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Chicago Coin Club
Volume 50 No. 7 July 2004

Member Update

It saddens me to report that our fellow Chicago Coin Club member Dennis Fuller is very ill with inoperable lung cancer. I received a phone call last evening from Sue Ackerman (his ex-wife) who said that Dennis asked that I please relate the sad news to all of his coin club friends. I then spoke with Dennis and he asked that I please say hello to everyone at the club. He wanted to know about our most recent speakers and the topics that were discussed.

Dennis is presently at the Evergreen Nursing Home, 10124 S. Kedzie, Evergreen Park. He will be there until the end of June at which time he will be moving in with his ex-wife. Presumably he will receive hospice services there. Sue Ackerman said that she knows Dennis would really appreciate cards or notes from his coin club friends. For his current mailing address, contact Carl Wolf

Bob Feiler

Editor's Notes

Errors. I make them, and everyone can see them. The June print issue of the Chatter contained an error. The answer provided at the end of the Show & Tell section should have been 3.6, not 4.6.

Although the error is there in print for everyone to see, the online version at the club's web site can be and is corrected whenever we are notified of an error, no matter its size. Correctness of information on the web is important; due to both the wide availability of the information as well as its permanence. Although a small error might be identified as such by a knowledgeable reader, a larger error could easily lead astray someone not familiar with us.

Paul Hybert, editor

--Urgent and Important--
New Meeting Location
Effective July 14, 2004

Bob Greenstein from Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. just told us that a newly remodeled conference room opened up in their building and is available at no cost to the Chicago Coin Club! He saw the room and said it consists of one large conference table with 14 chairs plus 12 more chairs around the walls. Bob also volunteers the use of their audio visual equipment.

The new location is the same as the one we've been meeting at for some months, 77 West Washington, but the Room is 420A. This is the only difference.

Carl Wolf

Speaker's Wor[l]d
U.S. Pattern Coins

Presented by William Bierly to our June 9, 2004 meeting.

After distributing and reviewing a handout providing a general background on patterns, Bill used photos of coins in his collection to cover his specialty, and then concluded by addressing other areas in response to questions from the audience.

As a sort of Civil War buff, Bill first was interested in coin series starting from 1861; after some years, he focused on coins mentioning God. The coin that started his interest in this area was the first such design, a 50¢ piece which was made in both 1862 and 1863; it is fairly common for what it is. That was about 30 years ago, and Bill considers himself fortunate to have started back then, when sometimes a pattern would be cheaper than a regular issue piece in the same grade. The prices of patterns have increased recently.

Most articles about U.S. coins mentioning God start with a Reverend Watkinson of a small Pennsylvania town; in late 1861, he sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Chase tracing the nation's problems to a lack of God. But he was not alone. Other clergy had started a movement (the National Reform Association) to adopt a constitutional amendment stating a belief in God. Perhaps this was a result of the Confederacy Constitution's containing an explicit reference to God, which Southern clergy threw in the face of the North. Bill also mentioned that Watkinson had spent some time prior to mid-1861 as the pastor of a church in Virginia, so perhaps that helps explain Watkinson's involvement.

Having set the scene, Bill then addressed the resulting patterns. Dated 1861, the first half dollars had the "God Our Trust" motto both on a scroll and in the field (no scroll); but while Judd has only a single number, Pollock distinguishes between obverse dies with the shield point over either the 1 or 8 in the date. A few are known in each copper and silver, and about 100 pieces are known for the three years 1861-1863. Some eagle patterns were struck both with and without the scroll, but in copper.

The "In God We Trust" motto appeared on 1863 quarters, halves and dollars, and again appeared on 1864 quarters, halves, and dollars. Various die characteristics lead some to believe that these 1863 and 1864 patterns may have been struck later, perhaps in 1867 or 1868.

Patterns dated 1865 and with the "In God We Trust" motto are known in many denominations: quarters, halves, dollars, half eagles, eagles, and double eagles (in copper for the gold denomiations). These were likely struck in 1865 though some believe they were struck later. A letter to the new Secretary of the Treasury is known from late 1865, in which Mint Director James Pollock lists the pattern denominations (struck in copper) ready for examination; but the dates on the pieces are not mentioned.

Ironically, what started out as a response to the Civil War was not realized until after the Civil War had ended! That was partly due to the lack of circulating silver and gold coins during the Civil War years, and partly due to Congress' pace of doing things.

The "In God We Trust" motto first appeared on a circulating copper coin, and a new denomination at that - the Two Cent piece in 1864. Many 1863 patterns exist for that denomination, with a Washington bust, different shield types, and different lettering arrangements known. There were fewer constraints in designing a new coin than in modifying an existing design, and without much circulating coinage to produce, maybe all of these patterns kept the mint workers busy.

With 100-200 pieces available now, the 1863 2 cent patterns are the most available of any pattern issues, selling in the $1000 to $1500 range. Owing to how closely their designs match the issued designs the following year, Bill considers the 1858 Indian Head cent (not in the Red Book) to be under appreciated; and the same for the 1882 "no CENTS" nickel.

°   °   °   °   °
Here is the handout on patterns distributed by Bill at the meeting.

Two views

  1. "Open for me your cabinet of Patterns, and I open for you a record, which, but for these half-forgotten witnesses, would have disappeared under the finger of time. Read to me their catalogue and I read to you, in part, at least, the story of an escape from the impracticable schemes of visionaries and hobbyists - a tale of national deliverance from minted evil. These are to be enjoyed as bygones, though there lingers a fear for the spark that still smolders under the ashes. Laws have been framed for them, words have warred over them. Now, only these live to tell the tale of what 'might have been'; only these remind us of what has been weighed, measured and set aside among the things that are not appropriate, not convenient, not artistic, in short, that are not wanted." (From American Journal of Numismatics article written in 1883 by Patterson DuBois.)

  2. "Pattern pieces, in the opinion of many who have made a special study of this particular series, represent one of the most interesting sections of the many subdivisions into which the coinage of the United States is divided. They embrace the many metallic attempts of the designers of the mint to produce a coin containing a new suggestion in the way of a device, a motto, or a plan of coinage, and through a study of these various pieces one may trace the development of many of the familiar coin designs which long have been circulated throughout the country.

    "Scores of patterns... include the finest work of the mint engravers, such as Kneass, Scot, Gobrecht, Paquet, Morgan, Longacre, and the two Barbers, William and Charles. Any change in the design of our coinage must be referred to and adopted by the Coinage Committee of Congress. Therefore it is not difficult to understand why the handsomest designs produced by engravers were not adopted and why most of the accepted designs of our coinage compares unfavorably from an artistic standpoint with almost any other country. The best efforts of our engravers have been almost invariably rejected and their poorest designs adopted." (From the introduction of the Adams and Woodin book, U.S. Pattern, Trial and Experimental Pieces, 1913.)

Definitions of "Patterns"

  1. Pieces which represent a new design, motto, or denomination proposed for adoption as a regular issue, struck in the specified metal, and which was not adopted, at least not in that same year. (from 7th edition Judd pattern book)

  2. True pattern coins in the basic sense represent pieces struck to test a design or some other aspect, with the intention of possibly adopting the style for circulating coinage. (Q. David Bowers in his introduction to the "new" Judd book)

  3. A proposed coin of a new design, metal, or denomination, which is not adopted during the year it is submitted. (Richard Doty as quoted in the Pollock pattern book)

Other Related Definitions

  1. Pattern Trial Pieces: pattern coins struck in metals other than the metal ultimately intended for regular coinage (e.g. a pattern $10 eagle struck in copper).

  2. Regular Dies Trial Pieces: those struck from the regular dies but in off metals (often in soft metals such as copper or aluminum to show the design well struck up and to avoid die breakage).

  3. Mules: pieces created by uniting dies of different series or denominations, or, more commonly, two reverses or two obverses.

  4. Experimental Pieces: those struck with any convenient die to try out a new metal or alloy (e.g. goloid or standard silver); those representing new use of an accepted metal; those representing planchet changes.

There are various other terms applied to specific pieces which can often be over technical or confusing for most collectors. In recent years the term "pattern" has been used to denote any unissued piece. In a less refined categorization there are three main types of patterns: those of designs never adopted; those of designs adopted in years after the pattern was struck (termed Transitionals); those regular issue coins struck in off metals.

Examples of the first kind include the "Amazonian," the "Washlady," and the "Schoolgirl" designs. Examples of the second type are the Indian Head Cents of 1858 dated a year before the design was regularly issued and the patterns of 1863-65 with "In God We Trust" on the reverse as adopted on regular coinage in 1866. There are any number of the third category including, for example, silver coins such as Morgan Dollars or Seated Quarters struck in copper. There are many instances of gold coins struck in copper.

Reference Books

Other books of a less general nature but dealing with specific pattern areas include:

Website is an excellent and coprehensive site for pattern collectors. It was established and is maintained by Saul teichman and Andy Lustig. It carries general information about pattern collecting, research articles, and discoveries contributed by collectors. It has links to major museum pattern collections with photographs available. It also provides updated prices realized in recent auction sales containing significant numbers of patterns. This site is highly recommended!

Rarity Scale

Patterns were generally struck in limited numbers henc a rarity rating based on the Sheldon Rarity Scale is frequently applied to a given coin.

R1     Over 1250 pieces
R2 501  to  1250
R3 201 to 500
R4 76 to 200
R5 31 to 75
R6 13 to 30
R7 4 to 12
R8 2 or 3

Condition and Pricing

Nearly all pattern coins were struck in proof. Since they did not circulate as regular coinage, the vast majority remain in high grade. As related to price, the more common patterns (rarity 5 and below) show condition price gaps (e.g. the price of a PF65 vs. PF63 or 60) comparable to regular issue coins, however in the rarer patterns, the extreme rarity makes the condition/price multiples much lower.

Valuation of patterns is a much more challenging exercise than for regular issue coins. Regular issue prices can be found annually in the Red Book or monthly in Coin World, Numismatic News, Gray Sheet, or numerous other sources. Mintage numbers are available and they trade regularly and relatively frequently. However patterns have no clear guideline beyond what one finds in auction records or by consulting with the dealers who specialize in them. This provides both challenge and opportunity, as there are frequently large divergences among sale prices. If you can gain a general sense of how rare and what a particular piece may be worth you may occasionally buy at a bargain and conversely avoid significantly overpaying. Due to the relative rarity of even "common" patterns the market is very thin and prices volatile. In 2003 many patterns showed significant price increases as interest in the series has increased. However it can be argued that pattern coins overall remain relatively inexpensive when one consides their rarity vis a vis many regular issue coins.

Speaker's Wor[l]d
Face to Face with Famous Numismatists - Recollections by Q. David Bowers

Presented to our June 26, 2004 meeting.

Many years ago, when Dave was addressing the New Britain, Connecticut coin club, he asked some questions of the 100+ people in attendance:

Those results demonstrated that many people liked the camaraderie, the personal and social aspects of collecting, even when their collecting interests changed.

He repeated that mini survey with our club. Although there was a larger show of hands with us on this day, Dave decided to continue with his theme anyway.

Part of the reason that Dave knows so many people in numismatics is that he started in numismatics at a very young age, in the early 1950s. Lee Hewitt, publisher of Numismatic Scrapbook, allowed Dave to place ads only with his parents' permission. A little later Dave wanted a bourse table at the 1955 ANA; he finally obtained one with Lee Hewitt's recommendation, even though Dave was too young to be an ANA member!

Dave feels that he would not have stayed with numismatics if he were only a dealer; it is his interest in coin people that has kept him with us. As an example, he mentioned that he does not remember the last time he asked either Eric Newman or Bob Leonard, "What would you like to buy?" Bob and Dave had recently discussed Oscar Schilke of Waterbury, Connecticut; he would offer a group of coins to Dave, with net to dealer pricing already marked, but offered 10% off if Dave would tell him about the piece.

B. Max Mehl was one of the old-time dealers Dave met early in his career. After a number of dealings, Dave asked him why he had not written down his life story, but Mehl replied that Dave should do it. One story about John Ford of the New Netherlands firm started from the great lot descriptions characteristic of the their auction catalogues; Dave extended a humorous description, by lowering an AU grade down to Fair, but John was not amused.

More fond stories and anecdotes followed, and then Dave homed in on the fleeting nature of knowledge, how what once was everyone's common knowledge, now is no one's knowledge. For example, what was used in commerce 100 years ago? National Bank notes? How far from the issuing bank? Those topics were not covered by the numismatists of the time; we can try to piece together the experience only from scattered sources. As a modern example, in Dave's New England area, Canadian coins are encountered in circulation: cents, nickels, and dimes circulate at face, but a quarter would get a pause and maybe a comment. Will anyone be interested in 100 years? What sources will be used to investigate such questions?

Dave finished his talk by taking a number of questions covering many areas; and one dealing with how often an item appears on the market. Before, a collector would buy and hold a coin until death, but now we have the fast recycling of rarities. Fifteen transactions of 1804 dollars within a decade, and the inability of a unique Seated dime from the CC mint to "stick" in a collection since the Eliasberg collection auction were two symptoms of investors and third party grading.

Show and Tell

  1. Bob Feiler does not usually collect the mint issued items, but he read an article about the upcoming Lewis & Clark Coin and Currency Set while on the train after a previous club meeting. So he got on the web and placed an order that night. The set has coins, stamps, and a replica of a $10 note, and Bob passed around a few of the sets he has received.
  2. Mark Wieclaw started with some 2004 proof sets which contain two five cent pieces. Then he showed some ancient coins:
  3. Sharon Blocker showed some recently acquired items:
  4. Don Dool also showed some recently acquired pieces:
  5. Examples of "primitive money pictured on coins" were shown by Bob Leonard:
  6. Phil Carrigan recounted his nice experience at the Kolbe auction of the Ford library. The auction ran from 10AM until 7PM, and one person bought about one third of the lots. It was beautiful stuff, great to look at; unfortunately, Phil bought only 2 of 10 interested items.

Our 1027th Meeting
Session One

Date:July 14, 2004
Time:7:00 PM
Location:Downtown Chicago
In a meeting room provided courtesy of Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.; at 77 W. Washington St., room 420A.
Featured speaker:Saul Needleman - Use of Jehovah on Coins and Medals

Dr. Needleman collected and researched for 25 years coins and medals that show “Jehovah” in Hebrew script. He discovered most were struck during a narrow time frame in history and were issued more for propaganda purposes than religious reasons. Dr. Needleman cataloged nearly 1,000 specimens and in 2002 published the only book known on this subject. Join us for an evening rich in the history Europe as it emerged from the Dark Ages and began a new course in their relationship with God.

Important Dates

July 14 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Saul Needleman on Use of Jehovah on Coins and Medals
August 11 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - to be announced
September 8 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Sharon Blocker on Holograms in Numismatics

Birthday and Year Joined

August 11 Clifford Mishler 1995
August 15 Steven R. Rodin 1991
August 19 Carl F. Wolf 1979
August 20 Melvyn Frear 1989
August 26 Tom DeLorey 1984
August 26 Donald H. Doswell 1960
August 29 James M. Rondinelli 1997

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