I recently came across this item on Ebay, a 1971 Rs 10 Food for All coin with a Philatelic Cover having a postage stamp of 20 Paise with postage mark of Phillatic Bureau, Bombay. I know that the Rs 10 Coin was issued in 1971 as a commemorative to mark the event 25th anniversary of Food & Agriculture Organization of United Nations. I also knew that the 20 paise postage stamp was released in the same year to mark the centenary of Indian National census. The back has a stamp saying “Certified from 99 Company – San Clemente, California”.
However I could not find any reference of the combination being released together. Further I was wondering why an US company is certifying an Indian coin. The entire stuff looked very attractive and I was not sure if this was genuine or an elaborate fake.
A search revealed that the coin indeed is from now defunct company by the name “99 Company” that was owned by John Baker from the period 1965 to 1979.
The company and idea gave shape when John Baker in March 1964 stood in line to purchase the new minted Kennedy Silver half Dollar. Then he did something strange. John drove to Northfield Ohio Post office glued 3 coins on 3 blank envelopes and stuck stamps partially on them and asked the clerk to post mark them. The clerk looked at him and politely refused. However John an apt salesman in his earlier career wouldn’t take NO for an answer. He went all the way up to Postmaster General’s Office in Washington D.C. and finally got the clerk to stamp them.
With this it was a proof that the coins were first day issue of Kennedy. A new idea was born which even John did not realize it them.
Sometime in 1965 he went to meet the editor of “Coin World” a leading publication on coins. “She said, 'John, you've discovered a whole new world of coin collecting that weds coins and stamps, the world's two largest collecting hobbies”
Stamp Collectors [Philatelists] had the First Day Covers that is promoted by post offices and identifies stamps that were first day release. However Coin Collectors [Numismatists] were not having any such mechanism to identify first day release of coins.
The editor of Coin World was impressed and ran a story. This lead to creation of PNC [Philatelic Numismatic Combinations]. John Baker created a company by the name “99 Company” and began selling the combination of coins and stamps together.
This created a whole new business and people were interested in buying such stuff. From 1965 to 1979 John Baker travelled the whole world the moment he came to know about a coin being released, often getting preferential treatment from quite a few governments. John had quite a few followers with around 2000 regular customer who would pay $15 a month to get the stuff which John sold. With time even a PNC Club was created and there was quite a strong buzz about this. Quite a few other companies were formed doing essentially the same thing but “99 Company” had a head start and that’s very important if you want to continue such type of business, History matters. Over a period of time, he also improvised and created new envelops that go with the theme of the country. For example the above cover has an Elephant that is more recognizable with India. He had other such envelopes designed like Leaves, Floral and other shapes. Together this looked like going a long way down into history. That’s when the downturn began.
In 1979 when John went to Israel, he flipped and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, spent several days in psychiatric hospital. All of a sudden the found of new idea was obliviated, his company was closed down, whatever coins he had were disposed off, leaving all his collectors high and dry
As for his PNCs - what's left of them with individuals – various coin experts say they're worth little."Guess what? Nobody wanted them," says David Lisot, a collectibles expert for the Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, speaking of PNCs in general”. They have a tradition, but they never caught on with serious collectors and did not become main stream.
Although there are quite a few of them trying to sell these coins, there is no dedicated site or information as to what was the entire collection list issued in 14 years, so except for few avid collectors who got these relatively cheap and have kept in album, there are no active trading happening.
With the above history, the question is should you buy it?
Well the coin itself, looks like 2 Coins there, the value of the Rs 10 “Food For All” is around Rs 3000 today so 2 coins should be worth Rs 6000. But remember that these coins are glued and one surface may be damaged. The stamp itself costs less than Rs 100 today.
My suggestion is for an ordinary collector stay away from it there are quite a few other coins where you can build your collection.
Will it catch on again?
Who knows John Baker was trying to revive his company in 2006, still hasn’t succeeded, but then all of a sudden there could be some craze and someone may want to buy these.
If you want to buy the coin, buy it because it’s a very nice design and pleasing. However if you are buying it to make big money, be careful.
The other PNC by 99 Company