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Chicago Coin Club
Volume 50 No. 2 February 2004

--Urgent and Important--
New Meeting Space

For the last few years, the club has been fortunate in being able to meet in a beautiful room with excellent visual equipment, all at no charge. Unfortunately, the bank will need all of its meeting rooms for some in-house training programs, for at least the first half of 2004.

The club is looking for another downtown meeting place, but our space, budget, and late meeting time limit our options. Harlan Berk has offered us his upstairs space for our February 11 meeting; use the building entrance at 77 West Washington, and go to Suite 1320.

Speaker's Wor[l]d
Crusader Gold Coins, 1096 to 1450 AD

Presented by Robert D. Leonard, Jr. to our January 14, 2004 meeting.

The First Crusade was called by Pope Urban II in 1095, at the request of the Byzantine Emperor for the purpose of protecting Christian pilgrims. It started the following year with four states soon formed in the Levant: Kingdom of Jerusalem, Principality of Antioch, County of Tripoli (in modern Lebanon, not to be confused with the Tripoli in modern Libya), and the County of Edessa. The size of these states fluctuated over time, with a new crusade typically called following some major loss. Some of these states issued their own coins.

Edessa had been the first state created, and it was the first to be lost. Its loss resulted in the Second Crusade, but it never was recovered. The total victory by Saladin in 1187 resulted in the Third Crusade which recovered much territory. However, not everything was made as before; the restored Kingdom of Jerusalem did not include the city of Jerusalem, and the island of Cyprus became a Crusader state at this time. Richard the Lionhearted of Britain, Phillip II of France, and Frederick Barbarossa set out on this crusade, but Barbarossa drowned enroute.

The Fourth Crusade started in 1204 but never arrived in the Holy Land. It had started in Venice, but the forces captured Constantinople from the Byzantines who were in the middle of a civil war. The Byzantine emperor could not deliver on promises made to the crusaders, so the crusaders established the "Latin Empire" in the areas they soon controlled. Meanwhile, eastern Anatolia remained under Byzantine rule as the kingdom of Nicea, which recovered Constantinople in 1271.

The Crusader states hugged the eastern Mediterranean shoreline; Frederick II negotiated the return of Jerusalem, but the Crusader territory did not extend much farther. After the eastern coast was lost for the last time in 1291, Crusader states remained on Cyprus, the Greek mainland, and some islands off the cost of Anatolia. But those enclaves would fall over time.

The coinage of the Crusader era had simple denominations: only one silver coin (called a penny or denier) was used in western Middle Age Europe, while two gold coins (dinar and quarter dinar) were used in the Middle East. Evidence, in the form of silver coins from all over western Europe, indicates that the crusaders came from a wide geographic area. They used the coins they brought with them, but they were not adverse to using the gold coins of the Middle East; the first locally produced Crusader coins closely matched the dinar in appearance, but the design and purity changed over time.

Bob demonstrated this with four coins used in the Kingdom of Jerusalem:

Bob then used four coins from the County of Tripoli to demonstrate a parallel evolution:

Muslim influence also is found in the issuance of cut gold goins. Because the one denomination of Muslim gold coins had guaranteed fineness, they passed by weight; change was made by cutting pieces. The crusaders made special coins for cutting up; they had designs unique to this coinage, and Latin inscriptions to simplify identification.

The early pieces were pie-shaped, but later coins were rectangular (maybe a rounded edge) and were cut into rectangular shapes. It appears a number of designs were used, but they are hard to reconstruct; a hoard in the ANS allowed some reconstruction work. These coins were not issued whole; they were issued already cut into pieces! Bob knows of no parallel coinage.

The talk concluded with a demonstration of Crusader coins imitating Byzantine coins:

The originals and imitations have been extensively studied, especially the bead count on the king's figure. Although the beads were long thought to be the distinguishing feature between original and imitation, the nimbus was recently identified as the key distinguishing feature.

Crusader coins were primarily a working coinage, and to be successful in that purpose, they had to be readily identifiable and accepted by the locals. Even when items from the Crusader's religion finally were incorporated in the coin designs, the overall design still retained much of the local flavor as on the earlier coinage.

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. Before showing his usual piece of primitive money, Carl Wolf showed another recent high-value commercial token; a token worth "$100 + 2%" in the form of a black stone disk. The imprint was laser engraved then gold filled, and was produced by an award company that specializes in cultured stone awards.
    Carl's latest framed display is an Iron Currency Bar used in the Benue Valley of Nigeria from the 16th to 20th centuries. Produced from native smelted iron, each locale and smelter produced a specific and unique shape and each had its own name. Most had a rough appearance, were about one foot in length but had no distinguishing marks.
    During the early period, bride-price negotiations required iron currency bars and the price often exceeded 100. In the 16th century, male slaves held a value of 13 bars and 10 bars purchased a female slave. Iron provided an excellent way for Nigerians to store their wealth because they could always smelt and beat it into agricultural implements, weapons and body ornaments. The difficulty in transporting the bars caused their value to increase the farther they traveled from the smelter.
  2. John Connolly showed a selection of seven Columbian half dollars; one showed doubling on the letters and date on the reverse. Most were uncirculated or showed just a trace of wear, which led to some comments on eye appeal and purchase price.
  3. Sharon Blocker reported her first numismatic find in an antique store, a 1990 Central States Convention Badge.
    Then she showed a Canadian 2003 five-coin hologram set. The holograms are etched on the reverse, and the obverse has a "line" matte finish. All coins are pure silver, with the smallest assigned a face value of one dollar.
  4. Bob Weinstein showed some recently acquired ancient coins:
  5. Don Dool showed some recent acquisitions:
  6. In early December, Cliff Mischler went to California and visited five clubs. A club in Stockton prints its newsletter on recycled U.S. currency, and Cliff was given a ream of that paper. A goody bag from another club contained a ruler made from recycled plastic and paper money. He closed with a Chicago item, a pencil from the Chicago Title company made with just regular recycled paper.
  7. Mark Wieclaw continued some past exhibiting themes:
  8. Chuck Jacobs showed military medals.
  9. Bill Burd brought an item from the recent Kolbe literature auction, I.G. Mazzini's Imperial Russian Coins from 1967. Only 500 copies of this five volume work were produced, and Dennis Kroh gives it five stars in Ancient Coin Reference reviews. Its 537 plates show 1,261 gold coins and 1,641 large bronzes.
  10. Bob Feiler showed two coins he had submitted to the Numismatic Conservation Service: The charge for cleaning each coin was $15, and Bob is satisfied with the results. He showed their 10-page pamphlet, which never explicitly mentions cleaning.

Club Business
Board Meeting

The club's board met on January 21, and two items will be discussed at a future regular club meeting:

  1. The board recommends that beginning in 2005 club dues be increased from $10.00 to $15.00 and that Life Membership dues be increased from $300.00 to $375.00.
  2. The board recommends that at future banquets or off site meetings, Speakers (invited or club members) and a guest, should receive a free dinner paid for by the club treasury not by increasing the cost of the dinner to attendees.

Committee Report
85th Anniversary Meeting

The club's 85th Anniversary Banquet will be held at the Holiday Inn, North River Road, Rosemont, IL on Saturday May 1st; in conjunction with the Chicago International Coin Fair. Some aspects have been finalized while others still need some attention.

Price is set at a break even of $39 per person, and the Holiday Inn will provide vouchers to park for $6 instead of $10. We hope for 45 to 50 people. The appetizers will be donated by Chicago Coin Company, and the plan is for an open Cash bar

300 invitations will be printed. A separate slip can be inserted into each invitation with the name of the speaker and subject when known. We will supply a sufficient quantity of invitations to Kevin Foley and ask him to mail them to the CICF dealers. Carl Wolf will locate a speaker.

The give away to attendees will be an encased postage stamp, with 85 to be produced. Sharon Blocker will do the write up. Bob Feiler will make the brass encasements and supply the Mylar for windows. Steve Zitowski will supply the special stamp for the encasement with the Athenian Owl design similar to that used for our 1000th meeting medals. Several people volunteered to help put the postage encasements together, and Bill Burd offered the use of his shop for the assembly of the encasements. Mark Wieclaw will take care of the printing cost. The committee agreed to use a Mylar flip and have a small folded booklet type of insert with a brief explanation of encased postage and an abbreviated story of the Chicago Coin Club.

Our 1022nd Meeting

Date:February 11, 2004 First session
Time:7:00 PM
Location:Downtown Chicago
In a meeting room provided by Harlan Berk; at 77 W. Washington St., Suite 1320.
Featured speaker:Mark Wieclaw - The Silver Drachms of Parthia

The ancient Kingdom of Parthia covered lands of what is today western Turkey, much of Syria and all of Iraq and Iran. The Parthian Kings issued coinage from the 2nd century B.C. through the 3rd century A.D. Mark Wieclaw has collected this series of ancient coins since 1981 and will cover the story of Parthian imperial portraits that imitated Roman coinage and how the reverse types are consistent with the Greek Seleucids who they displaced.

Date:February 28, 2004 Second session
Time:1:00 PM
Location:at the Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX), which is held at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured speaker:Allen Mincho - Illinois National Bank Notes

Important Dates

Our February meeting will consist of two sessions: we will end the first session with a recess (instead of an adjournment), and we will reconvene for the second session at the CPMX.
February 11 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Mark Wieclaw on The Silver Drachms of Parthia
February 27-29 10th Annual Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX) at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont. Admission is $5.
February 28 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 - Allen Mincho on Illinois National Bank Notes
March 10 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - John Connelly on $1.00 U.S. Coins from Eisenhower to Sacagawea
April 14 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Andy Plioplys on The Early Coinage of Lithuania, 1100 - 1400 AD
April 30-May 2 29th Annual Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) at the Holiday Inn O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont. Admission is $5.
May 1 CCC Meeting - 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 - Richard Giedroyc on Numismatic Issues from the House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein

Birthday and Year Joined

March 7 Bruno Rzepka 1968
March 14 Donald R. Srbeny 1987
March 16 Michael Brodsky 1991
March 16 Joseph T. Tomasko 1984
March 19 Charles Ricard 1963
March 20 Sidney Bick 1953
March 25 David B. Silberman 1971
March 29 Nancy Wilson 1984
March 31 Andrew E. Michyeta III 1984

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 R. Hybert

Club Officers

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