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Chicago Coin Club
Volume 48 No. 3 March 2002

Minutes of the 997th Meeting

Speaker's Wor[l]d
Learning from Early U.S. Mint Reports

Presented by Paul Hybert to our February 13, 2002 meeting.

Many specialized books and journals are available to the collectors of the early US copper and silver coinage. Although these published works rely heavily upon such primary sources as internal Mint records now kept in government archives in Philadelphia and Washington, contemporary diaries and newspapers also provide many fascinating stories of how people viewed their circulating money. This program reviewed another source of mint information, the Mint reports of the first hundred years.

The format of the reports evolved over time; from a number of specialized reports issued during the year up to the four hundred plus page annual reports by the 1890s. At the risk of over simplification (and offending lawyers by ignoring the judicial branch of the US government), here is the structure of the US government: Congress (the Legislative branch) passes a law, and the President and cabinet (the Executive branch) implements the law. Many laws place some reporting requirement upon some government department, to report on either the ongoing operation of the department or some special circumstance that Congress wishes investigated.

The first report shown was a photocopy of Paramount International Coin Corporation's reprint of the 1796 mint report. The first three pages trace this report's original path:

Why would the Secretary of State be involved with a Mint report? Because the Mint was a part of that department originally (and the Coast Guard is part of the Treasury department).

The early reports contain some recurring topics; such as learning the business of running a Mint while fending off Congress' attempts at privatizing the Mint. The Mint officials were not stupid; they were running the Mint under policies created by Congress, and when a procedure was found to be awkward or inefficient the Mint would petition Congress to change that procedure. Consider this one example; the mint was to give to a depositor the gold and silver coins produced from that depositor's bullion, but the Mint also was to keep pieces for examination of the Assay Commission. This angered the depositors who did not receive the full coinage due to them.

An original of the sparse six-page report for 1816 was shown next. The recent completion of a brick building, the recent substitution of a steam-engine for horse-power, and the increased bullion deposits presaged good things in the future. It was better to look to to the future than dwell on a year in which the Mint had expenses of $18,242 and produced only $56,785.57 in silver and copper coins. (However, it must be remembered that the War of 1812 had recently concluded.)

As with everything, time takes its toll on an institution's memory. The original reports were published in small amounts for the country was still small; many original members of Congress (from 1789) were gone; and many copies of reports were lost. Some efforts were made to correct this. In 1813, Congress required the printing of its business papers; starting in 1817, this Serial Set continues today. In 1831, Congress decided to publish all of its old reports in a set of volumes known as American State Papers. Co-edited by Walter Lourie, Secretary of the Senate, and Matthew St. Clair of the House of Representatives, the resulting 38 volumes were printed by Gales and Seaton of Washington, from 1832 to 1861. Material was grouped by topic into ten Classes, with documents consecutively numbered within each volume. Documents directly related to the Mint can be found in the five volumes of Class 3 - Finance. Most of the original edition of 750 sets, with marbled boards and leather binding (and trim), was given to Congress for distribution back home. Although the original outside typically succumbed to the combination of heavy use and their large size (about 1000 pages in an 8½ by 13 inch volume), the pages usually are sound but may show some toning. The shown Volume 2 was still intact but a number of pages had leaf shaped stains; this poor volume had, at one time, been used to press tree leaves, and a few leaves were still there.

The next few reports, from the 1840s and 1850s, were all disbound from volumes of the Serial Set mentioned above. For example, the report for 1853 consisted of 18 pages, each 5½ by 9 inches in size, and was identified as "33rd Congress, 1st Session, Ex. Doc. No. 40, of the House of Repesentatives." (The Ex. Doc. No. abbreviates Executive Document Number; the documents were consecutively numbered within each session of Congress. Each "congress" would meet for two one-year sessions.)

Up through 1856, each annual report covered one calendar year, but starting with 1857, each report covered one government fiscal year. Fiscal year 1863 started on July 1, 1862 and ended on June 30, 1863. Although that made sense from a business standpoint, it could confuse the unwary collector, who collected coins by calendar year; the Mint the first spent half of FY 1863 minting coins dated 1862, and the the last half minting coins dated 1863. It would not be until late in the nineteenth century that the Mint would publish tables showing coin production by calendar years in addition to fiscal year.

Originally, many short reports were issued during the course of a year, often in response to a specific request from Congress. A typical requested report showed the fineness and weights of foreign gold and silver coins, along with their value in US money. Recall that certain foreign coins were legal tender in the US during the first half of the nineteenth century. Congress used these reports to determine which foreign coins were legal tender.

Although some collected reports from a given year are to be found, it was not until 1873 that the first of the large reports (more than one hundred pages) in black cloth covers would be produced. Within 15 years, 400-page reports would be the norm, filled with many types of information.

A number of reucurring themes appear in the reports of the first hundred years. It is fascinating to see how the increasing US domestic gold production impacted the Mint. Nearly a third of the two-page report for 1829 was spent reviewing it, from the first $11,000 of North Carolina gold received in 1804 up to the "remarkable increases" culminating in the $128,000 received in 1829. The resulting strains placed on the Mint would be repeated on a larger scale after 1848 with California gold the cause. (California gold would be coined into more than $200,000,000 by the end of 1853.)

The talk concluded with just two of the many interesting pieces to be found in the reports. First was a table from 1863, showing the number of old Large Cents annually returned to the mint starting in 1857 when the first small cents were minted (very sad for this EAC member). Second was about the San Francisco mint in the 1886 report; describing how, after seven years of service, the old carpet in the planchet adjusting room had been torn up, burned, and refined to produce about 172 ounces of gold and 44 ounces of silver.

A project to put the early Mint reports onto the web is still in its early stages, and is at Read and enjoy!

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. Sharon Blocker started the program by discussing one of her favorite topics, bi-metalic coins. Although a few such pieces were struck through the years, it was only within the last 20 years that the production of bi-metalic and even tri-metalic coins became common around the world. The pieces of different metals are made sparately, and it is the actual coin striking process which forces the parts together while transferring the design. A very striking design is on the 12-sided 25 kuna piece from Croatia. Dated 2000, the baby-in-womb design signifies the rebirth of the country.
  2. Ancient coins of the Parthians and Sakas were brought by Bob Weinstein:
  3. Carl Wolf brought in a variety of items.
  4. Eight coins featuring the "grandmother of Europe" were brought by Steve Huber. When queen Victoria died in 1901 at 81 years of age, she was, through her nine children and many grandchildren, related to most of Europe's crowned heads of state. The coins shown were: Steve then admitted to having problems making good pictures of coins with a digital camera, and would like to share ideas and discuss the matter with other photographers.
  5. Mark Wieclaw showed some ancient and modern items.
  6. At a recent local auction, Mike Metras found himself on the sideline while US coins were selling for high, not reasonable price. And then there were two pieces of fractional currency.
  7. During his 2000 trip to Syria, Bob Leonard visited a collector in Aleppo. Bob was given this gold coin, weighing 3.814 grams, and was asked to identify it. The curator of Islamic coins at the British Museum could not identify it, but Michael Bates of ANS identified it. Described in detail by a contemporary writer, it was minted in Damascus for a few years starting in 530 AH. Originally produced of seven eighths pure gold and one eighth silver and copper, the ANS has only a fake, a gold plated copper piece.
  8. Bill Swoger showed a variety of medals.
  9. Bob Feiler started by telling of his enjoyable trip to Paul Bosco's shop while in New York recently. He then continued his exhibiting theme of objects made from coins:
  10. Last month, Don Dool showed the first pieces in his South American scripophily collection. He started this month by showing the fifth piece in that collection, a certificate for 20 pesos gold dated 1 July 1899 at Montevideo. One of 1000 issued for Mineria Uruguay, it has four revenue stamps on back. He then showed some medieval copper pieces:

1000th Meeting Announcement

On April 6, 2002 the Chicago Coin Club will celebrate its 1000th meeting! This is a milestone few clubs achieve and we're planning to celebrate it in grand style!

The celebration will be held in conjunction with the Chicago International Coin Fair, April 5-7, Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL and various memorabilia are planned. The following medals will be issued to honor the occasion:

We'll hold a 1 PM meeting with Steve Album as the featured speaker who will speak on The Development of Islamic Coinage, 650 - 1250 AD. In keeping with tradition, the Club will present everyone who attends a handout dealing with primitive money. This year it will be the story of Gold Dust Money and it will include a few flakes of genuine gold!

The activities will culminate that evening at a banquet held in the hotel. A fabulous menu is planned and the featured speaker will be Dr. Ute Wartenberg, Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society, New York. She will speak on Owls to Athens - The Dollar of the Ancient World. Banquet tickets are sold on a reservation basis and are available at $45. A cash bar will open at 6 PM, and the banquest will start at 7 PM. The menu is a choice of Grilled Herb Marinated Salmon, or Citrus Marinated Grilled Breast of Chicken; please make checks payable to "Chicago Coin Club" and mail them, along with your menu choice, to the club's P.O. Box listed below. Please don't wait until April 6th to buy a ticket - it may be too late. Check out our Web site for latest updates. Each guest will receive a special parking pass with a reduced rate of $6, instead of $11, good at the hotel parking lot.

A souvenir program is also planned that we feel collectors will keep for years to come. Everyone at the banquet will receive one and copies will be mailed to the Club members who couldn't attend. They'll also be made available to every new member for years to come. It will include an updated history of the Club, the descriptive list of medals issued with photos, a roster of the Past-Presidents, Medal of Merit Recipients and the Club's Constitution and By-Laws.

Our 998th Meeting

Date:March 2, 2002
Time:1:00 PM
Location:8th Annual Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX) at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont. Admission to the meeting is free, but admission to the show is $5.
Fred Schwan - New Discoveries in Military Payment Certificates
Originally published in 1980, Fred Schwan's Comprehensive Catalog of Military Payment Certificates just had its fourth edition released. So many new discoveries have been uncovered that it includes 108 additional pages over the third edition. Join us as Schwan will reveal new research and tell stories of these new findings. He is also donating three copies of his new book to be used as door prizes.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Chicago Coin Club will present everyone in attendance with a souvenir card dealing with Chicago numismatic history. This year the National Bank Notes of the First National Bank of Chicago will be covered.

Our 999th Meeting

Date:March 13, 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 have a photo-ID.
Sharon Blocker - I've Been Working on the Railroad
Although her railroad collection started about 20 years ago with paper items such as postcards, books, and other exonumia, the collecting bug bit again when Sharon encoutered railroad themed world currency at a currency show. She has since started a collection of world currency and coins with railroads on them. Sharon will take you around the globe and show you her examples of railroadania. The title "I've been working on the railroad", means that this is still a work in progress.

Important Dates

March 1-3 8th Annual Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX) at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont. Admission is $5.
March 2 998th CCC Meeting - 1pm at the Chicago Paper Money Exposition, which is held at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL. No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured Speaker - Fred Schwan on New Discoveries in Military Payment Certificates.
March 13 999th CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker Sharon Blocker on I've Been Working on the Railroad
March 16 Windy City Chip Show (Gaming chips and tokens) at the Elmhurst Holiday Inn, I-290 at York Road. Open from 9am until 4pm; 10-15 chip dealers expected. Admission is $5. For more information, contact Joel Reznick at 847-971-7764.
April 5-7 27th Annual Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont. Admission is $5.
Our April meeting will consist of two sessions on the same day: an afternoon session and an evening (banquet) session.
April 6 1000th CCC Meeting (session #1) - 1pm at the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF), which is held at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured Speaker - Steve Album on The Development of Islamic Coinage, 650 - 1250 AD.
April 6 1000th CCC Meeting (session #2) - Banquet meeting at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. Reservations ($45 per person) required.
Featured Speaker - Dr. Ute Wartenberg, Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society, on Owls to Athens - The Dollar of the Ancient World.
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

April 1 Charles J. Ryant, Jr.
April 12 Mark Wieclaw 1991
April 15 Robert D. Leonard, Jr. 1983
April 15 Charles Menard 1995
April 18 Nancy Walsh 1997
April 27 Don Valenziano 1982

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