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Chicago Coin Club
Volume 48 No. 6 June 2002

Minutes of the 1001th Meeting

The 1001st meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order on May 8, 2002 at 7:02PM by President Carl Wolf. The meeting was held at 1 Bank One Plaza.

A motion was made, seconded and passed to approve the March and April meeting minutes as they appeared in the Chatter.

Secretary/Treasurer Lyle Daly gave a treasury report as follows:

Dreyfus Money Market $1845.22
Bank One CD 1408.09
Bank One CD 1437.59
TCF Checking Account 1529.00
Un-deposited Funds 338.00
TOTAL $6,558.06

Vice President Bob Feiler introduced our featured speaker Bruno Rzepka, and his topic The Art of Steel Engravings.

Bruno Rzepka started collecting at age 13 when his father gave him a purse full of coins ranging from Indian cents to silver dollars. As a child, he was given gold coins by his godparents for communion, graduation, and various holidays. Groans were heard from the membership when we were advised that his mother dutifully turned in the gold when Franklin Roosevelt took the U.S off the gold standard.

During WWII, Bruno was in the U.S. Navy in Vega Venturas in the Aleutians. Later as Crew Chief and Captain, he flew a B-24 Liberator and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 5 air medals. Bruno, like many of his fellow veterans of WWII collected paper money while overseas in a "short snorter". His included the signatures of Jack Benny and Carol Landis.

After the war, he served an apprenticeship as tool and die maker. He eventually became a tool inspector. He worked for Signode Corporation in Glenview for 22 years and took early retirement at age 60. Also after the war, Bruno resumed collecting. He began to complete sets of coins. He met Glenn Smedley around 1962. Glenn became his mentor. About this time he bought his first printing error and met Jim Grebinger. He collaborated with Jim on the error section of Donlon's book on small size currency. 75% of the notes shown in that book belonged in Bruno's collection. In all, Bruno accumulated over 1400 error notes, among them a double denomination ($5.00 front mated with $10.00 back). Bruno met Tom Hipschen, portrait engraver at the Bureau of Engraving, in 1992 at the Stamp Expo in Rosemont. Tom was good enough to provide a listing of engravings that he was involved with. Bruno bought 75 first day covers. Tom was good enough to autograph them all.

Bruno is the past President of the Tree Towns Coin Club (Elmhurst), the Oak Park Coin Club, and charter member of the Morton Grove Coin Club. He is also a member of the Chicago Coin Club, Itasca Coin Club, and Hillside Coin Club. He is a 40 year member of the ANA, and belongs to the Souvenir Card Collector Society, and the Society of Paper Money Collectors. Before Bruno could begin his talk, the membership asked him to display his service medals. In appreciation for his contribution to our nation, he received a round of applause. Bruno began his talk by explaining how a steel engraving was carved out of a piece of annealed steel which is relatively soft. Each line must be individually carved with a burin, or engraving tool. After the "curls" of steel are removed, the sharp surfaces of the steel plate are removed with a wet stone. At intervals of completion, the artist will take a series of proofs to test the plate and map his progress. If an error is made before the plate is one third complete, the plate is typically destroyed. If the plate is more than a third complete, the artisan will drill out a portion of the back of the plate and "bump out" the site of the mistake and re-engrave the plate with the additional metal that was forced to the surface.

Bruno noted that the recent engravings will not have serial numbers while the older ones do. Earlier engravings tended to be small. There are three types or areas of specialization for engravers: plate, number and scroll work designs.

Bruno had the good fortune to correspond with Tom Hipschen, Chief Engraver at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Mr. Hipschen engraved numerous presidential portraits.

Bruno presented engravings from his collection which included Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln. He had portrait engravings of numerous Civil War Generals and one of Cadet Stonewall Jackson. Bruno concluded his talk with the display of an 1875 engraving of the Declaration of Independence. This was the same vignette used on the back of the series 1976 $2 dollar.

Vice President Bob Feiler thanked Bruno for his presentation and awarded the featured speakers medal and the educational certificate to him. Bruno was originally scheduled to speak on September 12, 2001. The speaker's medal carried both dates.

Two guests were present: Andrius Plioplys and Steve Norton.

Second Vice President Don Dool announced there were 12 show & tell presenters:

Reading of Applications for Membership: A first reading for membership was made for Steve Norton who was present.

The following candidates for membership had their names read for a second time: Thomas J. Pupp, Fidencio Parevez, Jeffery Amelse, Dale Noble, Doug Scrimager, David Tsujimoto, Dennis Coughlin, Paul Johnson, Katie DiCosta and Andrius Plioplys. A motion was made, seconded and passed to approve their membership.

Old Business:

President Carl Wolf advised the club that Steve Album extended his apologies for the absence of his slides at the afternoon presentation of the 1000th meeting. Family illness prevented him from preparing that portion of his talk. A club member commented and the members agreed that that no apology was necessary. His talk was appreciated.

Mark Wieclaw presented to the club archives, the silver 1000th meeting medal #1, the "gold select" medal #100 and the lead trial strike. A round of applause was given to Mark and all the committee members for their outstanding effort.

Bill Burd announced that the CCC has received a commemorative medal and program from the New York Numismatic Club from their 1000th meeting. The CCC thanks the NYNC. These materials will be forwarded to the archives.

A motion was made, seconded and passed to print an additional 100 program booklets for new members at a cost of $247.82.

Carl Wolf announced that the "Gold Dust Currency" was nominated for a creative award by the mill that made the paper.

Mark Wieclaw announced that a drawing for a gold elongated coin was overlooked at the 1000th meeting. A drawing was made from the sign in registry and Dave Simpson won. CONGRADULATIONS DAVE!

Mark Wieclaw presented lead strikes of the Medal commemorating the 1000th meeting to Bill Burd and Sharon and Kevin Blocker as the committee chairman's gift to the committee members. (Bill, Sharon & Kevin were not able to attend the wrap up meeting.)

President Carl Wolf announced that Lyle Daly and Steve Zitowsky will develop a summary financial report on the 1000th meeting.

New Business:

Carl Wolf announced that he would call a Board of Directors meeting in the near future to discuss the contents of the Archives, Safe Deposit Box and new banquet sites.

Robert Leonard reported on possible topics for the 2003 CICF giveaway which included "Baghdad Bread" money and "Salt & Pepper" money.

Lyle Daly reported that all paid members will be receiving their 2002 membership card with their Chatter. A reminder letter to those who have not paid will be sent in June.

Deed of Gift documents were received by the ANA for the 1000th meeting medal and will be completed and returned.

Life membership fee was received by the club for Michael Brodsky. The application was referred to the life membership committee.

John Connolly noted that the State auction of the contents of the abandoned safe deposit boxes brought prices well over gray sheet and suggested attendance would not be beneficial.

President Carl Wolf noted that John Connolly was the only member who remembered a camera for our 1000th meeting and offered a round of applause for John.

Finally Mark Wieclaw noted to membership the unwavering determination and support that President Carl Wolf gave to the 1000th meeting planning and implementation effort. Mr. Wolf was totally involved in all aspects of the event. Carl received a well deserved round of applause.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:43 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Lyle Daly

Speaker's Wor[l]d
The Art of Steel Engravings

Presented by Bruno Rzepka to our May 8, 2002 meeting.

To better share his appreciation of steel engraving with us, Bruno brought a large box of items. Jeff Rosinia was kept busy operating the camera, allowing us to see the items on the large screen television.

Among the highlights of his long involvement in paper money were his collaborating with Jim Grebinger on the error section of Donlon's book on small size currency (where 75% of the pictured notes were from Bruno's collection), and when Aubrey Bebee signed his pictured error note in Donlon's book.

Having been encouraged to bring them, Bruno then was prompted from the audience to show his WW II Navy medals: an Air Medal with 4 stars, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Getting back to the main topic, he showed the first steel engraving of the evening, one he had acquired two years ago in Scotland. It was dated 1765.

Although most people think of steel as a hard metal, it can be softened by a heat treatment; Bruno likened the result as comparable to cold butter. Shallow cuttings then can be made in the steel with a graver, a tool with a small V-shaped point. After a few cuts, the plate is wiped with a whetstone to remove the burrs resulting from the cuts; the burrs are sharp enoughto cut a finger. After part of the design is entered, a spider press is used to print the plate (resulting in a proof) to verify the current image. Bruno showed some prints with some details complete and with others only lightly sketched in, showing the interactive nature of creating a plate.

Even when softened, a steel plate is not conducive to the fixing of mistakes. If an error is made before much of the design is entered, the entire plate might be scrapped. For plates with much work already done, Bruno explained how an error typically is corrected. First, a hole is drilled from the rear of the plate, but not all the way through. Next, a hammer and chissel are used from the rear to push metal back up to the surface, where finally it is wiped with a whetstone to smooth it.

Why go through all this effort? Bruno showed examples produced by steel plates and woodcuts, to convince us that the extra effort is worth it.

Having explained the main aspects of plate production, Bruno proceded to discuss the use of plates by printers. A large bond with many vignettes might be run through a press many times, using one vignette on each pass. The frame, scrollwork, and other design elements might each be added on their own pass. This allowed for re-use of elements on later items. However, current US paper money is produced from plates which are two steps removed from the original hand-engraved components, so that multiple images of complete bills are found on the current intaglio printing plate. To help explain prodution of current US money, Bruno distributed copies of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing's The Money Factory flyer.

The engravers are a good source of information, and Bruno spent some time on the biographies of of Thomas R. Hipschen and Tom Spiewak, and showed Spiewak's engraved business card identifying him as a plate engraver for the BEP. The souvenir printings from various shows give us the opportunity to meet these skilled people and discuss their work.

Bruno met Tom Hipschen at the Ameripex '86 show; Tom had engraved about half of the presidents on the presidential stamp set, and Tom graciously signed all of the sheets that Bruno had bought. But not all government employees are as open with collectors, as when Bruno described how, years ago, he had torn up and thrown away a letter from the Treasury Department stating, "We do not make mistakes," in response to some questions from Bruno.

Eagles and Lincoln are Bruno's favorite subjects, and he showed prints of those as well as various Civil War figures. Although many engravings are known of Lincoln, Bruno knows of only one without a beard, and that is in a book. But, he continues the search.

It seemed as if every piece had an interesting story behind its acquisition. Bruno showed a large railroad bond, printed by the Franklin Banknote Company, with everything steel engraved, even the lettering and the coupons. He had acquired it at a flea market from a dealer with 8 of them, priced at three for $1; but the dealer would sell him only three bonds!

At a flea market in San Jose, $28 bought a group of prints of individual Civil War officers, such as Beauregard, Ronbeau, and others. Bruno later sold the Robert E. Lee print for $50 to someone who already had an autographed letter of Lee.

A Virginia City, California antique shop had a framed engraving in the window, and a note, "Call this number to open the store." Bruno called, and $22.50 bought an 1875 engraved print of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, at least 4 by 7 inches in size. Tom Hipschen estimated it would take about one and a half years to engrave the scene (the same scene appears on the back of the US $2 bill). Bruno later was offered $125 for just the frame and glass (bubbles in the glass indicate it to be contemporary with the print).

There was more, but you get the idea that a good time was had by all.

Show and Tell

Each image has a scale in the lower-left corner, with the tics spaced 1 mm apart. Because the brightness and contrast were manipulated on a computer, the coloring of a coin's image differs from the coin's actual coloring.

  1. Bob Feiler started us off with pieces acquired at some shows:
  2. Recently acquired error coins were shown by Reid Geisler.
  3. Mike Metras showed a range of items:
  4. A purchase at a Jamaica Airport gave Sharon Blocker a pleasant surprise, when her expected change of $11.50 was paid as $11, but with a $20 bimetallic piece instead of the expected half dollar. She also showed
  5. Carl Wolf showed a White Heart trade bead from Venice, 17-19th centuries, and explained that one should not buy trade beads for much money as there is no proof of originality. Much of the current information on trade beads comes from bead collectors, but they do not care too much about their numismatic usage.
    The White Heart bead also is known as the New Hudson's Bay bead, since it was used after the beads with a green center that Carl had shown at an earlier meeting.
  6. Early coinage of Hispaniola was discussed by Bob Leonard who started with the settlement of La Isabela, founded in 1494 by Christopher Columbus and abondoned in 1497 when Santo Domingo was founded on the southern coast.
  7. Bob Weinstein showed no ancient coins, but still covered a wide range:
  8. Railroad related financial instruments were shown by Richard Hamilton.
  9. Andy Piopolus showed two silver bars, cast from the 12th to the 14th centuries in Lithuania. After pointing out the chissel marks that appear on some, he noted that the Russian word for chopping is ruble, and kopeck is based on the Lithuanian word for chopping. These pieces were used for marriage prices and murder fines in lieu of the death sentence. Andy concluded by showing a counterfeit piece.
  10. Ancient coins were showed by Mark Wieclaw who concluded with a more recent piece.
  11. Bruno Rzepka showed a November 16, 1965 letter from Dr. Davenport, who was responding to questions regarding three German Thalers. His reply contained some information, but he also apologized in that he knew more about the large thalers.
  12. Four acquisitions from CICF were shown by Don Dool.

More Notes from the 1000th Meeting

Dinner Toast

As President of the American Numismatic Association, I raise my glass on behalf of the ANA's 30,000 members to congratulate the Chicago Coin Club on its 1,000th meeting.

May we honor those who came before us, and extend our best wishes to those who follow.

Good health, happiness, and numismatics.

Congratulatory Address

Thank you. Esteemed dignitaries, members and guests; as a member of the Chicago Coin Club, and President of the American Numismatic Association, I am honored to be here today.

Nearly 111 years ago in Chicago, the American Numismatic Association was born, and, with its founding, numismatics began to reach out to the hearts and minds of coin collectors everywhere.

An early member of the ANA once described the organization as a "federation of local clubs and societies."

The Chicago Coin Club has been and remains today a pillar of strength in the ANA's federation of clubs, and, as such, key to the continued success of numismatics.

In recognition of all the support and assistance performed by this organization to the benefit of the numismatic hobby, it is my pleasure and honor to present the Chicago Coin Club, with a small token of gratitude, on behalf of the members of the American Numismatic Association, and extend their heart felt congratulations in celebration of your 1,000th meeting. Thank You.

John Wilson, President, ANA

More Final Thoughts on the 1000th Meeting

Thank you for sending a copy of the Chicago Coin Club 1000th Meeting souvenir program. The document itself is a living testament to the essential qualities required to be a distinguished and prestigious numismatic organization. The timbers upon which the club's foundation was built many years ago had set the high standards which continue to this day. I read names like Ripstra, Mehl, Boosel, Smedley, Hewitt, Sheldon, Eglit, Flower, Slabaugh; a list of "super stars" to be sure. Several of whom emboss my own collecting interests. Oh yes! I know there are many more including the many prominent members of today who are carrying on the tradition. Their contributions have not gone unnoticed.

Though not a member of the Chicago Coin Club, I have always felt its presence going back to when I first started collecting in 1964. It was back then and remains today ... the club to belong to! I have several medallic issues from the CCC and "Perspectives In Numismatics" maintains a prominent place in my library. I wouldn't sell or trade any of them.

As the founding father of the Oak Forest Numismatic Society, my aim was to create a club which would some day be as good as the Chicago Coin Club. That is quite a goal for any coin club. For you have set the standards by which all are judged. This year we are celebrating our 25th anniversary and our 300th meeting in September. You have been our model all the way.

I will make sure the souvenir program is passed around at our next meeting on May 3rd. I want the members to see and feel the pride that radiates from within its pages, the communion of members and numismatics, and the rich numismatic history of the Chicago Coin Club. It's all there between the covers.

In closing, I convey to you on behalf of the Oak Forest Numismatic Society, congratulations on your 1000th meeting; Chicago's best, the mid-west's best, America's best ... the Chicago Coin Club.

Howard W. Ribbentrop, President, OFNS

Our 1002nd Meeting

Date:June 12, 2002
Time:7:00 PM
Location:Downtown Chicago
Please remember the security measures at our meeting building: give a club officer the names of all your guests prior to the meeting day; and everyone must show their photo-ID at the security desk.
Featured speaker:Mark Wieclaw - An Almost Complete Perspective on Numismatics
Different people bring different goals and perspectives to our hobby. Join us as a past president of our club looks at the hobby from his views as a collector, coin dealer, club officer, and a show organizer.

Important Dates

June 12 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker Mark Wieclaw on An Almost Complete Perspective on Numismatics
June 28-30 21st Annual MidAmerica Coin Expo at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 North River Road, Rosemont. Admission is $5.

Birthday and Year Joined

July 4 Chester Poderski
July 12 Flemming Lyngbeck Hansen 2000
July 13 Gerard Anaszewicz 1981
July 19 Terry L. Capps 1996
July 19 John R. Connolly 1997
July 19 Richard S. Hamilton 1986
July 20 Kermit W. Wasmer 1997
July 27 David Simpson 1980

Chatter Matter

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

P.O. Box 2301

Visit Our Web Site

Contacting Your Editor

Paul Hybert

Club Officers

Carl Wolf- President
Robert Feiler- First Vice President
Donald Dool- Second Vice President
Directors:Lyle Daly
William Burd
Jeff Rosinia
Mark Wieclaw
Other positions held are:
Lyle Daly- Secretary Treasurer
Paul Hybert- Chatter Editor
Phil Carrigan- Archivist