Ken Hallenbeck submitted this great reminiscence of his time serving on the 1974 Assay Commission. The illustrated coin is from the National Numismatic Collection.
Comments in last week's The E-Sylum regarding 1974 aluminum cents brought back memories. I was on the 1974 Annual U.S. Assay Commission along with approximately 27 or 28 others including David Ganz and Maury Gould.
We were seated at a big table in alphabetical order. At some point the doors to the room were closed and locked and Mary Brooks, Director of the Mint, announced that there were 5 or 6 of the aluminum cents being passed around and nobody could leave the room until all had been returned.
When several of the 1974 cents got to us (Ganz, Gould, and Hallenbeck) we flipped them trying to match heads and tails for a brief bit of fun. Eventually all were returned and we were allowed to leave the room.
I was on the weighing committee. We were given sheets listing the weights of various coins, and the tolerances short or long permitted. I found one that was outside of the tolerance for that coin and called over one of the mint employees to point that out. Well, you'd have thought there was a bomb threat! This man later came back and explained that I had been given the wrong figures, and the new sheet had the correct figures.
With my somewhat warped sense of humor, I said "sure...", but with that tone of voice we all know which implies that I really didn't believe him. Well, this poor guy spent the next hour or two trying to convince me he was honestly correct with the new figures. Eventually, things went well.
It took me five or six years to get appointed to the Assay Commission, but was worth it. I've often wondered if the Assay Commission could be reinstated, that the government could actually charge to attend and make a profit. I certainly would be willing to pay to get on the commission again.
I used to say that next to getting married, the Assay Commission was my second most important event in my life, trumping the birth of our first child. This really annoyed my wife, so I had to switch my priorities to put my first child's birth second, and the Assay Commission third.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUIZ ANSWER: THE 1974 ALUMINUM CENT
Wayne Homren, Editor
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