
Total 300
2 Gem BU 2001 $25,$50 Gold
1 of 190
Total 1,140
6 Gem BU 2001 $1,$5,$10,$25, $50,$100 Silver, Gold,Platinum
1 of 269
Total 1,345
5 Gem BU 2001 $5,$10,$25,$50 Gold coins
1 of 426
Total 852
2 Gem BU 2001 $1 silver and 1 gold bar Swiss
1 of 531
Total 2,655
5 Gem BU 2001 $5,$10,$25,$50 Gold coins
1 of 900
Total 900
1 1998 $50 Gold
1 of 1000
Total 2000
2 MS69 2001 $1 Silver, 1999 $5 Gold
1 of 1100    
1 of 1440
Total 2,880
2 2001 $1 silver, 2001 $5 Gold

 

With this information we know that at least 13,206 coins in the number series from Ground Zero was recovered. If I am missing any number series please let me know. I do not have any information on the 1 of 1100 series yet but it will come and I will update.

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PCGS WTC Coins Time Line

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  • 11 September 2001, one of the worst days in American history next to the attack of Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941.
  • 11 September 2001, the New York State Quarter 9-11 Firefighters coins are made with the special flag inserts. The New York State Quarter 9-11 Firefighters coin project was started at the PCGS Collectors Universe Forum by PCGS authorized dealer Mitchell Spivac and members of the Collectors Universe Forum forum. 100 numbered coins were finally completed with the help of PCGS. The US Flag insert used with the coin was designed by Senior Vice President of PCGS Miles Standish. 100% of the proceeds are donated to the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) Widows and Children’s Fund. The auction of the 100 coins (numbered 1 thought 100) raised well over $42,000 thousand dollars. 9-11 quarter full story
  • 1 November 2001 the workers at Ground Zero in New York reach the Iron Mountain Vault.
  • 1 November - 1 December 2001 Coins are sent to Collectors Universe for certification. Collectors Universe does not grade coins so the coins are only certified and sonically sealed as "Gem Uncirculated" The initial sale of these coins is advertised by only a few authorized dealers which state that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these coins would be donated to the relief fund set up for the victims of September 11, 2001.
  • 1 December 2001, PCGS gets into the picture and starts grading coins from ground zero. The coins being holdered by PCGS receive the respective grade and then are sonically sealed with a bar coded certification number. On some of the coins, the bar code is hidden behind the PCGS hologram.
  • January 2002-June 2002, PCGS continues grading the different coin recovered as ordered by the “Originators” Coins encapsulated were gold, platinum, silver, copper etc. etc. Some coins were paired up in special sets with limited edition markings such as the 1 of 1000, 1 of 1140 etc. etc. Coins from approximately 10 different countries were recovered and authenticated, some with very low populations as stated on the certified holder.
  • January 2001- 2004, collectors start to include World Trade Center Recovered coin into their registry sets although they are not recognized as WTC pieces when the certification number is looked up in the PCGS data base.
  • January 2002 – Present, the controversy surrounding the WTC recovered coins has the numismatic community split up. Some collectors love the coins and consider them invaluable pieces of American history while others hate them with a passion and refer to them as "death coins".  In the meantime, the WTC coins continue to increase in value as other similar non WTC PCGS certified coins of the same year trade for considerable less.

One last we would like to mention is that these coins are not for everyone! We respect everyone else’s opinions, point of views and we hope that you do the same for everyone else too? If you are of the opinion that these coins should not be sold for a profit because of where they came from, that is your opinion and we respect it. However, to us, they are priceless and we will proudly display them for all to see no matter who buys or sells them.

“We Will Never Forget”

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A Numismatic Catastrophe

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By Ron Guth

Published in Rare Coin Market Report November 2007 www.pcgs.com

This is a true story from 9/11-- one with a numismatic angle. What you are about to read pales in comparison to the loss of human life on that fateful day, but this is a story that needs to be told.

Imagine this nightmare scenario: your bank, where your coins are stored in a safe deposit box, calls to tell you that the bank building collapsed and all that's left is a pile of burning rubble. Plus, it will be month before you can recover anything from your box, assuming the box can be found. That's exactly what happened to collector Paul Renda. You see, Paul's coins were inside a box...inside a vault... inside a New York branch of JP Morgan Chase...inside a skyscraper....which was one of the twin towers known as the World Trade Center On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew planes into each of the towers, causing them to burn and collapse, taking with them nearly 3000 lives and destroying billion of dollars worth of property-- including Paul's coins.

Rescue operations began immediately but were hampered by smoldering fires, poor aor quality and fears of additional collapses due to the unstable structure of the immense pile of rubble. When it became apparent that there were no more survivors, the effort became a recovery and cleanup operation. Demolition crew picked apart the twisted steel and crushed concrete, searching for human remains, recovering lost property and moving away big and small pieces of the towers that once dominated the Manhattan skyline.

Deep beneath the rubble and remains lay a vast assortment of treasures ranging from $230 million in precious metals to entire bank vaults and safe deposit boxes like the one rented by Paul Renda. Eventually, these treasures were recovered and restored to their rightful owners, when such identification was possible. Moths after the collapse, Paul Renda was summoned to a special location to reclaim his treasure. According to the final appraisal report, "The Renda collection of coins is comprised primarily of coins pulled from circulation and a small group of choice un-circulated silver dollars." The inventory list included a variety of coins including Lincoln cents, Shield Nickels, Walking Liberty half dollars, nine silver dollars (six of which were Morgan dollars), and others. In all Paul's box contained 243 coins. Everyone, especially Paul, was anxious to see if his coins had survived and, if they had, what kind of condition they were in. Mr Renda provided PCGS with a videotape of the day he went to recover the contents of his safe deposit box. Watching the video is powerful, as one sees a scene that must have been repeated hundreds, if not thousands of times, by other people claiming the contents of their boxes. The video begins with Paul entering a storage room in which stacks of safe deposit boxes have been placed around the perimeter. The boxes look terrible; they appear burnt, crushed, and many of the doors have already been drilled out or popped open. The fronts have been spray-painted in graffiti-like fashion as a mean of identifying the bank or location in which they were found. Paul is seen scanning each of the stacks, searching for his box (#Z-433), which he finally finds at the lower left corner of one of the burnt-out stacks. The door to Paul's box appears to be in remarkably good shape, better than many of the others, and he attempts to insert his key, to no avail. A technician uses a hammer to punch out the locks and pry open the door. The technician pulls Paul's box out of its drawer and carries it to a makeshift cubicle where the box and its contents can be examined. Paul is given a pair of latex gloves to protect his hands from the soot. The box is charred on the outside but appears to be in good shape, so Paul is hopeful that the contents might have survived. Paul gently opens the lid and peers inside. Paul's hope turns to dismay as the box reveals nothing but the blackened remains of album pages, documents and coins. The temperatures required to melt coins inside a steel box must have been immense. The paper pages of the albums remained intact and appeared to have been turned into charcoal more so than having being burnt. Paul can be seen lifting blackened,individual coins out of the box and laying them onto a sheet of black plastic. As he lift out the individual album pages, coins can be seen dropping from the holes. The pages themselves are very fragile and prone to crumbling. Soon Paul has before him a pitiful pile of burnt album pages and blackened coins. The back of Paul's box contains important documents. Surprisingly most of the documents remain relatively intact as single fragile pages. Paul is able to separate them and, if they don't crumble apart, he can actually read some of them.

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Three of Paul's coins are illustrated with this video. Each coin shows severe discoloration and blistering of the surfaces. The melting point of silver is 1,763 degrees Fahrenheit, giving some idea of the inferno these coins endured.

The contents of Paul's box were a disaster. The heat, fire, and corrosive action of the World Trade Center's destruction reduced the value of Paul's collection to that of the bullion value of the silver coins. Likewise, his documents were effectively unsalvageable.

It may come as a surprise to most people, but banks usually have no liability of any kind for the contents of the safe deposit boxes in their care. However, because of the extraordinary circumstances of September 11, JP Morgan Chase offered to compensate Paul for his loss. They hired an outside appraiser to examine the contents of the box and to determine a replacement value for the coins. Surprisingly, the final settlement amount offered by JP Morgan Chase was higher than the hypothetical loss developed by the appraiser. However, Paul decided not to accept the settlement, opting instead to retain all 243 of his coins as memories of this historic event. He plans to donate some of the coins to museums but the bulk of the coins will remain with his family.

Paul Renda's association with the World Trade Center goes beyond this story. Paul was working in the offices of Dean Witter Discover in Two World Trade Center when it was bombed in 1993. He experienced the terror of huddling in a room filling with smoke, not knowing whether to stay put or attempt to make it down to the street. He chose the latter. Paul's cousin Thomas "Tommy" Farino died on 9/11 while responding to the attack. Tommy was a New York Fire Department Captain ( the youngest named Captain of Engine Co. 26) and was promoted posthumously to Battalion Chief.

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