History of the Barber Coin Collectors' Society

The Early Years

The Barber Coin Collectors' Society (BCCS) was founded in 1989, by Steve Epstein, who banded together with key Barber collectors. The Society started with a single Journal produced by Epstein, which consisted of 3 sheets of white 8-1/2 x 11" paper stapled together. The first article in the premier edition was entitled "Why A Barber Coin Collectors' Society?" The BCCS grew rapidly as many interested Barber collectors joined. The Journals slowly grew as a number of members wrote articles on their areas on interest or expertise. The BCCS, with assistance from Dave Lawrence [Feignenbaum], initiated rarity surveys for circulated Barber silver coinage, and covered each issue in three grade categories: G-VG, F-VF, and EF-AU.

After four years as both President and Journal Editor, Steve stepped down. David Lawrence Feigenbaum, perhaps the most well-known Barber dealer and author of the first comprehensive books on Barbers, took over as Journal Editor, with assistance from his son John. The Journal evolved into a more professional publication, with a glossy paperboard cover with quality typesetting.

Phil Carrigan became BCCS President in Spring 1994, and began more than 20 years of leadership as BCCS President. Under Phil's direction, the BCCS became more well-known, and the Society was sought out for opinions on Barber matters by numismatic publications and auction houses.

As David Lawrence Rare Coins grew as a business and required more than Dave's full-time attention, he retired from the post of Journal Editor at the end of 1996, and Russell Eastbrooks took over the responsibility, while maintaining the excellence of the publication. Russell produced the quarterly Journal for four years. In 2001, Eileen Ribar took the reins of the Journal and was Editor for an astounding 14 years.

Using Technology and the beginning of the Regional Program

In 2004, with input from several members, John Frost created the BCCS website, www.barbercoins.org, and remains webmaster to this day. With the website, the BCCS published information about the Society, and a membership application. Still, the BCCS was an organization that usually met just once annually, at the summer convention of the ANA - American Numismatic Association.

However, it was the website as a communications device that allowed the BCCS to begin its Regional Program, where members all over the country could propose ad hoc meetings at regional coin shows. Over the next two years, several meetings were held at different venues, such as Long Beach, Baltimore, and Manchester NH, with very mixed results. BCCS presence at shows, because of the ad hoc proposal process, was very inconsistent. Something needed to change, and based on success of a proactive approach taken by another national club, we took the BCCS regional in a significant way, getting a few members around the country to be more proactive, and arrange BCCS meetings at specific shows on a regular basis. It was essential for the BCCS presence at shows to be predictable.

Beginning in 2006, the BCCS undertook a series of comprehensive Census and Rarity Survey projects for all Barber series (including Liberty Nickels), to expand on those initial rarity surveys in the 1990s. Opening participation to non-BCCS members via the website, response was far greater than originally expected, and the amount learned was impressive. A number of non-member participants later joined the BCCS on the back of all the valuable information gathered.

Scaling up the BCCS Programs

Also in 2006, the BCCS became a FUN Member Club and began series of meetings there each year, and added a number of "anchor sites" to the schedule where the BCCS would meet each time. Regular attendance at these shows helped establish our presense there, and attendance grew in time. These events also provided the BCCS with an opportunity to grow membership with new collectors who were unaware of the existance of the BCCS.

To expand our BCCS presence and establish an easily-recognized "brand" for the Society, we purchased a set of banners, pop-up stands which could be used at both regional meetings and tables on the bourse floor of a coin show. These banners were distributed to 5 volunteers to become BCCS Regional Directors. These banners have become easily recognizable ways for attendees to find the BCCS. By 2013, the BCCS was attending more than 20 shows around the country each year, with either club tables on the bourse floor (with exhibits and membership information), meetings with discussions or educational programs, or both.

With with success of the Census and Rarity Surveys for all four series, it was clear that new interest was being voiced by our members on Varieties. A small committee of volunteers began a new type of survey, this time focussed on different types of varieties. We launched the first of four surveys, beginning with Barber Quarters, with a census study of doubled and tripled dies, repunched mintmarks, repunched and misplaced dates, and combinations of multiple types of varieties. There was also a means for survey participants to report new varieties not previously listed or cataloged. This multi-year project for all four Barber series is currently still in progress.

The BCCS Today

2014 began a transition as both BCCS President Phil Carrigan and Secretary-Treasurer and Journal Editor Eileen Ribar announce their coming retirement. A Transition Committee was formed to enhance the BCCS By-laws, open up nominations for officer positions to the membership, and to come up with a slate of candidates. Elections were held, and the slate of officers, along with the new By-laws, were approved and took effect March 1, 2015.

Eileen Ribar remained on for one additional issue of the Journal, with Volume 26, Number 1, in March 2015 being her final issue. Since then, the format of the Journal was enhanced to include high-quality glossy paper (to enhance the look of photographs) and improve readability, plus a color glossy cover.

The BCCS of today remains a vibrant organization, with hundreds of members around the United States, and in sound financial condition. With the new Journal format costing less to produce and mail to our membership, the organization can continue to provided increased benefits to our members, all at lesser cost, and new members are contributing to the new Journal.

In 2016, the BCCS launched a new website format, with a more professional look, one which is easy to navigate and maintain. All upcoming meetings, education programs, and BCCS news are posted on the website. We are always looking for new shows to attend, so if you would like to host a BCCS event at a show near you, please contact us by email at bccs@barbercoins.org. We are also launching a new Education initiative, designed to enhance the educational programs available on the website, for download and presenting at regional coin shows, and at your local coin club meetings.

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