Posts Tagged ‘terrorist attacks on september 11’

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The 9-11 Quarter A Tribute

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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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