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Chicago Coin Club
Volume 48 No. 9 September 2002

Minutes of the 1004th Meeting

President Carl Wolf called the 1004th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club to order on August 14, 2002 at 7:04PM. The meeting was held at 1 Bank One Plaza.

A motion was made seconded and approved to accept the June and July meeting minutes as they appear in the Chatter.

Secretary/Treasurer Lyle Daly did not give a treasury report but advised the members that there was no activity in the accounts since last month.

President Carl Wolf announced that member John Ross passed away and asked the membership to stand for a moment of silence.

There were no guests present.

First Vice President Robert Feiler introduced club member Alex Basok. Alex attended Medical school in Leningrad and came to the United States in 1976. He has been involved in numismatics in the US and employed by Rarcoa and Harlan Berk. He now owns his own coin dealership. The title of his talk is Steps of the Investigative Numismatist.

Alex cited several examples of numismatic sleuthing. He discussed coins that were pierced and attributed as "Gypsy" coins (coins used in jewelry). Jewelry pieces are typically drilled. Examination of the coins indicated that they were pierced with a hot wire element and wire fragments remained in some of the specimens, an indication of piercing being an intentional accounting procedure.

Robert Feiler thanked Alex for his presentation and awarded the featured speakers medal & and the educational certificate to him.

Second Vice President Don Dool announced there were 10 show & tell presenters:

Reading of Applications for Membership:
There was a second reading for membership. William Riles had his name read. A motion was made seconded and approved to accept William as a member of the Chicago Coin Club.

Old Business:
Robert Leonard presented to the club the ANA 90 Year Membership Certificate which he received on behalf of the club at the New York convention. Robert advised the club that the Rochester Numismatic Society also received their 90-year membership certificate which was accepted by Charles Ricard, their most senior member and a member of the CCC.

New Business:
President Carl Wolf noted that the ILNA show is September 6-8. He also advised members that Chet Poderski is under the weather and that the club wishes him well.

Secretary Lyle Daly noted that the club received a letter form Thailand offering an 1804 dollar for $1,000,000. The coin pictured was an obvious fake.

Robert Feiler proposed investigating an alternative location for the year end banquet. Lyle Daly agreed to assist in that investigation

The meeting was adjourned at 9:01 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Lyle Daly

Speaker's Wor[l]d
Steps of the Investigative Numismatist

Presented by Alex Basok to our August 14, 2002 meeting.

Why do people collect coins? Alex believes we should not spend much time analyzing our motivations; just do it if it gives you pleasure. The hunt is part of the attraction - for a cheap one, a fascinating piece, completion of a set - some people are interested in who might have held the coin.

But it is the analysis of the actual coins that keeps Alex's attention, and offers such a wide opportunity to gain knowledge. Starting from the fact that most things on a coin are put there intentionally, and everything has a meaning, we can see that varieties are important - their study leads somewhere.

As his major case study for the evening, Alex recounted his experiences with some gold coins in the name of the Russian emperor Alexander II. Although the size of Austrian 4 ducats, the emperor's titles are wrong and there are errors in the heraldry. Long ago, Willy Fuchs had attributed them to a mint in Jugoslavia, and that conclusion was widely accepted and repeated; but to Alex the pieces did not "look right" for a product of Jugoslavia.

Fuchs was a knowledgeable collector of Eastern European coinage, and had many high-level government contacts in the Soviet Union; as a German officer captured early in World War II, he ended up working in a factory in the Urals where he met a number of future Soviet leaders. To demonstrate the strength of Willy's contacts, Alex told the story, possibly annecdotal, of how Willy had mentioned in passing that he was looking for a few specific (rare) pieces; soon thereafter, a courier arrived bearing the pieces! That brought an envious laugh from the audience, and someone jokingly asked if the coins were original or "command restrikes;" producing another laugh from our members. But not from Alex; he stated that is a valid concern when dealing with secretive bureaucrats (a theme that would be revisited later in the talk).

Why was the Jugoslavian attribution accepted for so long? The look of the coins made it plausible, and no one had seriously studied the pieces. Virtually all pieces come holed, so assuming they were used on bracelets and calling them Gypsy pieces seemed reasonable. But Alex noted that on all pieces holes were pierced and never drilled, and that use in jewelry would leave distinctive wear marks around the hole - marks lacking on most pieces.

Over time, Alex accumulated 41 distinct types of these pieces, but not all types were of Alexander II; Austrian and Bulgarian rulers also were found. The more he studied them the more they called out "Bulgarian" to him. So he gathered his findings, had some excellent color photographs taken, and produced a book on the subject!

So what did he conclude about the pieces? An emergency coinage produced by private manufacturers before World War I. The holes are an artifact of handling these pieces of widely varying weight; he described how other coinages of varying weights would be tied together in bundles of a standard weight, with extra heavy and light pieces used to adjust the gross weight of each bundle.

Sometimes tools are needed to answer a question. Once for a conference, Alex had the task of labelling a group of coins as genuine or not. He made a composite image from five of the coins, and showed a virtually flawless obverse with large pearls around the border. The smaller pearls (of a different number) observed on the reverse proved that the dies for each side were made with the use of two different sets of tools. Digital cameras and photo editing programs for personal computers are powerful tools for numismatists.

One of Alex's current research efforts lies in the die varieties of Soviet coins; some varieties are very rare. The 3 kopeck coins are known to be struck with the dies intended for 20 kopek issue and vise versa. Both denominations had dies of the same diameter. Each metal has its own unique shape to the ribbons around the wreath.

Alex concluded by encouraging us to really look at our coins. When all original printed records are destroyed, the coins remain and have much to tell those who listen. There are many things we can learn from the devices on coins; from hairstyle and clothing aspects from Roman coins, to Alex's work on Bulgarian coins. In response to a question from the audience, Alex commented on the Bulgarian gold pieces on the market; they look perfect, so are they restrikes? Alex said no, and believes they came from Swiss bankers who had loaned money to Bulgaria against their gold reserves. The loans went bad and the collateral was turned over, but the coins' numismatic value was greater than their gold value. So to avoid embarassment or worse, the Bulgarian politicians claim that the coins are recent restrikes with no extra numismatic value. But after comparing the quality of the gold pieces to the quality of the Sofia mint production made for circulation in the 1990s, Alex called such claims "laughable," and reminded us that it is better to examine coins than to listen to bureaucrats.

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 recently started collecting Notgeld, and she showed a 25 pfennig piece picturing a train station (one of Sharon's collecting interests is trains). Then she showed other pieces bought because they struck her fancy - the artwork, details, and topics. She is just starting in this area, and is open to advice.
  2. Steve Huber gave us a pop quiz, to identify U.S. silver dollars. We knew the Morgan, Eisenhower, and Peace dollars, but then came the interesting pieces: We could not identify even one; let's blame it on the glare from the proof surfaces.
  3. Bob Feiler showed mostly paper money:
  4. Bob Weinstein showed coins of the European Scythians, from the western edge of the Black Sea. Greek cities in that area issued coins in the name of Scythian kings, in tribute to keep them at bay. Among the recurring major design elements were the "Gemini" twins, conjoined busts of Demeter and Persephone, head of Zeus, and horse heads. Most pieces had one or more countermarks, and the subject of the countermark would not be on the coin already.
  5. Mark Wieclaw brought iteresting items recently sold to the shop:
  6. Mike Metras used coin pictures printed on various color printers to show current printing quality. But since the print quality can be no better than the original acquired image, Mike had pictures of the same coin taken with different equipment. The high-end camera was used while he was at the ANA summer seminar, and has a resolution of 5400 dots per inch (dpi), and requires three minutes for a complete exposure; that camera scans rows at a time, unlike all lower resolution digital cameras which capture a full frame at a time.
  7. Bob Leonard started by showing items brought back from the recent ANA convention: a plastic bag of souvenirs, and an NLG Award for his article in The Numismatist. Then came three Venetian coins revalidated for use on Cyprus under Venice, two of which he had showed us previously: a gold coin with an X to revalue it to 10 bezants, and a silver 8 solidi piece with an X to revalue it to 10 solidi. In addition to an X to revalue it, Bob's new coin had four additional equally spaced countermarks near the edge to deter clipping.
  8. Carl Wolf showed a dubil, a Nigerian iron bar used as money from the 16th to 20th centuries. Locales and smelters produced specific shapes unique to only them, and each was called by its own name. Most were rough bars about one foot in length with no distinguishing marks.
  9. Andy Plioplys showed an example of the first Lithuanian coin from about 1350. Made out of silver bars, with a cross and spearhead on the obverse, only three of the 17 known pieces are in private hands. The reverse has a cyrillic legend. The smaller 2 dinar pieces are more common.
  10. Don Dool showed some copper coins with monograms, a new collecting area for him. Although some Danish and Russian pieces are known, most are from German states. Here are copper coins issued by three of the seven sons of Ernst I the Pious of Saxe-Gotha.

John G. Ross
1917 - 2002

John G. Ross passed away of congestive heart failure on August 4th in the DeKalb home of his son. He became member 605 at the January 1954 meeting of the Chicago Coin Club.

Ross started dealing in stamps while growing up in Germany. He felt a sense of adventure when we worked with the tiny colored lithographs and it was his job to properly mount all the stamps before putting them on sale at his father's tobacco shop.

Ross was Jewish and was threatened and oppressed when the Nazis came to power. He tried without success to receive a visa. Finally, in 1938 he wrote another stamp collector, Tom Jeffrey, in Hastings, England. Although Jeffrey was a stranger to him, Jeffrey sponsored Ross' visa to Great Britain. By selling stamps in England, Ross was able to save enough money to join his parents in Chicago in 1940.

Within a few years Ross set up a stamp and coin shop at State and Madison Streets where he remained for forty-years. He became an internationally known expert in stamp collecting and moved in a wide circle of dealers in Europe, Australia and Asia. For many years he wrote a weekly column for Linn's Stamp News, informing collectors on where stamp prices were headed and notices of newly issued stamps. From 1969 through the mid-1980s, Ross also wrote a stamp column for the Chicago Tribune.

When Doris, his wife of forty-years, passed away in 1985, Ross moved his stamp and coin business to 55 W. Monroe Street in downtown Chicago. As always, he was at work two days before his death. That Friday he spent the morning with his stamps before closing in the early afternoon to spend the weekend in DeKalb with his family.

Many considered Ross the dean of the Chicago stamp and coin business. He was quoted many times saying that stamps saved his life and he was repaying the debt by devoting himself to collecting, selling and promoting rare stamps.

Mr. Ross is survived by his son Neil, a daughter, Lisa, four grandchildren and a sister, Hilde Freeman. Services were held at The Piser Chapel, 5206 N. Broadway, Chicago and interment was at Rosehill Cemetery.

2002 ANA Anniversary Convention Reports

Phil Carrigan reports:
New York City offers something beyond the customary ANA in whatever city these conventions are ordinarily held. This ANA seemed to be average or a bit less as to numismatic enrichment but very good as to what The Big Apple offered.

I believe the ANA official auction conducted by Superior didn't reach the magnitude or quality of the pre-ANA sale conducted by Heritage or Bowers. Because of the logistics of NYC with less bourse floor space, there were fewer dealers spread over the two floors in the Marriott rather than the usual one-floor city of dealers seen in a convention hall setting. The numismatic theater presentations and competitive exhibits were up to the standard for these conventions. One interesting case at the Stack's table held a group of fantastic US half dollars from the David Queller Collection. These coins will be auctioned in October and include a beautiful proof 1839 New Orleans half, a high grade 1892 micro O Barber half and several great Bust halves.

Along with coins, my wife Mary Clare and I had wonderful food. great sight-seeing and saw an enjoyable play ("The Producers").

Tom DeLorey reports:

The ANA convention was odd because it was on three floors. The public had go to the 7th floor to register, and from there could either go in to the exhibits on 7 (where they were on a balcony that wrapped around three sides of the main ballroom on 6), or go down one floor to the ballroom which was the main bourse room. The rest of the bourse was immediately below on several conjoined meeting rooms on 5.

For the first time since 1975 I did not attend the entire ANA convention, as the PNG show was on 5 and all of our stuff had to be moved up to 6 after the PNG show, which I could not help with. By the time I got there on Thursday the 1933 $20 had already sold for $7,590,000, which helped to generate tremendous local publicity for the show. Everybody was talking about it, and it would have been great if it had been on display at the show. Partly because of it, a lot of non-collectors came out with coins to be appraised. Unfortunately, very few of them actually sold anything.

Real collector interest was good. We had people with want lists such as 1914-D cents and 1932-D quarters. Overall, it was probably the best retail volume we have done at an ANA for several years. Official registration was about 12,000 people, way down from the official record for a NY ANA show of 24,900 set in 1976, but they did spend money.

The food in the hotel was OK, but vastly overpriced. The coffee in the bourse room snack bar was horrible, but cheap. There may be a lesson there.

Bob Leonard reports:
Though attendence at the New York ANA convention was less than in previous years (below Atanta, and less than 60% of Philadelphia in 2000), the bourse seemed to be crowded and humming while I was there. There was no big draw like the Ship of Gold or 1913 Liberty Head nickel this year, which may have depressed attendence. It was on two floors, which gave rise to many complaints; it always seemed that, no matter what floor you were on, the dealer you wanted to see was on the other floor.

The ANS table was always busy. Now that they have linked up with David Brown Book Co., they offered many numismatic books from other publishers, at discount prices. The ANS is in the process of revising their bylaws and constitution, in the hope that this will attract new donors. I have been working on this on the ANS Advisory Committee since December, and a meeting of the committee was held at the convention. We were also invited to a special meeting of the full ANS Council, at which the proposed changes were discussed. Despite initial sharp disagreements, it appears that a compromise was reached that is acceptable to all parties. This will be drafted and presented to ANS members this fall. The ANS also had a breakfast Friday morning. The move downtown is still delayed, due to poor coordination and the terrorist attack.

At the Ambassador Breakfast, Cliff Mishler spoke at length on the sale of Krause Publications. This appears to be very beneficial to the employees in the ESOP, who are cashing out at a good price and diversifying. However, Chet feels so badly about it that he skipped the convention (he has not had any ownership in Krause for about 10 years). Mishler was philosophical. He does not think it will have any impact at all on Krause's programs.

The Franklin Mint is another story. For decades they donated the top writing award to the Token and Medal Society, though it became cheaper and cheaper as the years went by. This year TAMS was suddenly stiffed; Cindy Grellman seemed to think that the Franklin Mint had gone out of business (they did not have a table this year, though in 2000 and 2001 they gave silver medals to every banquet attendee), but I'm not sure what happened. I was appointed Second Vice President of TAMS, and presented the Ben and Sylvia Odesser Award for Excellence in Judaic Numismatics at the TAMS banquet.

The NLG bash had its ups and downs, as usual. One of my jokes got a laugh, and I won the award for Best Article in a nonprofit numismatic publication.

Some of the exhibits were outstanding, but the area was small and rather poorly lighted.

I spoke at the Numismatic Theatre, which was poorly set up by the Marriott, on "New Discoveries in California Pioneer Fractional Gold." Not many attended, and I had difficulty with my slides. However, I gave essentially the same program the following day, to a different audience (except for one person), at the meeting of the Society of Private and Pioneer Numismatics, and it went much better. I attended another Numismatic Theatre program, "Somers' Island Hogge Money," which was outstanding.

Bob Hendershot celebrated his 104th birthday at the convention, with the whole convention invited. Of course, it was the same time as my second talk!

There was much discussion about the sale of the 1933 double eagle the day before the convention opened. I didn't attend the auction, but many did. Donald Partrick surmised that the mystery buyer is a Hollywood type or in construction, and he may know.

At the banquet, I accepted the ANA award for 90 years of membership on behalf of the Chicago Coin Club. Sitting next to me at an award recipients table was CCC member and past president Charles Ricard, who did likewise for the Rochester Coin Club.

Next year the convention will be in Baltimore, in a less-expensive area and with far better facilities. Those who attend club meetings but have not gone to ANA conventions should strongly consider it. An ANA convention is like a Chicago Coin Club Meeting, only orders of magnitude better. You can find out anything you want to know there, from the top experts in their specialties. And, you also get to buy books and coins!

Our 1005th Meeting

Date:September 11, 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:Dr. James McCormick, Laboratory Director at Swedish Covenant Hospital, - Microscopic Images of Coins and Paper Money Produced by J.B. Dancer

During the Victorian era, microscopic slides were produced as a curiosity to satisfy the demand for miniature subjects which were very popular at the time. Dr. McCormick's collection of slides include many which feature early large size U.S. Bank Notes as well as coins; his presentation will feature selections from his collection.

Dr. McCormick has had a long interest in early microscopists. He has a very significant private collection of very early microscopes and a unique assortment of topical slide mounted subjects. He has co-authored a coffee table book on the life and achievements of J.B. Dancer who was one of the most distinguished producers of slide mounts in the 1800s.

Meeting agenda:The contents of the Club's lock box will be at the meeting. It's been reviewed and it will be recommended to put the duplicate and non-club material up for auction.

Important Dates

September 11 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker Dr. James McCormick on Microscopic Images of Coins and Paper Money Produced by J.B. Dancer
October 9 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker to be announced
November 13 CCC Meeting - Club Auction - no featured speaker

Birthday and Year Joined

September 1 Fred K. White 1991
September 2 John Wilson 1984
September 7 James M. McMenamin 1975
September 18 Michael M. Dolnick 1952
September 18 Gregory Gajda 1999
September 19 Russell F. Wajda 2000
September 21 Kerry K. Wetterstrom 1999
September 24 Michael A. Pesha 1979
September 25 Saul Needleman 1992
September 26 Dennis P. Ciechna 1999
September 27 Edward Stevens 1996
September 29 Gordon R. Donnell 1999

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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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