6th National Silver Dollar Convention
St. Louis, Missouri
November 11 -17, 1985
Knight in the Sky
By LeRoy Van Allen, NLG
Being a coin collector and dealer can have its rewards in some strange ways. A silver dollar of mine provided a lady that I’ve never met with an unexpected reward high in the skies over Oregon last year.
It all began at the end of the Tacoma, Washington coin show late in August. I gave two silver dollars on consignment to another dealer, Dave Carter, a silver dollar specialist from Saratoga California, and a member of the National Silver Dollar Roadtable. On August 17, he flew from Seattle to San Jose on Alaska Airlines. It so happened that on that flight, the airline took a survey of the passengers. In appreciation of the effort to fill out a lengthy questionnaire, an airline representative announced a contest over the address system for the oldest U.S. coin in a passenger’s possession. The prize was two weekend nights at the Four Season Cliff hotel in San Francisco, plus a dinner for two at the Cliff Hotel, good for a year.
Dave Carter asked a young business woman sitting next to him if she wanted to win the prize. She, of course, was puzzled and asked how he could do that. So Dave reached down into his attaché case between his feet containing his coins from the show and pulled out one of my two silver dollars that I had given him on consignment. He told her to just show that coin when the airline representative came down the aisle.
By the time the representative got down to their row, the oldest coin so far was a 1943 Lincoln cent. However, a man across the aisle from Dave Carter had a very worn 1879-O silver dollar with a hole in it and on a key chain. The man had had the dollar for many years and always carried it with him. The airline representative then asked if anyone could beat this man’s coin that was over a century old. Whereupon the lady showed the silver dollar she had received from Carter, which was an 1878 CC MS65 silver dollar in a 3×3 Capital holder. This turned out to be the oldest coin on the airplane.
The airline awarded both her and the man across the aisle with the 1879-O dollar the prize since they both had coins about as old and no one else has coins close to their age. After the winners were announced on the address system, a number of people crowded around the lady and wanted to see an example of a pristine 1878 CC silver dollar. Coins that old are a rarity these days to most people although just twenty years ago, in the mid-1960’s, they could be obtained from most banks.
The lady with Dave’s coin did tell the airline representative that it was really not her coin but lent to her from Dave Carter. When asked why he didn’t want the prize for himself, Carter said that the coin was also not his, since it was on consignment from another coin dealer. And he felt that as a coin dealer, he shouldn’t take advantage of the other passengers and simply lent the coin to the closest person. The lady winner of the prize wanted to thank Carter later in writing, but he simply gave his name as Dave and disappeared off the airplane into the night like a true knight of yore!