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Chicago Coin Club
Volume 46 No. 5 May 2000

Editor's Notes

My notes about digital cameras last month convinced me to purchase a nice digital camera. Come to the May meeting, and see what results from ten days of self-study with an owner's manual. Color pictures will be taken of the coins brought in for show-and-tell, and they will appear in the web edition of the Chatter. Some of the images will be used in the printed Chatter edition to fill out the pages.

Paul Hybert, editor

Minutes of the 975th Meeting

The 975th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order at 1:10 PM, Saturday, April 8, 2000, by president Carl Wolf at the Ramada O'Hare during the Chicago International coin Fair. This meeting was in 2 sessions with the second session to be held April 12, 2000, at Bank One Plaza. Carl spoke briefly about the current CICF giveaway as well as future souvenir sheets.

First VP Steve Zitowsky then introduced our featured speaker for the afternoon, David L. Vagi who spoke on New Perspectives on Ancient Roman Coins. David showed the family tree of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, and presented a slide show of coins depicting members of the families of the 12 Caesars. After a brief question and answer period, Steve presented the ANA educational Award and the CCC Featured Speaker Award to Mr. Vagi.

Carl presented the other officers of the CCC to the audience as contact people for questions about the Chicago coin Club such as becoming members and past and future activities. Special guests were introduced; Cliff Mischler, Bill Bright, John Wilson, and Kermit Wasmer.

At that point Kermit Wasmer made the presentation of the ANA Presidential Award to Mark Wieclaw for all of his efforts as speaker and leader in furthering numismatics. Members and audience gave Mark a round of applause.

There was a first reading for membership in the CCC for Satya Bhupatiraju, Mike Schmidt, and Russell Wajda.

Bob Leonard spoke briefly about the current CICF souvenir sheet which he wrote. Carl made the usual presentation of the souvenir sheets with #1 going to the club archives, #2 going to the featured speaker, #3 going to the author. At that point the first session was recessed and the souvenir sheets were distributed to all in attendance. Meeting dispersed at 2:45 PM.

The second session of the 975th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order at 7:00 PM April 12, 2000, br president Carl Wolf at Mank One Plaza. The featured speaker for the evening was member Don Dool who spoke on X-Ray Analysis as Applied to the Composition of Coins. At the conclusion of his talk, Don was presented with the Featured Speaker medal and the ANA Educational Certificate.

Exhibitors for the evening were as follows:

  1. Mark Wieclaw - modern commemorative U.S. dollar, ancient Persian coins, Passion Play porcelain piece, Parthian drachm, 3 barbarous Roman denarii;
  2. Carl Wolf - Republic of Hawaii gold certificates;
  3. Bob Weinstein - silver German coins dated 1475, 1493 schilling;
  4. Don Dool - Argentine medals;
  5. Bill Bierly - Seated Liberty coins;
  6. Drew Michyeta - 4 reales Ecuador silver coin dated 1843;
  7. Bob Leonard - overstruck Byzantine bronze coins;
  8. Mike Metras - series of Spanish coins with different mint marks;
  9. Reid Geisler - Maryland state quarter, Jefferson Nickel overstruck on a Lincoln Cent;
  10. Bob Feiler - 17-jewel Ladies watch encased in a gold-coin-like case, a hand-painted scene on the reverse of a Peruvian coin.

march minutes and Treasurer's report were approved. There were no guests and no applications to be considered.

Under old business, sales at CICF were as follows: (24) CICF souvenir sheets, (2)Potter Palmer CPMX sheets, (1)Fraser 80th Anniversary plaquette, (2)Barkcloth handouts, (1)Axe Head handout, (2)Cloth handouts, and (1)Clamshell handout.

Consideration was given to members not current with dues and members voted to drop them with one member opposing.

Kermit Wasmer will receive vote from CCC as governor of CSNS.

Carl Wolf accepted as Life Member.

Mark Wieclaw will donate the cost of the Life Membership badges.

Meeting adjourned 9:00 pm.

Respectfully Submitted,

Richard Hamilton

Speaker's Wor[l]d
New Perspectives on Ancient Roman Coins

Author and dealer David Vagi addressed the session of the April meeting held in conjunction with the Chicago International Coin Fair, on April 8, 2000. Having recently written the two-volume Coinage and History of the Roman Empire, David showed us some of the new ideas regarding the coins of the 12 Caesars and that era. New perspectives emerge not only from archaeological discoveries, but also from the critical reexamination of existing knowledge.

David started this talk where he had left off a few years ago during his previous talk to us at CICF; with Brutus, one of the murderers of Julius Caesar. That talk was well-received owing to his lively presentation tieing together the usual and unusual historical facts along with some pithy comments regarding some tidbits of scandalous gossip. The audience this time was treated to his first pithy comment soon after David displayed the dynastic tree of the Julio-Claudians, where intra-family murder was more common than intra-family marriage.

Many collectors of Roman coinage search for coins that can be tied to a particular person (usually of the royal household). A coin might honor that person, be issued by that person, or might show that person without an explicit identification being given. One of the more popular and rarer Roman coins is the EID MAR denarius bearing a bust of Brutus and his name (BRUT). That coin is expensive due, in part, to the small number available. The next slide showed a coin with a very similar bust, struck in 41 B.C., but with the name of the moneyer Lucius Servius Rufus. David mentioned that the bust is generally (about 95%) accepted to be that of Brutus, and this coin is more available and less expensive than an EID MAR denarius.

The coins from the provinces showed a wider range of people than were shown on coins from Rome. Mention was made of a provincial coin bearing the bust of Augustus' librarian.

Actual women were sometimes pictured and named on coins, but sometimes there would be only an allegorical legend. Livia, the wife of Augustus, appeared on many provincial coins but on few Imperial coins. It is accepted that the bust appearing on a bronze dupondius bearing the legend SALVS (health) AVGVSTA is of Livia, but the other two dupondii with the same reverse style are thought now to honor others. The dupondius with the legend PIETAS (piety) is conjectured to honor Livilla, the wife of Drusus whose name appears in the reverse inscription. The dupondius with the legend IVSTITIA (justice) could honor either Antonia or Agrippina Senior, because this coin could have honored the justice meted out by the execution of the alleged murderer of Germanicus; Antonia was his mother and Agrippina Senior was his wife.

The hypocrisy in the above use of the legends piety and justice was brought out when it was mentioned that the father of Livilla's twin boys was rumored by many to be the Praetorian Prefect Sejanus, who would later be considered to be the true instigator of Germanicus' murder (but only after Sejanus had Drusus murdered and Sejanus' plot to take over the empire became well-known). That first slide showing the Julio-Claudian family tree was needed by the audience to keep everything straight.

David mentioned a few other Julio-Claudian people who are hard to find on coins before discussing the family of Vespasian, the start of the Flavian line. The difficulty here is with Vespasian's wife and daughter, both named Domitilla, and both dead before Vespasian became emperor; so their issues are memorials. Some sources give all coins to Domitilla the Senior, while some give it all to Domitilla the Younger. David explained which coins he believes honor which woman.

David answered a few questions from the floor, and then remained available for questions after the meeting broke up.

Speaker's Wor[l]d
X-Ray Analysis as Applied to the Composition of Coins

The following talk was presented to the club by Don Dool on April 12, 2000.

To begin with this is not going to be a highly technical talk on Electron Microscopy or X-Ray Analysis. While I will include a brief technical rundown of how it works I will focus mainly on why and how I became involved in the subject, test results of a selection of coins and what conclusions, if any, can be drawn.

As most of you know I have a collection of AD dated copper and bronze coins and occasionally I let a brass one in. Billon is out even though it is mostly copper. I consider a billon coin to be a government issued counterfeit and as such I prefer contemporary counterfeits. For this reason, over time I had acquired among other things several coins that are supposed to be silver but look to be copper.

About a year ago I made contact via an ebay auction with a numismatist named Tom Pesacreta. Tom had a coin listed that neither of us had any reference material for and I questioned him about the metallic composition. As luck would have it he is a biologist at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and is in charge of a laboratory with an electron microscope. He ran tests on the coin and found it to be copper. Unfortunately I neglected to place a bid on the coin and missed out on it. I had told Tom about various coins in my possession that were apparently off metal and he offered to analyze them. Tom mentioned that another way that people frequently use the scanning electron microscope for counterfeit detection is to examine devices for characteristic features. He also said that ancient coin researchers use the x-ray analysis for analyzing the elemental content of coins to determine which mines the ore was taken from. I assume this is also for the purpose of detecting counterfeits.

Now before looking at the coins and the test results a few thousand words on the equipment and how it works.

The equipment used is a JEOL, 6300FV field emission scanning electron microscope (SEM). Field emission is a non-destructive analysis method as opposed to the technique of x-ray diffraction. That is a technique very commonly used to analyze solid materials, but it is usually done with powders and is a destructive technique. The two functions of the SEM utilized here are imaging and elemental analysis.

Tom provided me with this elementary explanation of what happens within the subject coin. The x-rays are generated by so-called primary electrons that are focused on the sample by the electron microscope. These primary electrons are very fast moving and as a consequence, have high energy levels.

When a primary electron enters the sample several events can occur but we will pay attention to only two of them. The first event that can occur is that a very small amount of the energy of the primary electron can be transferred to a outer orbital electron in an atom. This causes the outer orbital electron to leave its orbit and it can then be used for imaging the sample.

The second event that can occur, and this is what enables the elemental analysis, is that the primary electron can come so close to an atom that it transfers a relatively large portion of its energy to the atom. In this case an inner orbital electron must be ejected from its orbit in order to let the atom return to its low-energy equilibrium state. The ejection of the inner orbital electron creates a temporary hole in that orbital and a high energy outer electron falls down into it. As it falls it releases a specific level of energy which is defined by the energy difference between the two orbitals. This specific energy difference is what you see displayed on the spectrum. The greater the initial difference between the two orbital, the higher the energy of the released x-ray. [The energy is on the horizontal axis of the following graph, and is expressed in units of kilo-electron-Volts. The atomic symbol for each element is printed next to its corresponding peak. Note that the symbol for copper (Cu) appears twice; some elements repeat at higher energy levels, but that part of the graph was removed to simplify the image. - editor]

As you can probably imagine, because of the specific differences in the number of electrons and protons in each element, each element has a complex but characteristic x-ray energy signature and a sophisticated computer program can be designed that can help the operator decide which elements are present.

Actually it is more complex, there are up to 4 shells of orbiting electrons in each atom and the electrons can jump from shell to shell.

Now let's move on to the coins and their test results. The coins that were tested were:

  1. Courland 1576 schilling. This coin is listed as billon and although it looks to be only copper it is definitely a billon coin. Composed of copper and silver (plus some carbon that probably is organic dirt).
  2. Sweden 1592 1/2 Ore. This is listed in Hobson (44) as a silver coin but Eklund says that legal copper coins were not struck until 1624 and that in 1573 and 1591 the 2 ores were silver plated and issued as silver. Undoubtedly the dirtiest coin in the lot! Is made of copper but has lots of garbage on it like calcium, iron, chloride, sulfur, phosphorous, silicon, aluminum and carbon. There might be a tiny amount of silver buried in the spectrum, but I can't say that for certain.
  3. Livonia, 1650 solidus, KM2-silver. #w470 - Tests silver and copper; ie billon. Some chloride and carbon grunge.
  4. Thorn, 1666 solidus, KM 46 is silver. Calling this billon is stretching even that definition, but there is some silver amidst the sea of copper.
  5. Brandenburg, 1701 6 Pfenning, Schon 6; brass (i.e. mostly copper plus a little zinc).
  6. Feiburg Im Briesgau, 1732 2 Kreuzer, KM 100-silver; brass, barely.
  7. Wiener Neustad, 1475, silver; this was compared with a silver coin dated 1490 provided by Bob Weinstein. The test revealed copper, carbon, very minute trace of silver.
  8. Cambrai, 1581. brass - analyzed six or seven locations on the coin and they all had copper, a little zinc, and lots of sulfur. The sulfur peak was almost as high as the main copper peak! I analyzed the worn areas, the depressed areas that had little evidence of wear, and they all showed a strong sulfur peak. As a control a modern brass slab was analyzed and it had zero sulfur. Because this coin has evidence of substantial corrosion on it, the sulfur could have been in an acidic (swamp or clay) soil and formed a compound with the copper over a few hundred years. A very small gouge was made on the back using a sharp stainless steel point. This allowed analyzation of the subsurface elemental composition of the coin and it was determined that no sulfur is present there, in the original metal.

In addition to the above X-Ray analysis, an electron microscope also produces images. Here is the top half of the 5 digit on the piece from Cambrai. Note the second top flag and small part of a vertical stem.

Hard to find a conclusion. The coins are from completely different time periods, locations, and were acquired from three different dealers. No common denominators. My reasoning to a "conclusion" has been along the following lines.

For there have never to have been any silver on all of the coins does not seem valid if they are contemporary counterfeits and if they are not, what are they? Patterns, very unlikely. Or maybe modern counterfeits; but for the value of the coins, hardly worth the trouble. So I have to start with the premise that either they were silvered or the counterfeiters were able to pass copper coins, maybe, but again unlikely in all three cases. But if they were silvered to begin with, then why no silver now?

Since silver did show up on the billon coins, it is safe to rule out any possibility of faulty equipment or technique. Was the silver deliberately removed by some cleaning process? Again unlikely and why would anyone do that anyway?

So maybe the coins were silvered and because of the method of applying the silver it did not bond to the surface of the coin and wore or rubbed off easily. I would also assume that the amount of silver applied was as minute as possible. Now it is possible and maybe even probable that the same scenario does not apply to all three coins and there is no way to know for certain but I think that my hypothesis is the most reasonable.

Show and Tell

  1. Mark Wieclaw started the session with a U.S. commemmorative dollar, honoring the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. It was purchased out of a junk silver group due to its poor condition. How poor? It was no longer round, and it was so beat up that it was hard to identify it initially.

    A more serious piece was a porcelain medal from 1930 of Oberammergau honoring that year's Passion Play. Less than 200 were made.

    From the Roman empire era, he showed three barbarous denarii. The pictured emperors were Marcus Aurelius, Nerva, and Trajan, with the reverse of the latter showing that it had been plated; making that piece a fouree barbarous.

    Concluding his presentation were pieces from the ancient middle-east. From Persia, a silver (billon) piece of Kamdescire VI, with a pretty good reverse of Herakles that looked coppery; and a silvery piece acquired at CICF. Last was a Parthian drachm of Vologases VI, with a facing portrait that still had a full nose; solid strike and negligible wear.

  2. Before Hawaii became a U.S. Territory, it was a monarchy and then a republic. Effective January 1, 1905, the early paper money was no longer valid. Virtually all of the original gold certificates were redeemed, but the some of the designs are available on souvenir sheets. Carl Wolf showed three 1989 uniface souvenir notes made from the original plates from the American Bank Note Company
    center vignette $ show quantity
    Lealani Palace 5 FUN 5,000
    sugar plantation 10 International Paper Money Show 5,000
    sugar refinery 20 ANA Pittsburgh 3,000
    Although the central vignettes were of Hawaiian topics, the other vignettes appeared to be generic stock vignettes.

  3. Robert Weinstein showed some acquisitions from CICF:

  4. Don Dool showed medals relating to Argentina. They honored:

  5. The motto In God We Trust was added to U.S. silver coins in 1866. Four pieces without that motto are known (one quarter dollar, one half dollar, and two dollars) and the two fractionals were recently recovered, after having been stolen from Willis DuPont years ago. Although these are at best patterns, Bill Bierly told us that Taxay and Breen consider them struck as a favor for Robert Bolton Davis who ran a pharmacy near the Philadelphia mint. Judd, in his book on patterns, list these as transitional; but these are more regressional.

    The true transitional pieces were the patterns struck in 1865 with the motto. Bill then showed us specimens of those pattern quarters and halves, each struck in silver and copper.

  6. Drew Michyeta was next, with a four reale coin from Ecuador. This 1843-dated piece refers to Ecuador's constitution in the legend, and Drew made a case for considering this as an early constitutional commemorative coin.

  7. In the late Byzantine Empire and Crusader Antioch, it was common for the bronze coins to be called in; demonetized; re-struck and then issued. Bob Leonard showed two separate instances of this with two sets of coins.

    The first set consisted of coins of the Byzantine emperor Alexis I, issued 1081-1092, with an image of Christ on one side and the other side bearing either a "cross on crescent" or a "Virgin and beaded border" motif. He then showed a beaded border piece with the cross-on-crescent undertype visible.

    The second series was issued by Tancred, Prince of Antioch from 1104 to 1112.

  8. Mike Metras showed a group of Spanish Colonial coins and identified the characteristic mint mark on each:

  9. Reid Geisler started off by showing one of the new Maryland quarters, then showed a group of U.S. error coins:

  10. The last exhibitor for the evening was Bob Feiler with what appeared to be a thick token or medal which was made to appear from a distance similar to a U.S. ten dollar liberty type gold piece. The look alike actually was a Gold filled Locket with a hidden catch which contained a Swiss 17 jewel ladies watch which ran perfectly. It was estimated that it was made in the 1930s or 1940s.

    His other piece was a one peso Silver coin from Chile, with a hand painted landscape showing indigenous natives sitting around a hut, with Llamas, and dogs. The background featured a large mountain, and llamas. This U.S. quarter-sized piece appeared to have had the reverse planed or sanded smooth before the miniaturist painted the scene. The artist signed the work at the bottom center DAJUREAYD. Bob said that examination under a microscope shows minute brush strokes making it appear that only a single bristle was used to achieve the remarkable amount of detail shown in the scene.

Minutes of Board Meeting, April 26, 2000

The Board of Directors of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order by President Carl Wolf at 6:20 P.M. at the Hickory Pit Restaurant, 2801 S. Halsted. The following members were present: Steve Zitowsky, Robert Feiler, Mark Wieclaw, Paul Hybert and Michael Metras. Robert Leonard and William Burd were also present at the request of the President.

Following a discussion on printing the Club's Constitution, it was decided that a brief history of the Club should also be included and 150 copies printed. Carl Wolf volunteered to get printing prices and Paul Hybert took on the responsibility of updating the electronic version of the Constitution.

Carl Wolf announced that Channel 50 WPWR has contacted the Club. They're considering shooting a coin collecting episode for their program UP'N RUNNING and wanted to know if we have knowledgeable people who could be interviewed on this subject. Carl contacted the Associate Producer by telephone, volunteered our services and also explained the concerns members have with security, especially having their names and or faces appear on television. She thought it could be worked around and would get back to Carl.

It was announced that Robert Weinstein had begun film editing on the video project.

A long discussion was held on the subject of conducting an all day seminar with the 2001 Mid-American Coin Show sponsored by Krause Publications and held in conjunction with the International Collectibles Exposition, scheduled for June, 2001 at the Rosemont Convention Center. Bob Leonard spoke of his ideas and concepts. The resulting roundtable discussion showed no consensus favoring an all day seminar with in-depth talks held prior to the show or a series of general talks held the day(s) of the show. Bob Leonard was appointed to be the Club's point person on the project. He'll be contacting Krause Publications to get more information on their goals and plans.

Under the subject of general Club publicity, Paul Hybert received the support of everyone to post Club meeting notices on other reputable Web sites and mailing lists. The subject of having someone specifically in charge of writing publicity reports was discussed and several names were brought up. It was announced that Paul has a digital camera and intends to use it at upcoming meetings.

Carl pointed out that when Chicago area television and radio stations have questions concerning coins or coin collecting, their only available resource are coin dealers from the telephone book. He was authorized to compose a letter volunteering the services and knowledge of the Club's members. Mark Wieclaw volunteered to get a list of stations in the metropolitan area.

A motion was unanimously supported to donate a copy of the Club's Postage Stamp Money article to the American Numismatic Association, the American Numismatic Society, the Chicago Historical Society, the National Postal Museum and David Sundman of Littleton Coin Company for providing invaluable information.

The last subjects discussed were potential subjects and speakers for the December banquet and the possibility of having the board meeting's agenda e-mailed to the Board in advance.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,
Carl Wolf

Our 976th Meeting

Date:May 10, 2000
Time:7:00 PM
Location:Bank One Plaza Building (formerly the First National Bank Building) 18th Floor, on Dearborn between Madison and Monroe. Enter the building at the South entrance of the Dearborn side, sign in at the security desk and take the elevator to the 18th floor.
Featured speaker:Robert Feiler - Odd Denomination Notes and Scrip from the United States
Join us as Bob talks about a full range of odd denomination items from a $3 bill to ...

Important Dates

May4-7 61st Anniversary Convention of Central States Numismatic Society at the Minneapolis Convention Center
May10 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Robert Feiler on Odd Denomination Notes and Scrip from the United States.
Jun14 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Bob Weinstein on Coinage of the Saka.
Saka was the name by which the Scythians refer to themselves. These were a nomadic people who are first mentioned in history in the 8th Century BC as raiders and plunderers of Greece, Persia, Egypt, and Assyria. They were held together by a common language and culture that reached from Eastern Europe to the borders of China. Within numismatics perhaps the most commonly known Scythian subgroup was the Parthians. Join Mr. Weinstein as he shares with members examples of the diverse coinage from these people (300 BC - 300 AD) and gives an update on the latest research in Indo-Scythian numismatics.
Jun23-25 19th Annual Mid America Coin Exposition at the Rosemont O'Hare Expo Center. Admission is $3.
Jul12 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Kevin Dailey with The Numismatic `Jeopardy' Game.
Aug9 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Cliff Priest on Chicagoland Stock Certificates.

Birthday and Year Joined

June1Russ Reaves1995
June7Harlan J. Berk1995
June11Joseph A. Piekarczyk1991
June12Rosalind Ryant1977
June27James Simek1973

Chatter Matter

All correspondence pertaining to Club matters should be addressed to the Secretary and mailed to:

P.O. Box 2301

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Contacting Your Editor

Paul Hybert
3301 S. Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60616

Club Officers

Carl Wolf- President
Steven Zitowsky- First Vice President
Robert Feiler- Second Vice President
Directors:Paul Hybert
Mike Metras
Jeff Rosinia
Mark Wieclaw
Other positions held are:
Richard Hamilton- Secretary Treasurer
Paul Hybert- Chatter Editor
Phil Carrigan- Archivist