Providing timely coverage of ceremonial first strikes of the first
modern commemorative coin — the half dollar honoring the 250th
anniversary of George Washington’s birth — presented a nightmarish
challenge for a weekly publication such as Coin World in the summer of 1982.
However, Editor Margo Russell with her “can do” attitude was
determined to provide eyewitness coverage (complete with photographs)
despite the realities:
The ceremonial striking events were to be held on the same day
(Thursday, July 1) at the Denver Mint and San Francisco Assay Office —
thousands of miles away from and in different time zones than Coin
World’s Sidney, Ohio, production facility.
Coin World’s weekly edition went to press (without fail) at 1 p.m.
on Friday of each week.
The stories had to be written and entered into the Amos Press
production system and the film had to be processed, printed, and
prepared for the presses in Sidney — all within the span of less than
29 hours after the start of the first striking event in Denver.
This was before the Coin World editorial department had a FAX
machine and over a decade before email or electronic transmission of
images for print media.
Margo was sure we could meet the Friday deadline — IF all of our
flights were on time. She assigned me to cover the Denver Mint
striking of the Uncirculated half dollar, and Coin World columnist and
commemorative coin expert Anthony Swiatek to cover the San Francisco
striking of the Proof coin.
Anthony had been invited by Mint Director Donna Pope to strike a
coin at the ceremonies in Denver and San Francisco because of his
expertise in commemorative coins and his testimony at the
congressional hearing that played a key role in passage of the
authorizing legislation. He flew from New York to Denver on Wednesday
afternoon. I took a Wednesday night flight from Dayton, Ohio. Margo
had booked rooms for both of us at Denver’s famed Brown Place Hotel, a
short walk from the Denver Mint.
Thursday morning Anthony and I met and departed for the Mint. We
arrived about an hour ahead of the other guests. We wanted to check
the location of the ceremony because we were concerned about lighting.
Since no striking events had been held in decades, there was no
playbook and we were unsure of what to expect.
NEXT MONTH: Witnessing history.
Beth may be contacted at email@example.com.
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